AMSA Advocacy Achievements
In recent years, AMSA has made a significant number of breakthroughs in its advocacy on issues important to medical students in Australia. Some of these achievements are listed below.
These achievements have been made possible through the hard work of its volunteers, including members of the National Executive of each year.
- AMSA successfully lobbied against the establishment of the Murray Darling Medical School
- AMSA appeared at the Senate Inquiry into the Medical Complaints Process, resulting in national media coverage. President Elise Buisson spoke about the impact of sexual harassment and bullying on medical students. All of AMSA's recommendations were upheld in the final report of the inquiry.
- AMSA's advocacy led to the continuation of funding for the Commonwealth Medical Internships (CMI) program for a further four years
- AMSA worked with the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association (AIDA) to ensure that the government maintained support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
- AMSA generated several days of national media through its #FixitDontfloodit campaign. AMSA’s sustained advocacy resulted in the Department of Health issuing a briefing paper to all Federal Government MPs who were inundated by phone calls from AMSA’s campaign. A freedom of information request also revealed talking points in response to AMSA’s campaign was specifically included in front benchers talking points during Question Time.
- AMSA successfully advocated against the fight against deregulation of university fees with the Senate voting down the proposed legislation twice and PM Malcolm Turnbull withdrawing the legislation until 2017.
- AMSA launched a significant campaign against the introduction of the Border Force Act on July 1st 2015 with students marching to the Parliament House and calling every single MPs office.
- AMSA successfully lobbied the Queensland Ombudsman to review the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010 to improve protections for Queensland medical students who reported sexual harassment.
- AMSA successfully lobbied for investment into the training pipeline by expanding rural training pathways. The Federal Government announced in the MYEFO 2015-2016 a $93.8 million dollar investment into an Integrated Rural Training Pipeline package. Highlights included:
-$14 million dollars for Regional Training Hubs: Building 30 new regional training hubs to expand rural training opportunities in prevocational training.
-$10 million dollars for the Rural Junior Doctor Training Innovation Fund: Rural based Interns to receive training in rural general practice.
-$32 million dollars for the Specialist Training Programme: An additional 100 speciality training positions by 2018.
- AMSA successfully lobbied the government to redirect funding into rural clinical schools in New South Wales, including a $3.8 million investment for medical training in Wagga Wagga.
- AMSA lobbied intensely on the proposed deregulation of university fees, including presentations at two separate Senate Inquiries. The issue of medical school fees specifically was acknowledged, following our lobbying, in the regulatory impact statement of the legislation initially proposed by the Education Minister in the House of Representatives. Unfortunately the proposed solution of capping medical school fees was not supported by Government, but we subsequently received an assurance from the Palmer United Party that they would not vote for the Bill. In the last Parliamentary sitting week of the year, AMSA representatives were in Canberra lobbying on the day the Senate rejected the Higher Education Reform Bill. Our alternative solution of a regulatory authority to monitor fee rises was considered in this last week of debate.
- AMSA contributed to the development of a motion in the Senate supporting the guaranteeing of internships for all medical students. The motion passed in the Senate. Obtained ALP support for internships being provided to all medical students.
- AMSA successfully opposed Curtin University’s proposal for the creation of new medical schools.
- AMSA successfully pushed for greater transparency on internship numbers as the audit process progressed throughout the year.
- AMSA assisted the Commonwealth Department of Health in streamlining the Commonwealth Medical Internships process to ensure international medical students likely to remain in Australia would be prioritised in the allocation of internships.
- The Bonded Medical Places scheme was reformed to allow students to complete their return of service in low population areas, in addition to regional and remote regions (as classified by their distance to a major urban centre).
- AMSA partnered with a range of mental health organisations to launch the AMSA Mental Health Campaign, targeted at improving the mental health of medical students and tertiary students at large. Met with Vice Chancellors from a range of universities to discuss the provision of mental health services on campuses.
- Following the removal of the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program, AMSA contributed to and supported advocacy in multiple states to support the reinstatement of such a program. The Western Australian state government agreed to fund its own community general practice trainee program for prevocational trainees, and the Victorian Liberals committed to reinstating PGPPP as an election promise.
- AMSA conducted callouts and met with a wide array of politicians on all sides on the issue of refugee and asylum seeker health, as part of the launch of the AFRAM campaign (AMSA For Refugee and Asylum seeker Mental health). During the year, the ALP Caucus considered a change in position on the issue.
- Securing a commitment from the Coalition Government for federal funding for up to 100 additional internships per year for the next four years
- Successfully lobbying the government to expand OS-HELP eligibility to medical students undertaking electives overseas
- Continued to advocate for sustainable medical student numbers, and successfully opposed attempts for the creation of new medical schools
- Supported the successful ‘Scrap the Cap’ campaign to reverse a plan to impose a cap on tax deductions for self-education expenses
- Broadened AMSA’s policy platform and advocacy on mental health and wellbeing (from medical students to all university students), laid the groundwork for it to become a long-term focus of AMSA’s external advocacy, and assisted the formation of the Parliamentary Friends of Youth Mental Health group in the Australian Parliament
- Adapted AMSA’s Marriage Equality and Health policy for the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) and successfully lobbied for its adoption as official IFMSA policy
- Following a comprehensive AMSA advocacy campaign, more than 116 additional internships were created in public and private settings, to allow Australian-trained medical graduates to continue training in Australia.
- AMSA successfully advocated for a ban on domestic postgraduate full-fee places in new Masters-level MD programs
- The NSW Government granted limited transport concessions to international students in Greater Sydney, the Hunter and Illawarra regions
- No new medical schools were approved in 2012, despite heavy campaigning by Curtin University and Charles Sturt University, with Federal Health Minister Plibersek publicly stating that new medical schools would be ‘difficult to support’ at the current time, given pressures on training capacity
- AMSA actively campaigned against the Student Learning Entitlement system, which resulted in over-turning this legislation and therefore allowing medical students who had pursued other areas of study or undertaking combined degrees to continue to study with their HECS entitlement.
- AMSA was able to have changes to the NSW Rural Preferential Recruitment (RPR) scheme reversed, which meant students who sat the HSC in NSW but studied interstate would continue to be eligible for this programme and be able to complete their internship in a rural area
- AMSA co-published a guide to medical student and junior doctor wellbeing, Keeping Your Grass Greener, and drew further attention to this important issue.
- AMSA co-published and promoted the Guide to Working Abroad, in collaboration with the AMA Council of Doctors in Training, a guide that demonstrated the importance of ethical electives and opportunities for overseas and developing world experiences for medical students and junior doctors.
- AMSA collaborated with various groups to produce a guide to Social Media and the Medical Profession, setting a leading international example of activity in this field.
- AMSA was successful in lobbying for additional funding for clinical training, prevocational and vocational training places, including:
- $632m to increase prevocational and vocational training places.
- Funding to increase GP vocational training places from 600 to 1200 by 2014.
- Increase in the number Pre-vocational General Practice Placements Program (PGPPP) places from 400 to 975 by 2013 at a cost of $148m
- $145m to increase the number of specialist training positions in private settings from 360 to 900 by 2014.
- $496.5m in extra State and Federal funding towards a significant expansion in clinical training capacity for medical students
- AMSA was an active contributor to the AMA Internship Summit, which produced a landmark position paper co-signed by the AMA, AMSA, Medical Deans and the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Councils.
- AMSA caused universities to rethink plans to train physician assistant students due to AMSA’s concerns about clinical training capacity
- AMSA was instrumental in the development of Health Workforce Australia
- AMSA ran a co-ordinated campaign, in all states and territories, to have health ministers answer questions on notice in state parliament, detailing how many internship positions were available in each jurisdiction over the following 4 years, the first time politicians had been held to account and the forerunner to national intern oversight projects.
- AMSA created unambiguous guidelines for the interaction between medical students, medical student societies and the pharmaceutical industry.
- AMSA advocated for increased Federal Government investment into medical student training resulting in $100 million dollar funding injection
- AMSA advocated for the expansion to rural access programs that resulted in the doubling of positions in the John Flynn Scholarship Scheme
- AMSA’s first interaction on climate change and health with AMSA joining with other youth bodies to deliver a petition on the health effects of climate change to Minister for Youth, Kate Ellis.
- AMSA advocated for Indigenous Health curricula to become integral to medical school training
- AMSA slammed UMAT training courses as expensive, inequitable, exploitative and showing them to not improve students’ chances of getting into medicine
- For the first time, AMSA argued that international students graduating from Australian medical schools were important to our future health workforce and should be retained by increasing internship numbers.
- AMSA achieved significant concessions for Bonded Medical Places students, including that the Return of Service period be adjusted to be commensurate with length of degree and that half of the Return of Service be able to be ‘paid back’ as a prevocational or vocational trainee.
- AMSA successfully advocated for legislative amendment for Masters students to be able to access Youth Allowance