Catholic Health Australia seeks to promote the interests of a just health system based on the principles outlined below.
The Catholic Church has traditionally sought to enact a strong, comprehensive set of principles as the foundation on which health care is delivered. Since the Church understands the human person in all its dimensions, the concept of health is likewise appreciated as encapsulating the broader well-being and welfare of the person.
When engaging public policy concerns, Catholic Health Australia bases its advocacy and policy development on the following foundational principles:
Dignity of the Human Person
Each person has an intrinsic value and dignity. Within the context of health care in Australia, this means everyone has a right to essential, comprehensive health care. This should be reflected in the manner through which a person is cared for along the continuum of his or her life.
At all times the respect for human life is considered paramount to any policy or operational decisions.
Catholic health contends that the inalienable dignity of the human person should be upheld in all his or her dimensions: physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. Catholic health services seek to reflect these dimensions and attempt to witness their value to the community at large.
The provision of health care is conducted out of a spirit of service and solidarity with those in need. Health care is a social good. The degree to which health care is driven by a genuine compassionate concern for others and a selfless commitment to the well-being of people will be the measure by which a community can gauge its maturity and sense of integrity.
Catholic health care's mission is intricately related to this notion of service and to the respect for the sacredness of every human life.
Health care is not a mere commodity open to entrepreneurial manipulation or the result of commercial profit-making.
Catholic health seeks to re-invest continually in the pursuit of quality health standards, outcomes and patient care.
Our commitment to the dignity of every individual leads us to an appreciation and dedication to the community at large. Catholic health is an active partner in the ongoing development of the health care of the community.
It seeks to expand access to care, commit resources to research and training and conduct ongoing professional inquiry into the social, ethical and cultural aspects of health care.
Within the broader social context, the health needs of individuals must be balanced by those of the community.
Preference for the Poor and Under-Served
Catholic social teaching has embraced a 'preferential option for the poor'. This stresses our concern for the provision of adequate, timely health care for all, especially those who have little choice, opportunity or capacity to pay. Across the acute, aged care and community sector, the well and wealthy should care for the sick and poor.
Structural reforms need to identify 'poverty gaps' in the system and move to eradicate areas which leave people vulnerable and isolated from care. Broader economic reforms must enable all people to receive dignified care at all times.
Stewardship of Resources
Creation and human life are divine gifts. We are called to treat them responsibly and to manage them wisely.
Health resources must likewise be prudently developed, maintained and shared in the interests of all. Economic discipline and realistic control on expenditure characterise sound health management.
Resources for health care must be balanced alongside those needed for other essential human services.
The needs of individuals and communities are best understood and satisfied by those closest to them within a spirit of solidarity and service.
Applied to health this has implications for the extent of choice and the devolution of responsibility that exists within a system. Where at all possible, individual autonomy and the freedom to determine one's mode of health care need to be encouraged. The administration of health care is most suitably conducted closest to those being served.
Within the evolving health system, the Catholic sector has supported broad structural developments:
- the promotion of partnerships with regional health systems within legislative schedules and contracted relationships;
- the support of a complementary mix of public and private services;
- the provision of public services through private ownership;
- the contracting of public services into private settings;
- the collocation of public and private facilities where community benefit is demonstrated;
- the development of non-government residential and community-based aged services; and
- the establishment of world-class research institutes, bioethics centres and teaching hospitals.