AMA: a new structure for a more nimble advocate
The AMA has taken its first big step toward modernising its governance structure, with the unanimous endorsement of Federal Council at its most recent meeting of a move towards establishing a smaller governance Board.
The changes will create a more agile structure by separating the governance requirements of running a company from the core policy and advocacy focus of the member organisation.
The Board will be responsible for the management of the company, Australian Medical Association Limited, including its finances and statutory responsibilities, while Federal Council remains the central body which considers, and agrees upon, policy on behalf of the members.
Federal Council is made up of representatives nominated by each State and Territory AMA, an area representative elected by the members in five geographic regions across Australia, and a representative from each of the specialty groups (previously called craft groups), the Council of Doctors in Training, the Council of Salaried Doctors, and the Australian Medical Students Association. As such it reflects the diversity of doctor interests across the profession and the country.
The President and Vice President elected at the National Conference in May 2014 will become members of the new Board, together with a nominee from each State and Territory AMA, and a nominee of the Council of Doctors in Training. The qualifying feature of the nominated members of the Board is that they must have the skills and experience to contribute to the governance of the AMA. A nominations committee will be established to develop the skills criteria for Board members.
Federal Council not only unanimously agreed to support the new governance structure, but also unanimously agreed to recommend its adoption by the voting members of the AMA at the 2014 Annual General Meeting, to be held in May in conjunction with the National Conference.
This change to the governance of the AMA will free Federal Council to work responsively to policy issues as they arise, and to anticipate future areas of policy interest.
It provides an opportunity for Federal Council to explore different ways of working apart from the traditional committee system, with small working groups and task forces to draw on the expertise and interest of members of Federal Council, as well as the wider membership of the AMA.
If adopted by the voting members in May, there will be a short transition period from the current structure to the new Board to provide sufficient time for the State and Territory AMAs and the Council of Doctors in Training to seek nominations and appoint a representative who meets the skills and experience criteria. Federal Council has expressed the wish to have the new arrangements in place by the end of July 2014.
This change has been discussed for many years, and it is pleasing to see that agreement has been reached on an appropriate pathway to modernise the way in which the AMA is governed. Further information will be sent to members in coming weeks, including a page on the AMA website which will answers member questions about the process.