RANZCOG stands up for the importance of advocacy at the AGES conference


The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

5 March 2024

“Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale.” This famous quote by Rudolf Virchow underscores the long history in medical profession advocacy as a core tenet.

Medical colleges around the world are uniquely positioned to lead in advocating for their members, the wider health workforce and health system in their jurisdictions, and most importantly, for patients and the people for whom we care. With good health inextricably linked to the wider social and economic context in which we all live, medical colleges – through their members – are at the forefront of observing how our social environment influences our individual and community health and taking action. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) is honoured to continue the long tradition of advocacy on behalf of our members and consumers.

RANZCOG’s vision, excellence and equity in women’s health, is supported by our mission; to continue to lead in education and training in obstetrics and gynaecology, and advocacy in women’s health. We follow a set of values that all our staff and members embody, including advocacy. Advocacy is integral to achieving our strategic priorities.

On Saturday 2 March 2024, RANZCOG President Dr Gillian Gibson laid out how the College goes about its advocacy mission in front of an engaged audience at the Australasian Gynaecological Endoscopy & Surgery (AGES) Conference plenary session.

RANZCOG’s vision for advocacy rests on six pillars and is a key part of our 2022-2024 Strategic Plan:

  • Women’s health strategy
  • Workforce shortages
  • Equity of access
  • Education and training
  • Global health – Asia, Pacific, international
  • Women’s rights and social justice

Dr Gibson’s presentation explained how public advocacy to advance these pillars are integral to the College’s overall strategic plan.

The health and wellbeing of women in Australia and Aoteroa New Zealand is our driving motivation. RANZCOG is proud to be a driver of changing the conversation about the importance of women’s health, and we are seeing things change. The College lobbied for, and will be leading, a Women’s Health Summit in Canberra in March 2024. Other significant initiatives such as the inquiries into birth trauma (NSW) and women’s pain (Victoria) are underway show that things are moving in the right direction.

We cannot support good health without sufficient workforce supply of highly trained specialists, and equity of access to women’s health services. Dr Gibson explained how RANZCOG initiatives such as the OGET program supports both providers and patients by having training and education provided in rural and remote locations around Australia – areas where access is often lacking.

Education is the foundation of all these efforts, and keeping our focus on education yields real-world results. Dr Gibson explained how RANZCOGs work in education such as lobbying for, and producing, evidence-based clinical guidelines result in better care for patients, offering the example of the establishment of a new abortion clinic in Ballarat based on the high standards of care outlined in our guidelines.

Dr Gibson also explained how our responsibility in advocating for good health extends beyond our shores. As we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, poor health anywhere is a risk to good health everywhere, and RANZCOG takes this message to heart by working throughout the Pacific and internationally on behalf of women’s health through our Global Health focus.

Finally, as is inherent in the quote from Dr Virchow, social justice is inextricably linked to women’s health. RANZCOG has taken this principle to heart in speaking out on behalf of women at home and abroad through such advocacy efforts like calling for the end of hostilities in current war zones, supporting inclusion through participation in the Sydney World Pride parade, and presentations to government in both Australia (on the climate change duty of care bill) and Aotearoa New Zealand (for improved health outcomes for Māori women and their whanau).

Advocacy is truly at the heart of RANZCOG’s mission. Without forceful advocacy for the College’s values, we cannot truly live up to our vision and mission. Dr Gibson ended her AGES presentation on this topic by inviting all RANZCOG members to continue supporting the College’s advocacy efforts with our vision in mind.

For media enquiries
Bec McPhee
Manager, Executive Office & Advocacy
0413 258 166



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