Giving voice to members, patients
A key role of the NSW Branch Council is its advocacy work, representing members in NSW and providing a voice for their concerns. Finding avenues to address some of those concerns and trying to create some change that is positive for our profession and also for patients is what advocacy is about.
This includes seeking meetings with government and insurance bodies to ensure the profession has input to policy that would impact patient outcomes financially and medically.
‘In the past couple of years we have been making inroads in a few areas. Regular meetings with the workplace and CTP bodies—State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), Motor Accidents Authority and SafeWork—to build relationships and represent the members’ concerns brought to our attention. It has taken time to get to this point,’ says council vice president Shane Roenne, APAM.
‘For several years it felt like we weren’t getting anywhere and now we can see that we are starting to make some impact. The key area with SIRA is the funding schedules, so it’s been beneficial to be part of these conversations … and we will continue to lobby and have round tables with allied health bodies and insurers on other issues to provide some guidance going forward.’
Branch Council has also been proactive in meeting with ministers in the key portfolios of health, medical research, innovation and better regulation, as well as key stakeholders with insurance providers and regulators to ‘express views and to start building relationships’.
‘We have been at the table with icare to express our views on how we might move forward with the future funding model … it’s early days for some meetings, but it’s important to start the relationship building now.’
Shane says Branch Council will continue to engage with, and seek guidance from, business leaders and political powerbrokers. ‘It’s important to discuss the approach and directions for our future advocacy, particularly around the political side and how we might tackle our concerns. With Morris Iemma, former NSW premier, we took away constructive methods of how we might create a story and how we might present our arguments in a way for it to be actioned upon or taken on board by politicians.’
Keeping members informed of lobbying activities and creating a series of networking and collaborative opportunities are on the 2018 list of achievements for the NSW Branch Council.
Shane says the collaborative group of members leading the NSW Branch is keen to advocate for the interests of our members, the profession and patients.
As Branch Council secures wins for its lobbying activities, it is also ensuring members can publicly celebrate their personal successes, especially through the recently formed State Branch Awards.
From an initial three awards in 2017, a new category was added this year to acknowledge contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health within the profession.
‘We decided a year ago that we didn’t have a celebration for the contribution of our members so we are gradually building on what we can offer in terms of categories and providing an opportunity in which all members can come together to celebrate wins and achievements, as well as network to learn more about what others do,’ he says.
Another event for NSW members supported by Branch Council is the annual Job Show, which gives new graduates and students insight to employment opportunities and career paths within the profession, while giving existing physiotherapists a platform to highlight and promote their area of expertise.
The Job Show gives students full access to many potential career paths.
It has been running for a few years now and is quite popular in bringing together employers of graduate physiotherapists from both private and public health sectors, including hospitals, private practice and some overseas volunteer organisations that specialise in physiotherapy services, so students can ask about job opportunities.
‘It’s an important part of our ongoing work because we get a chance to encourage the next generation about our profession. We get to keep building on our existing community within the medical profession, which produces many benefits for our industry going forward,’ says Shane.
He also says members are encouraged to be involved in community events, such as the Sydney City2Surf fun run, which helps raise the profile of members and the profession, which can only further benefit the APA’s advocacy agenda.
‘In giving our members a voice, we are giving our patients—the community—a voice. It’s good to see that we are getting a seat at the table for conversations on matters that are important to our members. As we continue to develop some of the things we have been working on for the past couple of years, it seems like the groundwork is starting to pay off.
‘We are also getting better at communicating with the different state groups, and this is allowing us to collaborate better and represent their concerns. We will be meeting with NSW state chairs in December to enable them to share concerns with us and be united in our efforts to create and leverage opportunities,’ Shane says.
‘Future plans include continuing to canvas members to gain opinions and help to create positioning and advocacy opportunities and to leverage these opportunities at state and federal elections.’
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