RACS is a proud signatory to the AEHA, and we acknowledge that trust is a crucial component to effective public health policy and delivery. It is incumbent upon us all to demonstrate ethical behaviour, and the College is committed to supporting and actively engaging with the AEHA over the next three years to highlight and promotethis.

RACS appreciates the opportunity to provide input into the AEHA’s draft Strategic Plan, and the College’s response is outlined below is based on the three core strategies identified in the draft Strategic Plan.

Advocacy and Awareness

Ethical principles are embedded within the College’s values, mission statement and vision, as well as the College's constitution and Fellows' Code of Conduct. Guided by these ethical principles, RACS is committed to effecting positive change in health care and the broader community by adopting informed and principled positions on issues of public health. 

We regularly advocate for these positions across a number of different mediums, including through the media, public campaigns, or by negotiating directly or providing written submissions to both Government and non-Government agencies. The College is recognised as a trusted voice in surgery and we are regularly contacted to provide representations to Governments and/or comment to media organisations on issues of surgery and public health.

Just as the College has established itself as a leading voice for issues of surgical standards, as the AEHA grows in prominence, there is a clear opportunity for the alliance to position itself as the ‘go to’ organisation when governments and media seek comment or advice on ethical health issues.

 RACS endorses the AEHA’s efforts to increase the alliance’s profile through social media and public relations activities. RACS maintains several active social media accounts, and we have found this to be a simple and inexpensive method of sharing relevant content and engaging with our membership, as well as the health sector and the broader community. It also allows the opportunity to partner with likeminded organisations to promote mutually beneficial areas of interest. 

RACS believes that the development of a separate communications strategy would be worthwhile, to support these activities, as well as the stated objectives and the activities identified in the draft strategic plan.

Embedding Ethics

The AEHA has always taken the sensible approach that the stated values and objectives of the alliance are not intended to replace or override existing policies or codes of conduct, and it does not mandate, monitor or regulate anything other than the voluntary reporting of activities related to the AEHA. RACS believes this is entirely appropriate, and we support the continuation of this approach.

As highlighted above, the College maintains an existing vision, mission, values and constitution. We also take a transparent approach to reporting on our progress in relation to ethical matters and we publish a number of comprehensive resources which are available through the RACS website, and also sent to our members.

These resources include (but are not limited to):

  • RACS Indigenous Health Position Paper
  • RACS Annual report
  • The annual Building Respect and Improving Patient Safety Progress Report
  • Biennial Diversity and Inclusion Plan progress update.

We would be happy for these (and other publicly available materials) to be made available to and shared with AEHA member organisations if this would be of benefit.

Organisation Sustainability

When RACS first became a signatory to the AEHA, the College was one of only five signatories. In the relatively short period since that time the AEHA has achieved almost seventy additional signatories. This rapid growth is a strong endorsement of the importance of the organisation, and testament to the willingness of organisations within the health care sector to participate and become actively involved.

RACS particularly supports the objective to actively engage under-represented groups, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is in everyone’s interests that the AEHA succeed as an organisation, and that we partner together to maintain and continually build trust and integrity in our country’s health sector. This will only be successful if we work towards ensuring that all sections of our community trust in and feel supported by the health care system and those that work within it.

Inevitably with strong growth, there will also be many challenges. As discussed, each organisation will naturally be at different points of their organisational life cycle and will encounter their own specific and often very nuanced ethical issues. It is important that clear terms of reference encouraging collaboration with the vision of the AEHA are developed, while also recognising the autonomy of each organisation to address their own specific ethical issues internally.