President's Column January 2024

With the new year now well underway, I look forward to progressing the College’s strategic priorities and new initiatives over the coming months. Our annual pre-budget submission to inform the 2024­–25 Australian Federal Budget has been finalised and forms the foundation of our advocacy efforts. It includes compelling and confronting statistics on the current state of mental healthcare in Australia and identifies specific asks to attract, train, develop and retain the psychiatry workforce needed to meet our community’s needs. Without the workforce, there is no mental health care system.

Another important focus for the College in 2024 is the finalisation of a new Reconciliation Action Plan as part of our commitment to create and sustain culturally respectful and safe environments, and embrace and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of knowing, being, and doing across all areas of the College. A draft plan was submitted to Reconciliation Australia earlier this month and we received valuable feedback and guidance to help us develop a meaningful and actionable plan. I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group as we continue to progress this work.

On the advocacy front, over the past few months, the College has been advocating for solutions to the ongoing Vyvanse shortage in Australia and New Zealand. The ADHD Network, chaired by Dr Jagadheesan Karuppiah, had written a letter to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, urging them to meet with us to discuss increasing supply quotas of the medication for Australia and New Zealand. Our work has received extensive coverage on ABC, including nationwide stories on ABC Radio and ABC online.

I’d like to congratulate all our members who were recognised in the Australia Day Honours List last week. The following Fellows received Australia Day Honours:

Officer of the Order of Australia in the General Division

  • Professor Ian Hickie AM (NSW) – for distinguished service to psychiatric research and reforms as an advocate for improved mental health care and awareness.

Member of the Order of Australia in the General Division  

  • Dr Roger Gurr (NSW) – for significant service to mental health research and initiatives, and to the community.
  • Professor Anthony Harris (NSW) – for significant service to mental health as a clinician and academic.  

Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division

  • Dr Johanna Lammersma (Tasmania) – for service to the community through a range of roles.
  • Dr Vivienne Elton (Victoria) – for service to psychiatry, and to the community.

I also extend my warmest congratulations to RANZCP CEO, Sharon McGowan, who was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for her work in her previous role in stroke awareness and services.

In other news, I’m delighted to welcome Associate Professor Jeffrey Looi who has now commenced his role as Editor-in-Chief of the College’s Australasian Psychiatry journal. He is a clinical academic psychiatrist who has played an active role within the College over the years, including in his current role as Co-Convenor of the RANZCP 2024 Congress. You can read more about Jeff in this month’s member profile.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to outgoing Editor, Professor Vlasios (Bill) Brakoulias, and his editorial team, who have worked diligently to transform Australasian Psychiatry into a renowned and impactful journal that plays such an important role in supporting clinical practice and new research. Bill has been instrumental in maintaining the journal's high standards over the past 10 years and his dedication is truly commendable.

The election process has begun for a number of openings on the RANZCP Board as well as for various College committees. I urge all interested and eligible members to take an active role in shaping the future of our College. Each one of us possesses unique perspectives, skills, and ideas that can contribute to the future of our profession. You can learn more and apply for a Board position or nominate for any one of our Committee openings.

The start of a new year is a great time to consider and plan CPD activities for the year ahead. The extended reporting period for CPD activities completed in 2023 concludes at the end of March 2024. College events offer excellent opportunities to learn, network and meet your CPD requirements. Planning is underway for many Faculty and Section conferences. Abstract submission for the Section of Perinatal and Infant Psychiatry 2024 Conference closes on Friday 2 February, and the program for the Social, Cultural & Rehabilitation Psychiatry 2024 Conference has just been released.

The RANZCP 2024 Congress program is also available now. The carefully curated scientific program and pre-Congress workshops are complemented by a range of social and wellness programs. As we traverse six decades of excellence, this year’s Congress serves as a platform to learn, connect, network and inspire. I encourage you to take advantage of early bird rates by registering before 26 February.

Dr Elizabeth Moore
RANZCP President


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