Online version of the 2014-15 Department of Health Annual Report


Page last updated: 17 July 2019

Acute care Short-term medical treatment, usually in a hospital, for patients with an acute illness or injury, or recovering from surgery. Acute illness/injury is one that is severe in its effect or approaching crisis point, for example acute appendicitis.
Allied health practitioners/providers For the purpose of this report, allied health practitioners/providers are those registered under the National Registration Accreditation Scheme. These professions include: Psychologists, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Optometrists, Chiropractors, Podiatrists, Osteopaths, Medical radiation practitioners, Dental professionals, Occupational therapists, Chinese medicine practitioners, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners.
Antenatal The period prior to birth.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) The ability of a microorganism (like bacteria, viruses and parasites) to stop an antimicrobial (such as antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials) from working against it.
Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs) Viruses that are transmitted through contact between infected blood and uninfected blood (eg hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV).
Cervical cancer A cancer of the cervix, often caused by human papillomavirus, which is a sexually transmissible infection.
Chemotherapy The treatment of disease by chemical agents, for example the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells.
Chronic disease The term applied to a diverse group of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, that tend to be long-lasting and persistent in their symptoms or development. Although these features also apply to some communicable diseases (infections), the general term chronic diseases is usually confined to non-communicable diseases.
Closing the Gap COAG Closing the Gap initiatives designed to close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Communicable disease An infectious disease transmissible (as from person to person) by direct contact with an affected individual or the individual’s discharges or by indirect means. Communicable (infectious) diseases include sexually transmitted diseases; vector-borne diseases; vaccine preventable diseases and antimicrobial resistant bacteria.
Computed Tomography (CT) scanning An imaging method that uses computer processing to generate an image of tissue density in a ‘slice’ through the body. The images are spaced at 5 to 10 mm intervals allowing an anatomical cross-section of the body to be constructed.
Deliverables Tangible programme products developed to meet programme objectives.
Diabetes Refers to a group of syndromes caused by a malfunction in the production and release of insulin by the pancreas leading to a disturbance in blood glucose levels. Type 1 diabetes is characterised by the abrupt onset of symptoms, usually during childhood, and inadequate production of insulin requiring regular injections to regulate insulin levels. Type 2 diabetes is characterised by gradual onset commonly over the age of 45 years, but increasingly occurring in younger age groups, and is usually able to be regulated through dietary control.
Digital mammography Specialised form of mammography that uses digital receptors and computers instead of x-ray film to help examine breast tissue for breast cancer.
Ebola Virus Disease (Ebola) Ebola virus disease (Ebola), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average Ebola case fatality rate is around 50 per cent.
eHealth Application of internet and other related technologies in the health care industry to improve the access, efficiency, effectiveness and quality of clinical and business processes utilised by health care organisations, practitioners, patients and consumers to improve the health status of patients.
Elective surgery Elective care in which the procedures required by patients are listed in the surgical operations section of the Medicare Benefits Schedule, with the exclusion of specific procedures frequently done by non-surgical clinicians.
Epidemic An outbreak of a disease or its occurrence at a level that is clearly higher than usual, especially if it affects a large proportion of the population.
Epidermolysis Bullosa A rare inherited skin disorder which causes blistering. The Department provides access to clinically appropriate dressings through the National Epidermolysis Bullosa Dressing Scheme.
Faecal occult blood test A test that detects tiny amounts of blood, often released from bowel cancers or their precursors (polyps or adenomas) into the bowel motion.
Fertility rate Number of live births per 1,000 females aged 15-49.
Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) A group of conditions that can occur in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy.
Financial year The 12 month period from 1 July to 30 June.
Forward estimates A system of rolling three year financial estimates. After the Budget is passed, the first year of the forward estimates becomes the base for next year’s budget bid, and another out year is added to the forward estimates.
Front-of-pack labelling Single, interpretive five star rating front-of-pack labelling system for use on packaged foods sold in Australia indicating nutritional content and kilojoules.
Full-time equivalent (FTE) A standard measure of the size of a workforce that takes into account both the number of workers and the hours that each works.
General Practitioner (GP) A medical practitioner who provides primary care to patients and their families within the community.
Generic When referring to a drug, ‘generic’ means not covered by a trademark; where a drug is marketed under its chemical name without advertising.
Gene technology Gene technology involves techniques for understanding the expression of genes and taking advantage of natural genetic variation for the modification of genetic material. It does not include sexual reproduction or DNA crossover.
Haemopoietic progenitor cell (HPC) Blood cells found in bone marrow, peripheral blood and umbilical cord blood that are capable of self-renewal into all blood cell types.
Health care Services provided to individuals or communities to promote, maintain, monitor or restore health. Health care is not limited to medical care and includes self-care.
Health outcome A change in the health of an individual or population due wholly or partly to a preventive or clinical intervention. See outcomes.
Hepatitis A (infectious hepatitis) An acute but benign form of viral hepatitis transmitted by ingesting food or drink that is contaminated with faecal matter.
Hepatitis B (serum hepatitis) An acute (sometimes fatal) form of viral hepatitis transmitted by sexual contact, by transfusion or by ingestion of contaminated blood or other bodily fluids.
Hepatitis C A blood borne viral disease that can result in serious liver disease such as cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. Hepatitis C is usually transmitted by parenteral means (as injection of an illicit drug or blood transfusion or exposure to blood or blood products).
Human papillomavirus (HPV) The virus that causes genital warts and which is linked in some cases to the development of more serious cervical cell abnormalities.
Ice An illicit drug, also known as ‘crystal meth’, which is a crystalline form of the drug methamphetamine.
Illicit drugs The term ‘illicit drug’ can encompass a number of broad concepts including:
  • illegal drugs – a drug that is prohibited from manufacture, sale or possession in Australia – for example, cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy
  • misuse or extra-medical use of pharmaceuticals – drugs that are available from a pharmacy, over-the-counter or by prescription, which may be subject to misuse – for example, opioid-based pain relief medications, opioid substitution therapies, benzodiazepines, over-the-counter codeine and steroids
  • other psychoactive substances – legal or illegal, potentially used in a harmful way – for example, kava, or inhalants such as petrol, paint or glue.
Immunisation Inducing immunity against infection by the use of an antigen to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. See vaccination.
Immunise Australia Program The Australian Government’s Immunise Australia Program funds the purchase of vaccinations to protect millions of Australians from vaccine-preventable diseases. The Immunise Australia Program implements the National Immunisation Program Schedule, which currently includes vaccines against a total of 16 diseases. These include routine childhood vaccinations against diseases that were once widely fatal, such as measles, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis), as well as more recently developed vaccines, such as Human Papillomavirus and the meningococcal C vaccine.
Incidence The number of new cases (of an illness or event) occurring during a given period. Compare with prevalence.
Influenza (flu) An acute contagious viral respiratory infection marked by fevers, muscle aches, headache, cough and sore throat.
Intern A doctor in their first postgraduate year and who holds provisional registration with the Medical Board of Australia.
Inventory Multi-tiered Assessment and Prioritisation (IMAP) The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) is assessing the human health and environmental impacts of previously unassessed industrial chemicals listed on the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (AICS). NICNAS has implemented an innovative framework, the IMAP, to accelerate the assessment of these chemicals. NICNAS started assessing around 3,000 existing chemicals, identified as Stage One Chemicals on the AICS using the IMAP Framework, in July 2012.
Jurisdictions In the Commonwealth of Australia, these include the six States, the Commonwealth Government and the two Territories.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI) Indicators which measure agency effectiveness through programme deliverables in achieving the programme objectives.
Local Hospital Networks (LHNs) Separate legal entities established by each Australian State/Territory Government in order to devolve operational management for public hospitals, and accountability for local service delivery, to the local level. LHNs directly manage single or small groups of public hospital services and their budgets, and are directly responsible for hospital performance. Most LHNs are responsible for the provision of public hospital services in a defined geographical area, but in some jurisdictions a small number of LHNs provide services across a number of areas.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) A non-invasive nuclear medicine technology that uses strong magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses to generate sectional images of the body. The image gives information about the chemical makeup of the tissues, allowing for example, normal and cancerous tissues to be distinguished.
Measles A highly contagious infection, usually of children, that causes flu-like symptoms, fever, a typical rash and sometimes serious secondary problems such as brain damage. Preventable by vaccine.
Medical indemnity insurance A form of professional indemnity cover that provides surety to medical practitioners and their patients in the event of an adverse outcome arising from medical negligence.
Medicare A national, Government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of personal medical services for all Australians and aims to help them afford medical care. The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) is the listing of the Medicare services subsidised by the Australian Government. The schedule is part of the wider Medicare Benefits Scheme (Medicare).
Melanoma A tumour arising from the skin, consisting of dark masses of cells with a tendency to metastasis. It is the most aggressive form of skin cancer.
Memorandum of Understanding A written but non-contractual agreement between two or more entities or other parties to take a certain course of action.
Meningococcal disease The inflammation of meninges of the brain and the spinal cord caused by Neisseria meningitidis (also know as Meningococcal bacteria). These bacteria invade the body through the respiratory tract. The infection develops quickly and is often characterised by fever, vomiting, an intense headache, stiff neck and septicemia (an infection in the bloodstream).
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) MERS-CoV is a disease caused by a new virus that can cause a rapid onset of severe respiratory disease in people. Most severe cases have occurred in people with underlying conditions that may make them more likely to get respiratory infections. All cases have lived in or travelled to the Middle East, or have had close contact with people who acquired the infection in the Middle East. There have been no cases in Australia.
Morbidity Refers to ill health in an individual and to levels of ill health in a population or group.
Mortality Death.
Mumps An acute, inflammatory, contagious disease caused by a paramyxovirus and characterised by swelling of the salivary glands, especially the parotids, and sometimes of the pancreas, ovaries or testes. This disease mainly affects children and can be prevented by vaccination.
Non-communicable diseases Non-communicable diseases, also known as chronic diseases, are not passed from person to person. They are of long duration and generally slow progression. The four main types of non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular diseases (like heart attacks and stroke), cancers, chronic respiratory diseases (such as chronic obstructed pulmonary disease and asthma) and diabetes.
Obesity Marked degree of overweight, defined for population studies as a body mass index of 30 or over.
Oncology The study, knowledge and treatment of cancer and tumours.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) An organisation of 34 countries including Australia; mostly developed and some emerging (such as Mexico, Chile and Turkey). The OECD’s aim is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world.
Outcomes Outcomes are the Government’s intended results, benefits or consequences for the Australian community. The Government requires entities, such as the Department, to use Outcomes as a basis for budgeting, measuring performance and reporting. Annual administered funding is appropriated on an Outcomes basis. The Department’s current Outcomes are listed in Part 1: Department-Specific Outcomes.
Out-of-pocket costs The total costs incurred by individuals for health care services over and above any refunds from Medicare and private health insurance funds.
Palliative care Care provided to achieve the best possible quality of life for patients with a progressive and far-advanced disease, with little or no prospect of cure.
Pandemic An epidemic affecting a wide geographic area.
Pathology The study and diagnosis of disease through the examination of organs, tissues, cells and bodily fluids.
Perinatal The period shortly before and after birth. The term generally describes the period between the 20th week of gestation and one to four weeks after birth.
Pertussis (whooping cough) An extremely contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordatella pertussis. The disease causes uncontrolled coughing and vomiting, which can last for several months and can be particularly dangerous for babies under the age of 12 months.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) A national, Government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs for all Australians to help them afford standard medications. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule lists all the medicinal products available under the PBS and explains the uses for which they can be subsidised.
Plain packaging The Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 requires all tobacco products manufactured or packaged in Australia for domestic consumption from 1 October 2012 to be in plain packaging, and all tobacco products to be sold in plain packaging by 1 December 2012.
Population health Typically described as the organised response by society to protect and promote health, and to prevent illness, injury and disability. Population health activities generally focus on: prevention, promotion and protection rather than on treatment; populations rather than on individuals; and the factors and behaviours that cause illness. In this sense, often used synonymously with public health. Can also refer to the health of particular subpopulations, and comparisons of the health of different populations.
Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements Statements prepared by portfolios to explain the Additional Estimates Budget appropriations in terms of outcomes and programmes.
Portfolio Budget Statements Statements prepared by portfolios to explain the Budget appropriations in terms of outcomes and programmes.
Prevalence The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) in a population at a given time. In relation to cancer, refers to the number of people alive who had been diagnosed with cancer in a prescribed period (usually 1, 5, 10 or 26 years). Compare with incidence.
Primary care Provides the patient with a broad spectrum of care, both preventive and curative, over a period of time and coordinates all of the care the person receives.
Primary Health Networks (PHNs) 31 Primary Health Networks have been established by the Australian Government, with the key objectives of: increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes; and improving coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time. PHNs work directly with GPs, other primary health care providers, secondary care providers and hospitals to ensure improved outcomes for patients. PHNs will work closely with LHNs to reduce avoidable emergency department presentations, hospital admissions and re-admissions.
Programme A specific strategy, initiative or grouping of activities directed toward the achievement of Government policy or a common strategic objective. In 2014-15, the Department had 31 specific programmes (see Part 1: Department-Specific Outcomes).
Prostheses List Under the Private Health Insurance Act 2007, private health insurers are required to pay benefits for a range of prostheses that are provided as part of an episode of hospital treatment or hospital substitute treatment for which a patient has cover and for which a Medicare benefit is payable for the associated professional service. The types of products on the Prostheses List include cardiac pacemakers and defibrillators, cardiac stents, joint replacements and intraocular lenses, as well as human tissues such as human heart valves. The list does not include external legs, external breast prostheses, wigs and other such devices. The Prostheses List contains prostheses and human tissue prostheses and the benefit to be paid by the private health insurers. The Prostheses List is published bi-annually.
Prosthesis An artificial device that replaces a missing body part lost through trauma, disease, or congenital conditions.
Public health Activities aimed at benefiting a population, with an emphasis on prevention, protection and health promotion as distinct from treatment tailored to individuals with symptoms. Examples include conduct of anti-smoking education campaigns, and screening for diseases such as cancer of the breast or cervix. See also population health.
Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) QUM means:
  • selecting management options wisely
  • choosing suitable medicines if a medicine is considered necessary
  • using medicines safely and effectively.
The definition of QUM applies equally to decisions about medicine use by individuals and decisions that affect the health of the population.
Radiation oncology (radiotherapy) The study and discipline of treating malignant disease with radiation. The treatment is referred to as radiotherapy or radiation therapy.
Registrar Any person undertaking medical vocational training in a recognised medical speciality training programme accredited by the Australian Medical Council.
Sexually transmissible infection (STI) An infectious disease that can be passed to another person by sexual contact. Notable examples include chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
Stoma Artificial body opening in the abdominal region, for the purpose of waste removal.
Subacute care Specialised multidisciplinary care in which the primary need for care is optimisation of the patient’s functioning and quality of life. Subacute care comprises the defined care types of rehabilitation, palliative care, geriatric evaluation and management, and psychogeriatric care.
Telehealth The delivery of health services using different forms of communications technology such as video conferencing giving access to health care services to people in rural and remote areas.
Trachoma Contagious infection of the eye caused by specific strains of the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis.
Tuberculosis (TB) TB is an infectious disease that damages people’s lungs or other parts of the body and can cause serious illness and death. TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. TB is spread through the air when a person with active TB disease spreads the bacteria by coughing, sneezing, shouting, speaking or singing and other people nearby breathe in the bacteria.
Tumour An abnormal growth of tissue in which cell multiplication is uncontrolled and occurs faster than normal tissue growth.
Vaccination The process of administering a vaccine to a person to produce immunity against infection. See immunisation.
Varicella (Chicken pox) A very contagious disease. An affected child or adult may develop hundreds of itchy, fluid-filled blisters that burst and form crusts. Varicella is caused by a virus; varicella-zoster.
World Health Organization (WHO) WHO is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN). Its primary role is to direct and coordinate international health within the UN’s system. The WHO has 194 member states, including Australia. The WHO has played a leading role in the eradication of smallpox. Current WHO priorities include, among other things, communicable diseases (in particular HIV/AIDS, Ebola, malaria and TB), and mitigating the effects of non-communicable diseases.

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