PSA National President – Opening Address at PSA23

Opening speech delivered at PSA23, 28 July 2023

Check against delivery


I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land we meet on, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation.


In the spirit of reconciliation, PSA acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.


This time last year, I stood on this stage and delivered my first plenary as the newly elected National President, brimming with excitement for our profession. Fast forward 12 months later, I stand here today, feeling solemn, but proud – proud of our profession’s resilience, agility and reliability.


Members, just as we thought we had emerged from the global emergency of the pandemic, just as we thought we have an opportunity to catch a breath, just as we thought we can finally go home on time to have a meal with our family – our profession is yet again faced with another challenge.


Since I was young, my dad has taught me to appreciate that change is the only constant. Reflecting on the past 12 months itself, the change that pharmacists have endured have been nothing but intense and monumental. But these changes, are necessary. From the change in scope of practice, prescribing, accreditation, and now 60-day dispensing and aged care pharmacist program – there has never been a dull moment.


PSA has not let our profession’s concerns go unvoiced. We know that the anxiety caused by the lack of certainty is unnerving.


However, one thing has not changed – and that is my genuine belief in the positive and upward trajectory of our profession.


Everyone here today is bound by one shared belief – we know pharmacists can do more, and our health system needs pharmacists to do more.


Vulnerable groups, including our rural and remote communities, First Nations people and those with multiple comorbidities and medications who rely on community pharmacy services need to be looked after.


I am grateful to our Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care the Honourable Mark Butler, and Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Health and Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, the Honourable Emma McBride, for addressing our profession today, for the first time since this year’s Federal Budget announcement.


Minister, pharmacists are your solution to a stronger primary care. We know we have an aging population in Australia who are going to have increased healthcare needs; we know medicines use is on the rise and people are hospitalised due to medication misadventure; and we know we have a GP access crisis. Minister, the people in this room today are ready, we rely on you, as our Health Minister, to enable us to deliver for our patients. Pharmacists are one of your irreplaceable pieces of puzzle to improve access to care and achieve medicine safety in this country.


The Government has made the commitment to strengthen primary care, and our profession is committed to delivering high quality care to patients. As we move forward together, we can anticipate changes to our scope, and immense opportunities for our profession, we must not forget about our accountability to deliver care with standard, quality, safety and effectiveness.


For that reason, I am enormously proud to officially launch the next generation of Professional Practice Standards here today. These standards underpin everything we do as pharmacists.


By upholding these standards, pharmacists can confidently navigate through changes and challenges, embracing opportunities for growth and improvement while maintaining the highest level of care for those they serve.


This new approach sets out 9 domains of Professional Practice – each representing one stage of the medicines management cycle.


Within these 9 domains are 17 standards – one for each clinical activity pharmacists undertake, from pharmacy service delivery and patient assessment, to prescribing and medication review.


Every pharmacist in Australia will be united by these Standards, which give us all the building blocks for the foundations of professional pharmacy practice.


To support you, Australia’s pharmacists, in implementing the new Professional Practice Standards, PSA has developed an online tool to self-assess against the new standards.


In our commitment to supporting your professional development, you will see that throughout the weekend, the conference is aligned to the Professional Practice Standards, and you will see how they apply to your practice.


You will see how this quality framework gives confidence in our expanded scope of practice.


I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in this project and our PSA Project Team.


In the redesigning of the Professional Practice Standards, we saw unprecedented support from across the pharmacy profession and the healthcare sector.


In attendance today, we have members of the Australian Pharmacy Leaders Forum, the leaders of all pharmacy organisations – the Pharmacy Board of Australia, the Australian Pharmacy Council, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, PDL, the Society of Hospital Pharmacists Australia, National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association, Council of Pharmacy Schools, Professional Pharmacists Australia.


To all our VIPs today, you and your organisation have all made impactful contribution to this work, whether it’s through the Project Advisory Group or Standard Review Group. Thank you for your support and collaboration. On behalf of our PSA Board, thank you, and welcome to PSA23.


Our Lifetime Achievement Award winner last year, Rhonda and Terry White, gave me a book by Dr Seuss called “Oh, the places you’ll go!”. In the book, Rhonda wrote “Fei, wherever you will go, go with all your heart”. I’d like to leave you today with a paragraph from this book:


“On and on you will hike.

And I know you’ll hike far

And face up to your problems

Whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

as you already know.

You’ll get mixed up

with many strange birds as you go.

So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact

And remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.”


I think, we can all learn something from this.


We will face challenges, but never forget that we are a profession that delivers for Australians.


It is now time, for us to warmly welcome our Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Honourable Mark Butler to the stage.