To say 2019-20 was unprecedented would be an understatement. The pandemic, coupled with an unparalleled fire season, took its toll on an already over stretched health system and pushed it well and truly to its limits. It has been a privilege, as the CEO of the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA), to support sector leaders and the system navigate and respond to the challenges being thrown at them day in and day out.
Throughout it all, the VHA team has made every effort to be there for our members. Engaging with stakeholders on behalf of the sector, facilitating engagement between members and government, representing the needs and priorities of the sector at various forums and meetings, keeping members updated through regular communications, and monitoring developments to understand the impacts on the sector.
It has been heartening to see another story playing out throughout the pandemic; one about the strength and dedication of the sector. The pandemic has been the impetus for change and the sector is embracing the opportunity to do things differently. The health workforce has gone above and beyond to care for Victorians and support each other. Collaboration and partnership have become the cornerstone to the success of the response. Observing this shift in mindset and the ability of the system to rapidly change course in such a short period of time has been truly inspiring and offers hope for a more resilient, sustainable and responsive system for the future.
After months of responding to the pandemic, we can only hope that the recovery phase is not too far away. With an eye to the future and aligned with our organisational objective to catalyse system transformation, on behalf of the sector we are collating learnings, innovations and ideas for change to maintain momentum and sustain the positive gains achieved so far. By retaining and building on new ways of delivering care and addressing systemic problems, we have the chance to turn this crisis into an opportunity to guarantee the long-term success of the health system.
Throughout 2019-20, health and community health services continued to turn to the Australian Centre for Healthcare Governance for specialist advice. Our team supported many members to review their board operations to gain a clearer picture of their governance needs and understand the important role the Board plays in securing the future of the organisation, particularly during a crisis.
The pandemic is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the health care sector; the impact unlikely to be fully realised for many years to come. Unsurprisingly, like the sector it represents, the VHA has not been left unscathed by the pandemic. It has had a considerable impact on our finances and operations; largely due to reduced revenue from our investments and a pause to key activities identified under our long-term strategy. Fortunately, this impact has been within the parameters of our financial planning.
While these impacts are likely to delay our plans for growth, as outlined in our Strategy 2019-22, the VHA will continue to forge ahead and deliver on its purpose to be the voice of the health sector, build capacity of our members and catalyse system transformation for the ultimate benefit of all Victorians. There has never been a more important time to build on our strengths and look to future opportunities.
I would like to thank our members, Board of Directors, and the VHA team for their contribution and commitment to the VHA and the sector throughout this challenging period. I’d also like to thank our corporate partners and other stakeholders, including other peak bodies, ministers and government officials, for working with us to ensure the needs of our healthcare system and the health of all Victorians remains the top priority.