The last few months have been very challenging for all of us. As I write this report, Metropolitan Melbourne is at stage four restrictions and in a state of disaster. There is so much uncertainty, and it is very difficult to plan anything. Amongst all the chaos in the world, we try to create some everyday order and routine in our lives as we hope things return to ‘normal’ in the near future, whatever that may look like.
We have had to adjust to the new normal; we cancelled many of our events/workshops and exams, and we created online workshops and webinars. Zoom has become an integral part of our daily life and how we conduct business, and the way we work together has vastly changed. What has not changed though, is our commitment to the College and to women’s health, as we continue to strive to achieve meaningful outcomes through the work that we do.
College work continues against all adversity and challenges we have faced this year. Staff in Melbourne continue to work efficiently and effectively from home – it has been more than five months since we went to working from home conditions – and it is still uncertain as to when we will be able to return to College House in Melbourne. In New Zealand and some States and Territories, we have had a gradual return of some staff back to the office.
The College’s new organisational values of Excellence, Education, Respect, Integrity, Advocacy and Kindness were developed by the Organisational Values Working Group (OVWG) in consultation with the broader membership. The new values will be incorporated across the College in everything we do and will form an important part of the College’s policies and procedures moving forward.
We are all very excited by the purchase of the new College premises at 1 Bowen Crescent, Melbourne. While the property is in very good condition, some renovation and fit-out is required before we relocate there. We have budgeted that the fit-out and relocation of moving the College from Albert Street to Bowen Crescent to be cost neutral. We are currently finalising the design phase of the project with construction and fit-out work to follow soon. We aim to move to the new premises by June 2021.
A new governance structure has been put in place for the Curriculum Review Project, and the draft framework was shared for consultation with training committees at the College. Development of a new Learning Management System named Acquire (replacement for CLIMATE) is in progress and is planned to be implemented by the end of the year. Equally, work on Integrate, the replacement for myRANZCOG is progressing well. Development of the new RANZCOG website is also in progress.
Development of the Multi-professional Obstetrics Training in Hospital Emergency Response (MOTHER) course is progressing well. Given the current limitations in face-to-face teaching, we will first focus on the development of online materials, a case library, and delivery of webinars. The online materials will provide the foundation for the course, with readings, video content and activities around communication, teamwork, clinical leadership, workplace culture, and management of emergencies. The overarching objective is to create a more bespoke offering based on the hospital’s education requirements.
Recently, the College set up two workforce working groups, one in Australia and the other in New Zealand. Both working groups in Australia and in New Zealand had their inaugural meeting and are starting to work on analysing the current O&G workforce trends, identifying existing challenges, gaps, and possible opportunities for improvement in both countries.
The College has increased its advocacy efforts with key stakeholders in women’s health services in regional and remote Australia. We have met the Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Hon Mark Coulton on two occasions to discuss the important role of GP obstetricians in regional/rural communities and how the College can work with the Commonwealth to improve the maternity services in these locations. A considerable amount of public interest has been generated in the College’s rural health mapping project. The project aims to produce a comprehensive map that documents the geographic coverage and type of maternal health services available in all rural, regional and remote areas of Australia, as well as the uptake of services by consumers, and barriers to effective service delivery.
Work on the new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) has just commenced. The RANZCOG Board and Council recently approved, in principle, representation of Māori and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander positions on Council. These changes, amongst other constitution changes, are currently out for wider consultation with all voting members of the College, before they are presented for approval at the College AGM in November.
The Gender Equity and Diversity Working Group (GEDWG) is making significant progress in the pursuit of gender equity across College business. The RANZCOG Board have approved adopting targets as a specific transitional tool to address gaps in gender inequity at College Board and Council level, with a suggested composition of 40% female, 40% male and 20% either gender. The GEDWG will now develop and set a policy for gender equity targets for next year’s College Council and Board elections.
The newly established Wellbeing Working Group (WWG) had their inaugural meeting and have begun planning a number of initiatives that will support our members and trainees. The first Wellbeing Information Session and Panel Discussion via Zoom webinar was held in August by a panel of RANZCOG members and external mental health experts.
Wellbeing support has never been more important for us all than it is right now, when we are all under enormous pressure to continue to deliver good quality services but through different modes than we are used to. We need to look after each other and support each other during this time more than ever. It has been an exceedingly difficult time for our colleagues and community in Victoria and we need the support and encouragement of everyone to persevere.
Please stay safe and keep well.