In conversation with Professor Zoe Wainer: The future of community and public health from the state’s perspective.

In conversation with Professor Zoe Wainer: The future of community and public health from the state’s perspective.

EMPHN welcomed Deputy Secretary Community & Public Health, Professor Zoe Wainer for a discussion on the future directions of community and public health across Victoria. 

08 May, 2024

Professor Wainer’s commitment to advancing public health is evident through her multifaceted contributions, encompassing clinical practice, governance, education, and policy development, making her a key stakeholder in the health sector. Her work continues to influence public health strategies and initiatives within Victoria, and we were delighted to welcome her to speak with our health sector colleagues.

She spoke on the key pieces of work the Community and Public Health division have accomplished within women’s health and the primary and community care spaces that have seen positive results so far in continuing to support and enable the healthcare system. When looking forward to the future of Victoria’s primary care, Prof. Wainer was able to provide thoughtful insights to the audience noting first and foremost that yes, the primary healthcare system is facing significant challenges, with a rising number of aging individuals, an increase in mental illness, and a growing prevalence of chronic and complex conditions.

These issues, paired with a lack of funding, are putting a strain on the system’s ability to deliver a comprehensive and connected health services for patients, whilst also needing to manage increasing demands. She reinforced the pressing need for additional people and resources to ensure that patients receive the right care, at the right place, and at the right time.

Prof. Wainer believes there is a critical need to strengthen both acute care centres and primary care facilities. The goal is to create a seamless and integrated experience for patients, where they can transition smoothly between different levels of care without unnecessary complications or delays.

She also raised that supporting national data collection and linkage projects is essential for the future of an elevated healthcare system across Victoria. Prof. Wainer strongly believes that by focusing initially on the desired outcomes, it is possible to then strategise and plan accordingly to establish the necessary initiatives and allocate appropriate funding to achieve the targeted outcomes. This approach ensures that efforts are intentionally pursued and that resources are used in the most impactful way to improve the healthcare system.

One key call out was clear – our primary focus should be on the health span of Victorians, not lifespan.

Australians are living longer, the proportion of life spent in ‘good health’ is decreasing, as the prevalence of chronic conditions is increasing. With nearly one in two Victorians having one or more chronic diseases, treatments are continuing to increase in cost - there is an economic and social value of investing in public health for prevention.

Prof. Wainer and the division will continue to work towards ensuring better models of care for Victorians.

EMPHN, along with all our health sector colleagues in attendance, were thrilled and inspired to hear Professor Zoe’s insightful, engaging and thought-provoking conversation and we look forward to the opportunity to hear from her again.