The appointment follows the resignation of Dr Matthew Miles as RACGP CEO in July this year, who stepped down due to challenges associated with running a national organisation amid COVID-related lockdowns and ever-changing state-based restrictions.
Paul Wappett will formally assume the role on Monday 8 November, while current Executive Chair Christine Nixon will continue to hold her position as Chair of the RACGP Board.
Mr Wappett said that he is looking forward to a new challenge after two years at the Australian Institute of Business (AIB), a market share leader for MBAs in Australia.
‘I take great pride in knowing what makes organisations tick and how to help them reach their full potential,’ he said.
‘Under my leadership, AIB underwent a comprehensive business transformation. We improved the quality of education programs and achieved record student satisfaction ratings, a highly engaged workforce and, ultimately, a strong increase in enrolments.
‘AIB now specialises in educational content production and curation, the use and development of learning technologies and platforms, as well as the use of data analytics to drive better learning outcomes.
‘This is all highly relevant to the RACGP, particularly at a time when continuing professional development is undergoing significant change.’
RACGP President Dr Karen Price has welcomed the appointment, which she said was the result of a thorough national search and unanimous board decision.
‘I believe he is the right person to lead the college in the years ahead,’ she said.
‘He comes to the RACGP with impeccable credentials and a strong track record of executive leadership, and we are lucky to have him.
‘I look forward to working closely with Paul on managing the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as changes to continuing professional development and the return of GP training to the college.
‘I also hope to help Paul further transform the culture of the RACGP and respond positively to member feedback.
‘On behalf of all members, the Board and RACGP staff I welcome Paul to the RACGP and wish him all the best.’
Mr Wappett said he is ‘incredibly proud’ to lead a body advocating for GPs at a time when communities are relying on them more than ever due to their ongoing role in Australia’s efforts to combat the pandemic.
‘It will be my job to do everything possible to fight for GPs as they help their communities recover,’ he said.
‘As COVID-19 hopefully moves from the pandemic to endemic phase here in Australia, GPs will be responsible for managing the fallout. That includes helping patients who have delayed or avoided care and treatment, treating people with “long COVID” as well as those who are experiencing mental health concerns.
‘I want general practice to be front of mind for government and for members to know that our voice will always be heard loud and clear.’
Aside from his role leading AIB, Mr Wappett was previously the CEO of Open Universities Australia from 2012–2018, and has held legal and commercial roles at CPA Australia, the Western Bulldogs Football Club, Mobil Oil Australia, and law firm Clayton Utz.
He was also the Chairman of Berry Street, the largest child protection agency in Victoria, between 2010 and 2018, and of corporate training company e3 Learning from 2013–2016.
Mr Wappett said that he will draw on this experience to lead the RACGP during a time when members need a strong, representative body.
‘As CEO of AIB, I sought to make MBAs as accessible as possible. I wanted there to be lots of pathways into this line of study and for the MBAs to fit in around the lives of those seeking to further their education and knowledge,’ he said.
‘As RACGP CEO I see many parallels because I want GPs to be focused on the enormous job at hand.
‘Many GPs and general practice staff will be experiencing burnout after a gruelling 18 months. I want membership of the college to be as easy and straightforward as possible and the benefits we deliver for them to be 100% apparent.
‘That includes taking on big advocacy challenges, such as ensuring the fees GPs derive through the Medicare Benefits Schedule keep pace with the cost of delivering world-class general practice care.’
But while striking a positive tone, Mr Wappett also said he wanted to be ‘upfront’ with members and RACGP staff about challenges that lay ahead.
‘The return of general practice training to the colleges means the RACGP needs to integrate training organisations in close partnership with these organisations and the Federal Government,’ he said.
‘I will be working as hard as I can to earn back the trust of members, including those in training, and make the college more agile, adaptable and member-focused.
‘I thrive on a challenge and can’t wait to start in this new role.’