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‘We are stronger together’: Ramping up our advocacy


Nicole Higgins


14/06/2024 3:42:00 PM

In the face of unprecedented change, our role in shaping reform is more important than ever, writes RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins launched the college’s Advocacy Plan at the recent Practice Owners Conference in Cairns.

By the time I was 11 years old, I knew a career in general practice was for me.
 
I had spent hours sitting in the waiting room of my local practice, waiting to see my family’s GP, and left to watch the hustle and bustle of clinical life with fascination.
 
That Maryborough GP would go on to become my first mentor. He took me under his wing, allowed me to learn at his clinic after school, and encouraged me in my pursuit of the profession.
 
It was here, at this young age, that I learnt the power of having an advocate, of having someone with your best interests at their forefront, and of someone willing to fight for you.
 
I knew I wanted to be a GP, but I also knew I wanted to be a part of creating change, for myself and for those around me.
 
It is a passion, a goal, and a determination I have brought into my role as RACGP President.
 
And now, in the face of unprecedented change, the need to advocate for a better way, on behalf of our patients and on behalf of our profession, has never been more apparent.
 
As you all know, our healthcare sector is in a period of significant reform.
 
We’ve seen welcome commitments to strengthen Medicare, but there is still a long way to go as we all face a healthcare system in which Australians are getting older, sicker, living longer, and dealing with more complex chronic disease.
 
We will continue to adapt, and will never stop caring for our patients, because that is what GPs do, but we are also changemakers within healthcare and within our communities.
 
This week, we launched the RACGP’s new Advocacy Plan – a plan for you, our members.
 
This is a landmark initiative that we’ve worked extremely hard on, with the aim of offering clarity and transparency on our advocacy priorities for members.
 
It will also keep us accountable as we embark on this extended advocacy effort.
 
Within this, our four strategic priority areas are the central role of general practice in the health system, ensuring our viability, supporting the primary care workforce, and advocating for health system quality and safety. 
 
As GPs, you know the central role we all play in Australia’s healthcare system, but you also know firsthand this critical need for change.
 
That is why we want to protect the future of general practice, to ensure its viability and safeguard it for the next generation of GPs.
 
Over the years, the RACGP has cemented itself as a voice for doctors – we speak on panels, engage with communities, and are interviewed for newspapers, radio and television. But now it is time to take that advocacy up a notch.
 
I know that advocacy matters to members, because you, like me, are passionate about general practice and its brighter future, and we want to support you all to speak up, because our profession is stronger when we are standing together.
 
In our latest RACGP member survey, 96% of you said advocacy for GPs is important to you and 60% said you would be interested in participating in our advocacy efforts.
 
And as GPs you are all respected community leaders.
 
This year, I have spent hundreds of hours speaking to our nation’s leaders, including several meetings with Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler – and their message is loud and clear.
 
They want to hear from you.
 
They are curious and they are genuine in this request, and so we must take this opportunity with both hands and act now.
 
GPs know their patients and community, and how government decisions impact our profession, and our patients.
 
Local politicians want you to speak up and speak out, and through this tool, together we can advocate for a better GP future.
 
No matter where you are practising in Australia, if you want to become a part of the RACGP’s new GP Advocate Network, a national community of GP advocates who will work to build strong, enduring relationships with their local politicians, reach out now and be a part of this change.
 
I know we all want a better future for general practice, and now is the time to fight for is, so let’s get started.
 
If you would like to learn more about joining the RACGP’s GP Advocate Network, email gpadvocate@racgp.org.au.
 
Log in below to join the conversation.



Advocacy Plan general practice reform Practice Owners Conference RACGP advocacy


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Dr Justin Laurie Osborne   20/06/2024 8:32:44 PM

What a load…

No one has been advocating for GPs since Harry was president.