RAJA BANDARANAYAKE PHILLIP GODWIN
Australia (officially the Commonwealth of Australia) is the smallest continent and the sixth largest country on earth. It is made up of six states and lies between the Pacific and Indian oceans in the Southern Hemisphere. The population of Australia in 1988 was estimated to be 16,470,000, with an urban-rural ratio of 86 to 14 percent. The Australian population is multicultural, and the Aborigines account for 1.1 percent of the total population.
The Australian health care system has undergone considerable change over the past decade, with health services increasingly targeted to prevention and primary care. This trend is in keeping with the primary health care strategy adopted by the World Health Organization ( 1978).
Health care in Australia is incorporated at all levels of government--federal, state, and local. Health services are delivered in both the public sector, through medicare and public hospitals, and the private sector, with reliance on private medical and hospital insurance. Historically, health care in Australia has evolved from a predominantly private system to a mix of public and private service delivery.
With the escalating complexity in medical science and the associated dilemmas in service delivery, the medical profession is increasingly being required to display concern for ethical, moral, and religious issues in health care.
In Australia most of the population lives in urban areas, with more than 80 percent living on the coast. Access to health care is a problem only for those people in isolated rural areas. The young and the aged tend to be large consumers of health services. The aging of the population is very important in terms of the demand for and cost of providing service. Changing environmental factors and life-style patterns impinge on the provision and delivery of services for physical and mental health.