The Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ) is a legally incorporated body and is separate from the Faculty (AFRM – Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine) and the College (RACP - Royal Australasian College of Physicians), but it operates in symbiosis with the College and the Faculty under the provisions of a memorandum of collaboration between the Society and the RACP/AFRM.
For several years prior to 2015, AFRM was perceived to have a reduced ability to effectively collaborate with multidisciplinary professional colleagues to provide a strong and unified voice for rehabilitation medicine professionals. College processes and associated requirements had reduced the AFRM’s ability to respond quickly to rehabilitation medicine advocacy priorities. The creation of the Society has facilitated more effective policy and advocacy activity The Society also provides a vehicle to more effectively engage with multidisciplinary groups via its associate membership.
The RMSANZ was established in February 2015 by a small Interim Board of Directors with the support of many Fellows of AFRM. One of its major objectives is to facilitate a more targeted, responsive, and effective advocacy model for rehabilitation medicine, rehabilitation physicians, and their patients. The RACP with the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) has retained its core educational, training, and certification functions. The Society has no role in relation to the accreditation of training sites and certification of fellows; these functions remain with the Faculty and the College.
The full list of objectives of the RMSANZ are set out in the constitution, but essentially, they are to promote the specialty of Rehabilitation Medicine and to advocate on behalf of the professionals and recipients of disability services in Australia and New Zealand; to provide a fertile and supportive environment for rehabilitation physicians to meet and deal with their regional interests and to allow special interest groups to thrive; to run annual scientific meetings and other clinical meetings and workshops as needed by rehabilitation medicine fellows and trainees; and to create an environment of professional collegiality and support for members, including trainees and associate members.
In the words of the first President of the RMSANZ, Dr. Alex Ganora, the Society “is a complementary organisation which fulfills the needs of our profession in the face of organisational constraints within the RACP. The Society fills the void and completes the jigsaw puzzle of the RACP and its specialty societies. We are one professional group of rehabilitation physicians and our activities are driven not by circumstance but by our own objects. Whether we do it as a faculty or as a society, the task remains one and the same. It is no coincidence that the objects of the society are almost the same as the objects of the faculty and of the college which preceded the faculty, because those objects encapsulate the aspirations of the one group of people, namely us. Vocational training continues through the faculty, and we can run continuing education programs through the Society’s scientific meetings, SIGs, and Branches.”
We gratefully acknowledge the indispensable contribution of Sybil Cumming to the formation and administration of our Society and for her peerless support of the specialty of Rehabilitation Medicine over a 23 year period. In recognition of her exceptional service to RMSANZ, Sybil was made a lifetime Honorary Member of the Society in April 2019.