About the Australian Doctors' Federation

Learn about The Australian Doctors' Federation

“I argued that we must be the patient’s doctor; not the government’s doctor; nor the doctor of big business.”

– Dr Bruce Shepherd AM, Founder

Why the Australian Doctors’ Federation?

The Australian Doctors’ Federation is the only organisation established and dedicated to protecting the independence of the doctor-patient relationship.

Why is the doctor-patient relationship important?

Recognition of the importance of the doctor-patient relationship is a safeguard for patients in that it reminds the doctor that his or her sole responsibility is the contract with the patient and not any other person or organisation. This responsibility extends to all doctors, regardless of whether they are in private practice or paid employment. A doctor’s responsibility must always be to do the best for their patients with the treatment options they can provide. When citizens can no longer trust their doctor or lawyer to give them independent advice or treatment, they have lost their freedom. The importance of the doctor-patient relationship is backed by a legal duty of care by doctors to their patients as well as an ethical and legal responsibility for the doctor to act in accordance with accepted science.

“I would hate to see in my own country, any government scheme which lowered the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.” (Sir Robert Menzies, “The Measure of the Years”, p123)

From time to time, governments and commercial organisations will propose schemes and plans that will require doctors to act according to the directions and goals of organisations which have no direct responsibility for the outcome of medical treatment. The Australian Doctors’ Federation will always oppose any intervention which has, or is likely to have, a negative impact on the doctor-patient relationship. Conversely, the Australian Doctors’ Federation will support policies and proposals which have a positive impact on the doctor-patient relationship.

Is the Australian Doctors’ Federation independent?

The ADF is financed by subscriptions from its members. It does not seek or accept government grants or corporate sponsorship and hence is an independent voice in Australian healthcare. The ADF reserves the right to advertise on its website in accordance with its principles.

How does the Australian Doctors’ Federation operate?

The ADF has a Board of Directors and a Management Committee consisting of doctors from all medical disciplines across Australia. Our Management Committee meets every fortnight to discuss current issues impacting on the doctor-patient relationship. The ADF invites guest speakers to inform the Committee and produces research and briefing papers on various issues. The ADF also produces ADF Health Headlines, a weekly publication which summarises international, national, and state medical news.

What is the relationship between the ADF and the AMA?

The Australian Doctors’ Federation is independent from the AMA, however the ADF will support the AMA in areas where it is promoting the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. Many ADF Officer Bearers have also become AMA Office Bearers. The ADF believes in a friendly and cooperative working relationship with all organisations who are promoting and supporting the highest standards of medical care for Australian patients.

Dr Bruce Shepperd

What is the relationship between the ADF and political parties?

The ADF is not party political and will talk to parliamentarians of all persuasions in the interests of ensuring that Australians have freedom of choice in healthcare and well-resourced public hospitals. Australia has achieved a balance of public and private sector healthcare and ADF members work in both sectors.

What does the ADF contribute to Australian healthcare?

As well as policy analysis and advice when requested, the ADF maintains a considerable library of health policy content, which it makes available to members free of charge on its website. The ADF makes submissions to government on important issues impacting on the doctor-patient relationship. Given that the ADF has ongoing involvement with working doctors across all disciplines, we believe our advice is practical, relevant and real, and hence valuable for determining the likely beneficial effects of government or administrative action on patient outcomes. As such, the ADF has been involved in all major issues impacting on the doctor-patient relationship since its establishment in 1989.

What are the principal objectives of the Australian Doctors’ Federation?

  • To maintain, improve, advance and promote the ethical standards, integrity and reputation of the medical profession;
  • To maintain, improve, advance and promote healthcare for all Australians and ensure that there is freedom of choice of health care;
  • To research, develop, establish and promote healthcare policies for the benefit of all Australians; and
  • To increase the Medical Profession’s awareness of the community’s continuing and changing healthcare needs.

Why do doctors join the Australian Doctors’ Federation?

Doctors who support the Australian Doctors’ Federation believe in the values of an independent medical profession.  They want to support an organisation that upholds the importance of the highest standards of medical training and ethical medical practice.  The ADF concentrates its efforts on those issues which threaten or support the independence of the medical profession.

Join the Australian Doctors' Federation