Medicare: A forty-year health check and a way forward

Media release

18 January 2024

A Deakin University symposium will look back on the history of Medicare and provide a way forward for the nation’s healthcare system as it marks its 40th birthday next month.

Medicare: A Forty-Year Health Check will feature presentations by industry professionals and academic experts, as well as an opening address by the Hon Mark Butler MP, Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care.

The Minister will reflect in his speech on the nation-shaping legacy of Medicare, including the impact of funding cuts.

His speech will outline how a stronger Medicare will deliver both health and hip pocket benefits to Australians through long overdue reforms.

Associate Professor Carolyn Holbrook, the symposium's convenor, said the event provided the perfect opportunity to examine the Medicare scheme since its inception on February 1, 1984.

"Healthcare systems around the world face challenges including workforce shortages and a growing need for complex care," Associate Professor Holbrook said.

"This symposium will provide space to reflect on the first four decades of our nationwide universal healthcare insurance scheme, its successes and failures, in the context of present concerns and future needs."

Australia was comparatively late to establish a universal healthcare scheme, due in part to several failed earlier attempts to introduce national health insurance.

While Australians did not embrace Medicare wholeheartedly at its introduction, Associate Professor Holbrook said attitudes soon shifted as people welcomed free access to public hospitals and bulk-billed consultations with GPs.

Themes to be examined at the February 1 symposium include the place of Medicare in the Australian imagination compared to similar schemes in other countries, political and bureaucratic management of the Medicare brand over the decades, as well as the corporatisation of healthcare.

The declining state of public health journalism will also be discussed, as will Indigenous and other grassroots and consumer perspectives on Medicare services, and the politics and economics of healthcare.

Medicare: A Forty-Year Health Check

When: Thursday, 1 February 2023, 9am-5.30pm (doors open 8.45am)

Where: Deakin Downtown, Tower 2, Level 12, 727 Collins St, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Register: Medicare: A Forty Year Health Check Tickets, Thu 01/02/2024 at 9:00 am | Eventbrite

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Media release Faculty of Arts and Education, Faculty of Health, School of Humanities and Social Sciences