Understanding the Policy Environment

Dr Jenny Firman1

1Principal Medical Adviser, Office of Health Protection, Australian Government Department of Health
MDP 14, PO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia

The process by which research and initiatives are converted into national and jurisdictional policy is not always well understood. Health policy is developed against a background of organisational complexity where many competing pressures must be balanced to reach the best outcome.

These include fiscal and political pressures as well tight deadlines. Under the Australian constitution the responsibilities for health care are shared between the Australian government and the states and territories government and in turn local government. Against this background good policy needs to be developed with government in partnership with researchers, experts and clinicians in the field and those partnerships are even more important when there needs to be rapid policy development in an emergency.

Good communication is vital and means providing the message in a format that is understood and appreciates the environment in which each group is operating.