Greetings from the new Secretary-General
BY AMA SECRETARY-GENERAL DR MICHAEL SCHAPER
It’s a great pleasure to take up the role as your new national Secretary-General.
The SG’s role is pretty straight forward: to ensure that the machinery of the national secretariat is working efficiently and effectively, supporting our elected officebearers in their role as the national public face of the profession, and helping the different State and Territory AMAs in their work.
Advocacy and public campaigning is central to the work of the AMA, and to do this well we need to have a sophisticated team of policy personnel, media experts and administrators backing them up.
Doctors and the members of the broader medical community continue to be rated by Australians as one of – if not the – most trusted professions in the country. Medicine matters to everyone. It affects us all, and we need to ensure that Governments always keep this at the centre of their decision-making.
We will continue being active advocates for the sector. AMA members need to be getting value for money, they need to be kept informed of our policy debates and have the chance to contribute to them. We need as many doctors as possible to join, and to get involved.
The federal structure of the organisation needs to be respected and supported, so that local AMAs can also deal with local issues. We also have some great staff working in the Canberra office on your behalf, and I’m keen to attract other high-calibre recruits to join us when vacancies emerge.
Finally, we have to manage the finances of the organisation carefully, and ensure that member funds – your funds – are spent effectively. These are some of the early priorities I’ll be working on.
Previous office-bearers in this position have come from a wide variety of different walks of life: while originally most Secretaries-General were doctors, over the last 30 years the reach has expanded to include lawyers, ministerial advisers, health sector administrators, and a range of others.
My own background is also similarly diverse, with experience in small business advocacy, senior government administration, politics, academia, professional associations and national regulation. (Incidentally, that’s where the “Dr” title comes from – a PhD based on research into some professional practice management issues in the allied health sector.)
Finally, I hope also to be able to get out and meet as many members and local office-bearers as possible. A national organisation has its membership spread right over the country, and I’ll be working with our President to ensure that we both get to meet with, and hear the concerns of, AMA cardholders across Australia.
After all, it’s your organisation, and we’re here to serve you.