The concerns led to the rescinding of an invitation to Dr Tanveer Ahmed, a psychiatrist, to speak at the Congress on the topic of issues of medico-legal practice within south-western Sydney’s immigrant communities with a particular focus on domestic violence.
“The invitation to Dr Tanveer Ahmed was originally made by a convenor and was rejected by the RACS ASC governing committee. We subsequently realised that Dr Tanveer Ahmed’s position on domestic violence, revealed through the controversy surrounding his relationship with the White Ribbon, and subsequent publications, detracts from our own clear position on the problem. This not only contradicts our commitment to a balanced and fair discussion, it also contradicts our position on domestic violence, which details the identification and delivery of care to victims of domestic violence in a sensitive and non-judgmental way.
“To be clear, debate and diversity of opinion is welcomed within RACS. However, the promotion of confrontational views challenging what the College believes to be non-negotiable ethical and moral values, (in this case domestic violence toward women) is not acceptable unless that individual polarising viewpoint is able to be discussed in a forum where opposing viewpoints on the issue can be debated and discussed.
“Dr Tanveer Ahmed viewpoints are also inconsistent with our position as advocates for equity, a standpoint that is articulated in our well-respected Building Respect, Improving Patient Safety initiative, which aims to build a culture of respect in the surgical workforce,” said Professor Mark Ashton, the College’s ASC Chair.
The College reiterated its long-held policy of encouraging a diversity of views and support of open and fair debate.
“We offered Dr Tanveer Ahmed to join a panel session because we support open dialogue. This would have allowed him to share his opinions. It is also consistent with our position of having a diversity of views and robust discussion.
“We believe diversity in all its dimensions makes our College richer, more inclusive, and more relevant to the community we serve,” added Professor Ashton.
The RACS ASC is a scientific meeting that has a key educational focus for Fellows, Trainees and Specialist International Medical Graduates, and often invites non-surgical speakers.
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About the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)
RACS is the leading advocate for surgical standards, professionalism and surgical education in Australia and New Zealand. The College is a not-for-profit organisation that represents more than 7000 surgeons and 1300 surgical trainees and International Medical Graduates. RACS also supports healthcare and surgical education in the Asia-Pacific region and is a substantial funder of surgical research. There are nine surgical specialties in Australasia being: Cardiothoracic surgery, General surgery, Neurosurgery, Orthopaedic surgery, Otolaryngology Head-and-Neck surgery, Paediatric surgery, Plastic and Reconstructive surgery, Urology and Vascular surgery. www.surgeons.org