Change is all too easily filed into a number of different baskets: Too hard; Ignore it so it goes away; I'll just do what I am told, let someone else worry about it. And so on. Few of us actually embrace change or are excited by the challenges it brings.
I am the first to admit that change for change's sake is a destructive force. Change must always be driven by the need to improve a process, to improve the return on an investment of energy, of passion, of sheer hard work or by the need to remain responsive in a changing world. For change to be effective, however, this return must be shared by the worker bees as well as by "management".
We as members of ANZSRS are facing major changes over the next few months as a new constitution and Society structure are to be voted on, and hopefully adopted, at the Brisbane AGM. Many years of work have been invested into bringing our Society to this point. The driver for these changes has been the need to satisfy legal requirements, to address the ever increasing workload of managing an ever-growing Society, in terms of both numbers and stature, and to support the professional standing which we all enjoy today by remaining responsive to the changing needs of our profession. To say the environment within which we work today has changed from what it was when our Society was founded, would be an understatement in the extreme.
As we contemplate the new order, it is timely that a secondary theme for the Brisbane meeting is the history of our Society. While I was not in on the birth of the Society, I can think back to meetings in Adelaide, Manly and Sydney where there were but a handful of registrants, no posters and lots of time to network. The Australasian Society of Respiratory Technology, as it was then, meeting was held the weekend prior to the TSANZ and even at a different venue. There was little interaction between the two Societies. Indeed I well remember a leading light in the TSANZ coming to talk to us at an early meeting and starting off the talk with "I don't know how to refer to you people". Unlikely to happen today! Today, we are scientists, we require members to have a Bachelor's degree, we have our own credentialing process and in New Zealand there is a requirement for Respiratory Scientists to be registered as health professionals.
The present structure of our Society may have addressed the needs of a fledgling Profession and it has served us well for 30 years. The task of managing and governing the Society, however, has become increasingly difficult and time consuming as the years have passed. We are now struggling to cope with the demands and responsibilities of our profession. Change is needed if we are to survive, both as a Society and as a Profession.
As we move towards a new structure for our Society, we need to consider our professional futures. The changes that have been proposed are the result of a great deal of hard work by a great many members. Each and every one of us is affected by the changes being wrought, maybe not as an individual, but certainly as a professional. Each of us has a responsibility to our colleagues, our peers, to ensure that the proposed changes achieve what they set out to do. There will be some issues that you agree with and some that you disagree with, but you have to put everything into context. Your decision as to how to vote has to be based on the greater good. Your professional standing today is likely due to tireless work by others in your Society and you have a responsibility to make a good and informed decision at the AGM. Please make an effort to review the documents to be voted on at Brisbane prior to the meeting. If you are not able to attend the meeting, then ensure you exercise your right to a proxy vote. If you are at the ASM, then make sure you attend the AGM, even if it is the only one you ever attend. The changes don't just affect the Board and the Exec, they affect you, and your future.
'til next time