Advocacy requires a team effort
One of the key tasks of a professional membership organisation is advocacy. From a physiotherapy perspective, this takes many forms. One of our areas of focus has been to build relationships and influence in the federal political environment. In March, I travelled to Canberra with Cris Massis (APA CEO), with this express intent. We held meetings with staff from the office of the Minister for Health and Sport, with the Shadow Health Minister, the Honourable Catherine King, and with Senators Xenophon and Griff from the Xenophon Team.
As a member, your input into our advocacy agenda is critical. What was clear from our meetings was that there is great value placed on real-life stories and experiences. These can only be provided by you— whether they be the impact on patients and practice because of an outdated private health insurance system, difficulties in new funding models such as the NDIS, or how innovative use of technology can provide improved clinical and system outcomes. These are the real-time and real-life examples that help make our case the strongest.
There are a few things that are clear when you meet and consult in this environment. Firstly, clarity of purpose and message is important, and this needs to align and resonate with the specific politician you are meeting with. Secondly, meetings like these are important in developing longerterm relationships and influence, and, as such, cannot be one-off expeditions. Finally, it is sometimes hard to determine what constitutes a successful engagement. Our view is that having a ‘hook’, or an area of continued collaboration or work, is the ideal.
In our interactions with these political leaders, we have been able to secure the following ongoing actions, among a range of others:
- a meeting with the Minister for Health and Sport, the Honourable Greg Hunt, in his Victorian electorate office, to discuss the role of physiotherapy in sport participation, injury prevention and the opportunity to reduce the impact of chronic disease.
- an ongoing dialogue with the Shadow Health and Medicare Minister on the role of physiotherapy in primary healthcare, the opportunities that exist within the public sector and how physiotherapy can impact barriers to access for rural and remote Australia.
- a clear commitment from the Xenophon Team to work with us around private health insurance reform and difficulties with funding models—specifically the NDIS and the Aged Care Funding Instrument.
These outcomes provide us with the opportunity to continue the dialogue, relationships and influence. Alongside regular meetings and engagement in Canberra, it is our members who provide the critical, real-life information that allow us to shape and direct these important conversations. Thank you in advance for your continued support of our advocacy efforts.
Phil Calvert, APAM
APA National President
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