Conflicting views over College proposal

43403276 - female hand casting vote at election with ballot paper at box

Former leaders of the Australian College of Pharmacy have expressed concerns over a recommendation that will see it restructured as a proprietary company and “run” by a Guild branch

A number of former office bearers at the Australian College of Pharmacy have expressed serious concerns over a proposal sent to College members by its board, calling for the organisation to be restructured.

A letter and ballot paper were sent to all College members on 3 December asking them to vote on a special resolution.

The letter, signed by College president Chris Owen, said, “the College Board has resolved to undertake a postal ballot of its members to pass resolutions that the Board believes are required to ensure the future viability and success of the College”.

Mr Owen, who is also a branch Councillor with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (Queensland), goes on to say that the College Board had sought “strategic alliances” with a number of pharmacy-based organisations, before reaching an in-principle agreement with the Queensland branch of the Guild “which if supported by members will result in changes to the corporate structure of the College”. 

The Queensland Guild branch already provided funding and “other valuable support” for the College, he said, and rejecting the resolution would mean “the college may not be able to continue to operate and may ultimately be wound-up”, leaving members with an obligation to pay up to $100 to cover liabilities.

The resolution called for the College to “become a proprietary company limited by shares with all shares owned by the PGAQ”, current members would cease to be members/guarantors and the liability would be extinguished forever, and the College would continue to “provide the same range of high quality services to members”.

However a number of former College leaders have expressed dismay at the resolution and ballot.

Professor Peter Carroll, a former Dean and President of the College, said there appeared to be little information available to help members of the College decide how to vote.

As an example, he asked “if the ballot is successful will members of the College still be able to elect a College Board which has overall responsibility for running the College?”

“It appears that the Queensland Branch of the Guild is attempting to take over the College, and if this is correct I do not think it is in the best interest of the College and its members,” Professor Carroll said.

Because of the lack of information available to members he questioned the validity of the current ballot, and called on the College Board to abandon it.

Other former College officials and members also expressed some dismay to AJP at the recommendation and the electoral process, although in a statement, Mr Owen said the Board had followed due process, and the ballot was being conducted in accordance with the College constitution.

“I can assure all members that the Board has taken the appropriate and necessary legal advice and steps to ensure the ballot complies with the Constitution of the College, with regard to all aspects of the ballot,” he said.

“After a lengthy and in-depth review, the Board firmly believes that the newly proposed structure will continue to offer members all the services they value, coupled with an opportunity to improve, enrich and expand the College’s member service offering.”

AJP has heard that the College Board had held discussions with the PSA earlier this year, but these had not been pursued any further.

A PSA spokesperson said they were: “obviously disappointed that the Board of the Australian College of Pharmacy walked away from discussions with PSA earlier this year which would have provided a continuation of member rights and voting, along with a viable and prosperous future for the college under the banner of PSA.

“We are disappointed that members of the college have not been made aware that there are alternatives to the one being currently presented to them. We encourage members of the College to carefully consider the proposal and the impact on their rights as members.”

AJP has sought a response from the College Board on the PSA claims.


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1 Comment

  1. Debbie Rigby

    I wonder if the ballot papers have gone to all members? I have been a member of ACPP since 1993, AIPM 2001-2006 and then ACP when it was formed.

    I did my GradDipClinPharm through the College (1999) and am proud and honored to be a Fellow (awarded 2011) of the College.

    And yet I have not received of the proposal and ballot papers.

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