HEALTH STAR RATING SYSTEM
In May 2019, mpconsulting completed an independent Five Year Review of the Health Star Rating (HSR) system. The HSR system is a voluntary front-of-pack labelling scheme that aims to provide a simple, standard way to compare similar packaged foods and support consumers to make healthier choices. The HSR system rates the overall nutritional profile of a food and assigns it a rating from ½ a star to 5 stars. In reviewing the HSR system, we considered how well the objectives of the HSR system had been met and provided a number of recommendations for enhancing the system.
This project involved extensive stakeholder consultation. Our team analysed more than 480 submissions from consumers, public health bodies and academics, industry representatives, peak bodies and nutritionists. We worked closely with a technical advisory group, met with experts from governments, public health and industry and held a series of public forums throughout Australia and New Zealand to gather more detailed input from stakeholders. We progressively released a range of consultation papers to communicate our findings, test potential improvements and changes to the algorithm for calculating the HSR rating.
We presented our final report to government in May 2019, providing a practical, balanced set of recommendations to enhance the HSR system, which were broadly supported by a diverse range of stakeholders. The Australian and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation responded to the report in December 2019, supporting all ten recommendations.
AGED CARE QUALITY STANDARDS
A new set of Aged Care Quality Standards came into effect on 1 July 2019. The Quality Standards define what good aged care should look like, with an emphasis on consumer outcomes, dignity and choice. The launch of the single quality framework, which also includes the new Charter of Aged Care Rights, represents three years of intensive work led by mpconsulting.
Throughout this project, we worked collaboratively with providers, consumers, carers, peak bodies and technical experts across Australia to hear what they wanted from a new framework. We used our deep knowledge of the aged care sector, comparable international frameworks and practice and evidence-based standards development to draft each standard along with a detailed rationale. At every stage of this project our ideas were tested to ensure that the new Quality Standards would be objective, measurable and reflect contemporary regulation and community expectations. We have been inspired by the opportunity to be part of a broad and much needed reform agenda that seeks to improve the experience of older Australians receiving aged care.
Since developing the Quality Standards we have trained quality assessors at the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission in assessing provider performance against the Quality Standards and developed resources for providers to assist them to better engage with consumers.
REVIEW OF MEDICAL DEVICE PRE-MARKET ASSESSMENT PROCESSES
The Therapeutic Goods Administration engaged mpconsulting in May 2019 to undertake detailed scrutiny of its pre-market assessment processes for medical devices and make recommendations for improvements across a number of areas. Our team reviewed and analysed a range of documents, processes and data, and undertook in-depth consultation with staff to delve deeper into work processes in order to identify challenges and potential solutions.
mpconsulting posed a range of improvement ideas and worked with staff through an iterative and ongoing process to further develop and refine improvements. Recommendations aimed to better target resources to areas of risk, encourage efficiencies and clear accountabilities. The client has reported significant efficiencies have been achieved as result.
REVIEW OF THE VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT ACTIVITY
The Volunteer Management Activity (VMA) is overseen by the Department of Social Services, providing funding to 52 organisations to deliver volunteer support services across Australia. Services include matching potential volunteers with organisations that need them, providing support and advice to volunteers and organisations, and promoting volunteering. mpconsulting was engaged to undertake a comprehensive review of the VMA in 2017. The review examined the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the VMA, exploring limitations and opportunities in the program design, funding, implementation and administration.
We engaged with a range of stakeholders, facilitating public forums across Australia to hear from funded organisations, volunteers, volunteer involving organisations and others to explore how Government funding might be better targeted to support, encourage and maximise volunteering activity. We also undertook an extensive literature review and drew on international learnings to inform our recommendations for the future of the VMA. We presented our final review report in August 2018.
REVIEW OF RADIATION GRANTS PROGRAM
In 2016, mpconsulting was engaged by the Department of Health to undertake an independent review of the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants Scheme, and provide advice on the relative merits of continuing Commonwealth funding for radiotherapy equipment (against the context of broader health policy and health funding). Our review involved consultation with a range of stakeholders, including manufacturers, radiation oncology specialists, leading academics and representatives from industry peak bodies. This project drew on our ability to undertake complex analysis of data and take into account the policy, political and financial ramifications of recommendations. Our review report can be accessed at the Department’s website.
AUSTRALIAN RADIATION PROTECTION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY AGENCY REVIEW
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) regulates Commonwealth uses of radiation and nuclear facilities. mpconsulting was engaged to examine the role of ARPANSA and the appropriateness of the legislation to support its functions. Following stakeholder consultation and examination of international comparisons, we developed a detailed report including a number of recommendations for amendments to the legislation and administrative changes. On the strength of our review, we were then engaged to work with the Department to make the recommended changes to the law, and to manage all liaison and consultation with stakeholders including relevant Ministers and Commonwealth agencies.
ADVICE ON REGULATION
REFORM OF THE VET SECTOR
The Commonwealth government has engaged mpconsulting across a range of VET sector reforms, including:
- facilitating National Skills Package forums with the Senior Skills Officials’ Network
- facilitating industry workshops to inform the Skills Organisations Pilot
- working with the Commonwealth, States and Territories to develop the COAG roadmap for VET sector reform, and
- developing and advising on governance reform options for the Australian Skills Quality Authority.
Most recently mpconsulting was engaged as a regulatory expert to undertake a rapid review of the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). ASQA is the national regulator for Australia’s vocational education and training (VET) sector and regulates training providers and accredited training courses. The purpose of the rapid review was to evaluate the effectiveness of ASQA’s internal regulatory practices and processes and recommend changes to ASQA’s processes and governance to support consistent, risk-based and contemporary regulatory decision-making and education.
In undertaking this work, we undertook a deep dive into ASQA’s processes and resources, reviewed relevant legislation and best practice guidelines, and considered the outcomes of related reviews. We also sought submissions from stakeholders and consulted with ASQA staff across Australia to identify issues and test potential changes. The final report was released in April 2020 with Government supporting all 24 recommendations to support ASQA’s role as an effective, contemporary and best practice regulator.
THEMATIC REVIEWS OF LEGISLATIVE SCHEMES
In 2018, mpconsulting completed thematic reviews of the Commonwealth’s Hearing Services Program legislation and Medical and Midwife Indemnity Insurance Fund legislation.
Consistent with the Attorney-General’s requirements, the outcome of both of these reviews identified opportunities to consolidate instruments, remove redundant legislation, simplify and streamline legislation and to reduce regulatory burden.
For each of these thematic reviews, we developed and completed a detailed fit-for-purpose test that we applied to each legislative instrument. We also developed a discussion paper to guide stakeholder engagement, facilitated stakeholder workshops and provided options for consideration by government.
Our final reports included clear recommendations including preferred implementation approaches, enabling the Department to seek necessary policy agreement to proceed with the recommendations.
Having concurrently undertaken a First Principles Review of the Medical and Midwife Indemnity Insurance Fund, we were subsequently engaged to assist the Department of Health to undertake significant reform of the medical indemnity legislation. Changes to the legislation will commence on 1 July 2020.
ADVICE ON AGED CARE LEGISLATIVE REFORMS
For over 15 years mpconsulting has worked closely with government in developing and implementing its long-term aged care reform agenda. In 2020, we continue to provide specialist services and advice in priority areas including in relation to aged care program redesign and options for a future aged care model, quality standards, dementia care, intersections with the health and disability sectors, regulation of the aged care workforce and the delivery of aged care in rural and remote regions of Australia.
mpconsulting’s work in the aged care portfolio has been extensive and our detailed knowledge of the aged care framework, regulation and environment has enabled us to develop effective and innovative reforms addressing government’s objectives. The strength of our consultation and engagement services, together with our ability to lead strategic conversations, supports our clients to better understand and meet the needs of their stakeholders in delivering significant and sustainable aged care reforms.
INDUSTRIAL CHEMICALS REFORM
mpconsulting has a long history working with the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) to develop important reforms to the regulation of industrial chemicals in Australia. We have supported the delivery of a significant reform package through drafting reader-friendly consultation papers, effective facilitation of stakeholder forums, identifying ways to translate policy into law and being able to explain both the policy intent of the reforms, and the legislation giving effect to the reforms, to a wide range of audiences including interested government agencies, Parliamentarians and external stakeholders.
AUDIT OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH’S REGULATORY STOCK
As part of the Government’s deregulation agenda, each Commonwealth Department was required to audit and quantify its stock of existing regulation and to identify the regulatory cost to business, individuals and community organisations. mpconsulting was engaged by the Department of Health to:
- Identify all Health regulation (749 pieces).
- Develop a framework against which the regulation would be categorised, and the compliance burden would be reported.
- Develop a system for sampling compliance costs.
- Identify the overall compliance burden for each piece of regulation, applying the sampling methodology.
- Prepare a detailed report for consideration by the Executive, Ministerial Advisory Committee and Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).
Throughout the project, mpconsulting briefed staff on the Deregulation Agenda and provided advice to the Executive and to PM&C. The draft evaluation framework, including the sampling model developed by mpconsulting, was provided to PM&C, who subsequently shared it with other Commonwealth agencies to assist them in undertaking their audits.
Following this first project, mpconsulting continued to work with the Department, providing expert advice on reform opportunities within the Department.
Our expertise was recognised by both the Department of Social Services and the Department of Education who engaged us to provide expert advice on their audit framework, to both departmental staff and their consultants.
STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION +
STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION + FACILITATION
In recent years, we have:
- Facilitated public forums across Australia and New Zealand involving 275 consumers, nutritionists and representatives from industry, government and public health organisations, to inform our review of the Health Star Rating (HSR) system.
- Consulted with more than 200 volunteers and staff from volunteer support services’, NGOs and peak bodies from around Australia to draw on their knowledge and experience of the Department of Social Services’ Volunteer Management Activity program.
- Facilitated a series of workshops and meetings with government, doctors, insurers, and representatives of guilds and peak bodies to discuss proposed reform of the Medical Indemnity insurance scheme.
- Developed and provided nationwide training on a range of subject matters including good administrative law decision making, strengthening reasoning and written communications, regulatory compliance, deregulation, grants management, and best practice regulation and drafting decision documents.
- Facilitated meetings of the National Disability Insurance Agency Board and Executive.
- Facilitated forums with staff across the Department of Health to discuss best practice regulation, the Deregulation Agenda and implications for staff and the work that they do.
- Facilitated workshops for the Department of Social Services relating to compliance programs for social services.
- Facilitated national forums with the aged care sector in relation to aged care reforms, responding directly to questions raised by peak bodies, approved providers and consumers.
- Managed complex negotiations with a wide range of stakeholders including medical professionals, pathology providers, the food industry, the aged care industry, unions and non-government organisations.
- Facilitated planning workshops exploring case scenarios. In one example, the firm facilitated a workshop on product contamination using a food product contamination scenario to help participants to consider: preparedness of various sectors; information sharing and communication and how best to mitigate, manage and communicate risk.
- Conducted webinars, presenting complex information and responding in real-time to questions from the online audience.
- Held public forums on a wide range of subjects including front of pack labelling, quality in aged care, nanotechnology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing, and residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.