National Primary Health Care Strategic Framework


Page last updated: April 2013

The National Primary Health Care Strategic Framework is the first national statement, endorsed by the Standing Council on Health, which presents an agreed approach for creating a stronger, more robust primary health care system in Australia.

Evidence demonstrates that those health systems with strong primary health care are more efficient, have lower rates of hospitalisation, fewer health inequalities and better health outcomes including lower mortality.

While Australians generally enjoy some of the best health outcomes in the world, it is widely recognised the current health system is under increasing strain from the growing burden of chronic illness and an ageing population.

This Framework builds on major health reforms already underway and will contribute towards our goal of achieving a safe, equitable, effective and sustainable health system.

Our vision for primary health care in Australia is clear. We aim to:

  • improve health care for all Australians, particularly those who currently experience inequitable health outcomes;
  • keep people healthy;
  • prevent illness;
  • reduce the need for unnecessary hospital presentations; and
  • improve the management of complex and chronic conditions.
The Framework focuses on four strategic outcomes:
  • building a consumer focused and integrated primary health care system;
  • improving access and reducing inequity;
  • increasing the focus on health promotion and prevention, screening and early intervention; and
  • improving quality, safety, performance and accountability.
The Commonwealth in partnership with each state and territory will develop state-specific bilateral plans to implement the Framework. These plans will specify the actions to be undertaken to address the issues of most importance within each jurisdiction and where collaborative action can make the greatest gains.

Primary health care providers are critical to leading new approaches in how we deliver health care in our communities, such as patient-centred care, interdisciplinary approaches, and the optimal use of information and communication technologies.

Consumers also have an essential role. We need to support individuals and families to make informed choices about their health care needs and to be actively engaged as partners with their health care team.

This Framework is an important step in an ongoing process of improvement, reform and cultural change in our health system. It will help ensure that our primary health care system not only meets the challenges of today, but that it’s ready for the needs of the future.

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research
Australian Government