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  • Semester 2Multi-mode
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  • ACU Term 2Online Unscheduled
  • ACU Term 4Online Unscheduled



Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

As an aspiring health care leader, it is essential for students to understand the contexts within which healthcare decisions are made including social, economic, political and technological contexts. While many healthcare decisions are made locally, decisions made at the broader policy level will have an impact on all aspects of health care and on all practitioners working within the health care system. This unit supports students in developing the ability to plan, implement and evaluate policy-related strategies that promote effective, culturally safe health service administration in a variety of health settings and among diverse communities, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Students will also be supported to develop specialised skills in analysing and evaluating solutions to complex problems that are associated with policy development, planning and implementation as well as the consequential outcomes of policy decisions. 

This unit is founded on a social justice and equity framework with a special focus on evaluating policies that impact on the health of disadvantaged people, as well as on strategies that will reform policymaking, delivery and financing of health care in Australia.  

The aim of this unit is to provide opportunity for students to explore policy decision-making processes, to analyse underlying assumptions associated with policy decisions, to evaluate outcomes of policy decisions and to appraise potential issues for policy reform.  

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Justify how contemporary Australian policy making can influence equitable access to health care and the financial burden of illnessGC1, GC2, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO2Evaluate current policies impacting upon the healthcare workforce and their influence on quality health care in AustraliaGC1, GC2, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11
LO3Develop strategies that potentially can lead to health reform, and an improvement in health service delivery or more equitable financing in the Australian health care system, with particular reference to socially disadvantaged population groupsGC1, GC2, GC4, GC6, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11


Topics will include: 

  • Public policy analysis and healthcare
  • definitions and descriptions of policy
  • types of public policies
  • distinctiveness of public policy
  • policy analysis
  • policymaking process
  • using digital technologies to support the policy process
  • Contemporary policies that impact on aspects of health service delivery:
  • public and private hospital policies
  • health insurance and funding policies
  • consumer service provision policies
  • healthcare policies and ethical perspectives
  • Policies impacting on the Australian healthcare workforce
  • regulated workforce
  • unregulated workforce
  • Health policies for disadvantaged groups, including
  • social justice and equity perspective
  • social determinants of health and healthcare utilisation
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • people with mental health problems
  • people with disabilities
  • older people
  • Reforming health policymaking
  • constraints on policymaking
  • inclusion on the policy agenda
  • improved policymaking and policymaking structures
  • strengthening community and consumer participation
  • values and equity
  • key future trends

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

ACU Online

This unit uses an active learning approach to support students in the exploration of knowledge essential to the discipline. Students are provided with choice and variety in how they learn. Students are encouraged to contribute to asynchronous weekly discussions. Active learning opportunities provide students with opportunities to practice and apply their learning in situations similar to their future professions. Activities encourage students to bring their own examples to demonstrate understanding, application and engage constructively with their peers. Students receive regular and timely feedback on their learning, which includes information on their progress. 


This unit utilises an active learning approach whereby students will be provided with an opportunity to participate in classroom discussions and interactivity with peers through attendance in class-based lectures that function as combined lecture/tutorial. Learning activities will include discussion, debate, policy/article review that involves mini student presentations. In addition, links to electronic readings will be provided on the learning environment online in order to guide students’ reading and extend the classroom learning. Students will have opportunities to reflect on current and past health policy, develop skill in policymaking processes, evaluation of policy decisions and the impact of health care policy on disadvantaged population groups. In constructing knowledge about the complexity of health care and the implications of healthcare policy decisions in relation to social and health-related outcomes, students will identify areas for policy reform and will be supported in appraising potential outcomes of policy reform.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to pass this unit, students are expected to submit three graded assessment tasks. In addition, students must achieve a cumulative grade of at least 50% across all assessments. The assessment strategy used allows for the progressive development of knowledge and skills necessary for the student to be able to consider healthcare policy approaches that impact on health outcomes, particularly for disadvantaged population groups.

To become effective at improving healthcare outcomes through effective policy and planning approaches, the student must first develop comprehensive knowledge of the Australian healthcare system and of policy-making processes. This is demonstrated via their participation in class discussions with both their peers and with the lecturer, resulting in development of a critical review of current policy, a critical analysis of the underlying assumptions that led to the policy decision and a critical evaluation of the policymaking outcome/s.

In the second assessment task, students are required to collaborate with peers to evaluate some of the challenges facing healthcare policymakers, as well as population groups and healthcare providers on whom policy decisions impact.  

The final assessment task involves writing an essay, report or proposal identifying a health-related issue in need of policy reform and to develop a policy aimed at addressing the issue, relevant to a disadvantaged population group. Students will be required to evaluate the potential impact of their policy reform on health outcomes for the identified population group.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1: Written Research Policy Review  

Enables students to critically analyse current healthcare policy.   


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 2: Narrated e-Poster

Enables students to evaluate and articulate the impact of a current health policy on consumers of healthcare.


LO1, LO2

Assessment Task 3: Essay - Report/Proposal   

Enables students to evaluate the potential impact of an identified area in need of policy reform.  


LO1, LO2, LO3

Representative texts and references

Required text(s)

Willis, E., Reynolds, L., & Rudge, T. (2020). Understanding the Australian health care system (4th Ed.). Chatswood, NSW: Elsevier Australia.

Recommended references

Althaus, C., Ball, S., Bridgman, P., Davis, G., & Threlfall, D. (2022). The Australian Policy Handbook: A Practical Guide to the Policymaking Process (7th ed.). Routledge.

Burstrom, B. (2022). Aiming for Health Equity: The role of Public Health Policy and Primary Healthcare Comment on “Universal Health Coverage for Non-Communicable Diseases and Health Equity: Lessons From Australian Primary Healthcare.” International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 11(5), 714–716.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2022). Australia’s health 2022. Available from:

Collyer, F., & Willis, K. (2020). Navigating private and public healthcare: experiences of patients, doctors and policy-makers. Springer Singapore.

Dixit, S. K., & Sambasivan, M. (2018). A review of the Australian healthcare system: A policy perspective. SAGE Open Medicine, 6, 2050312118769211–2050312118769211. Palmer, G., & Short, S. (2014). Health care and public policy: An Australian analysis (5th ed.). South Yarra, Melbourne: Palgrave Macmillan

Russell, L., & Dawda, P. (2014). Lessons for the Australian healthcare system from the Berwick report. Australian Health Review 38(1), 106–108.

Verhoeven, A., Partel, K., & Thurecht, L. (2017). Universal health in a mixed public-private system: The Australian experience. International Hospital Federation, 52(4), 28 - 30.

Waring, J., Allen, D., Braithwaite J., & Sandall, J. (2016). Healthcare quality and safety: A review of policy, practice and research. Sociology of Health & Illness, 38(2), 198 – 215.

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