Financial Management Essentials

Do you want to know what questions to ask about finance and figures?

Would you like to be more informed and confident when you speak to your executive, your finance unit and your staff about your budget?

Then the Financial Management Essentials course is for you! It has been designed to support and empower NSW Health staff who oversee financial management and analyse the financial performance of their cost centres and/or units. Financial Management Essentials uses key financial principles and a range of reporting tools and formats. It covers key concepts about setting, reviewing, controlling and reporting financial information in a health service environment. It's hands-on, practical and fun!

"The best part about the course was that it identified a "best practice" approach to budgeting. It reinforced the importance of budget integrity and the need for accountability. The need for focus on budget integrity reflecting the operation of the department and the level of control over costs is an important issue for negotiating with Management & Finance." [Allied Health Manager]

Two face-to-face sessions, four online modules and a final project.
No pre-requisites required.

For further information contact

 Enrolment Options:

1. Self-enrol into the classroom via My Health Learning or

2. Contact your local course coordinator to enrol by clicking here.

What else have participants said?

"This course has given me great insight into the budget build-up and reasons why there may be variances. I think all staff should be aware of cost drivers and cost relationships, whether costs can be controllable or uncontrollable and if their department would be able to have an influence on these costs. The information given on health reform and health funding and how funds flow through the health sector was invaluable." [Allied Health Manager]

"I enjoyed the course and have a better understanding of variance to budget and areas I need to review when there are budget overruns." [Director of Nursing]

"Learning about financial issues not only increased my knowledge and understanding but also my confidence in approaching the financial manager for discussing various items, including our budget statement. I enjoyed the course more than anticipated." [Nursing Unit Manager]

"The course has helped to give me confidence in analysing the budget for trends, looking for causes of variance, strategising for budget control.  All these help to improve dialogue regarding the budget and justification and projections for past and future activity...I enjoyed the course." [Senior Clinician, Physiotherapist]

Course description

In collaboration with Local Health Districts, Specialty Health Networks and other NSW Health organisations, the Health Education and Training Institute (HETI) delivers Financial Management Essentials to current and emerging NSW Health managers. The program enables NSW Health staff to develop the financial management knowledge and skills they need to pro-actively manage their units and services.

Financial Management Essentials is a blended learning program that introduces participants to the mechanics of reporting and monitoring financial information within the NSW Health context. It enables participants to work through case studies to develop the knowledge and skills required to manage NSW Health financial resources during the face-to-face education sessions. The participant’s knowledge and skills are consolidated through online learning and practical application in the workplace.  

Course contents include:

Budgeting in a health context
Building and using budgets
Budget cost drivers and their relationships
Interpreting and responding to financial information
Activity Based Funding (ABF) and Activity Based Management (ABM)
How the Statewide Management Reporting Tool (SMRT) works

Course dates

See here for course dates. 

Performance outcomes

At the end of Module 1 participants will be able to:

  • Participate in maintaining budget integrity and accountability
  • Contribute to budget development discussions
  • Understand and explain relationships between activity and costs
  • Identify cost relationships and cost drivers
  • Identify controllable and uncontrollable costs
  • Weigh and compare the mix of costs
  • Understand how NSW Health services are funded and managed based on activity
  • Understand how funds flow into the NSW Ministry of Health and then to Local Health Districts and Specialty Hospital Networks Understand the impact and value of Activity Based Funding and Management for NSW Health
  • Understand how managers and staff can contribute to sustainable services under Activity Based Management.

At the end of Module 2 participants will be able to:

  • Explain the underlying nature of costs, cost drivers and the interrelationships between them
  • Describe the impact and influence of behaviour and decisions on cost levels and how they relate to the activities supported
  • Develop options for changing the cost mix (both short and medium term perspectives)
  • Identify effective ways to communicate about local cost levels and controls
  • Outline how budget integrity can be controlled
  • Contribute to budget setting discussions
  • Recognise the operational impacts of a budget and your responsibility to manage budget integrity
  • Identify steps to evaluate and control budget performance.

At the end of Module 3 participants will be able to:

  • Make clear and accountable decisions on expenditure
  • Present clear financial information and decisions to both financial and health professionals
  • Demonstrate applied knowledge of cost-related health expenses
  • Identify, maintain and prioritise budget integrity
  • Explain the flow-on effects of changes made to a budget
  • Detail the differences between efficiency and effectiveness in budget terms
  • Explain decisions about financial performance
  • Contribute to budget development discussions
  • Describe the relationship between activity and costs
  • Explain how budgets are used to make decisions in operational units
  • Use budget information to consider possible responses to adverse or favourable outcomes to achieved NSW Health Outcomes
  • Report to a Director outlining a cost reduction strategy for a cost centre in your organisation.

Course delivery

The NSW Health Financial Management Essentials course is a blended learning program comprised of face-to-face education sessions, self-directed online learning and requires completion of a final project which can be undertaken either individually or as part of a group.

The course is delivered as three ‘modules’, each of which enable participants to achieve a set of defined learning outcomes. Participants undertake the course over a six-week period, commencing and completing with a face-to-face education session delivered by an expert facilitator.

Week #

Module #

Delivery Mode


Week 1

Module 1

Face-to-face education session

  • Health Funding: Activity Based Funding (ABF) and Activity Based Management (ABM)
  • The budget in the NSW Health context
  • Building and using budgets and managing risks
  • Key cost concepts
  • Interpreting financial information
  • SMRT


 1 - 6

Module 2

Self-directed, online learning and project

  • Fundamental cost concepts revisited
  • Budgeting decisions and behaviour
  • Interpreting & responding to financial information
  • Financial information and communication

Week 6

Module 3

Face-to-face education session

  • Practical implications and benefits of Activity Based Funding and Management for NSW Health managers and services
  • Effectively communicating about and ensuring positive budget outcomes
  • Contextualised case studies
  • Participant/Group presentations of projects to identify improvements to efficiency and patient care.

The final assessment task must be submitted two weeks following the second face-to-face education session.

Face-to-face education sessions

Face-to-face education sessions are delivered by professional industry facilitators who guide participants through course content and provide practical hands-on case studies and examples.

These face-to-face education sessions offer participants the opportunity to work with their colleagues, sharing experiences as they learn through a range of financial management scenarios in the Health context.

Online learning components

Following the first face-to-face session, participants undertake self-directed learning through HETI Online, NSW Health's state-wide access point for quality learning. This self-directed learning will reinforce key concepts introduced during the face-to-face education sessions and provide ongoing development of knowledge and skills.

Information and associated activities provided through HETI Online during this course are available as a permanent resource for course participants as they continue to manage health resources efficiently and effectively.


The Financial Management Essentials course includes the following mandatory assessment tasks:

  1. Attendance and full participation in the two face-to-face education sessions
  2. Online Learning Assessment: Three of the four online learning modules include assessment questions, requiring participants to demonstrate their financial management knowledge and skills
  3. Final assessment task: In collaboration with group members and their LHD/SHN finance officer or business manager, participants complete a final project following the second face to face education session.

Completion: The participant is marked as complete once all tasks are marked as satisfactory. The final assessment task must be submitted by the Friday, two weeks following the second face-to-face education session for Module 3.

Recognition process

Learn more.

Key partners


Course Image
  • Method : Online , Instructor Led
  • No prerequisites
  • Not mandatory