APA: Getting to Know the Voice Representing Physiotherapists and their Patients [Interview][Transcript]


Guest: Cris Massis
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Cris is responsible for more than 18,000+ members of the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA). Cris has had a diverse career in membership associations across the disciplines of sales and marketing, business development, policy development and management. He has held positions at the Bob Jane Corporation, St Kilda Football Club, CPA Australia and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Physiotherapy Association. Throughout his career he has developed skills in governance, relationship management, cultural transformation and change management.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, we welcome Australian Physiotherapy Association‘s CEO Cris Massis as he delivers helpful information about them. The APA is the peak body for physiotherapy in Australia, representing physiotherapists, academics, students and practice managers. The organisation is focused on membership, professional development, advocacy and the provision of relevant member services. The APA is a national organisation with non-autonomous state and territory branches and specialty subgroups.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio with Wayne Bucklar. Today my guest is Cris Massis. Cris is the CEO of the Australian Physiotherapy Association and joins us from Melbourne in Australia. Welcome to Health Professional Radio Cris.

Cris Massis: Thanks Wayne. Thanks for having me.

W: It’s a pleasure, we always like to have a chat to the various associations and registration boards and bodies. Cris tell us a little bit about the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

C: Sure. The Association in Australia is the peak body for physiotherapists, they are in Australia 26 to 27,000 registered physiotherapists in the country here, and we’re the peak body so we covered the professional issues. We have an advocacy function, we also have professional development and we also provide a range of member services, such as insurance and discount to products and service and the like. So we’re a peak body, multidisciplinary so we cover a whole range of physiotherapists that working in different settings – in community setting, hospital setting, and the private sector also in academia.

W: Cris is the Australian Physiotherapy Association also a registration body?

C: No. In Australia, the government has a regulation process for a number of professions and physiotherapy is one of those. So any practicing physiotherapist in Australia needs to be registered with the National Regulator and then membership of the APA is an optional thing so for us, our challenge is we demonstrating a member value, so physiotherapists choose to belong to the APA rather than are obliged to join.

W: And you’re a not for profit body governed by board of directors?

C: Correct. So structurally, we’re a company limited by guaranteed but we’re not for profit. We do have a board of directors with eight directors currently. Six of those are physiotherapist, but were also quite contemporary, we do have to what we call independent directors they’re non physiotherapist who have other – a finance or marketing background, to just help us govern the organization in the contemporary way.

W: That would tick the box for good corporate governance, I would have thought these days.

C: Yeah, look absolutely I think we have early, we acquire ourselves on good corporate governance, we make sure our agenda’s strategic, the board manage the strategy of the organization and the governance and then they let management cover us the operations and the application of strategy unto the organization so I think it’s a really good balance.

W: Now Cris, as you’re probably aware most of our audience are clinicians in one form rather and including a lot of our allied health professionals which catches the physiotherapists in that sort of catch or description. What’s the take away message that you’d like them to take away from our chat today?

C: Yeah, look physiotherapy pride themselves, all physiotherapist by themselves on being multidisciplinary, so really working as part of the care team. So although physios are secured in diagnosing, treating, and working in different ailments, I think they can add value to lots of care teams whether it would be things that are emerging and chronic, the burden of diseases in Australia around arthritis and diabetes and back pain for example. I think physiotherapists can be a real asset to a care team, perhaps lead by a GP or a medical professional and then spotted along with the allied health professionals. I think that’s the key take away message for your audience.

W: And I guess with aging of the population, there’s an increasing demand in aged care as well.

C: Absolutely, I think one of our growing segments is our members working is much as nursing homes, but care at the home as people age. And probably age in their own environment, in their own setting on their own terms so I think this government here has really began consumer centered care packages and I think allied health and physiotherapy and the manual therapies will be a big part of that in the future.

W: Yes, a number of people that I’ve been talking to recently in various interviews have been talking about the very rapid emergence of aging as a major, major issue in health care in Australia, isn’t it?

C: Yeah, and I think the expectation is we don’t age too long. We want to aged well, so we want to be stronger and better and be functional, so we want to prevent falls, we want to be able be self-sufficient so have your own shower, being able to dress yourself. And I think having the ability to do that can really be enhanced with the help from allied health profession.

W: Cris in every occupation that I’ve talk to and pretty much everyone I talk to, I’m always interested in what are the misconceptions about their work that drives them nuts and keeps them awake at night. What are the misconceptions that you worry about?

C: Oh look, I think if the physiotherapist, what our members tell me is the consumer or the public still think of physio as maybe a glorified massage if you like and it’s a lot more than that. They’re actually quite skilled in their research, their education, their evidence based, their knowledge of anatomy, that they can actually do some really good and exciting things for people to actually start moving again. So they’re not just almost a rehab type of professional although that’s the big part of it, I think the new age of wellness and preventative is also a big part of what a physiotherapist can deliver. So almost that holistic care rather than “I’ve got a sore leg can you give it a rub?”

W: And of course there is an ongoing professional education program.

C: Absolutely, yeah. So there is a requirement as a registered profession as you know to have a certain number of hour per year. So the public can be rest assured that there is certain skills and up skilling and I guess a development required to maintain their registration.

W: Yeah and I guess for a lot of people they referred to the Physio’s through other agencies. For those people who are not referred, can you identify an APA member?

C: Yes, absolutely. We have a website where we have the “find a Physio” function so you can search by post code or even by language spoken or by conditional specialty. So if your listeners want to visit at physiotherapy.asn.au, and there’s a “find a physio” function on that the general public are most welcome to search that.

W: Because I’m always getting in trouble for mentioning websites and phone numbers too quickly…

C: (laughing)

W: Fair warning people pencils handy it’s www.physiotherapy.asn.au.

C: Perfect, thank you.

W: Cris is that the best way for people to get in touch with the Association?

C: Yeah, look that’s our website and there is a link to the “find a Physio.” And if they have any questions, absolutely there’s an email address and the phone number there.

W: Cris thank you very much for being with us this morning, it’s been informative to hear about the APA. And it’s nice to know that there is a “Find a Physio” function there for people who are looking for qualified members of the Association.

C: Oh thanks Wayne and thank you for the opportunity to profile the profession.

W: Now you’ve been listening to my discussion with Cris Massis who is the CEO of the Australia Physiotherapy Association. We have a transcript of this interview on our website at www.hpr.fm, you can also find the audio on our website or on YouTube and that’s available on an ongoing basis in our archive. This is Health Professional Radio, my name is Wayne Bucklar.

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