22 November 2023
The decision to not host a video address by senior FACEM Dr Natalie Thurtle was made by the ACEM board, in accord with legal advice provided to ACEM CEO Emily Wooden.
The decision not to host the video was not an implicit alignment with any perspective, nor an indication of an absence of support for any perspective.
No person who dedicates their lives to providing healthcare to people, or assisting those who do, supports the harm of innocent people, or the destruction of healthcare facilities.
It is vital that the decision made by the Board is not personally attributed to ACEM President Dr Stephen Gourley, Immediate Past President Dr Clare Skinner, other ACEM officeholders or College staff.
It is also important that feedback on this decision is not personally directed at these individuals. Since the decision was made public on Monday, Dr Gourley and Dr Skinner – and their loved ones – have received ongoing personal attacks and disturbing messages via various channels, and in-person.
All correspondence relating to the decision should be directed to [email protected]
20 November 2023
The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM; the College) Board has made the difficult decision to omit, from the 2023 Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) program, pre-recorded addresses supplied to the College by a presenter prior to the event.
This decision has not been taken lightly. It has been made after significant deliberation, with the safety of all conference attendees in mind. ACEM recognises that this decision has impacted some ACEM Fellows, trainees, staff, and other members of the emergency medicine community. It is ACEM’s hope that all issues can be discussed with respect and care, as we move forward as a College.
The invitation to deliver an in-person keynote address was extended several months ago. Since then, global events have resulted in the invited speaker travelling overseas to participate in a humanitarian medical assignment. This has made in-person presentation to the conference impossible.
In lieu of in-person attendance, the invited speaker had provided pre-recorded versions of the keynote address – as well as another scheduled presentation — to the College, which have subsequently been reviewed.
ACEM appointed representatives concluded that the recordings include personal views, and a political narrative, beyond the scope of the conference theme, and initial brief.
The College is concerned that airing the presentations at this conference may inflame deeply felt sentiments from all sides, on what are already complex and incredibly distressing international events.
ACEM does not shy away from difficult conversations and ideas. However, it must also consider its fundamental role as a specialist medical College, led by Fellows without political affiliation, as it contemplates challenging issues.
While ACEM does take an active interest in social and political factors that directly impact on presentations to emergency departments in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, it does not have the expertise to take, or promote, public positions on international conflicts. The College also does not offer commentary on international matters, outside its formal global emergency care partnerships.
Where international matters are concerned, ACEM, as a member of the International Federation for Emergency Medicine (IFEM), works in collaboration with the international peak body to develop and support positions as appropriate.
The need to create safe and respectful environments for all attendees and speakers at all ACEM conferences is a fundamental principle which guides the College in the delivery of its events. So too is adherence to the College’s core values of respect, integrity, collaboration and equity.
Following a review of the supplied recordings, these considerations have been conveyed to the speaker, who has been informed that the College will not proceed with showing the recordings at its 2023 ASM.
A further consideration in reaching this decision, are the challenges presented by showing pre-recorded presentations, on challenging topics, as opposed to an in-person presentation which would have allowed for follow up discussion and questions to the speaker.
For these reasons, the ACEM Board has taken the difficult decision to omit the presentations from the conference program.
To contact the ACEM board, please email [email protected]. For media enquiries, please email [email protected].