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Marcus Dripps

I know that one of the best ways to get a physiotherapist’s eyes to glaze over may be to start talking about the strategic direction of the organisation and the profession, but I’m going to take a risk and do so anyway …

Many of you may be aware that the current APA strategic plan is anchored by three principles—member value, member knowledge, and member voice—and these underpin everything that we have been trying to achieve over the last few years. While organisational strategy is constantly being tweaked in response to changes in the external environment, the current review of the plan is an opportunity to reflect on where we are as an organisation, and what we can do better for the future.

In addition to the pillars of the current plan, we have also had a strong focus on a number of other areas; including an emphasis on activities that connect the different interest groups of the APA, embedding a culture of being future focused, and building key external relationships to help us achieve our aims. These, in conjunction with a focus on community facing activities, have been the hallmarks of much of the 'behind the scenes' work of the organisation.

There’s quite a bit happening around the profession and in the broader health landscape that could potentially have longer term impacts on the shape of our profession, so I’d like to highlight a few of these issues, and invite all physiotherapists to provide some input into the next strategic plan of the APA.

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia, in conjunction with our colleagues from New Zealand, are currently reviewing the qualifying statements that underpin standards of practice for physiotherapists. This piece of work is in essence the cornerstone of defining a physiotherapist for the purpose of registration. There will be opportunities for all physiotherapists to provide input to this work over the coming months, and the APA will be playing an active role.

The Commonwealth Government is in the process of defining the new shape of primary healthcare organisations in Australia, the successors of Medicare Locals. There is great opportunity at a local level for physiotherapists to be involved in these entities, and provide input to the shape of services in our communities.

With the macro-level changes to health workforce and innovation that will come about from the transfer of responsibility of these policy areas from Health Workforce Australia to the Department of Health, there is opportunity at a state and territory government level to engage in discussion about scope of practice and models of care that affect both public and private sector physiotherapists.

Continued work at the trial sites of the National Disability Insurance Scheme also provides opportunities for physiotherapists working in the disability sector to have input into the shape of the new scheme. While this, and many other areas of policy reform, create significant challenges for service providers and patients, it is a time where there is an opportunity to be engaged in discussions and decision making.

Much of this advocacy work will require input from a national, state/territory and local perspective, and making progress is dependent on both grassroots physiotherapists and office-bearers lifting their voice to ensure that we are heard.

With ongoing work around the issue of prescribing rights for physiotherapists and the many other advocacy activities currently going on, upholding the reputation of Australian physiotherapists domestically and internationally is likely to be a central focus of our next strategic plan for the organisation.

I encourage you all to provide input to the process of planning for our future.

APA National President

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