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Fifty years on 

dr andy_roberts_2010Fifty years ago, on 21 March 1967, the Australian College of Medical Administrators was formally incorporated in Victoria, after 4 years of effort to get the College established. The interim College Council was appointed on the 20 April 1967, with Dr Wee Langford as the first President. The first national Conference was held on 29 May 1968, with Dr Langford continuing on as the President of the new elected Council. The College motto – Concordia integri progrediamur (Let us progress in unity by working together in harmony) – was adopted at the second meeting on 22 August 1969. Ten years later, on the 5 September 1979, the Royal Charter was granted by the Queen.1 On 1 January 1989, the new programme for training medical practitioners seeking Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators (RACMA) was introduced.                                                                                                                                                                

In reflection, the decision to set up a College to represent the medical managers of the time and produce future specialist medical administrators was inspired, as there were major changes ahead. On 13 November 1972, Gough Whitlam promised to introduce a universal health insurance scheme and, before RACMA reached its 10th birthday, Medibank was born. Over the next 10 years, Medibank was rolled back and then recreated, with Medicare, as we now know it, being launched on 01 February 1984. The College, still a teenager at this stage, had grown up in a turbulent period, including during the ‘doctor’s strike’ in May 1984. The next 30 years were to see major changes in medicine and medical management at a clinical and jurisdictional level, albeit without some of major reforms of the earlier years at a Commonwealth level. The latter was not without attempts by various governments, as seen by the Labour Government’s establishment of the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission, which released its proposal for changes in June 2009. In his book, “Terminal decline’, Dr Mohamed Khadra explores the decisions made in the 1970s and 1980s, which have produced the health system that we endeavour to manage today.2  Learning from the lessons of history helps us both to understand why the system is as it is and what new measures may help or hinder its future development. Is it, as Dr Khadra ponders, in ‘terminal decline’?

As we enter our fiftieth year, it is a great opportunity to celebrate the wisdom and foresight of our predecessors in the development and the maturation of the College, which is now being used as an exemplar for similar Colleges and professional associations in other countries around the world. It will be interesting to see what the College and the surrounding medical environment is like in a further 25 years (which I may see) and 50 years (which I almost certainly won’t).

Finally, as with the College, we continue to enhance The Quarterly. Is there anything further that Fellows, Members and Candidates want from The Quarterly?  We would be very keen to have your feedback on how we need to continue to develop The Quarterly over the next 50 years.

Dr Andy Robertson

1.       Cleary M. The first thirty years – 1967-1997: A chronicle. RACMA; Melbourne: 1998, http://www.racma.edu.au/index.php?option=com_docman&;task=doc_view&gid=10 .
2.       Khadra M. Terminal decline. William Heinemann; North Sydney: 2010.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 April 2017 16:41