Healthy Australia Forums

An "Ethical" Approach to Health Workforce Sustainability: Desirable? Achievable?

With Professor James Buchan, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK

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  Health Workforce Australia 

The Healthy Australia Forum series is jointly presented in South Australia by Health Workforce Australia and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at UniSA

Wednesday 27 July 2011, Adelaide Town Hall

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  Unedited written transcript (pdf)
  Professor Buchan powerpoint (pdf)
  Dr Lavender powerpoint (pdf)

Focus of this address

Australia has been reliant on internationally recruited health workers to sustain its health systems. Against the backdrop of growing concern globally about health workforce shortages, Professor James Buchan will assess what health workforce 'sustainability' might mean for Australia, given the policy direction set out in the recently approved World Health Organization Code on international recruitment of health workers. He will examine the Australian case in the broader context of international health care labour markets and the international recruitment and migration of health workers.

There will be two respondents to this presentation:

  • Dr Andrew Lavender, Deputy Director, Department of Anaesthesia, Pain and Hyperbaric Medicine and Senior Staff Specialist, Royal Adelaide Hospital, will respond from the perspective of a health expert with wide public health interests. 
  • Professor Helen McCutcheon, Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Division of Health Sciences, UniSA, will respond from the perspective of a senior academic working in the applied field of nursing training and with a background in research across nursing, management, and topics such as workforce redesign, lean application to healthcare, and ageing.

Audience questions will be taken following all presentations.  If you would prefer to submit your question in advance, please forward to


James BuchanProfessor James Buchan, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, UK
Professor Buchan has twenty five years international experience of policy advice, consultancy and research on human resource for health (HRH) issues, specializing in national policies and strategies.

His background includes working as a senior HR manager at national level in the National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland, as Senior Policy Adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, UK; and as a HRH specialist at the World Health Organisation in Geneva.

His other current appointments include Policy Associate at the WHO European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies; Professional Adviser to the Centre for Workforce Intelligence, NHS England; and Adjunct Professor at the WHO Collaborating Centre, University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. He is also currently a part time adviser to Ausaid and Visiting Professor, New University of Lisbon, Portugal.


Andrew LavenderDr Andrew Lavender, Deputy Director, Department of Anaesthesia, Pain and Hyperbaric Medicine and Senior Staff Specialist, Royal Adelaide Hospital
Dr Andrew Lavender is a Past president of the AMA(SA) and is also the regional representative for SA/NT on the federal AMA council. He has worked as a staff anaesthetist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) since 1995, when he returned to Adelaide after nine years living and working in the UK and Ireland, and has a special interest in cardiac and neurosurgical anaesthesia. With a particular interest in the role of public hospitals and primary care, he is a strong advocate for public sector doctors and the patients they care for.


Helen McCutcheonProfessor Helen McCutcheon, Head, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Division of Health Sciences, UniSA
Professor Helen McCutcheon provides academic and professional leadership within the School, and the fostering of excellence in research and teaching. As part of her role as one of the nurse leaders in the State, Prof McCutcheon formed the Nurse leaders network and is making original and innovative contributions to teaching, scholarship and research in the various disciplines of nursing by working closely with major hospitals and community nursing venues in South Australia. Professor McCutcheon teaches across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, is a skilled researcher, consultant, mentor and supervisor with extensive experience in empirical, interpretive and critical research in nursing, collaborative multidisciplinary research, research leadership, management, and topics such as workforce redesign, lean application to healthcare, and ageing. She is also the Associate Editor of the International Journal of Nursing and Midwifery, and a peer reviewer for the International Journal of Nursing Practice; Journal of Advanced Nursing; and the Journal of Clinical Nursing.


Health Workforce Australia (HWA) was established to address the challenges of providing a skilled, flexible and innovative health workforce that meets the needs of the Australian community. It was set up as a Commonwealth statutory authority by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) which identified the need for a national, coordinated approach to health workforce reform. One of HWA's aims is to devise solutions that integrate workforce planning, policy and programs with the necessary and complementary reforms in education and training. Engaging the public in conversations and dialogue about responding to critical health workforce reform issues is a critical part of this work, hence the Healthy Australia lecture series.

The Hawke Centre and its charter reflect the University of South Australia's key strategic commitment to engage communities. The Centre attracts national and international speakers and offers informed viewpoints on key concerns for the 21st century, including sustainable societies and international challenges. Further, UniSA has a strong public health, nursing and allied health professions teaching focus through the Division of Health Sciences and is working to introduce a School of Medicine that will concentrate on healthcare for the disadvantaged. The Sansom Institute for Health Research unites UniSA's internationally-recognised research strengths in molecular medicine, pharmaceutical science, and the quality use of medicines and pharmacy practice.

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our diversity - and building our future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within the Hawke Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.