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Page content: National approach to healthcare rights | Healthcare rights in Victoria | What came before: the Victorian Public Hospital Patient Charter | Healthcare rights and human rights | More information and related initiatives
The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare through extensive consultation with the health sector, government and health consumer groups. It was endorsed by federal and state Health Ministers in July 2008. It aims to provide a consistent understanding of and approach to healthcare rights across Australia. The Victorian Department of Health played an active role in the consultations and development of the national charter.
The Victorian government endorses the national charter, and has produced a healthcare rights brochure and resources for Victorian healthcare services to use with patients and consumers. The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights in Victoria brochure uses specific, easy-to-understand examples of each of the seven rights in the national charter, extending on the resources produced by the Commission. It is available as a free printed brochure, in Braille (order form), as an audio file and as documents in English and 25 community languages.
Healthcare rights are the rights of patients, consumers and other people using healthcare services. Healthcare services includes both small and large public and private hospitals, GP clinics, medical specialists, day procedure facilities, community health centres and private allied health providers such as psychologists, dentists, naturopaths and occupational therapists.
People receiving health care and people providing health care all have important parts to play in achieving healthcare rights. The Australian Charter of HealthCare Rights in Victoria brochure enables patients, consumers, families, carers and services providing care to share an understanding of the rights of people seeking or receiving care. This shared understanding helps everyone to work together towards a safe and high quality healthcare system.
Prior to adoption of the national charter by Australian Health Ministers, a number of states and territories had their own charters. In Victoria, this was the Victorian Public Hospital Patient Charter, launched in 1995 after extensive consultation with health services professional bodies, consumer and community groups. A second round of consultation – including with hospitals about their use of that charter – led to a revised version in 2002.
The Victorian government has incorporated much of the material from that charter into the Australian Charter of HealthCare Rights in Victoria brochure. This includes a summary, more information and links for consumers and for healthcare providers and services.
One of the national charter’s guiding principles is that the Australian government commits to international agreements about human rights that recognise everyone’s right to have the highest possible standard of physical and mental health. These agreements recognise everyone’s right to health care, and to other services essential to health, including safe water, housing and health-related education. In Victoria, publicly-funded healthcare services must legally comply with the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006, which protects a range of human rights, a number of which are relevant to people seeking or receiving health care.
Development of the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights in Victoria brochure was informed by research and consultation undertaken by the Health Issues Centre about how the national charter, the Victorian Public Hospital Patient Charter, and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities might fit together in the context of the Victorian government’s approach to healthcare rights and human rights.
The Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights in Victoria brochure and this website are one initiative in a broader Victorian government program promoting consumer participation, access and quality of care. Visit the Links page and the More information for consumers page for links to a range of other Victorian government initiatives and a range of non-government and community organisations working on healthcare rights, consumer participation and consumer advocacy.
For more information about the development and implementation of the national charter, visit the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare website.