Vaccination Webinar Series

PSA vaccination webinar series 2024

Throughout the unprecedented health challenges faced on a global scale in recent years, pharmacists have been increasingly recognised as essential frontline healthcare providers, playing an essential role in safeguarding public health. Starting in January 2024, the expansion of National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccine delivery by pharmacists will increase their role in vaccine uptake and accessibility in Australia. To further equip and empower pharmacists with the knowledge and skills required to excel in their expansion of vaccination scope of practice, PSA will deliver a series of vaccination webinars.


1. National Immunisation Program (NIP) – 31 January 2024, 7.30pm – 8.30pm AEDT

2. Shingles – 21 February 2024, 7.00pm – 8.30pm AEDT.

3. Respiratory Syncytial Virus – 20 March 2024, 7.30pm – 8.30pm AEDT

4. Influenza – 17 April 2024, 7.30pm – 8.30pm AEST – webinar registration details coming soon

5. Childhood vaccination (date & time to be confirmed) – webinar registration details coming soon

6. Pneumococcal disease (date & time to be confirmed) – webinar registration details coming soon


Thank you to our participating partners


GSK-Seqirus-Sanofi logos image

Pharmacists in 2030

Published in 2019, Pharmacists in 2023 was the primary report into the future role of pharmacists across Australia’s health systems.


The report opened with statements highlighting the Australian health system’s universality, effectiveness, and efficiency. It also highlighted megatrends which would test these vital attributes and identified ways to unlock the potential of pharmacists to help respond to these trends. What was not identified in 2019 was the extent of acceleration for these trends which the COVID-19 pandemic would bring.


We have come a long way to achieving the vision set out in Pharmacists in 2023. As we reach the end date on this plan, it is time to reflect on these achievements and use its successes and lessons to forge the next plan for the profession as we head towards 2030. But there is much more to do.



Consultation has now closed. If you wish to provide feedback beyond the consultation, please email policy@psa.org.au


PSA has sought input from a range of stakeholders, including pharmacists, industry, governments, peak bodies, and other health professionals.


The next consultation phase seeks important feedback from the patients and customers we serve.


Your views are vital to shaping a future that serves the changing needs of our communities and supports the sustainability of the health sector.


Read the full consultation paper here and complete the consultation survey below.

Industry consultation open

September 2023



Consultation closes

December 2023



Review feedback, insights

January 2024



PSA member only briefing

February 2024



Targeted consumer consultation

Throughout 2024



Consumer insight report launch

June 2024



Pharmacists in 2030 launch

August 2024

Toward Pharmacists in 2030: Launch of Consultation Paper

25 September 2023     This World Pharmacists Day, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has launched consultation for its primary future vision report Pharmacists (…)

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60-day dispensing

To inform our ongoing advocacy and feedback to the Department about this policy, PSA has also established a dedicated contact for members to raise concerns and issues directly with our team.


If you have any examples of unintended consequences or issues as a result of the 60-day prescription policy,  please send an email to 60daydispensing@psa.org.au. This will help gather evidence on the impact on the ground.


If you are concerned about the clinical appropriateness of 60-day prescriptions – contact the prescriber in the first instance.


If you need professional advice – please call the PSA Pharmacist-to-Pharmacist advice line where one of our expert senior pharmacists will be able to help.


The Pharmacist-to-Pharmacist advice line is available exclusively to PSA members, providing confidential, independent and specialised advice to support and guide your practice, referencing the most up-to-date standards, guidelines and resources developed by PSA and regulatory bodies.


Contact the Pharmacist-to-Pharmacist Advice Line on 1300 369 772 – Option 5, between 8.30am and 5.00pm AEST Monday to Friday, or via P2Padvice@psa.org.au.

Stage 1 includes 92 medicines (256 PBS items) and represents roughly one third of all the medicines proposed to be made eligible for 60-day prescriptions. The 256 PBS items include different dosage forms and strengths of Stage 1 medicines.


The list of the Stage 1 medicines is available here.


Australian Pharmacist has published a thorough practice update.


Members who require further support to transition to 60-day dispensing have access to PSA’s dedicated Pharmacist-to-Pharmacist Advice Line for professional and practice support.


1300 369 772






PSA is also continuing our efforts on ensuring there is meaningful reinvestment into our profession to enable pharmacists to continue to deliver high quality healthcare to Australians.


This is no doubt a challenging and emotional time for many of us. Please continue to look after yourself and others around you.  If you require support, the Pharmacists’ Support Service is also available on 1300 244 910.

Previous updates

Securing pharmacy’s future

14 July 2023


We have so far met with around 30 MPs and senators, as well as the Department of Health. In these meetings, we raised our concerns about the 60-day dispensing policy and aged care program, and put forward recommendations on away forward and how meaningful reinvestment can be undertaken to maintain viability of the community pharmacy network.


The way forward must acknowledge the:

  1. real impact of this policy on our profession, patients and health system
  2. essential role that community pharmacies and pharmacists play in primary care


Our message and conversations are clear, that the reinvestment should support pharmacy programs with a focus on accessible care and safe and effective use of medicines. This can include services such as triage and referral/minor ailments programs, removing caps on medication reviews and DAAs, and allowing pharmacists to have greater autonomy to utilise our clinical judgements.


The proposed reinvestment can only be considered meaningful if the needs of the vulnerable and specific patient groups are addressed. These include older Australians on multiple medications, patients on dose administration aids, people living in rural and remote communities, First Nations people, clients receiving Home Care Packages and people living with disability and chronic debilitating health conditions.


The implementation or uptake of any new programs may take time, and therefore safeguards must be in place to maintain viability of the community pharmacy network and ensure good patient care through optimising the role of pharmacists in primary healthcare delivery. As such, there may be a need to review and increase dispensing and AHI fees, or the acceleration of new service implementation.


On aged care, we continue to advocate for flexibility in service administration and delivery, and maximising pharmacists’ time on ground to deliver resident-level and facility-level duties to meet the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.


We have also raised our strong concern that the current proposal (through community pharmacy however without any remuneration for pharmacy engagement) will see significant implementation challenge in terms of uptake and equity. We are continuing our conversations with the Department, with more meetings to come.


Dr Fei Sim FPS

PSA National President

Support us to support you – Update on Senate Estimates

2 June 2023


Last week, the Senate’s Community Affairs Committee held hearings to discuss the Federal Budget measures impacting our profession. I wanted to provide you with an update on these proceedings and highlight the important role that the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) plays in advocating for pharmacists like you.


Alongside our members, PSA has been working tirelessly, in collaboration with other pharmacy organisations who share similar concerns, to represent your interests and to ensure your voice is heard. It was clear that our concerns are being heard.


Recent policy developments highlight the importance of unity and strong representation for all pharmacists. In crucial times like this, it is vital that our profession stays united in solidarity. As PSA’s National President, I am absolutely committed to advocating for your interests. I invite you to join me, our PSA elected officials, members and team, in our shared mission to enable pharmacists to be at the forefront of healthcare in Australia.


During the hearings, the committee questioned officials from the Department of Health regarding various policy measures, including the proposed 60-day dispensing, on-site aged care pharmacist program, and community pharmacy reinvestment.


Senate Estimates highlighted the impact of these proposed policies, with Senators referencing conversations with pharmacists. The discussions covered a wide range of topics, such as medicine shortages, pharmacy viability (especially in regional areas), aged care services, medicines wastage, safety considerations, and policy implementation approaches.


Department heads were asked to respond to a number of questions on topics ranging from medicine shortages, the viability of pharmacies – particularly in regional areas – aged care, medicines wastage, impact on safety, “reinvestment” and policy implementation approach. Senator Anne Ruston questioned the consultation and decision-making process, and the $1.6 billion loss in co-payments.


Much of the testimony explored details already on the public record, however additional insight was provided in some areas. For example, on aged care, the Department was asked to reflect on concerns that pharmacies have been providing DAAs to residential aged care facilities cross-subsidised by dispensing remuneration and that this may no longer be sustainable. Department of Health Deputy Secretary Penny Shakespeare noted that it is not an expectation that pharmacies provide free services to aged care facilities and that there is a willingness to consider ways to manage this impact.


In relation to 60-day dispensing, the Department has also:

  • Confirmed a substantial component of the “reinvestment” in community pharmacy will be used to top-up budgeted funds for professional services within the 7CPA.
  • Recognised there may be an increase in medicines wastage, but have described the likely impact as small in the context of the scale of the PBS and that they intend to monitor this via the RUM program.


In response to questions from ACT independent Senator David Pocock, the Department of Health described some of the remuneration and transition arrangements for opioid dependence program:

  • Patients will pay a PBS co-payment for the medicine (i.e., methadone or buprenorphine), but be subject to no additional charges.
  • Like other S100 HSD medicines, community pharmacies will be paid a markup, dispensing fee, and Dangerous Drug fee for the dispensing of this item.
  • A staged supply fee of $5.66 (including a $0.97 consumables allowance) will be provided for each dose provided by a pharmacist.
  • The Department is exploring transition arrangements so that existing prescriptions can be used for a period following the program’s start date.
  • The Department is exploring some transition arrangements for availability of OTP medicines for private clinics, but reaffirmed the policy intention is to reduce out-of-pocket patient costs.


On other measures discussed:

  • Following Minister Butler’s announcement of a scope of practice review for all health professionals, Department of Health Deputy Secretary Penny Shakespeare provided the committee with an update on preparation for the review. The Department is currently preparing the Terms of Reference for the review which will take 12-18 months to complete.
  • In response to questions regarding vaping reforms, Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy indicated that non-prescription supply of nicotine-vapes for smoking cessation by pharmacists is a policy option the TGA is considering.


Please let me emphasise that the momentum of our advocacy efforts must continue if we want to ensure there is meaningful reinvestment into our profession as a pathway forward, to maintain the career prospects of our pharmacists and the viability of the community pharmacy network. Pharmacists can do more, the health system and our patients need pharmacists to do more, but pharmacists can’t do more for less.


As a valued member of our esteemed FB ECP group, I thank you for being part of our dynamic community that is shaping the future of pharmacy. Your dedication and passion are instrumental in driving the progress of our profession.


For those who are already PSA members, I appreciate your continued support and commitment to your professional growth. Your membership enables PSA to provide you with exclusive resources, networking opportunities, and tailored support to help you thrive as an early career pharmacist.


To those who haven’t yet joined us, I invite you to embark on this exciting journey with the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA). Renew your membership today or join us for the first time by visiting PSA Membership or emailing membership@psa.org.au. Together, lets forge a better future for our profession.


If you have any questions or any feedback, feel free to reach out to our team on 1300 369 772.


Best wishes,


Dr Fei Sim FPS

PSA National President

Pharmacists ready to administer more vaccines to more Tasmanians

Thursday 23 March 2023


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia joins with the Tasmanian premier encouraging Tasmanians to utilise the vaccinating skills of their local pharmacist when having a prescribed vaccine dispensed.


Premier Rockliff this morning launched updated Tasmanian Immunisation Program Guidelines at a pharmacy in South Hobart, which comes into effect today.


PSA’s Tasmanian President David Peachey welcomed the Premier’s support and endorsement of the skills of pharmacists as core part of Tasmania’s vaccinator workforce:


‘Pharmacists are ready to support the Tasmanian population by administering prescribed vaccines and bypassing an unnecessary return trip to the medical centre after a vaccine has been dispensed at a community pharmacy’


‘Next time you take a prescription for a vaccine to your local pharmacy, you can save a return visit to the medical centre by having your pharmacist administer it for you. This is in addition to medicines pharmacists can already authorise and administer, including influenza, COVID19, whooping cough and Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR).’


Mr Peachey said the move would help reduce pressure on wait times for medical services, as well and provide a more convenient option for patients:


‘Tasmanian pharmacists know all too well the overwhelming pressure and demand our medical colleagues are experiencing, and we welcome any initiatives remove an unnecessary step in accessing health care, such as vaccination.


‘All health professionals need more time to with their patients who have more complex health needs, and having local pharmacists administering more vaccines helps facilitate this.’


PSA continues to advocate for pharmacist to be able to authorise as well as administer routine and travel health vaccines as their counterparts in other states, particularly NSW and Queensland, are already able to do.


PSA will also continue to advocate for the removal of cost discrimination on vaccine administration:


‘It makes no sense that patients cannot access a consultation fee for the administration of a vaccine, by pharmacists yet the MBS has provision for both nurses and medical practitioners to do this in general practice. Mr Peachey continued.


’As long as community pharmacists must continue to charge administration fees to cover the cost of this service, it will not reach its full potential.’


Media contact: Georgia Clarke M: 0480 099 798 E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au 

SA Health Minister launches PSA Museum

Friday 16 December 2022


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is proud to open the new pharmaceutical museum in South Australia.


The collection, which is housed at the PSA offices in Adelaide, showcases the history of pharmacy practice, including compounding from botanical sources: opium poppies, lavender, coca, and cannabis through to the emergence of propriety products like asthma cigarettes and various other products like chocolate coated Blaud, strychnine and arsenic pills.


The South Australian Health Minister Chris Picton MP formally opened the museum today. The Minister commended PSA for its work on curating the museum.


“It is wonderful to see such an important and interesting part of our health history on display for South Australians to enjoy. This museum demonstrates just how far pharmacy has come, while showcasing its fascinating origins” the Minister said.


PSA South Australia and Northern Territory Vice President Dr Manya Angley thanked the Health Minister for opening the museum, saying that it demonstrates just how far pharmacy has come.


“We are very lucky to have medicines and tools from pharmacists dating back to the 1800s,” Dr Angley said.


“Many of them we now consider dangerous, with regulations and testing increasing safety in use of medicines and medical devices.


“The collection also contains the beautiful gold leaf carboys which are used as decoration with no other function. There is a significant collection of items from the Runges Pharmacies that were acquired by PSA in the 1980s.


There is an extensive collection of historic books including one pharmacological text dating back to 1704! Among other texts on display are a number of handwritten prescription books – still in use in the 1970s – pharmacists’ own formularies, a collection of pharmacopeias from South Australian hospitals and some versions of the Australian War Pharmacopeia. The museum also houses one of the only collections containing every edition of the ‘bible of pharmacy’, PSA’s Australian Pharmaceutical Handbook and Formulary (APH).


“The museum is a special place for pharmacists to better connect with the profession and will be a central part of future PSA events in Adelaide.


“We sincerely thank Runge family, Trevor Lockett, Trevor Craig and Brian Edwards for their generous donations to the museum.


The Minister also announced the naming of the Lloyd Sansom training room and Grant Kardachi boardroom in recognition of both Lloyd and Grant’s significant and enduring leadership in pharmacy.


The museum will be open to the public by appointment with the PSA SA Office on (08) 8272 1211.


Media contact:   Candice Burch M: 0403 973 097     E: candice.burch@psa.org.au


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is the only national peak body that represents all of Australia’s pharmacists across all practice settings. We want every Australian to have access to the best healthcare, and this must include optimising access to pharmacists’ knowledge and medicines expertise at the forefront of our healthcare system.

Victoria’s top pharmacists honoured

8 December 2022


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has tonight presented its 2022 Victorian Pharmacist Awards to pharmacists who are making impressive contributions to the pharmacist profession and the health of their communities.


Intern of the Year – Heba Ali, Mickleham


Intern of the Year from Chemist Warehouse Merrifield City Pharmacy in Mickleham, Heba Ali has demonstrated a commitment to patient-centred care and professional practice and earned consistently high grades in her PSA Intern Training Program assessments. She also contributed to a public health awareness campaign on blood pressure, highlighting the role of pharmacists in the community, which was instituted at her pharmacy this year.


Early Career Pharmacist of the Year – Lauren Haworth MPS, Maddingley


With a reputation as a passionate community pharmacist in rural practice and a commitment to ECP and PSA activities, Lauren Haworth, Pharmacist in Charge at TerryWhite Chemmart Maddingley, is the Victorian ECP of the Year. She opened a pharmacy as the COVID-19 pandemic began, and thrived due to her hard work, commitment and leadership.


Pharmacist Medal – Paul Gysslink, MPS, Balwyn


The Pharmacist Medal recognises the quiet achievement of Paul Gysslink who has consistently contributed to PSA’s Intern Training Program through workshop facilitation, assessment, marking and content advice. Throughout his long career he has worked for the pharmacist profession through union representation, PSA branch committee membership and delivered a strong voice for pharmacists, technicians and assistants.


Pharmacist of the Year – Yvette Anderson MPS, Bendigo


The Victorian Pharmacist of the Year Yvette Anderson is a rural pharmacist in Bendigo who launched the Spectrum Pharmacist service, an online consultation and telehealth clinic tailored to patients with neurodevelopmental conditions. Through the Spectrum Pharmacist service, Yvette helps individuals, families and carers with Autism Spectrum Disorder, dyslexia and co-occurring conditions such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder understand their conditions and treatment options and everyday life with expert support.


Yvette won the PSA22 Pharmacy Shark Tank competition and the People’s Choice Award for the Spectrum Pharmacist service.


Lifetime Achievement Award – Professor Geoff Sussman OAM JP FPS, Melbourne


Associate Professor of Wound Care at Monash University Professor Geoff Sussman OAM JP FPS – Olympian, cantor at his local synagogue, TV writer, director and performer, researcher and sports administrator – has made a significant contribution to the profession. As a Clinical Lecturer in Medical Education at the University of Melbourne, he lectures in pharmacology, sports medicine, and wound care. His Lifetime Achievement Award recognises an extensive international career and reputation in wound care including 4 decades in clinical research and practice and more than 100 publications.


PSA Victorian President John Jackson congratulated the award winners and thanked them for their dedication to improving Australian healthcare.


“Each and every pharmacist recognised last night has made a significant contribution to the profession over the last year and throughout their careers and I congratulate them all on this worthy recognition.


“Congratulations to the award winners and all the nominees for your commitment to better health.”


Media contact:   Peter Guthrey   M: 0487 922 176     E: peter.guthrey@psa.org.au


PSA and PDL join forces in new partnership

24 November 2022


The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has entered into a new partnership with Pharmaceutical Defence Limited (PDL), to enhance collaboration between the two organisations on medicine safety and pharmacist practice support.


Both organisations agreed to explore new medicine safety initiatives, including support for a future nationally coordinated pharmacovigilance system, and medicine incident and near-miss reporting systems, to provide feedback on the safe and effective use of medicines.


Under the agreement, PSA will commence work on the sixth report in PSA’s flagship Medicine Safety report series. A Practice Support Liaison Group will also be established between the two organisations to enhance support for pharmacists and scope of practice across all areas of pharmacy practice.


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim says that it puts both organisations in a stronger position to make medicines safer for all Australians through excellence in pharmacist practice.


“We are stronger when we work together, and this will allow our organisations to collaborate on future medicine safety reports, and to progress medicine safety initiatives such as a nationally coordinated pharmacovigilance system.


“PDL is incredibly well trusted by the profession, and has supported pharmacists for generations, through investment in pharmacist education and scholarships as well as practice support. PSA is excited to see that practice support expand for pharmacists across all practice settings.


“I’d like to thank PDL for their support and collaboration, and for their ongoing commitment to the pharmacy profession and to improving medicine safety for all Australians.”


PDL Board Chair Paul Naismith said that the agreement will unite PDL and PSA members, who share the common goal of improving medicine safety in Australia.


“As the peak body representing all pharmacists, PSA has demonstrated it is a leader in medicine safety by driving excellence in pharmacist practice. At PDL, we’re excited to be working together with PSA to help tailor practice support across the profession in areas it will have the biggest impact on improving medicine safety.


“We look forward to supporting and working with PSA to further strengthen our great profession as it strives to deliver on Australia’s growing health needs.



PSA media contact: Georgia Clarke M: 0410 505 315 E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au

PDL media contact: Alice Faull P: 03 9958 0504 E: alice.faull@pdl.org.au

PSA is the Home for Accredited Pharmacists

26 September 2022



Following the announcement that the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacy (AACP) Board will cease operations, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is proud to announce that accreditation will remain available to all pharmacists through PSA, who are working to further streamline the process and remove barriers for any pharmacists wanting to undertake accreditation. PSA further expresses absolute support for accreditation and a career pathway for accredited pharmacists.


PSA National President Dr Fei Sim says that despite the closure of the AACP, accreditation will continue to be an integral part of the pharmacy profession and PSA.


“PSA is and always will be the home of accredited pharmacists. Accreditation aligns with our policy and advocacy agenda,” Dr Sim said.


“We are absolutely committed to ensuring accreditation opportunities remain and acknowledge the need for pharmacists to develop and maintain the skills attained during accreditation to be a minimum requirement for activities like RMMRs and HMRs.


“Accredited pharmacists have and will continue to play a vital role in the profession, especially as work progresses to embed pharmacists in residential aged care facilities.


Dr Sim encourages all accredited pharmacists to join the PSA and added that all pharmacists who complete their accreditation or reaccreditation with PSA will also be offered post-nominal titles, as well as opportunities to attend autonomous events for accredited pharmacists.


“PSA-accredited pharmacists will be able to access professional support and professional development throughout your entire career, not only through your training. This is an important part of the support AACP has provided, and PSA is proud to carry on that legacy.


To demonstrate PSA’s commitment, the PSA Accreditation Expert Advisory Group has been established. Under the leadership of Chair Debbie Rigby FPS and alongside experts A/Prof Chris Freeman FPS, Deborah Hawthorne MPS, Dr Andrew Stafford MPS, Dr Manya Angley FPS, and Tim Perry FPS, the group will provide advice to PSA on the new accreditation model, which ensures accredited pharmacists’ needs are met.


“Accreditation is an important step to assure consumers, aged care providers, GPs and funders that pharmacists are competent to conduct comprehensive medication reviews,” the Chair of the group Ms Rigby said.


“We are looking to contemporise the training and assessment process, building on the existing AACP model by considering changing practice needs and external feedback. I am really pleased that PSA is committed to provide a suite of training and education modules as well as support and mentoring.


“Opportunities for different career pathways for pharmacists continue to expand, so it’s important that we have a complete package of support, training and credentialing for pharmacists attracted to this area of practice.”


Accredited pharmacists who are PSA members will also be automatically provided the post-nominal “MPS-AACPA”. Accredited pharmacists who are not current PSA members are urged to join the PSA.





Media contact:   Georgia Clarke   M: 0410 505 315     E: georgia.clarke@psa.org.au


PSA22: Address by Federal Health Minister the Hon. Mark Butler MP

29 July 2022


Speech delivered at the Opening Plenary of PSA’s National Conference, PSA22 in Sydney. 



What a terrific new president you have elected. I was wondering when she was bragging about still being asked for ID – even trying to go into pubs and things – that was a bit annoying for someone my age.  Your first female national president and a woman of such capability. You should be feeling very proud of that address and I really hope that you enjoy your time as National President of this very significant organisation, and I look forward to working with you more.


Can I also acknowledge that we meet today on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and pay my respects to their elders past, present, and their young leaders who will be so important in future years.


Today of all days, after we received the Closing the Gap report yesterday, we must recommit ourselves to the drastically unfinished work of closing the gap in health outcomes and life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. There is still much, much to do. And I’m very proud as a member of the new government that is committed to the full implementation of the Statement from the Heart from Uluru. The first government of which, obviously, being the voice of the parliament is something that we’re committed to doing during this first term of what we hope to be a multiple term Labor government. So, thank you very much, Raymond for his acknowledgement.


Can I also acknowledge that I’m here with my good friend and close colleague, Emma McBride, who is only the eighth pharmacist ever elected to the Federal Parliament of Australia, I think we’ve had about 1200 MPs. New South Wales probably send 16 or 20 lawyers every election to Canberra. I’m legally trained so I’m not going to go too far into that. We’ve got to do better than eight pharmacists. And Emma is only the first female pharmacist in the 121-year history of Parliament.

I have been enjoying – so much – working with her as part of our health team, and I am really looking forward to the work we will be able to do together. And you’re going to hear from Emma just after me. I was really delighted to receive this invitation to come and address you. Obviously, every health minister needs to engage very closely and deeply with the pharmacy sector, but I’m a Labor minister. And so being able to come to a conference where the staff – the workforce – for this sector comes together is particularly pleasing for me. And I’m really glad that it’s my first major speech to the health sector generally, but particularly with the pharmacy sector. I know also how excited you are to be able to come together for the first-time face to face after two and a half, really, really challenging years. So, I hope you obviously do productive work, but also to have the time just to reconnect. Apparently, there’s a great bar at the top of this building – which I’m not going to be able to be a part of – but I’m really glad you’re able to come together, face to face. And I want to acknowledge – as Fei did – the work that you’ve all put in over the last two and a half years. It’s been a really tough two and a half years.


And I was saying to Terry and Rhonda, that there’s been no more accessible place to go when people need some health advice, when they need some support, than a community pharmacy, arguably, even more accessible than their local hospital. And I know particularly in those early phases of the pandemic before vaccines that it was dangerous work. You were putting your personal health, even your lives on the line to continue the work that you’re trained to do, that you’re committed to do, and I don’t think we’ll ever forget that. It was an extraordinary contribution you made to the health and safety of your community and I acknowledge you for it.


As Fei said, you’ve kicked on in the different phases of this pandemic with more than 8 million COVID-19 vaccinations. You must be close to 50% of all the flu vaccinations this year, just demonstrating that we must continue to entrench the central role that pharmacists play in the National Immunisation Program. That is something that I am deeply grateful for.


I’m conscious also that you’re on the front line in that awful debacle over rapid antigen tests. I think I visited every pharmacy in my electorate in the western suburbs of Adelaide trying to find a rapid test for one of the members in my family over Christmas. And you were all just getting smashed and you shouldn’t have been. We should have been able to be ahead of the curve, order enough rapid tests to be able to get through that summer. But I know how much pressure you were on. And again, I acknowledge the way in which you dealt with that with good grace and continuing to provide as much good advice as you could to your communities.


But these are still challenging times, we’ve moved into undoubtedly a different place in this pandemic. But it’s a long way from over. Still, I think our latest official data shows that about 330,000 people officially contracted COVID over the last seven day. But the likely number is more than twice that. We look at the serum sampling, we’re doing the blood donations and the like which is just an extraordinary thing to think about really. We think that maybe 7 or 800,000 Australians are catching COVID, every single week. Right now, I haven’t looked at today’s numbers, but about five and a half thousand people are in hospital today with COVID – which is about one in 12 public hospital beds filled with COVID patients. Happily, the number of patients in hospital with influenza has dropped dramatically. But 5 and a half thousand, as you know, is an extraordinary pressure on hospital systems dealing with few little staff itself and a whole range of other respiratory illnesses, as well as all of the deferred care we’ve seen from the last couple of years. So, this is a very, very difficult period.


Again, on the upside, ICU numbers haven’t climbed as fast as broader hospitalisation numbers, they’re still well short of the numbers we saw in the first omicron wave over summer. But they are creeping up and the mortality data over the last few days has also started to creep up. Which is why when we came to government a couple of months ago, we wanted to bring some new energy into some of the elements of the pandemic response. I had been saying when we went into the election that there wasn’t enough information going out to the public about the critical importance of the third dose.


There was there was far too much, I think apathy around the importance of boosters, and a sense among too many members of the community that two doses were sufficient. I’ve said that the federal government should have been putting out strong information campaigns that you’re not fully protected, until you get your third dose at least. And if you’re at a particular age, which Fei is a long way from, you should have a fourth dose as well, which is why we started to roll that information campaign out. But still, there are about more than 5 million Australians who have effectively tapped out of the vaccine program. They’ve gone more than six months since they’ve had their second dose, that still haven’t had their third. And that number is only increasing by about 50,000 every week. It is proving very, very difficult to shift. And so, we have rolled out an information campaign on this. We’ve got targeted campaigns in First Nations communities. But there’s much more that I think we need to do around the third dose.


The story around the fourth dose is much better though, I have to say, we worked very hard to get the eligibility criteria standard for the fourth dose of the vaccine. And since that came into operation a couple of weeks ago, as you know better than me, fourth dose numbers have skyrocketed. I tried to get into my pharmacy on Saturday to get my fourth dose and I couldn’t. He was overflowing. We’ve had more than half a million people get a fourth dose every week since we made that change. That is a wonderful result. And it is going to prevent a whole lot of severe disease, because those fourth doses have been taken by people overwhelmingly over the age of 50, including over the age of 65.


The expansion of antiviral eligibility is also something we wanted to do very much, which is why for the first time, I think the Commonwealth, we actually put a submission before PBAC to expand that eligibility because for some reason, the drug companies involved weren’t willing to do that. And I’m glad that PBAC did expand that eligibility, we began seeing prescription numbers climb by almost 200% since that decision. The week before the decision about 13,000 scripts were filled for either Lagevrio or Paxlovid. The next week, it was 30,000. Well over double that. The next week, it was 32,000. I love to see that number continue to increase. You’re playing such a critical role in doing that.


And the other thing that I said when I came to office was that I wanted some more energy around vaccination rates in aged care facilities. At that time, only about 50% of residents had received their fourth dose which we know is going to be so critical for the most vulnerable members of our community. And since starting to bring some new energy, getting repeat visits back to those facilities, that number has climbed to 80 percent which I’m much, much more happy with.


As you know, expanding PBS approvals for Lagevrio and Paxlovid is critical to expanding access. Without the PBS listing those medicines cost about $1,000, which I know some people have been paying – they’re that keen to get it if they can afford it – but most Australians can’t even come close to affording $1000. So, getting that listing, getting it down to $42.50, or even $6.80 at for concessionals was absolutely critical and it just reminds us again, what a wonderful system we have in the PBS.


I said yesterday to Peter Dutton, who I’ve sparred with for some years – having been the Health Minister for four years under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – over health policy, I said how proud we are of our legacy as the Labor party and health. The twin pillars of universality in this country were hard fought. Most of us would remember the fights over universal health care through Medibank and then Medicare. We fought it for decades, and now it’s firmly entrenched as part of our social fabric. It wasn’t easy.


And the PBS wasn’t easy, either. John Curtin and then Ben Chifley fought hard to get this and it took two more high court challenges, two referendums, constitutional changes in a pitched battle to what was in then British Medical Association, the BMA, the Liberal Party, and many others, took really 15 or so years for it to become what it is today, which is a genuinely universal system, perhaps, I think, the best medical system pound for pound, in terms of bang for buck, that we have in the world. And I’m absolutely committed to making sure it works as well as it possibly can into the future as well. But for general patients, it is still a squeeze.


I know talking to pharmacists who have to deal with general patients coming through their door all the time, that many, many thousands of people, given the price pressures they’re facing in their households today are often making really tough decisions about which script they get filled, particularly if there are multiple scripts. Don’t take my word for it, the ABS said that around 900,000 patients every year are going without a script that their doctor has said to them is critical to their health. And they come in and I’ve heard you tell me these stories. And they say, well, I’ve got these two or three scripts, which one do you think is most important? And they might take the one that gives them the most immediate relief or pain relief script, for example, and forego the one that’s going to be really important for their longer-term health. Well, we’ve got to do better than that, which is why we’re committed to slashing the price of medicines for general patients on first of January.


We will do that, from $42.50 down to $30. It is a substantial fiscal commitment in a tight budget, but one particularly given price pressures on households right now is something that we’re committed to doing.


And we said at the election as well we will ensure that no patient is worse off. I’m aware of the discounting arrangements that operate in different pharmacies, and we’re committed, and I’m designing the legislation this way, we’re committed to making sure that scripts that are currently discounted, will still be able to be discounted, given the change in the in the general patient rate, and still count towards the threshold, towards the safety net.


In the same vein, I’m really pleased also that we’ve been able to already deliver on our commitment to provide much better support to people living with type one diabetes and wanting to access the extraordinary technology we have available to us now with constant glucose monitoring.


I was the Parliamentary Secretary for Health not last decade, the decade before last, when we in the Rudd Government introduced the first insulin pump program. That was seen then as just extraordinary technology. And it was. It really was quite life changing. But I’ve seen the changes in the last decade or more, and I’ve also seen the pressure placed on people who aren’t covered by the current program. Young kids, concession cardholders. The pressure placed on them at 18 to find four or $5,000 every year to pay for their CGM’s. And so, I’m really pleased that we’re able on the first of July – it took some pretty quick going – to on the first of July, to be able to bring in our new arrangements that everyone with type one diabetes – about an additional 80,000 people or so – will be able to access CGM technology by paying just a relatively small co-payment of $32.50 every month. Obviously, everyone covered by the old program remain covered. But again, this is a life changing innovation.


Now when I first met with your new president, which was last week, or the week before, and Mark as well, she asked me to do three things. And I just want to go through those three things. Three must be an important number for you. Three stories, and your three asks of the new federal government.
The first is around the commitment we’ve made to pharmacy and aged care. And it’s a really exciting commitment. I talked to Fei a little bit about this. She expressed her excitement about not just being able to deliver services for some of the most vulnerable members of our community, people who’ve worked so hard for decades and paid their taxes, raised their families and built this community we’re lucky enough to live in. From a pharmacy perspective, it’s just continuing to expand your vocation, your profession, not just community pharmacy, not just hospital pharmacy, that now recognising the ability to move into geriatrics, gerontology, into aged care, to become a new branch of your profession. I understand how exciting that is for you.


But it’s no secret from the perspective of residents themselves. That medication use and abuse has been a major issue in residential aged care for a long time. I’ve dealt with aged care for almost 30 years in different capacities. It’s an area I feel very, very close to. And I’ve seen the change over those 30 years as I’ve visited aged care facilities. When I started, many people had cars and would leave the facility and go shopping that might be there for 15, 20 years. The sort of cohort you now see in retirement villages, it’s very different cohort as you know, right now, but when I was Julia Gillard’s Minister for Aged Care more than a decade ago, you’ll remember, there was a lot of public discussion about the overuse of anti‑psychotics in residential aged care. Anti-psychotics are often prescribed, as someone was transitioning into a facility to deal with the distress that they were feeling, particularly if they were affected by dementia, particularly behavioural symptoms. A prescription that was intended to be short-lived and was often not being reviewed and certainly not been de-prescribed. And there was quite substantial public reporting about the cardiac impacts that was having as well. And I was absolutely struck by a roundtable that I convened about how we would deal with this, and one of Australia’s leading geriatricians told me when we were talking about the prevalence of polypharmacy in residential aged care, that he had come across a resident who had 43 scripts, different medicines, 43. None of them had been reviewed, and just kept accreting and accreting, and accreting.


We’ve got to do better, we have been doing better over the last decade, but the Royal Commission recognised that we needed to do better still. And that to do better still, we needed to tap your skills, we needed to tap your training and your experience. And I’m absolutely committed to delivering on that recommendation – Recommendation 38 of the Royal Commission.

And with this in mind, I’m very pleased to announce that today, a consultation paper will be launched on the department’s aged care engagement hub to start that process and ensure that we’re able to deliver on this commitment of $345 million. As a fraction of a million dollars, I’d forgotten about that, $345 million as we committed to do. And it means that we’re going to have to engage in the process of pretty quick co‑design. And that’s going to involve close engagement with the PSA as well as obviously, other groups like the Guild, residential aged care providers, unions, consumers, and probably also Primary Health Networks. The key issues that we’re going to talk about are well known to you. We’ve got to define the role of the onsite pharmacist, we’ve got to ensure that we’re very clear about training requirements for those pharmacists who will be working in residential aged care. Funding models will be important, and also ensuring the greater to measure health outcomes, and ensure that this investment delivers better outcomes for people living in residential aged care. I really look forward to the PSA’s active engagement in this process. Fei and Mark and I have already had a good deep discussion about the PSA’s views on this, because I know that you’ve done some of the deepest work in this area with some of your reports, which Fei was able to give to me to have a read of.


Which brings me to the second of Fei’s points. There are obviously also a whole range of aged care programs that you all work very hard on, as do your colleagues that are set out in the community pharmacy agreement or CPA7. When I speak of CPA7 I know having been involved in some of the earlier iterations when we were last in government, I know what a significant advance it was for the PSA to become a signatory to that agreement. And in my view, it was a good advance, it was an overdue and welcome advance, and it’s one that I can’t see any reason not to reflect as we move into the negotiations of CPA8, which will be in the second half of this term of Parliament.


Friends there’s much more I’d like to talk about, well, perhaps if I had the opportunity to chat with you about it in the sky bar, I just unfortunately don’t have the time, so I really want to acknowledge very quickly, the PSA’s work with the federal government and the Department of the take home Naloxone program. My state of South Australia was part of the pilot of that program, and I was quite flabbergasted by the results. Just the pilot showed that three lives were being saved every day by this program, it’s just really jaw dropping how effective something relatively simple can be, and really pleased to see that rollout into the non-pilot states as well. But it wouldn’t have been as successful a pilot in the program without the PSA’s close engagement. So, thank you for that. And I’m really pleased that we’re going to see that rollout right through the country and save many, many hundreds of lives.

I also know your deep interest in the review of the national medicines policy. I understand Michael Kidd is coming to talk to you a little later on today. I’ve known Michael for a very long time. I worked closely with him in in blood borne viruses and STIs, and a range of other areas when I was a health minister more than a decade ago. He’s a terrific fellow. I’m really pleased to announce that I’ve asked him to restart the review of the NMP. He’ll talk to you a little bit more in detail about that later today.


And I’m keen to have not today, perhaps, but I really think we need some deeper discussion about workforce in health. I mean, you’ll have read the papers, looked at the TV, every sector of the economy is dealing with workforce shortages right now. The closure of the borders for a country that for 20 years have relied so heavily on international workers in every sector has had a profound impact on our economy. We see it everywhere. But there is no more serious impact than in health – using that in the broadest sense of the word – we’re seeing it in our hospitals. We’re seeing it in general practice. We’re seeing it in aged care. And I know we’re seeing it from pharmacy as well, a number of you have told me about that. We need a really deep discussion about how we deal with some of those short-term challenges that will start to ameliorate as you open the borders, and some of the real structural challenges we have in the sector as well.


Terry and Rhonda and I were talking about this earlier, and I’ve got a very clear view about this, which I’ve said publicly on a number of occasions. It just doesn’t make sense to me as an Australian, but also as a health minister, that the enormous investment the community makes in training hundreds of thousands of health professionals is limited by not allowing people to operate at the top of their scope. It doesn’t make sense to me as demand for healthcare is climbing dramatically, leaving aside the impact of COVID, and we continue to have constrained supply of health workforces, not to have every single healthcare professional – whether they are doctors, nurses, allied health professionals or pharmacists working as close as possible to the top of their scope of practice. Now I know as well as you do that that is a contested proposition. And it’s not easy to step through that proposition without enlightening turf wars that can become very debilitating for community confidence as well as substantive outcomes. It’s something we tried to do when we were last in government. Minister Nicola Roxon was particularly passionate about it. And for the Labor Party, I see it very much as unfinished business, something I do want to come back to.


Health Workforce Australia was a really strong initiative for that former government. The abolition of HWA by Tony Abbott was probably predictable, but unfortunately wasn’t followed up with some alternative way in which could plan medium and long term for the health workforce needs of our country. I’m open to what that structure might look like. I haven’t committed particularly to any particular model. But we do need to have this very broad deep discussion because if we think it’s hard to see a doctor, hard to get into a pharmacist when some of you are struggling with your workforce challenges, you think that’s hard now, if we don’t get some of these structural challenges right, five or 10 years down the track, it’s going to be even harder. The PSA is going to be a really important partner in that discussion.


I want to thank you again for the invitation to come and talk to you. I really wish you all the very best for the rest of your conference over the weekend, and to a frank and productive relationship with the PSA as my time as Minister.


Thank you very much.