Kia ora koutou, Greetings from Australia and New Zealand.
Firstly, the hearts of Australian and New Zealand music therapists go out to all people affected by the recent catastrophic floods in Australia, and others throughout the world who are impacted by natural disaster, conflict, or other traumatic events.
Annual General Meetings
Both countries have recently held their AGMs: MThNZ on the 25th of September 2022, and AMTA™ on 26th of October 2022.
While there was no conference in New Zealand this year, MThNZ AGM was followed by a music making session facilitated by well-known musician and NZ Registered Music Therapist Chris O'Connor; and ‘The Grounding Workshop’. 'The Grounding Workshop' explored notions of cultural competence, cultural safety, and cultural intelligence, in a professional facilitated conversation. MThNZ are now preparing for big celebrations in 2023-2024 as we move towards 50 years since the establishment of Music Therapy New Zealand, and 20 years since the establishment of the Master of Music Therapy programme at Victoria University of Wellington.
The 48th National Conference of the Australian Music Therapy Association was held on September-October 2022. This very successful hybrid event enabled a good number of people to attend in person, in Melbourne, and others were able to access the conference online. The theme, focused on mental health, elicited a wide range of posters, presentations, and workshops from all areas of music therapy practice. Jeanette Tamplin, President of AMTA™, praised the wonderful keynote presentations, amazing line up of papers and “general air of anticipation and excitement about the exciting things that we are moving towards in the future in music therapy in Australia”.
Constitutions and Strategic Plans
Both AMTA™ and MThNZ are working on developing their constitutions (rules) and strategic plans and are undertaking workforce census/surveys.
The AMTA™ strategic plan for 2022-2025 was launched at the conference in October. The next steps in that plan are to build on the results of the Workforce Census to develop a Workforce Strategy. MThNZ is also conducting a Workforce Survey, to gather data about current music therapy provision in New Zealand and to gather information about the activities of Music Therapy New Zealand (MThNZ). The collected information will be used to inform MThNZ's ongoing Strategic Plan and to further enhance the development of music therapy in New Zealand in accordance with those objectives.
Music Therapy New Zealand (legally known as the New Zealand Society for Music Therapy) are also currently drafting a new constitution due to significant changes to the NZ Incorporated Societies Act 2022. Some of the many necessary changes are likely to include considerably more defined categories of members, renaming ‘council’ as a ‘Board’, and additional statements relating to insurance and indemnity, finances, and disputes and resolutions. The current rules and proposed amendments have been sent to members for consultation and the updated Constitution is required to be complete by 2026. The AMTA™ are also working with an external law firm to review and update their Constitution.
Recently, RMTs in Australia have increased awareness of music therapy by contributing to Allied Health awareness day, Dementia Action Week and, on R U OK day, RMTs Dr Jennifer Bibb and Natalie Jack drew music therapists’ attention to strategies that can be used to prioritise our own wellbeing. In New Zealand, on World Mental Health Day, and during mental health awareness week, we drew attention to the ways music therapy can support mental health.
In New Zealand we are now gearing up for Music Therapy Week, from 14th-20th November 2022. The theme this year is ‘Make the Change’ and will focus on an awareness campaign instead of focusing on events, with a professional publicity firm helping to roll out the campaign. This will include conducting interviews with NZ RMThs around the country, outside of the two main cities, with a focus on encouraging people to consider music therapy as a career option.
Following recent NZ Ministry of Health’s health reforms, Music therapists in New Zealand have been continuing to explore how they can involve themselves, alongside other Allied Health Professionals, in the transitions taking place at their local community health planning level. They are also continuing to investigate how they might be included under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCA) as an alternative to being a self-regulated profession.
New Zealand Music therapists are also involved in the Ministry of Education (MOE) pay equity review, focusing on pay equity, clear understanding of roles, expertise, and responsibilities, in special education. The ministry aims for the review to be completed and recommendations passed before the 2023 election.
The AMTA™ is involved in ongoing communication with government Treasury about making music therapy GST-exempt.
In Australia and New Zealand, Registered Music Therapists are allied health professionals who work with other health professional colleagues across a range of aged care, community, disability, health, and mental health services, and schools. In September, Newcastle Registered Music Therapist (RMT), Susan Ashley-Brown was named 2022 Music Therapist of the Year at the Allied Health Awards, which celebrate allied health professionals from around the country.
For many years AMTA, under the leadership of Dr Felicity Baker, have been working with the Royal Commission into Aged Care to increase the provision of music therapy in aged care settings. It is extremely exciting that the commission has now recommended that by 2024, that "each aged care provider engages a music or art therapist".
In Australia, the Victorian Schools Mental Health program is now officially available to schools across Victoria as part of a $200 million Schools Mental Health Fund. RMTs are eligible to provide mental health supports through this program.
Hei konā mai
Goodbye for now,
Australia and New Zealand Regional Liaison for WFMT