I have just returned home from Darwin, where two conferences were being held: the Global Emergency Care Conference and the DevelopingEM 2022 Conference. The latter focussed on education and insights into the delivery of acute healthcare, and the challenges of healthcare for First Nations people in the NT, and around the world. ACEM Deputy CEO Olly Jones, our next President Dr Stephen Gourley, and I spoke about the ongoing work ACEM is doing to help improve health outcomes for First Nations peoples. There were lots of colleagues from across the world there and, like me, people had brought their families. Our children swam and ate and played together, and it was lovely to connect with FACEMs from all over Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the broader region.
All the FACEMs that I met up north, who work in the top end, seemed to share a deep sense of family and connection, and value place and country. It was also powerful to get out of the city and to reconnect with this country, swim in rock holes, to be out in the heat, red-dust and humidity of the outback, with all its vast space.
It reminded me how, wherever you go in the world, there is a need, and a place, for emergency medicine and it reinvigorated me to renew our efforts into advocating for better care in rural, regional and remote areas of our two countries.
Everyone in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand has the right to timely, safe and quality professional emergency care – whether they live on the coast, in the desert, in the bush, on the farm, in the suburbs or in the city, they must all be able to access emergency care when and where they need it. To improve health equity across Australia, there needs to be a focus on immediately, and appropriately, resourcing health systems in rural, regional and remote (RRR) areas. ACEM will continue to advocate for increased rural training opportunities, a more equitably distributed workforce, further research into rural issues, and ensuring education and training opportunities are readily available for healthcare workers providing care to RRR communities. We are lucky that soon Dr Gourley will bring his vast experience in RRR to the role of President-Elect – and then President.
October is mental health month and it is an opportunity for us to each reflect on this vital issue. I encourage each of you to join me in improving and maintaining our own mental health, and those of our colleagues, and for us to each, and collectively, renew our efforts to help improve outcomes for patients who present to EDs experiencing mental health distress.
To events now, and this month is the Manaaki Mana Kaikōkiri Hui, held at Te-Poho-o-Rawiri marae in Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa (Gisborne) from Thursday 27 to Friday 28 October. At the hui, Manaaki Mana Kaikōkiri champions from EDs around Aoteaoroa will come together and share their vision for excellence and equity for Māori in emergency care with wānanga (discussions), whakawhanaungatanga (relationship building), akoranga (learning) and ngā mahi pārekareka (recreational activities). I am sad that I will be missing it, but look forward to hearing about it from colleagues across the two countries.
Onto advocacy work and we are pleased to see that, same as during recent South Australia and federal polls, health is a key focus of election pledges in the Victorian state election. The College’s communications, media and policy teams are working hard to advocate for the needs of members and the communities they serve, and, regardless of who takes office, we hope to see an improved health system after the election.
We also welcome the opportunity to represent FACEMs and trainees at the hearings of the NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the impact of ambulance ramping and access block on the operation of hospital emergency departments in New South Wales which will be held this week. Thank you to the many College staff and members who contributed to our submission to the inquiry.
Until next time, thank you for all that you do. Whatever the next month brings, we will get through it like we always do – together.
Dr Clare Skinner