From the president's desk
Fellow AACMA members, it’s been 19 months now since COVID was declared a pandemic. Some of you will read that and immediately turn off because you think it is just more COVID “blah blah, blah”, others will feel quite numb and still others will feel panicky, anxious and even fearful as this pandemic drags on.
With the absolutely, unenvious title of being the most locked down city in the world, the numbers are still rising in Melbourne and Victoria, it has been and still is a continuing struggle for our Victorian members. At time of writing, our Sydney members are experiencing the frustration of a protracted 4month lockdown though, there is some hope and end in sight with Government restrictions being gradually relaxed for people who have been vaccinated.
As the 2 major cities in Australia each with populations over 5 million people, Sydney over 5.5 million, there is a much greater opportunity for the virus to spread due to population density.
In comparison, our biggest state in size, WA has a population of 2.8 million, 1.9million in greater Perth and the rest spread over the vastness of the whole state. Information on the corona virus shows that more space including distancing physically and socially and a much hotter climate overall, provides a far less conducive and more hostile environment for the proliferation of the virus. Masks, hand sanitising and using the QR code to sign in, are now becoming a part of the new normal as a consequence of COVID and the strong need to protect each other and ourselves.
Vaccinations are now readily available in each state and territory. To be or not to be is not just a question posed by Shakespeare in Hamlet but question and personal choice for every Australian citizen. Please do your own vaccine research if you are still undecided. True/truth is in accordance with fact or reality. It is accurate, correct and verifiable knowledge. An opinion, view or judgement from someone without accurate, correct and verifiable knowledge is unlikely to provide the necessary information for a truly informed choice.
We are qualified professionals knowing that evidence-based research informs the quality of our practice and thus outcomes for our patients. We don’t rely on the opinions of dry needlers or any of the other uninformed opinionated people who claim to do acupuncture/dry needling when it comes to treating our patients so please, refer to the information provided by the people with knowledge and expertise in their fields to make the best, informed decision that you can for you and your families.
With the cancelation of our national conference in 2020, AACMAC 2021 took on a whole new significance. Logistically, with lock downs and restrictions impacting on every aspect of the event, there was always some doubt that it would be able to proceed again this year. That was borne out very dramatically with another Melbourne lockdown just a few days before the first day of the conference with delegates and exhibitors from Melbourne and Victoria again under stay-at-home orders preventing them from attending at the Gold Coast.
Fortunately, AACMAC was run as a hybrid event with both online and in the room attendance so we were able to transfer those Victorian members who couldn’t attend to participate online. Even our exhibitors were available virtually to online attendees.
If COVID has done nothing else positive, the improvement in technology making communication convenient, easy and more accessible has been the bonus.
Feedback was overwhelmingly positive from both delegates and speakers, especially the international presenters. The panel discussions and open forums were new formats allowing us to provide information interactively on running, marketing and promoting a small business and very importantly in these times of restriction, caring for our, our families’ and patients’ mental and emotional health and wellbeing.
Thank you to all our members who attended, local and international speakers, our extremely supportive exhibitors, the venue and their staff and our events officer Mia Zhang and the AACMA staff who were responsible for making this event the resounding success it was.
We are already looking forward to next year’s event.
2021 is not just a new year for the CMBA but the beginning of a new chapter with Prof Danforn Lim filling the position of Chair after the inaugural Chair, Distinguished Prof Charlie Xue completed his extended term.
AACMA welcomes Prof Lim and the 6 new CMBA Board members, wishing them a positive experience in their term in office. Congratulations and best wishes also to Distinguished Prof Xue on his appointment as RMIT Associate Deputy Vice Chancellor (International).
Medicare’s Chronic Disease Management
As reported in a recent edition of the eNews, the push for inclusion into Medicare’s Chronic Disease Management (CDM) has stalled due to the Government’s focus on the response and management of the COVID pandemic in Australia.
AACMA will continue to follow this through as soon as the opportunity presents.
I would like to thank Stephen Janz for his diligence and hard work as CDM project manager for the past 3 years. Stephen has decided to step aside from this role. Even though it seems to have reached a stalemate, the foundation laid by Stephen provides a solid platform for further lobbying.
TGA- Decision on Zhi Fu Zi/Aconitum
Also reported in the eNews, was the final decision by the Delegate of the Secretary to the Department of Health upholding the interim decision to not amend the Poison Standard to make Zhi Fu Zi- Aconitum available to registered Chinese medicine herbalists.
While this is a setback, the decision has provided some useful information to enable a further submission to achieve our goal in a future application.
A letter was sent to the current Minister for the NDIS, Senator Linda Reynolds enquiring why Chinese medicine/acupuncture was not included in the current program. The reply – acupuncture is a treatment for health issues and not regarded as a strategy to improve lifestyle for the disabled.
With this information, AACMA has a new direction to make our case for acupuncture being a positive benefit in improving the lifestyle of Australia’s 400,000 recipients on the NDIS.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are the agency who provide evidence-based recommendations to the UK Government on health care.
Released on April 7 this year, their recommendation was for 5 acupuncture treatments to be made available through the National Health Scheme (NHS) for the treatment of low back pain.
AACMA wrote to all the State and Territory Health Ministers advising them of this recommendation and encouraging them to include acupuncture in their pain management guidelines. The most positive result was a meeting with the Chief Advisor to the ACT Health Minister on how they could implement acupuncture into “Jump” their pain management strategy.
AACMA Staff and Board
Our staff have been doing an extraordinary job supporting members during the national lockdowns sometimes while also being in lockdown themselves. The AACMA Board has put in place the appropriate Work Safe measures to make sure our staff are protected while performing their duties at home. They are now also fully equipped to work from home with dedicated laptops that are connected to the AACMA phone system so that phone calls can be taken directly even when working from their homes. This initiative maintains member services while keeping our staff safe. My grateful thanks to CEO Paul, Finance Officer Yan, Events Officer Mia, our membership team -Elena and Chris and Ethan our efficient receptionist.
The AACMA Board welcomed new director Rodd Sanchez, a previous Chair of the NSW State Committee to our ranks. Rodd’s election filled the position made vacant by Michael Popplewell who chose not to seek re-election. Our thanks to Michael for his term as a director and my personal thanks to my fellow Board Members Richard Li, Rose Pinter, Drew Matfin and Rodd Sanchez for your contribution of time and knowledge that keeps AACMA the peak association dedicated solely to promoting and advocating the Chinese medicine profession and its practitioners.
I am very proud to be able to report that while sadly, the number of registered Chinese medicine practitioners decreased last year, AACMA membership increased with more practitioners recognising that the work AACMA has been doing for members and the profession, is worth being a part of. Welcome and thank you to all our new members and thanks also to our existing members for trusting and choosing AACMA to represent you.
The past 19 months has provided some trying and challenging times for everyone around the world. Many have risen to the challenge or accepted what has needed to happen while others have chosen to be divisive, inappropriately self-serving or lacking consideration for others.
The “common good” and kindness seem to have been forgotten, evaporated, through these times…..but the forgotten can be remembered and evaporation hangs in the air as humidity to fall again as rain, so the situation is not irretrievable. I am very hopeful that there are enough of us to maintain the connections and thus the common good between all, while acknowledging and respecting the need for individual decisions that we must make.
Be safe and well,
The Acupuncture Evidence Project: The Sequel
The AEP was an AACMA initiative specifically to gather research to prove the benefits of acupuncture, so we had evidence to lobby the Government for inclusion into the CDM.
This initial 2018 work by AACMA members John McDonald and Stephen Janz was universally acclaimed and is now being updated and expanded. A research team under AACMA member and project team leader Dr Amber Moore is now operational. Their brief is to evaluate current acupuncture and Chinese medicine research for quality of study, suitability and compliance with Ahpra advertising standards and or clinical relevance to inform and enhance clinical practise.
The AACMA website is being constructed to house this resource which will be available free to AACMA members as another member service and a pay per view or subscription for non-members and other agencies or institutions. We are expecting it go live and ready for member access by the end of this year.
As this is a dynamic resource, all money earned from external access will be ploughed back into maintaining the currency of what is expected to be a very beneficial member service and professional tool.
Still in the planning stages, AACMA is hoping to have another opportunity to offer researchers in the new year.
AACMA has already provided members over 50hours of CPD opportunities this year with even more to come. You can still access hours of free CPD through the member portal on the AACMA website to meet your learning needs.
The CMBA has again relaxed its CPD requirements for 2021 but an important reminder for members is that it is a requirement of the Health Funds to maintain CPD and AACMA is yet to hear from the Health Funds that they will also be relaxed in the CPD requirements for practitioners to maintain their health fund provider status.
AACMA strongly recommends that members make use of the hours of free CPD on our website in case the Health Funds choose not to follow the CMBA lead on this issue.
Much of our CPD in the last 19months has been to promote mental health and wellbeing of our members with AACMA member Greg Bantick leading all but one of the sessions via Zoom. Our grateful thanks to Greg for his continued input supporting members through this time.
A Beyond Blue seminar was also part of AACMA’s mental and emotional support program for our members. Beyond Blue has a wealth of resources including managing hardship faced by small business owners during COVID. Access is free for all in need through the Beyond Blue website.