Dr Karen Price is the new president-elect of the RACGP after winning more than a quarter of all first preference votes, the college has announced.
The Melbourne GP and co-founder of online community GPs Down Under (GPDU) is set to begin her term from the close of the RACGP’s annual general meeting, to be held on 30 November.
The other five GPs who were vying for the presidential position included Dr John Buckley, Associate Professor Charlotte Hespe, Dr Chris Irwin, Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda and Dr Magdalena Simonis.
Voting turnout for the 2020 presidential election remained relatively low.
Of the 30,261 eligible voters, only 13% cast their ballot in the 2020 election for their preferred president – a total of 4050 votes.
Dr Price led first preference votes at 34%, followed by Professor Hespe at 18%, Professor Shenouda at 13% and Dr Irwin closely behind him at 12%.
And after voting preferences were distributed, Dr Price beat Professor Hespe with a margin of 770 votes.
It was not confirmed if the false start to the election in late August, which meant all first votes were disregarded, had an impact on voter turnout when the voting process was re-started the following week.
Dr Price will succeed the acting RACGP president Professor Shenouda, who assumed the role following the death of the elected president Dr Harry Nespolon in July following a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
Dr Price said a priority for her term as president would be to improve member engagement with the RACGP.
“I think engagement is a two-way street and it’s been an important part of GPDU [to fill] that gap,” she told The Medical Republicin a podcast interview during her recent campaign.
“I know that most of the leaders of the medical colleges, including the AMA, are on GPDU, not participating but watching.
“And they would find the big issues for GPs are funding, work conditions, advocating power, engagement with their colleges, pride in their work, and being inclusive and able to collaborate.
“Overall, GPs want the RACGP to be member-focused, and something they can belong to, and so they can feel protected by having a large institution that they can use in ways that are useful to their profession.”
One way Dr Price hopes to encourage two-way communication between members and the RACGP is to establish more representative networks and “community hubs” which would enable GPs to collaborate with their colleagues on the big issues they face.
“That’s a really important part of including more GPs and to hear from those who are practicing in more isolated areas,” she said.