The role of AMA National Conference in shaping policy


One question often asked of the Federal AMA is to explain how policies are developed and position statements adopted. It can be seen from the report that Federal Council deals with some weighty issues. Major topics at the most recent meeting included a discussion to shape AMA advocacy on transparency of medical fees and a briefing on the roll out of the NDIS.

Policies and position statements are developed through the councils, committees and working groups of Federal Council, and are brought to the Council for debate and adoption. Many policies are subject to vigorous debate. Once they are adopted they provide guidance for the public commentary of the President and Vice President

At its most recent meeting Federal Council adopted unanimously a resolution asking questions of the Federal Government about the management of the health of the asylum seekers and refugees on Manus Island. Issues such as this attract a lot of correspondence from members and non-members alike who see the AMA as the natural voice for its leadership of doctors.

This is consistent with the AMA’s mission of leading Australia’s doctors and promoting Australia’s health. I outlined in my last column the strategic objectives agreed to by the Federal AMA Board for the period 2018-2020.

Among those objectives is a commitment to member engagement. In keeping with that the Federal Council and the Board have resolved to change the way National Conference is structured in 2018 to open the floor of the Conference to debate on issues of interest and relevance to members and the broader community.

The middle day of the Conference will be given over to debate on issues that will be canvassed with the State and Territory AMAs and the Practice Group Councils within Federal AMA. Under the AMA’s Constitution the role of National Conference is advisory only. However these debates will provide an opportunity for direct input into policy development.

The debates will be coupled with the traditional soapbox session on the final morning of the Conference that precedes the election of the next Federal President and Vice President.

The change in structure will facilitate participation not only by the appointed delegates from the State and Territory AMAs, Federal AMA Practice Groups and Federal Council, but also those members who register to attend.