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An end of year message from RANZCOG President Dr Vijay Roach

22 December 2020


An end of year message from RANZCOG President Dr Vijay Roach

__________

Dear colleagues,

While it may seem counterintuitive, my enduring feeling from the year gone by is a deep sense of gratitude. With the exception of Victoria and, now, perhaps NSW, we have largely escaped the impact of coronavirus. We have been lucky but we have also been successful due to good leadership and community cooperation. We have found strength and resourcefulness and connected with each other in new and meaningful ways. But it has been very hard.

The impact of the global pandemic has been devastating, exacting an emotional, physical, social and financial toll on every Australian and New Zealander. To those of you who have suffered illness, have experienced the death, or sickness, of a loved one, have missed out on seeing their friends and families, missed celebrating precious milestones, been affected by anxiety or depression during a year that has asked too much of us, I acknowledge your feelings, your hurt and your loss. Being grateful for what one has does not preclude feelings of disappointment and sadness. For Australians and New Zealanders, perhaps that is the greatest conundrum.

In 2020, our College has confirmed and consolidated our position as the peak body in women’s health in Australia and New Zealand. Our statements and advice during the initial phase of the pandemic, constant updates, video messages and media presence were well-received by members, government, health departments, hospitals and the general public. RANZCOG was the voice, an authoritative source of informed, factual information. Our message was overwhelmingly one of reassurance. We also stood firm on the need to shut down elective surgery, maintain essential services, limit visits and high risk behaviours, the rights of health workers to access PPE and the protection of the pregnant workforce.

The College demonstrated extraordinary resourcefulness when it came to core business. Our staff adapted to working from home and all College activity converted to online platforms. The administrative work of the College was not only maintained, but grew and thrived. In a year that presented so may challenges, we increased our activity! Education and examinations were conducted online. This was a massive pivot from face to face, achieved through the combined commitment and ingenuity of staff and members. Every College committee maintained their output. Our media presence, submissions to external organisations, engagement with government and other stakeholders, production of educational resources, such as webinars, was greater than ever before. The move to a new College home has progressed apace. Each State and Territory and the New Zealand office maintained business as usual and remained engaged with their local members.

Engagement with RANZCOG membership reached an all-time high in 2020. The weekly Connect, daily media updates, a strong presence on social media platforms and regular commentary in the mainstream press meant that our members could rightly be proud of our public advocacy role. Internally, maintaining regular communication with our trainees, Diplomates and Fellows meant that our members knew that the College was listening and responding to their needs. The launch of RANZCOG Organisational Values, the establishment of the Wellbeing Working Group, the progress of the Gender Equity and Diversity agenda and the response to local and national concerns reflects a membership organisation that puts members first. The constitutional change that will appoint an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and a Māori member to the Council is a concrete and meaningful demonstration of RANZCOG’s commitment to inclusiveness and recognition of First Nation’s people.

To our CEO, the College staff, the volunteer members, the Council, and the most extraordinary Board, thank you. I could not have fulfilled my role without your guidance and support. I think of the College as a tree. We often focus on the trunk, strong and sturdy, holding everything up. But the tree is nurtured from below by the roots. The smallest leaves harvest energy from the elements and feed it down through the shoots and branches. The parts work in synergy and, as a whole, the tree is a powerful and enduring force. That’s who we are. RANZCOG. Our College, your College. More than an entity, we are a family, bonded by a common purpose, to care for women and their families in Australia and New Zealand.

During the holiday season, I hope that you have time to rest and relax, to enjoy the sun and the surf, read a book and to just be. Mindfulness is a modern buzzword but it has meaning. Productivity can be measured in many ways, so remember that connecting with ourselves, those around us, and our environment, has inherent value. To every RANZCOG member, our staff, Diplomates, Fellows and trainees, thank you.

Wishing you a happy and peaceful end to a complex year and looking forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Vijay



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