College Affairs

Australasian Psychiatry 2014, Vol 22(4) 405­–420 © The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2014 Reprints and permissions: DOI: 10.1177/1039856214542718

From the President

Dr Murray Patton


hen I last wrote here, I spoke about the importance of us as psychiatrists and as a College creating and taking opportunities to demonstrate the value of the scope and depth of our training and experience, and how that differentiates us from other professionals working in the area of mental health care. Recent events have confirmed the importance of this profiling of our work and the contribution we can make to the community. We will continue in this direction. As New Zealand heads toward a parliamentary election later this year, we will be commenting on matters of significance to psychiatry, to quality services and to the mental health and well-being of the community. Congress recently highlighted so many of the things that we have to offer as a profession: showcasing aspects of the science that underpins our practice; demonstrating that we understand the importance of and are

committed to practices that reflect and support cultural values; celebrating the achievements of our colleagues and achievement of Fellowship by so many trainees; and enjoying the company of our fellow psychiatrists, affiliates and trainees. Once again we also enjoyed the presence of people who may become part of our future workforce – the medical students who attended – feedback from whom has been very positive about the glimpse they obtained of psychiatry and the opportunities the profession provides. Workforce issues bubbled through a number of other recent events in which the College took a prominent role. In meeting at the APA conference with the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK) and other senior members of that college, there was some interest in further discussion about comparisons of pass rates in examinations and strategies to enhance progression through training to achievement of Fellowship. The Medical Director of the APA and its current President were interested in some aspects of recruitment of and support for indigenous trainees and psychiatrists. At the meeting of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association and the Asian Federation of Psychiatric Associations in Kuala Lumpur, this theme was addressed within the Asia Pacific forum, which we convened, as well as in a symposium in which I presented. We continue to build our international profile where we can do so in a manner that will be of value to our own members and where in doing so we can also offer some value to our neighbours in the region. The New Zealand national committee has raised with the Board and the bi-national office the importance of the profile of New Zealand within our College. Further to other steps the Board recently agreed a motion that has resulted in the College’s

purchase of new premises within the Wellington CBD. These new premises will replace unsatisfactory leased premises and will enable the New Zealand committee to have a strong identity within the national and binational mental health system. This is not just about our having a profile for the sake of being recognised as psychiatrists. Rather, it is to assist with our credibility in our further attempts to influence public policy to ensure better attention to care of people who are at risk of developing or who are already experiencing mental health problems. What we bring to the debate and discussion must be clearly understood. And there remain so many obvious issues where this advocacy is important. Significant issues of great concern and about which we have recently made submissions include (to the Australian Human Rights Commission) children in immigration detention and (to the Children’s Commissioners inquiry) self-harm and suicide in children. I appreciate greatly the work of our colleagues who contribute to clinical work in these demanding areas, as well as those who are so responsive to our requests for comment and who assist us with preparing these submissions and public statements. Finally, and although there seems already plenty for us to do, I want to remind members about the availability of the online forums for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) that were launched in April. This provides an opportunity for you to comment on matters of importance to you, some strands of which may lend themselves to further advocacy and public comment. The forums can be accessed at Dr Murray Patton President 405

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From the President.

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