Professors appointed to the first Board of Health Workforce Australia

26 February 2010

Two University of Sydney Professors have been appointed to the first Board of Health Workforce Australia.

Professor Simon Willcock from the Sydney Medical School and Professor Mary Chiarella from Sydney Nursing School are joining 11 other leading health professionals in the country to manage major reforms to the Australian health workforce.

Formerly the Chief Nursing Officer of NSW in 2003 and 2004, Professor Chiarella says she is both delighted and honoured to be appointed to the Board.

"We are the single largest component of the health workforce and so clearly health workforce planning is a critical issue for nursing and midwifery," she says.

Formed in 2008, Health Workforce Australia is an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments, which is spending an unprecedented $1.6billion on workforce investments. The Board will advise and report to the Health Ministers as well as develop policies to meet the growing demands of the health workforce.

"We know that our society is aging, and we know that our new demographic is going to have different health needs," Professor Chiarella says. "So we need to think about how we can propel our new health workforce to meet those needs in the future."

Another passionate supporter of health workforce planning, Professor Willcock has spent 15 years working at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels of medical education and training.

"I think the Health Workforce Australia agency represents a real chance to integrate and coordinate a lot of existing programs and to develop new ones that will fill in current gaps," he says.

He points particularly to the need for training in the community. "That's where most health services are developed and up until now, there hasn't been much funding or resources there."

Both Professor Willcock and Professor Chiarella bring extensive governance experience to the Board. As well as serving as the current Chair of the GP Education and Training Board, Professor Willcock is also Director of the NSW Institute of Medical Education and Training.

Professor Chiarella is currently the Co-Chair of the Clinical Council of the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission and Chair of the Advance Care Planning Steering Group and NSW Health. She is former Chair of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council.

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