Informing the focus and design of the project was the view that Australian IPE had reached a point where a whole of system approach to development was now possible and required. This was talked about in terms of Australian IPE development having reached a ‘tipping point’; and Australian IPE now needing a new and scaled-up change focused methodology. There was also a sense that project based initiatives, whilst important, were unable to generate the momentum and system wide buy-in that was now seen as necessary. These views are not surprising as one of the most consistent findings from studies of IPE in Australia is that it has been local and disconnected from a broader national context.
The ELC project took these views as its point of departure. The project aimed, firstly, to test these views – did they represent a broad based consensus position; and, secondly, if they did, was it possible to identify what an Australian whole of system approach would look like?
Clearly, testing and working with these ideas would require an inclusive ‘national conversation’. As a way of creating such a conversation, the project held two fora in 2014 – a national forum in Sydney, New South Wales, and a state based forum in Perth, Western Australia.
The fora brought together a diverse group of stakeholders engaged in various aspects of IPE and IPP, and, more broadly, from Australian health professional education. Participants – individuals and groups – represented key bodies from higher education, health service provision, the health professions, government agencies, workforce development and regulatory bodies.
To keep the work of the fora focused and based on previous Australian learning, the fora were structured in relation to the findings and recommendations identified in the Curriculum Renewal Studies (CRS) development and research programme (see below).
What emerged from the fora, and what is reported below, can be described as the design for a ‘national IPE architecture’. This architecture is defined by a ‘National Work Plan’ (NWP). The aim of the NWP is to build an inclusive, collegial and participatory national approach to understanding, communicating, learning about and developing IPE/IPP in Australia. Most critically, the NWP is about the development of an interprofessional approach involving the widest possible participation of all groups involved with or impacted by IPE/IPP.
The NWP is structured to align with the key recommendations of the CRS. It proposes the establishment of a governance and development framework that addresses:
- National leadership
- Curriculum and standards development
- IPE capability development in all relevant faculties/schools etc.
- Research, and knowledge development, management, utilisation and dissemination