About Cathy Balding

Welcome to my website!

It's the website I wish I'd had when I started out (pre-websites!) - and throughout my career in quality improvement; access to resources that guide, reassure, challenge and teach.  

Governing and improving the quality of the care and services we deliver is not an easy gig within the complexity of the health and human services sectors - but we're up for the challenge and learning all the time about better ways to create great consumer experiences. A tip or hint that shows the way at the right time can make a big difference, and that's what the SQM website strives to do.

I’ve had (and continue to have!) an amazing career in healthcare  quality improvement and clinical  governance for over 20 years  across a range of settings and roles. I  started out working in health  information management and cut my quality teeth on quality improvement in a rural health region that encompassed community, acute and aged care services.

This experience taught me the importance of constantly asking the question: 'how are consumers better off for all of this quality activity?'  I was lucky enough to be able to pursue this question as inaugural manager of The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards’ Care Evaluation Program, which introduced clinical indicators into a national hospital accreditation program.

Since then I’ve held executive positions in quality and organisational development and coordinated a large metropolitan healthcare network quality program. Working in the state Department of Health introduced me to the policy side of quality improvement and in 2001 my role as manager of the newly formed Victorian Quality Council, the state Ministerial advisory body on healthcare safety and quality, provided an excellent opportunity to collaborate with managers, clinicians and quality professionals across Victoria to promulgate innovative approaches to improving safety and quality.

Since establishing my ‘Qualityworks’ consultancy in 2005, I’ve had a particular interest in strengthening organisational capacity for creating great quality consumer experiences, through the synthesis of theory and experience. I’ve developed and shared a number of capacity building models through presenting, publishing and applying them in collaboration with health and aged care services and policymakers and sharing this work at conferences and seminars across Australia, Asia and Europe.

Through this work I've distilled the 'Strategic Quality System' Model which gives organisations a simple, powerful framework for finding and achieving the purpose to their clinical/quality governance systems: creating great experiences with their consumers.

I also got to practice what I preach as an accreditation surveyor for a national healthcare accreditation organisation for over 10 years, and as a member of the Board of a large not for profit aged care organisation, chairing the Quality Committee. I also sit on a number of health department and health service clinical governance advisory committees including the Victorian Ministerial Advisory Commitee on Patient Safety, and the Commonwealth Department of Social Services Technical Advisory Group on Aged Care Standards.

A key focus for me is to provide opportunities for quality professionals to develop their roles to be more fulfilling, effective, and recognised, and that is what my books and Qualityclass training are designed to support.  I know these roles are not easy! – and I’m committed to helping those with quality portfolios to develop their skills and knowledge to make it easier to do what they want to do, to do it well - and to have some fun and fulfilment along the way!

And teaching, training and coaching are a big part of this.  Explaining clinical governance and quality improvement in clear, plain language that showcases the importance of  individual roles - and motivates people to enact them - is my specialty! Based on theory, research and real world experience, with a good dose of humour added, I love to clear away the jargon and confusion and help people re-focus on what's important - creating great care, services and experiences. 

All of this actvity has one purpose, from my perspective: it equips and enables me to bring the latest and best information and experience to everyone I work with.

I hope you’ll be a part of a great comunity of people who are striving to do the best for their consumers, through Qualityworks, QualityNews, QualityClass, or QualityBites - preferably all of them!

Cathy Balding MHA, PhD, FCHSM, GAICD
Director, Qualityworks P/L
Adjunct Associate Professor, Health Service Management, La Trobe University.

'Dr Balding is arguably one of the handful of leading experts in quality management in Australasia.' (Kerin Robinson Head, Department of Health Information Management, La Trobe University.)

Publications: 2005 - 2016

  • Balding, C (2015) Clinical Governance Chapter in the Health Services Management: An Australasian Perspective textbook. Cambridge University Press.

  • Leggat SG, Balding C, Schiftan D. Developing clinical leaders: The impact of an action learning mentoring programme for advanced practice nurses. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 24(11-12) · 2015.

  • Leggat SG, Smyth A, Balding C.  Equipping clinical leaders for system and service improvements in quality and safety: an Australian experience. Australian and NZ Journal of Public Health, October 2015.

  • Balding, C (2013) Create a Great Quality System In Six Months: A blueprint for building the foundations of a great consumer experience.  Qualityworks, Melbourne.

  • Leggat S, Balding C (2013) Achieving organisational competence for clinical leadership: the role of high performance work systems. Journal of Health Organization and Management, volume 27, issue 3: online edition.

  • Balding  C, Five Essential Skills for 21st Century Quality Professionals in Health and Human Service Organisations, in Quality Assurance and Management, 2012. Savsar, M  (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0378-3, InTech, Available by clicking here.

  • Balding C, ‘The Strategic Quality Manager Handbook’ (2011). Arcade Custom, Australia.

  • Leggat SG, Balding C & Anderson JA (2011) Empowering healthcare managers in Australia: An action learning approach. Health Services Management Research. 24: 196-202.

  • Balding C,   ‘From quality assurance to clinical governance.’  Australian Health Review, vol 32, no 3, 2008.

  • Balding, C, “Embedding Organisational QI Implementation through Middle Manager Ownership”, The International Journal for Healthcare Quality Assurance, vol. 18, no. 4, 2005.

  • Balding, C, “Strengthening clinical governance through cultivating the line management role”, Australian Health Review, vol. 29, no. 3, 2005.

  • Read my interview with 2015 Australian Ageing Agenda on changes to aged care accreditation in Australia...here.
About Cathy


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QualityNews is a free monthly bulletin, full of information designed to support Quality System Leaders and Managers to Create Great Consumer Experiences.


Staff engagment in improvement a challenge?  

We discuss this a lot in QualityNews- including tools and tips to help motivate and engage. Want a little extra help? 

Enter your name and email below to receive QualityNews - and you'll also receive my 'Four Cs' Staff Commitment Model: a framework showing the key ingredients required to empower staff to engage with and drive change and improvement.


'I love reading the newsletter from Qualityworks. The information allows the team to reflect on and question why and what we are doing. It challenges us to focus on how we can consistently provide high quality and safe care to every person and ensure that the person is central to all decision making.'  Catherine Morley, CEO, NW Rural Health Service.

QualityNews tackles a different improvement-related topic, such as staff engagement and empowerment for change, each month, including the latest research, initiatives and practical hints and tips for anyone involved in leading and creating great consumer experiences.  

Lots of quality food for thought for over a thousand subscribers dedicated to making a real difference for their consumers.  QualityNews is also where I give you the heads up on upcoming new materials on my website and occasional free training videos.

Take a look at Edition 1 under the Tools Tips and Links - QualityNews Signup - tab.

Join the QualityNews Community! To receive the free QualityNews Newsletter each month, and gain immediate access to my DKRS staff empowerment model, enter your name and email address in the boxes above.

A selection of what you'll find on SQM.

  • Create a Great Quality System In Six Months Blueprint and The Strategic Quality Manager Handbook (also in ebook.)  SQM is the What and Why of improving healthcare quality; it defines the quality manager role, shows how to develop it to a strategic level and describes the most important components of the QM toolbox. CGQS is the 'How To'  that takes the information in SQM and applies it to a step by step blueprint for developing an effective quality system.  Both together create the Total Quality System Blueprint.
  • Qualityclass is the home of Qualityworks online and face to face training.
  • The Quality Pro Program is where you'll find handy tools, tips and links.  All of these resources have been selected because they are clear and practical, and based on research or experience from credible sources. Don't reinvent the wheel!  
  • My free book chapter '5 Essential Skills for 21st Century Quality Managers'; and, for Australian Quality Managers, tips and information on meeting the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards also found under Tools, Tips and Links
  • QualityNews is the free monthly email newsletter, tackling a different Quality related topic every month.
  • Qualityworks Consulting where you'll find information on services available through Cathy's consulting business.

New material is added at regular intervals - visit often to check out new information  - and get your dose of QM support!