Issue 49 - President's Report

I have been hearing the word governance frequently, and in a number of different contexts lately.  Whether it is the Banking Royal Commission, or the Board of the ABC, or even the Federal Government and the manner of allocation of nearly half a billion dollars to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the function, efficiency, reliability, and reputation of an organisation or authority is dramatically affected by its governance.

Governance is the framework of rules, relationships, systems and processes by which authority is exercised and controlled in organisations.  I have learned a lot about governance since being on the NSW Veterinary Practitioners Board.  I have developed an understanding of the crucial role it plays in our organisation passively, through watching and learning the way our Board works.

So when a new Board was appointed by the Minister in July this year the Board has, for the first time, added a formal Governance training day to the induction process.  As usual, formal training has, for me, “fleshed out” the general understanding that governance is just doing the right thing.  And this has further been emphasised to me in my role as the Chair of AVBC, where intense negotiations with the Veterinary Surgeons Board of South Australia (VSBSA) this year (in the wake of the notification of their resignation) have focused on governance of both AVBC and the VSBSA as a major issue.

In my time on the NSW Board I have been witness to myriad examples of good governance that has come to be the hallmark of this institution.  And if there is one aspect of governance which I have come to respect as foundational, it is that of selflessness.  In particular it is the ability to separate your personal preferences for a particular course of action from the best for the organisation.  In many circumstances these two things are coincident, and so doing the best thing is easier.  But when one’s personal views are not consistent with the best interests of an organisation then it is much harder to separate those things.

Pleasingly I routinely see this ability to put the good of the organisation above advocacy for a particular person or group in the work of the NSW Board.  The ability to leave your role as an employer, or member of another organisation at the door, and approach the work of the Board with no agenda or advocacy has been one of the strengths of all the Board members I have worked with over the last 9 years.  Their zealous application of the principles of good governance has built a strength and trustworthiness into the protocols and procedures that guide the Board’s important work.  I congratulate them on behalf of all the stakeholders of the veterinary profession in NSW.

Once again the festive “holiday” season is upon us, and I am struck by the irony that this time of year is probably the busiest for those of us in practice, but I implore you if you can, to take some time to slow down, reflect, spend time with family, and do all those things away from your profession that replenish your reserves of well-being and allow you to return to work refreshed.

So on behalf of the members and staff of the Board, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all registered veterinarians in NSW a very merry Christmas, and a happy and safe New Year.

Mark Simpson