President's Column May 2023

It’s been a great start to the RANZCP 2023 Congress here in Perth. The turnout is excellent, and I look forward to connecting with members and many of our international colleagues from different parts of the world. The theme, new horizons connected futures, is generating many thought-provoking discussions and debates, and it’s inspiring to see the passion of our members to transform mental health outcomes for the better. I extend my gratitude to the Congress organising committee, including co-convenors Dr Katherine Sevar and Dr Mike Verheggen, and all of our presenters and College staff for helping bring together this fantastic event.

We’ve had some fantastic wins this past month. Following considerable work and consultation, the RANZCP position statement on the Safety and wellbeing of psychiatrists and those in psychiatry training has been released. It reaffirms the College’s commitment to safety and wellbeing, and establishes the role that all of us – the College, employers, and individuals – play in ensuring it.

A fresh, new RANZCP website was also launched two weeks ago. It revitalises the delivery of digital content to members, with well organised and user-tested menus, a new MyRANZCP dashboard that focuses on tasks and content relevant to individual members, dedicated Branch pages that provide local updates, and options to filter content to view what you are most interested in.

Nearly 500 members attended our recent webinar on Psychedelic-assisted therapy (PAT), and planning has commenced to host a second webinar with further updates. The PAT Steering Group is continuing to progress the development of a Clinical Memorandum, and is involved in ongoing advocacy around the monitoring and reporting of efficacy and safety outcomes.

The College welcomed some aspects of the 2023–24 Australian Federal Budget. Our pre-budget submission highlighted what has been my focus during the last two years as President: the need for investment across the psychiatry workforce, and the affordability, excellence, equity, and access of psychiatry services for all. I was pleased to note an increase to the ECT schedule fee, which better reflects the time and complexity associated with delivering this important treatment in psychiatry, and comes on the back of persistent College advocacy. While some Budget measures provide much needed assistance to Australians experiencing financial disadvantage, those experiencing serious mental health conditions have missed out on vital support. Recent budgets across several states and territories have also seen some mental health investment, but building a sustainable workforce remains the most pressing priority for all our Branches and New Zealand. 

If you haven’t already, do take the time to read our 2022 Annual Review. It is a comprehensive publication highlighting our work, activities and achievements from the past year, presented in an easy-to-read format with plenty of photos, graphs and charts!

After the Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 31 May, Dr Ava Carter will commence her role as the Appointed Director, Trainee on the RANZCP Board. I extended my congratulations to Dr Carter, and also my thanks to Dr Pramudie Gunaratne for the dedication and passion with which she has served in this role as our inaugural Trainee Board Director.

My term as President will also conclude on Wednesday. It has been a privilege and an honour to represent and lead the College during the last two years. I extend my sincere thanks and gratitude to all of you for your support. I would especially like to thank my fellow Board Directors, and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of College staff – your support has been instrumental in all that we’ve accomplished as an organization over the past two years.

Thank you, and if you are currently at Congress, please do not hesitate to approach me.

Associate Professor Vinay Lakra
RANZCP President


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