This past year has presented many challenges to the chiropractic profession and the broader community, but the mission of ‘supporting chiropractors, enhancing health’ remains the ACA’s focus through it all.
The growth in membership across the last year is a testament to the inherent value of the ACA during the challenging and uncertain times of the Safer Care Victoria Review and the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, those not part of the ACA have seen the need to belong and experience the support that we as an Association offer.
When considering membership, it is worth contemplating what these challenging times would have looked like without the ACA as the peak body representing chiropractors. The experiences of the Safer Care Victoria and COVID-19 provide some insight.
As the peak body representing chiropractors in Australia, the ACA has its finger on the pulse. Notably, the ACA is the chiropractic member of both the Ahpra Professions Reference Group and Allied Health Professions Australia, and is also the Australian member of the World Federation of Chiropractic. These relationships have been integral in responding to the challenges that the profession faces.
In late February 2019, the chiropractic profession received a high volume of negative news coverage when a video of a registered chiropractor treating a young baby was published first in the Herald Sun, and then across the country.
Without much notice, the ACA was ready to respond and within hours our members were notified and Dr Anthony Coxon appeared across various media channels as the spokesperson for the profession.
Soon after the first Australian case of a coronavirus was diagnosed in late January, the ACA informed members of the developing situation. We have continued to closely monitor what rapidly evolved into a global pandemic, staying informed and connected, in order to decipher an overwhelming amount of news and updates to best support and communicate to members.
The ACA exist to support the profession at large, as well as members. Whether it is a profession-wide or personal challenge, our staff enjoy being able to help members whenever they contact us.
On 8 March 2019, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council announced an independent review of spinal manipulation in children under 12 years. As soon as the communique was published, the ACA sent members an email update on the announcement and provided a letter template for members to be able to contact their local member of parliament and/or Health Minister.
Our communications strategy is to ensure that we inform and engage members across multiple channels, including daily social media, weekly emails and the monthly magazine. ACA members will always be kept informed of important updates on the profession.
By the time the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic on 11 March, Australians were already feeling uncertain about the future. Looking at how best to support members we created a dedicated COVID-19 portal, populated with the latest updates and resources, as well as utilising our networks to advocate on behalf of members.
A key role of any professional association is to advocate or influence on behalf of its members. This includes political representation, influencing public policy, media campaigns and raising awareness about issues important to members.
For the Safer Care Victoria review, a panel was established with the responsibility of reviewing the available evidence and public submissions. The ACA strongly encouraged all chiropractors to make their views known and ask their patients to participate also. We contacted all chiropractors, provided members with resources to engage their patients and ran two online campaigns, one targeted to the public and one to practitioners.
The ACA consulted with a wide range of stakeholders to compile a comprehensive submission to the review which noted that there is little to no evidence of risk of harm to children receiving chiropractic care. In this time, ACA staff also travelled around the country to meet with Health Ministers, political advisors, public servants and other key decision makers to represent our views on the report.
For COVID-19, the ACA worked with Allied Health Professions Australia to advocate for telehealth services to be made available for allied health practitioners, made a submission to Private Healthcare Australia and was consulted for the trial being conducted by the Department of Health and Australian National University.
The ACA works tirelessly to provide the best outcome for members, the profession and the patients they support.
The Safer Care Victoria review saw a great effort from across the profession to advocate and ensure their patients voices were heard too.
As Australians began working from home and to help keep chiropractors connected with their patients, we developed a Working from Home campaign. As part of this campaign we created two videos, social media posts, a newsletter template and a print ready poster for members to use.
The campaign was well received by members of the public. Our first video had over 100,000 views and contributing to a spike in visits to our Find a Chiro feature.
The ACA also began actively engaging with the media as the spokesperson for the profession, ACA President Dr Anthony Coxon featured on Sunrise and on several radio stations across the country highlighting the working from home campaign and the importance of seeing a chiropractor.
As the ACA’s work has proven over the past 18 months, we need a strong membership base to continue to advocate for the profession, now more than ever.
While the outcomes of the ACA’s tireless advocacy work is enjoyed by all chiropractors, it has been funded by only half the profession who are members.
As you consider the value of membership, we are asking the profession ‘if not the ACA, then who?’
There is truly strength in numbers and the only way we can continue to impact the Australian healthcare system is by supporting the membership association that advocates and actions.
Membership with the ACA is not only a powerful investment into your career but into the future of the profession.