AIHW Board Chair's report

Photo of Dr Mukesh C Haikerwal AO.

On Tuesday 13 September 2016, I was privileged to welcome the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care, and Minister for Sport, to launch our flagship publication Australia's health 2016 in the Australian Parliament. This cemented the 'new era' for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), which has come out of a period of great uncertainty. We are invigorated, enriched, sharp, responsive and raring to go, to provide to Australia and Australians the best information, facts, figures and commentaries about our world-class health and welfare systems—clearly, impartially, truthfully and reliably.

I take this opportunity to thank all the staff at the Institute for performing above and beyond the call of duty—to deliver—for Australia. Further, I acknowledge and am indebted to all of our stakeholders from individual Australians, small organisations, larger institutions, non-government organisations and all the governments across Australia for their trust.

I also recognise the Australian Government Department of Health and its Secretary, Mr Martin Bowles PSM, and his team and the teams of his other departmental colleagues for continuing to pursue an evidence-based, data-driven administration and for seeing our potential in that agenda.

My amazing board members, and their unstinting support, diligence, perseverance, friendship and professionalism that have helped us, together, to steer this organisation and prepare it for the new world of joined-up health and welfare provision and usage of services, have to be publicly appreciated.

The Australian Government and Minister Ley, her colleagues and their offices and officers have decided to retain the AIHW and transfer the majority of functions from the National Health Performance Authority to the AIHW. For this action and direction I am truly grateful. We will deliver on that vote of confidence. The decision to retain the AIHW as an entity enabled the AIHW Board to recruit a new Director (CEO) to follow Acting Directors, Ms Kerry Flanagan and Mr Andrew Kettle. They provided stability, a guiding hand and reassurance for the Institute during a period of uncertainty about our future.

I am delighted that we were able to attract Mr Barry Sandison from the Department of Human Services to the position of Director of the AIHW. Mr Sandison was appointed by the Minister for Health in May 2016. He brings wisdom and knowledge as well as an eagle eye, sharp wit and a wealth of relevant experience and skills to the role.

Our business is to help improve the health and welfare of Australians through the provision of useful and accurate data and information about the state of Australia's health and welfare. With our team, CEO and board, we are on course to emerge ready for the challenges of the future.

This report shows that 2015–16 was another very productive and rewarding year. As well as Australia's health 2016, we released our major publication Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. The study, which was funded by the Department of Health and was last undertaken 8 years ago, is worth undertaking more frequently. In addition, the AIHW produced a range of other high-quality, informative reports on key issues affecting the health and welfare of Australians, some of which are highlighted in this report. The readability and presentation of these documents is changing, reflecting community need for understandable, succinct and cogent information.

Since my appointment as Chair in July 2014, I have been impressed with the continued commitment of the AIHW's management and staff to high standards, professionalism and continuous improvement. There is clear comradeship, a positive 'esprit de corps' and a common purpose across the organisation which has facilitated the outcomes achieved in recent challenging times.

In 2016–17, the Board will work with Mr Sandison, the staff of the Institute and other stakeholders to develop a change management program in response to the recommendations of an external review of the AIHW undertaken on behalf of the Department of Health. We will consult with our major stakeholders to gain their valued input into what our strategic directions and priorities should be into the future.

Signature of Dr Mukesh C Haikerwal AO.

Dr Mukesh C Haikerwal AO
AIHW Board Chair