President's Report AGM

President’s Report 2015

At its business meeting at the beginning of the year, the Society’s Executive adopted the updated Strategic Plan which is set to guide the Society for the next 5 years.  As highlighted in that document, our stated purpose remains to ‘minimise the impact of head and neck cancer through leading the multidisciplinary approach to education, research, care and advocacy’ and our stated aims are broadly unchanged.  Although the wording changes from the previous plan are subtle, the emphasis is important.  The reference to our local region has been dropped.  Although we are a society for Australia and New Zealand, this recognises that our contribution and influence is not just a local one and we have an important role in the broader worldwide community of head and neck oncology.  Locally, however, our aims have an important change in perspective.  Now positioned as the recognised Australian and New Zealand multidisciplinary society for head and neck cancer care, the Society now plans, while continuing its role in research and education, to increase its role in advocacy.

The tasks set for the first year fall broadly into 4 groups.  Firstly and critically to update the value and utility of the Society’s website.  Secondly, engagement, both of the membership and the broader community. Thirdly, formalising the processes around the Annual Scientific Meeting, and finally consolidating the relationship and governance related to our research foundation.

For the website, there is at last some slow but definite progress.  We have ended our relationship with Melissa Norfolk Design, who had lost their Drupal manager, and have had welcome input from Petar Belic, who was involved with the site when it was first created.  Members are now able to pay their dues via the website, a function long anticipated, but now finally in place.  Petar has also proposed a number of improvements to the site, which are currently undergoing work.  There is still considerable room for improvement in content and utility of the site.  I welcome the additional contribution to the website subcommittee by Nick Marshall and Brian Stein.  The executive has undertaken to review its plans for the website over the next few weeks in response to a submission by Brian, with the intent to significantly increase the pace at which our online presence develops.

Other progress involving the site and the membership is the ongoing work listing the details of the Mutidisciplinary Teams throughout the country, and Martin Batstone’s efforts on this front are appreciated.  The list is far from complete, however, and units not represented are encouraged to submit information to Martin or Jennifer Burgess.  In addition to making the list more comprehensive, the strategic plan calls for the Society’s policies regarding MDTs to be defined and displayed, a task still to be undertaken. 

The Research subcommittee has also sought to engage the membership by facilitating access to information about research being undertaken.  No studies have been put up on the site, but the Society has on a couple of occasions assisted researches accessing the membership.  There is considerable opportunity to improve in this area.  A further membership engagement task set in this year is to formally survey the Membership about how the Society can best be of use.  I would urge all members to respond and give as much feedback as possible when this arrives.

With regard to engaging the broader community, our aim over the next five years involves interacting with governments, related cancer care organisations, patients and consumer organisations, and the general public, to influence policy making related to head and neck cancer care.  A programme of formal visits has been proposed but not yet in place, but there have been ad hoc interactions by individuals on the executive with state cancer councils.  I note, for example, the participation of the CEO of Cancer Institute NSW at this Scientific Meeting.  The Society has also been sought for input by Cancer Victoria to its Head and Neck Cancer Management guidelines, and I have also accepted an invitation from the Federal AMA as a representative of our Society to contribute to the upcoming MBS review.  We also maintain our presence of the board of COSA. We are becoming increasingly well placed to have influence and aim to consolidate that presence over the coming years.

As a member society of IFHNOS, we continue to strengthen our relationshipwith international societies.  The large and renowned international faculty present at this larynx cancer congress is testament to our strong ties and friendships with the word wide Head and Neck Oncology community.  We continue to be represented on the IFHNOS Board by Ben Panizza.  The Society and its members have undertaken to contribute to the Global Fellowship in Head and Neck Oncology, and we will be hosting the World Tour again in association with our Annual Scientific Meeting next year in Auckland.  The Society is keen to host the IFHNOS Word Congress when it is Australasia’s turn in 2026.  Although more than 10 years hence, work towards this aim will begin in earnest soon, as the decision will be made in 2018.  We have also endorsed the IFHNOS initiative, World Head and Neck Cancer Day.  Although the timing of this Scientific meeting precluded co-ordinated activities this particular year, these activities offer an excellent opportunity for the Society achieve its goal to interact with the broader community, and should become a standing agenda item for our executive.  The Society was also represented at the beginning of July on a joint panel with the AHNS at the IAOO 5th World Congress in Sao Paolo, Brazil.  It is expected that we will be invited to participate in a similar symposium at the next Congress in Bangalore in 2017.Approaches are to be made to Singapore and Hong Kong for a further Trisociety Meeting in 2018, although perhaps again to be held locally.  Finally on the International front, we are pleased to acknowledge our international grant winners, Dr Kunjan Acharya from Nepal, the Developing Nations Fellow, and Dr Gurmit Bachher, the Travelling Lecturer from Mumbai.  Both are present at this meeting with plans to visit centres Australia and I trust you will join with me in making them both welcome.

For the current meeting, Bob Smee, Carsten Palme and their committee are to be congratulated for their effort in putting the meeting together.  It is a busy, high quality programme and certain to be an academic success.  Whether it is a financial success remains to be seen, having suffered from the impact of competing meetings and late withdrawals from speakers, but those that are attending should have considerable benefit.

Thanks is also due again to Caroline Handley and her team from the RACS convention organisers.  Theirs is a well oiled machine.  A further goal of the Society, however, is to also have familiar processes consolidated and well documented for our Executive, so that the running of future meetings is a smoother task for convenors in the future – further work in our Plan to be put in place.

Lastly to the Foundation - The Research Foundation of the ANZHNCS has been established as a charitable body also to foster research in head and neck cancer.  At the end of 2014, Gary Morgan, the founding chairman, stepped down from the chair and I thank him again, acknowledging his significant contribution as the Foundation began.  David Wiesenfeld became the new Chairman, with Suren Krishnan as Deputy Chairman.  In reviewing the governance and processes of the Foundation, it was discovered that reports to the ACNC and the ATO had not been submitted, and indeed, the Trust Deed and awards given to date by the Foundation were not in fact compliant with Public Ancillary Fund Guidelines.  Consequently, the ACNC registration had been revoked and consequently the Foundation’s DGR status was no longer applicable.  With considerable impetus from David Wiesenfeld, influence from Board member, Mr Morris Margolis and pro bono assistance from ABL Lawyers, a new compliant Trust Deed has been registered, the ACNC has reinstated our charitable status, but we await a ruling from the ATO regarding DGR status and whether penalties are due.  Once settled, the Advisory Board will again be seeking to increase the Foundation’s influence and contribution.  Meanwhile, the New Zealand Research Foundation of the ANZHNCS has now been established under the guidance of Swee Tan.  The future direction of the Foundations will need to be discussed and input from the membership is requested.

Assuming the recommendations of the Nominating Committee are approved, Martin Batstone will succeed me in the President’s role, and carry that title as he undertakes his Chris O’Brien Travelling Fellowship in 2016.  Julia McLean will take up the vice presidency, with a view to her becoming our first Allied Health President at the conclusion of Martin’s term, perhaps a world first for such a Society.  Julia’s tireless work as Treasurer of both the Society and the Foundation has been enormous.  Michael Collins has undertaken to take up the Treasurer’ role, but will have a hard act to follow.  I congratulate the new Office Bearers in anticipation of the Members’ approval.

I also hope to welcome Dr James Bowman as a new Member to the Executive.

Janelle Heywood will now be stepping down from the Executive and the Nominating Committee.  Janelle has made an enormous contribution to the Executive over many years, and undertook 2 years as President at what, I understand, was not a particularly easy time.  She continues to advocate for strengthening and consolidating the corporate memory of the Society and will no doubt continue to offer her support.  Our considerable thanks is due.

As always, our enormous thanks and appreciation to Jennifer Burgess who carries a bottomless pit of patience to coordinate the tasks and deal with the busy timetables of the Executive members in her administrative role.

Kerwin Shannon