Thank you to all in attendance at the AGM
AFMW President, Associate Professor Magdalena Simonis released the 2021-2022 Annual Report at the 12 November, 2022 Annual General Meeting.
Thank you to our patron, members, supporters, partners, sponsors and contributors throughout the year.
Thank you everyone for attending this year’s AGM! What a terrific outcome and what amazing work you all do. I am immensely grateful to the members who have nominated to be co-opted onto the Executive. They are:Dr Sarah Coll – Vice PresidentDr Desiree Yap – TreasurerDr Evelyn Konstantolpoulos – Deputy TreasurerDr Katrina Harris – SecretaryDr Evelyn Konstantolpoulos – Membership officerDr Marjorie Cross OAM – Non- office bearing Executive memberDr Brenda Masters – Non- office bearing Executive member.
As organisational activity ramps up, so do roles and responsibilities and some of our executive team and members are learning to say ‘no’ to extra work. In fact, we often recommend this to each other in our talks on ‘self-care’ and ‘how to avoid burnout’. You will see that some of us are starting to practise this recommendation, myself included, and are stepping aside from their AFMW roles to make room for others.
At our AFMW meetings, we often say that ours is like a revolving door; as we are pulled into work outside of AFMW and sometimes into family roles or just life outside of AFMW, we remain open to input from other members and remain grateful to those who have contributed.
View Annual Report (13mb pdf).
“It’s been a busy and fruitful year and as we come to the end of 2022, it’s helpful to reflect on our activities and recap the year in relation to the Strategic Plan set out at the start of my presidency. Any strategic plan works within a particular political and social backdrop and this year commenced with Russia declaring war on the Ukraine on 24 February 2022. This has affected the entire world with an array of negative repercussions which amplified the strain on supply chain systems all the way to healthcare workers.
We were already overstretched from COVID-19 pandemic and the war has intensified our sense of urgency around addressing the global and national need to transition to renewable energy, advocate for world peace and we have extended our support to our partners both locally and across the seas, who share our vision for equity and peace.
When asked about the role of the Australian Federation of Medical Women (AFMW), I like to summarise it with this list which is also my vision for AFMW:
- We build medical women leaders.
- We support women in leadership.
- We support women into leadership.
- We support each other through hard times.
- We share, talk about, celebrate our successes.
- We build partnerships.
- We act with kindness.
- We support the health of all Australians and apply the gender lens to health reforms and systems to achieve equity.
With this focus, I have launched into 2022 with energy and enthusiasm although the year has been punctuated by having surgery, a good dose of COVID-19 and fitting in a visit to Greece.
As organisational activity ramps up, so do roles and responsibilities and some of our executive team and members are learning to say ‘no’ to extra work. In fact, we often recommend this to each other in our talks on ‘self-care’ and ‘how to avoid burnout’. You will see that some of us are starting to practise this recommendation, myself included, and are stepping aside from their AFMW roles to make room for others. I am grateful to Dr Kate Duncan AM and Dr Desiree Yap AM who have agreed to share the role of National Coordinator, which I have been doing alongside my President’s duties. Likewise, you will notice that the face of the AFMW Executive is changing with the engagement of other members, and you will observe that we have two Young AFMW members and 2 senior members on our new Executive team along with a new Vice President. At our AFMW meetings, we often say that ours is like a revolving door; as we are pulled into work outside of AFMW and sometimes into family roles or just life outside of AFMW, we remain open to input from other members and remain grateful to those who have contributed.
AFMW is a vehicle for change and advocacy for women and medical women. It is a place where our younger and older members can make connections with other medical women across other disciplines, share, build friendships, buddy or even be mentored. It permits us to gain organisational experience and committee experience working in teams and learning more about stakeholder engagement including government. It encourages members who have a special interest, to build a team and grow through that whilst keeping Council informed of its objects, and which are in alignment with AFMW’s original purpose. Above all, AFMW should be a ‘safe place’ for women doctors, hence the initiation of the Circle of Kindness monthly sessions. These have been fabulous fun and enriching. We meet by zoom, chat about anything other than AFMW (so that non-members can attend), share our highlights and disappointments of the month. We talk food, wine, music and for a good portion of the sessions, we enjoy a good laugh and deepen our friendships with each other.
There have been many milestones for the year including the expansion of the AFMW webinar platform so that each state has the opportunity to share their events with the rest of AFMW, enabling other state members to attend. This has been done successfully and we are looking forward to more of these state-to-national events taking place.
Our yAFMW continues to grow from strength to strength and in keeping with this, the need for change and advancement has become even more pressing. This is an institution which we all love, however AFMW is nearly 100 years old and the natural progression should be that we move towards reviewing our structure and governance, to better reflect the times we are living and working in. This will help us with our agility and responsiveness, whilst broadening our scope and reach. Our Governance subcommittee will look to restructure our Constitution and even our Federation, bringing it into the 21st century. Exciting times ahead.
An annual highlight is the March United Nations Commission on the Status of Women
(UNCSW66) and at the 66th year of this, AFMW hosted another parallel session. The title of our session was Australian Women Doctors: Climate Change and Gender Equity Advocates and Activists “Australian Women Doctors: Climate Change Advocates and Activists”, United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) Parallel Event [RECAP]
We shared the platform with 16 speakers, representing 4 organisations from AFMW and other important national organisations including Dr Kimberly Humphrey, Deputy Chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia, Dr Kate Wylie, Founder of Climate Medicine, and Dr Liz Rickman and Dr Sarah Burrowes from the Australian Lesbian Medical Association.
We continue to work with Reconciliation Australia, through our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) group and are delighted that the AFMW Purple Bush Medicine Leaves Bursary has received ongoing sponsorship. This year’s awards were received by 3 recipients: Ms Lauren Roth, Dr Nicole Whitson and Dr Sarah Jane Springer.
A new AFMW initiative has been to award an AFMW Core Confidence Leadership Scholarship annually to a yAFMW member through Kate Boorer, of Core Confidence. The inaugural award was received by Dr Madeleine Warrillow (VMWS) and we look forward to hearing of her experience of this 10 week intensive course.
Our Herstory collation of mentoring member contributions continues to grow, as does the Medical Women in Technology and Health (MedWiTH) group. We collaborate with Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA) and Western Pacific MWIA through our special interest groups, regular updates and online webinars and encourage our members to participate in these events.
In closing for 2022, it is an honour to lead AFMW through it’s changes and growth and I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the AFMW members, our Council and partners for their contributions.“
President, Australian Federation of Medical Women
Magdalena is the President of the AFMW (2020-) and former President of VMWS (2013 & 2017-2020). She is a leading women’s health expert, keynote speaker, climate change and gender equity advocate, government advisor and holds positions on several not for profit organisations bridging gaps across the health sector.
Magdalena’s deep engagements with the RACGP over many years includes chair of Women in General Practice, is currently on the RACGP Expert Committee Quality Care, prior to that on RACGP eHealth Expert Committee. She is a regular media spokesperson on numerous health issues, being interviewed most weeks by mainstream and medical media. Magdalena has represented the RACGP at senate enquiries and has worked on several National Health Framework reviews, author of the RACGP Guide on Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery and co-reviewer of the RACGP Red Book Women’s Health Chapter.
Both an RACGP examiner and University examiner she supervises medical students and undertakes general practice research and is a GP Educator. Roles outside of RACGP include the Strategy and Policy Committee for Breast Cancer Network Australia, Board Director of the Melbourne University Teaching Health Clinics and the elected GP representative to the AMA Federal Council.
Magdalena has presented at the United Nations as part of the Australian Assembly and was recently appointed the Australian representative to the World Health Organisation, World Assembly on COVID 19, by the Medical Women’s International Association (MWIA).
A/Professor Simonis was a member of the National COVID-19 Taskforce expert committee which will lead into the development of the Australian CDC.