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Episode 12

RACGP President Elections

Show notes

Welcome to Generally Speaking, the conversation for all GPs.

Join GPs Dr Gill Singleton and Dr Billy Stoupas as they discuss some of the most pressing topics and issues surrounding the operations of a general practice.

Recorded before the recent passing of Dr Harry Nespolon, Dr Stoupas and Dr Singleton sought insights on the upcoming RACGP President elections straight from the source. Dr Nespolon, the then President, and Ms Christine Nixon, Chair of the RACGP Board, expand on their experience and insights with a view to enticing members to get involved in the college and of course, to vote in the upcoming ballot.

12 August 2020 - 12:13 PM | 24 min 1 sec

(00:31) Dr Singleton and Dr Stoupas acknowledge the passing and contribution of the late Dr Harry Nespolon before introducing the conversation that had been previously recorded.

They confirm the importance of having a say on the issues surrounding general practice and voting.

Introduction of Dr Harry Nespolon and Ms Christine Nixon

(02:29) Dr Nespolon points out that voting is important for members to express their view and that it is also particularly valuable to the incoming President, as more substantial voting numbers give the elected position more authority.

(03:03) Dr Nespolon explains the role of the President and what it takes to do the job.

He underscores the importance of corporate governance skills and of keeping in mind that the job is about advocating on behalf of general practice. Which in turn, means trying to make life as easy as possible for GPs.

(04:05) Dr Nespolon outlines his motivation for taking on the role in the first place, and the fact that it took him a few goes to be elected.

He felt that the college was more focused on the relationship between itself and the government, rather than the relationship between the college and its members. His endeavour was to address that and to make the college more GP-member friendly.

(06:23)  Dr Nespolon describes a typical day in the life of the job and his experience of the last couple of years – suffice to say that it is action packed.

It involved plenty of weekend work, a lot of travel (with 79 trips in his first year of Presidency) and plenty of unexpected issues, as was the case for him with the bushfires and COVID-19. Among all of that, he also of course needed to see a few patients in his clinic.

(07:40) Dr Singleton follows up with Christine Nixon on the difference between her role as Chair and Dr Nespolon as President, acknowledging that in some instances these roles would be combined.

Christine explains that she primarily focuses on the management of the RACGP Board and keeping the college on strategy, where the role of the President is often more outward focused. They have had a valuable partnership in managing both the inward and outward facing demands of the organisation.

(09:07) Christine outlines the value of becoming a member of the various faculties, and councils, which cover 10 special interest groups across the country.

If someone wanted to get involved in the college but wasn’t ready to nominate for President, she figures that the first step to being involved might be to stand for a faculty board’s council. And then, maybe move on to a faculty Chair position.

(12:55) Dr Nespolon describes what the next phase of the college might look like and what will be in store for the newly elected President.

He figures that it will be a transition phase for the college because it is in effect, going through a generational change.

(15:44)  Dr Stoupas asks both Christine and Dr Nespolon to reflect on a highlight from their terms in office.

Christine starts off with how proud she feels about the way that the college supported GPs and the community through the bushfires. She also thought it was amazing to see how people stepped up to support each other through the COVID-19 response.

(16:37) Dr Nespolon explains how one of his highlights is that general practice is becoming a mainstream issue and that patients are beginning to champion the service that GPs provide.

He also felt that the COVID-19 response was worthy of mention. For continuing to be agile and stay open, manage patients and manage risk, he offers his congratulations to both general practices and GPs for the work that they’ve done.

(19:04) Both acknowledge some of the challenges for GPs moving forward, but Dr Nespolon underscores the importance of financial viability for GPs.

While fee-for-service will always form the basis of general practice, how we deal with chronic care and how we best deliver to those patients while ensuring that general practices stay open is the challenge. GPs and young doctors need to be rewarded both professionally and financially.

(20:22) Dr Nespolon describes the election process and outlines a few of the dates and milestones.

Again emphasising the importance of members checking their email and clicking the voting links, as well as encouraging them to read the statements from all of the nominees.

(21:26) Dr Singleton takes the opportunity to plug the Presidential debates, an online event where listeners can hear from all the nominees about what they would do in the role of President.

(22:16) Finally, Dr Nespolon calls on RACGP members to do their research, get involved and then vote from an informed position.

  • The Presidential campaign period runs from 4–19 August, until 12.00 pm. During this time, candidates will be able to provide information to members about their aspirations for the role and the college.
  • Voting for RACGP President will open at 12.00 pm, Thursday 20 August,  and close at 12.00 pm, Monday 31 August.
  • Access all of the details regarding the RACGP President election, here
  • Candidate statements can be found here.

‘So there is a really significant time commitment to becoming President, and you really need to be able to build that into your life … I really would suggest that you have a long chat with your family about how intense the time commitment can be.’

‘When I signed up, I really didn’t sign up for bushfires and COVID-19. But that was part of the gig. I’d like to think that we’ve done our best to keep GPs and their patients safe.’

‘In really simple terms it’s remuneration, remuneration, remuneration. GPs need to be much better remunerated for what they do.’ – Dr Harry Nespolon

‘So I reckon the first step people might think about, is thinking about standing for their faculty, boards, councils. Then … maybe as time goes on, now think about standing for faculty Chair, but it’s a really good way for people to get started.’

– Ms Christine Nixon


  • If you would like to visit Dr Harry Nespolon’s memorial fund, please visit here
  • If you would like to honour Dr Harry Nespolon’s contribution to general practice, we invite you to share your condolences, memories and thoughts here
  • Hear from the 2020 candidates for President at the Presidential Q&A on 17 August, hosted and moderated by ABC 774 presenter Virginia Trioli. Register on the RACGP website.
  • If you would like to learn more about Christine Nixon’s achievements and insights, please visit here.
  • If you would like to learn more about Dr Gill Singleton’s achievements and insights, or would like to connect, please visit here.
  • If you would like to learn more about Dr Billy Stoupas’ achievements and insights, or would like to connect, please visit here.

Resources referred to in the Generally Speaking podcast and on the website are views of the hosts and not necessarily endorsed by RACGP.

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