As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its path of devastation my thoughts go out especially to any ASSBI member who has been personally affected by the pandemic. The world continues to live with restrictions on everyday living - within Australia our state borders remain closed and international travel is banned. The second wave has severely affected residents of metropolitan Melbourne who, as I write, are still under lockdown with Stage 4 restrictions, as is regional Victoria with Stage 3 restrictions. May the situation be vastly improved come my next newsletter later this year.
In the December 2019 Newsletter, I heralded that ASSBI was planning to conduct an external review of the Society – its first review in 43 years of operation. In preparation for the review, ASSBI conducted an online survey of the membership in May 2020, and here I thank our working party (Jacinta Douglas, Olivier Piguet, and Dana Wong) who worked with me to draw up the survey items, feedback from the Committee, and the suggestions of those who piloted the survey for us. In this Newsletter, I am highlighting some results from the survey.
The 31-item survey was completed by 100 members (representing 25% of the membership). The overall satisfaction with ASSBI was high (8.45/10, SD=1.41, range 4-10; higher scores reflect higher satisfaction). Respondents were asked to rate the importance of 16 areas of ASSBI activity, together with their satisfaction. The table below summarises the findings - the first percentage represents ‘importance’, and the second percentage denotes ‘satisfaction’. Significant proportions of respondents endorsed the ‘don’t know’ response, especially for ‘satisfaction’ ratings which affect interpretation, and so those percentages are also included.
Survey respondents also provided helpful perspectives on a range of issues, including suggestions about raising ASSBI’s profile and visibility, and ASSBI’s relevance for people with lived experience of brain impairment. One question regarding the ideal geographical coverage received a wide variety of responses. Five possible configurations were presented: (i) Australia, New Zealand, neighbouring Pacific Islands and Asia was endorsed by the largest proportion of respondents (41.6%), followed by (ii) Australia, New Zealand, and neighbouring Pacific Islands (28.6%), (iii) Australia and New Zealand (20.8%), (iv) Australia only (6.5%), and (v) other configurations (2.6%). This information needs to be considered further (including at an AGM) before any recommendation could be made about changing ASSBI coverage. At present, ASSBI’s geographical coverage applies to Australasia (Australia, New Zealand and neighbouring Pacific islands).
It was gratifying to see that many respondents regard ASSBI as being a welcoming community that was friendly, approachable, generous, inclusive, supportive, and collegiate; a society where members felt a sense of belonging. ASSBI’s multidisciplinary focus was seen as one of its most attractive features. Overall, the membership survey results suggest that ASSBI is on the right track, but there are areas where we can improve service to our members and the broader community. Results from the survey have yielded very rich data which the Committee will be considering further and will use not only to inform the external review, but also its forward planning. I welcome your responses to this brief summary, so please send me your comments. I will keep you informed, via this Newsletter and the ASSBI website, about next steps regarding the external review.