Just over $90 million has been allocated (Budget Paper 2, p.131) over two years to the establishment of the Australian Centre for Disease Control (ACDC), according to the Budget papers published last night, Tuesday 9 May 2023.
The Government plans to operate an interim ACDC from 1 January 2024, within the Department of Health and Aged Care, headed by the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly.
“In the budget there is quite substantial funds allocated to the first stage of building a CDC,” Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler MP, told a webinar on the Health and Aged Care Portfolio 2023-24 Federal Budget on 10 May.
“That will be an interim CDC housed within the department.
“That is not the long-term option. The long-term option, in terms of what sort of statutory authority or other model might be agreed upon by all governments, hasn’t yet been decided.”
Minister Butler emphasised the importance of support for the ACDC from all state and territory jurisdictions.
“There’s been strong engagement with the sector itself, but can I say for me that the most important foundational agreement to get for the Commonwealth is with states and territories.
“If this thing is going to work, we need the whole-hearted buy in of all states and territories to this, so there’s been also a really deep discussion between all health ministers about this on a number of occasions, as well as the Chief Health Officers with Professor Kelly, the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.”
Minister Butler emphasised data, and infectious diseases, as the initial focuses of the ACDC.
“I think it’s fair to say the feedback that we have got about the CDC’s first priority is around data,” he explained.
“And very clear sharing of data in one repository, which will be the CDC.
“We found through the pandemic that often we at the Commonwealth level did not have a clear line of sight over what was happening in different parts of the system to COVID patients including COVID patients who were dying.
“And I think that is just symptomatic of a system that’s not particularly good often at sharing data. So data, infectious disease, given what we’ve gone through over the last three years will probably be the initial focus of the CDC as we build it out.
“But we’re very conscious that the longer term challenges for our health system are in chronic disease, the opportunities are in prevention, and so building this out into a much more rounded system is the overall objective, not just from the Commonwealth, but I know from state and territory governments as well.”
The $90m allocated for the forthcoming ACDC is a welcome first step. PHAA will continue to closely monitor for further updates on its progress.
PHAA will also advocate for proper and long-term funding for the ACDC so it can achieve its best possible start in life. We have gone on record on many occasions to suggest that the funding should be in the hundreds, not the tens of millions of dollars.
Read more perspectives on the forthcoming Australian CDC in CDC Corner.