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Tribute to Kate Moore

29 August 2023

Written by Janne Graham and Darlene Cox.

Kate Moore is pictured at some kind of event. She is a smiling woman with fair skin and short, loose, grey hair. She wears a colourful cardigan over a black turtleneck, is holding a champagne flute, and appears to be listening to someone just to the left of the photographer. The back and side of others at the event are visible, and there looks like framed art on a wall in the background.

Kate Moore was one of the most influential people in the health consumer movement in Australia.

Kate was a Canberran who made a significant contribution to public policy through her involvement in the Australian Labor Party and the health consumer movement. She held important positions at local and national level and was a strong advocate for social justice, addressing inequity and putting consumers at the centre of health policy.

Kate was the ALP’s first female elected national official. When the Party established three national organiser roles, one was reserved for a woman. Kate was elected to that role by the Party’s national executive. Between 1983 – 1987 Kate held the position of National Organiser and International Secretary for the Australian Labor Party.

She was Executive Director of the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) from 1991 until her retirement in 1999.

Kate brought to CHF a wealth of experience in the community (not-for-profit) sector and a deep understanding of the working of federal bureaucracy, parliamentary processes, and federal/state relations. Kate had worked as a senior advisor and then Chief of Staff to Neal Blewett (1987-91) when he was Minister for Health.

In an interview with the Health Care Consumers’ Association (HCCA) in 2012 Kate reflected that CHF “was funded in part because he [Dr Blewett] saw it as a constituency for Medicare and as a way of challenging what those very powerful vested interest groups were saying and putting the patient at the centre of health policy.” It was the social justice perspective that really appealed to Kate.

Kate was able to negotiate stable core funding for CHF and to work with government on key policy areas. One of the first was around General Practice reforms leading to the establishment of Divisions of General Practice. This enabled consumers to articulate their expectations that GPs put in place mechanisms to consult with consumers. This was a significant shift in public policy as at the time GPs mainly thought of consumers as passive, accepting patients.

Kate was an important voice in the development of consumer organisations. She recognised that consumer organisations, like CHF and HCCA, bring valuable lived experience of services to the table. In her interview in 2012 Kate described the role of the consumer movement as bringing “a collection of those lived experiences and some level of analysis around it, in terms of what it means to be a health care consumer.”

She brought a sophistication to advocacy with CHF and HCCA and was able to use her knowledge and connections to pave the way for consumer perspectives. Kate’s view was that not only do consumers bring an important perspective to policy and decision-making, they are also in a position to put forward an alternate view while Government maintains more neutral ground.

Kate recognised that the role of consumer organisations like HCCA was to represent the interests of people who use health care services and to not so much to say we want more and more, but look at “how the services are delivered, how they’re shaped, what they cost, what the policy underpinning it is.” Kate was clear that the role of these consumer organisations relates to everything to do with health care.

After leaving CHF Kate made a significant contribution to her local health consumer group, Health Care Consumers’ Association (HCCA). Kate was an active member on the HCCA Executive Committee from 1999 to 2008.

In 2002 Kate was appointed to the ACT Health Council, which was initially chaired by the ACT Health Minister. Kate then chaired the Health Council from 2005 until 2011. The Health Council was made up of eminent representatives from across our community — health professionals and community members. It was charged with monitoring health system performance as well as conducting regular community engagement forums on health issues. Russell McGowan was also a member of the Council and he and Kate advocated for performance and outcomes monitoring of multiple quality performance indicators.

In 2010 the ACT Health Council organised a citizen’s jury on health priority issues. This was in response the Minister’s request that the Council organise a deliberative forum to provide her with advice on the ACT community’s priorities for spending on health services. The event was held at Old Parliament House in August 2010. The jury’s objectives were to engage the community and gain a better understanding of their expectations and prioritise the delivery of health services within budget constraints. The 15-member jury listened intently and questioned the experts on a range of matters. The event resulted in a report that informed and helped improve health services in the Territory.

Kate was a consumer representative on the ACT Health Executive Council 2010 – 2015. This Council supported the Director-General to meet responsibilities outlined in the Health Act 1993 and other relevant legislation, make recommendations on strategic direction and priorities, and oversight finance, performance, and human resources.

Her other roles included:

  • Member of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare board (1992 – 1994)
  • Consumer representative for the Credentials and Clinical Privileges Committee Project of Australian Council for Safety and Quality in Health Care (1998-2001)
  • Member of the ACT Health and Community Care Board (1998 – 2002)
  • Consumer Director to the National Prescribing Service (NPS) Board (2006-2013)
  • Consumer representative on National Health Information Management Advisory Council and the ACT Health Information Network
  • Chair of the Community Advisory Committee of the Capital Health Network (2016 – 2020).

Janne Graham was Chair of CHF when Kate was the Executive Director. They built a powerful and important friendship that lasted over thirty years. Janne encouraged Kate to be more active in the ACT health system and HCCA after she retired. Janne could see the value Kate would bring. Janne has reflected on the importance of Kate’s contribution and leadership in the consumer movement. Janne said that, “rather than leading from the front, Kate’s leadership was primarily from behind, developing and guiding others in their leadership and activist roles.”

Rosemary Calder, a respected Australian health and social policy expert and a founding Board member of CHF, worked with Kate over many years.  She highlighted Kate’s work as a consultant on a number of significant Commonwealth health projects, such as the evaluation of the Research and Development Grants program of the 3rd Community Pharmacy Agreement, in which her knowledge and skills enabled the work to be both an objective assessment of the achievements and limitations of the program, and a collegial engagement of stakeholders in identifying the program’s potential. Rosemary recalls that Kate was “both a feisty, challenging interlocutor and critical thinker and an engaging tactician who would enable others to see opportunities and solutions as their own thinking.”

Darlene Cox, Executive Director of HCCA, is one of those Kate guided over many years. Darlene describes Kate as a strong advocate for consumers and she regularly drew on Kate’s knowledge of the health system, especially health financing and decision-making processes. Darlene attributes her advocacy style to Kate’s influence.

Fiona Tito Wheatland, another long time HCCA member and consumer leader, worked with Kate on health policy and patient safety issues over almost three decades and reflected on Kate’s energy and commitment to make the world a better place for everyone. Fiona said, “Kate had a great sense of humour and fun. We shared a love of jigsaw puzzles, which is bit of a metaphor for both our work in health. She was also compassionate and taught me a lot about the power of patience and diplomacy when you are wanting to change the world. I shall miss her laughter, her advice and her wisdom very much.”

Vale Kate Moore.

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