2024 | Volume 25 | Issue 2


Vice president perspective

It has been a year since we communicated the very challenging financial position RACS was facing, and whilst there has been an incredible transformation and the College is now on sound financial footing, it is important we proceed with necessary reform, as we look optimistically towards an effective and sustainable future.

The expertise of the Recovery Committee has been crucial in navigating us through challenging times. This experience serves as a compelling endorsement of the structural changes proposed in the new constitution.

It's important to clarify that advocating for change does not imply criticism of our previous leadership. Instead, as highlighted by the independent review, the issues lie within the structure and governance of RACS. Our current structure exposes us to the risk of systemic failure. A 'root cause analysis' has identified that underlying systemic issues have significantly contributed to adverse events.

We are committed to transparency and engagement in our communication and in making changes to the Constitution. We have paused the ballot process to embed the changes that will strengthen surgical leadership of the Board. We emphasise and reassure that in the revised proposed Constitution, the significant majority of Council function and presidential and executive roles are preserved. Fiduciary responsibility and ensuring oversight of management will rest with the Board but all other functions of RACS, importantly delivering education, advocacy, research, member engagement and services, remain the responsibility of Council.

We plan to share the Constitution for review prior to recommencing the ballot process. A summary of changes is outlined below:

The Council:
•    The president, executive and Council provide surgical leadership.
•    Member representation is paramount – the Council elected by membership, develops policy and strategy.
•    Council function will not be altered other than finance, audit, risk and high-level governance resting with the Board.

The Board:

  • A smaller Board is necessary for better financial decision-making (as distinct from policy development).
  • Having the president and vice president on the Board provides a clear connection to Council and the chair will always be a surgeon.
  • There will always be a majority of surgeons on the Board.

If supported by our Fellowship, a newly constituted Board, similar to the high functioning Recovery Committee, would have up to four non-surgeon skills-based directors, in addition to the president, vice president and up to five additional FRACS (Fellows), selected by Council to oversee finance, audit, risk and high-level governance.

The proposed changes to the RACS Constitution to establish a skills-based Board will be put to a Fellows’ ballot over the coming months. A fiscally strong RACS based on a sound governance structure is to the benefit of the surgical community in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Want to find out more? Detail on the changes including FAQs are on the RACS website.

Professor Owen Ung
Vice President
Chair Governance Committee
Chair International Engagement