Chairperson Message – Meet the AMT Board

By Michelle McKerron

I was recently asked, and fairly enough, ‘who are the AMT Board?’ Which I believe leads to the question, ‘and what do they do?’

So here to answer these tricky questions are the people themselves – from their perspectives. Allow me to introduce, by way of conversation, the people who have volunteered their time and energy to assist the Association of Massage Therapists to do what it does.

Michelle McKerron – Chairperson

I think by now most people know me – I am Michelle, the current Chairperson. It feels like a weighty responsibility if I am frank. Many legends have gone before me, leaving a legacy of quality leadership in AMT, and it’s my priority to keep the reputation afloat.

I have other responsibilities: a small clinic in Sydney’s south, 4 kids and a husband who also runs his own business. All of this constitutes a hectic lifestyle but it’s one of my constant goals to keep a balance. I think that’s why the AMT Board suits me, as it is mostly a behind-the-scenes position that I can work into our schedule.

I don’t find the time commitment too demanding – it’s about 6 teleconferences per year, a couple of face-to-face days and, of course, (enjoyable) compulsory attendance at conferences and AGMs. The topics we discuss at Board level on behalf of members are of a very broad range: exciting projects such as our mentoring program or an overhaul of the CEU system are current examples.

Disciplinary cases are tougher. We attempt to work closely with members to make sure they have every opportunity to represent our association and industry at a level we all expect of ourselves.

Then there is the regular consideration of finances and Head Office issues – all part of a day’s work. I really appreciate the ability we have to speak with members, particularly through social media, but also at AMT meetings and conferences.

I never forget that the reason that I am doing what I am doing is because someone represented me first. Also, that the day-to-day work that we do with our clients is what we are aiming to improve access to and understanding of.

But I am only one of the team. Here are the rest of the directors of the AMT Board .

Derek Zorzit – Vice Chairperson

Why the AMT Board? Free booze! (Or so I was told. I am still waiting). I have been a massage therapist for well over 20 years and I felt it was a good idea to start giving something back to the association that has given me so much.

First of all, I love being on the Board. Getting behind the scenes and helping in decision-making is a real pleasure. There are times when we have to deal with some real difficult issues but this just makes for greater satisfaction. The members on the Board are a close group and friendly, which makes being a Board member very enjoyable.

Having members help the Board is great as it allows people to see what happens behind the scenes. There is a surprising amount of things that happen – and need to happen – for the Association to run as smoothly as it does. Being on the Discipline and Financial committees has been an eye-opener for me.

I’d suggest being part of a sub-committee is a great start if you are looking to be more involved.

Having been on the Board for 10 years, there are literally too many good moments to be able to mention a best memory of AMT. Every conference brings its own highlights but the fun memories usually surround some form of shenanigans!

Don’t miss Derek’s breakout workshop “Building for Success” at the 29th Annual AMT Conference on Sunday 14 October.

Kristy Baird

I’ve had an interest in the health industry most of my life. I wasn’t keen on spending a lot of my childhood in a gym that my mum owned but I did rediscover this interest later on and had a great time working in a busy health clinic with a range of allied health professionals (chiros, acupuncturists and of course RMTs) when I finished high school.

Wanting to know more about the body, I completed the Diploma of Remedial Massage in 2009 and started working more for myself. The study also sparked an interest for me in adult learning! So while busy with my 3 kids, I studied a plethora of certificates and diplomas in training and assessment, opening up all sorts of opportunities for me within the VET sector.

Why be on the AMT Board? Oh, because it pays well (kidding – it’s all voluntary FYI).

I was a student member of AMT when studying and was always a fan of the resources available to me (seriously this isn’t a marketing plug). To help me with my own confidence battles around public speaking, I stepped into roles as Treasurer and Chairperson in my local regional branch. After some years, and having discussions with ‘those who shall remain nameless’, it was time to throw my hat in the ring and give back to an association that helped me develop both professionally and personally.

I really like the conversations we have, which come from the diversity in age, gender and experience we all bring to the Board. We all are really invested in the massage industry and aim to make each member feel informed and supported.

I love to hear about members’ experiences, especially at conferences and workshops. When we hear your stories, we are able to use these insights to shape the future of the Association – so please share your feedback!

I think it’s good to note that we are not your typical Board of Directors in suits and ties. We are AMT members, supporting an association that is providing a voice for the massage industry across Australia.

Each of us on the Board have a niche area of contribution. With education being one of my interests, I am part of the Education sub-committee.

Dave Moore

I started out as a roadie (qualified theatrical electrician) working with some big name bands and shows (Rolling Stones, Deep Purple, Disney on Ice, the Moscow circus, JC Superstar to name a few highlights). Then I joined ABC radio as a panel operator and progressed up to be a Grammy award nominee for classical music recording. After a 2-year stint in Papua Niugini handing over facilities from the ABC to the PNG National Broadcasting Commission, I returned to Australia and into ABC news and current affairs, including going to the LA Olympics and the Brisbane Commonwealth Games and then into master control and thence into management. My ABC career covered 27 years.

I then made a bad move into management at SBS radio that didn’t suit me at all and I left after a couple of years with no idea what to do next. I decided to study massage as I wasn’t interested in working for somebody else at that point.

Just as I qualified in massage, a job as Audio Visual Campus Manager at Kuringai campus of UTS came up and I applied thinking it would be a stop-gap. I wound up staying 16 years and was made redundant when the campus was sold. I also ran my home-based massage practice at this time and studied, which is what I continue to do to this day.

I believe my management experience can be beneficial to our profession and to AMT in particular. I enjoy working in a voluntary position with a diverse Board of like-minded massage professionals for the progression of the industry.

I find some of the strange ideas that some members have of what the Association can and can’t do for them interesting.  I’d love a dollar for every “why can’t the Association …” comment. We’re just a bunch of therapists who put in a bit of our time to help the profession. One of the jobs that I do on behalf of the Board is the auditing of members clinical records. I get quite saddened by the lack of attention to this vital element of our professional work paid by many members. On the plus side, I get a lot of pleasure meeting members at conferences and finding out about their massage passion.

I’d like to suggest:

Get involved! To misquote JFK “Ask not what your Association can do for you, ask what you can do for your Association.” Join a sub-committee, write a blog post, get involved with local branches, don’t just sit there expecting everything to be done for you.

Did you miss Dave’s popular article on How to Set a Price for Massage? Read it now and let us know how accurate your massage prices are.

Gabby Griffiths

I’ve been a Committee Member of the Melbourne Branch of AMT since 2010 and, in 2016, joined the AMT Board.

I feel very challenged being on the Board because I think the other members are quite exceptional, extraordinary people with great skills and way more knowledge than me, but I believe there’s a place for me on the Board since there would be many other members out there who feel like me too.

I think I represent a part of our membership in how I perceive matters and even in what I don’t know and understand. So I try to look at the intimidation I feel as a strength, not a weakness because I feel that others would sometimes feel the same way. I joined the Board because I thought it was important to have national representation and former (Victorian) Board member Kerry Hage had stepped down.

I look at my service as being a chance to give back to this profession and I take matters quite seriously. Some things that come to the attention of the Board are quite confronting, contentious and challenging, and when this happens, I think of how I interpret the impact of that issue, whether members I represent would feel similarly, and whether my interpretation is reflective of some of our members. So I figure that I may not know as much or feel the same way about Board matters as others, but I believe I bring to the Board an opinion that represents that of those thinking and feeling the same way. At the end of the day, we are all working towards a best outcome but we don’t always attach the same methodology or importance to things and our perspectives can be different (and being different can be good too).

A note to members – communication is really important, so please feel free to contact us on social media or through Head Office with any issues.

I’m really looking forward to the Mentoring Program, as I think this is a huge opportunity. About a year ago I was asked “What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a massage therapist?” and my answer was “Find a mentor to support you along your journey and get involved in the industry with your local branch as a student member because it will help fast track you when you’re ready to start working”. We grow stronger by having good people around us, supporting us and challenging us. I think making mistakes can be good as well because it means you have opportunity to learn and grow, so sometimes having a go and getting things wrong means you’re active and alive and going somewhere.

Subhadra Gerard

I am domiciled in Perth, with my wonderful midwife partner and a menagerie of cats. I have been involved in the massage profession for more than 30 years, as both a clinician and a teacher. In my previous life I had a lot of fun working in a variety of roles – including brass and steel foundries, hospitality, sales and transport.

I was invited to join the Board in 2017. At the time it seemed like a natural progression in my role. I am passionate about massage therapy, and providing an environment where practitioners can be supported and encouraged in their professional development. I believe that being on the Board can help make that happen. I’m on two sub-committees – Finance and Education. Earlier this year, I took on the role of Treasurer. I like being on the Board for a number of reasons, but especially because it has enabled me to meet with a broad spectrum of therapists from across the country; it’s like hanging out with a large extended family, with some very interesting relatives out there!

I believe members can support our work on the Board by working in a thoroughly professional way in their own roles, and being supportive and encouraging of colleagues in their locality. Remember: what comes around goes around.

Learn a little bit more about Subhadra in this interview for the AMT blog.

Jenny Richardson

Ironically, this invitation to contribute to a blog came just as I am about to step down from the Board. But Michelle kindly invited me still to write something as hopefully my next project will be of interest to you in about 18 months time.

I have been a massage therapist for 13 years now and a myotherapist for 5 years. I went on to complete the Adv Dip Myotherapy because I discovered that I LOVE the challenge of helping clients who have pain to figure out what might be causing the pain, and how together we can hopefully change it. As a child, I used to be the one who would ALWAYS discover where the Christmas presents were hidden – apparently that sleuthing, puzzle-solving skill was a forerunner to my future career choices.

I joined the Board about 3 years ago, with the vision of being able to contribute to AMT’s direction in the big issues of our industry. From outside the massage world, no one would ever believe the challenges, controversy and influences that affect massage therapists! I leave having learned a huge amount about the big picture of the industry, the pressures our associations face, the reality of interactions between associations, training organisations, health funds, governance authorities and individuals.

More than ever, I believe that AMT does an amazing job of keeping focus on the needs of massage therapists, despite the resources that are constantly pulled to meet the demands from outside and, in particular, from health funds.

It has been a delight working with the other Board members and AMT staff – we all bring different views to the table but we all do it with a love of our field and a passion for helping massage therapists weave their way forward in the changes that have, and will continue to, hit us from all directions.

I am stepping down in the next few weeks as I am undertaking a research project through Charles Sturt University and because I will be interviewing massage therapists, there is a potential conflict of interest with my role on the Board. While that is unlikely to actually occur, it is something I have to recognise up front and avoid – a good reminder that our ethical responsibility as therapists extends to all situations where we have a professional interaction and where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.

In reading massage research, I often think that the study does not really reflect what I do in the clinic – and therefore I wonder whether I can or should apply its outcomes to my own practice. The NHMRC report which examined the evidence for massage very strongly pointed out that our research is not well done, and is often very distant from how a massage therapist actually practises. So I have decided to take a step backwards from the research that tries to show whether massage is effective and, instead, I want to find out (in a research format) a bit about what massage therapists actually do and think when working with a client. I hope that this will then become a basis for future research designs. I hope that I will be able to publish an article on the study by 2020 so, if you are interested, look out for it. But meanwhile, I’ll be talking about some of the issues with massage research at the conference in October, so hopefully I’ll raise more questions than answers just to keep us all curious!

I have been very grateful for the chance to be on the Board of AMT and be part of making decisions that hopefully help the association be there to support you in ways that make the most difference.

I know that from the outside, it is easy to blame an association for not doing things, but from the inside I have seen that everyone involved in AMT truly does everything they can, within the resources that AMT has, to influence the decisions made by health funds and the government, to provide information to members and seek input and feedback, to provide administrative support that is as seamless as possible, to create resources, programs and tools to support members in a range of ways – from forms and Facebook to infrastructure, like the classified research database and through to large scale projects like the National Police Check and the mentoring program. As well as providing those to members, AMT then works to promote the benefits of those to the health funds, RTOs, government and other authorities to demonstrate to the authorities and to the public that AMT members are professional, qualified, highly skilled therapists who provide much wanted and needed health and wellbeing services to millions of Australians every year.

Read Jenny’s articles for the AMT blog on Treating the Shoulder and Massage Research: Are We Asking The Right Questions and don’t miss hearing Jenny speak at the 29th Annual AMT Conference on Saturday 13 October 2018. If you can’t attend in person, you can also tune in to the conference plenary live webcast.

There you have it folks, your AMT Board. If you want to find out more about getting involved in a sub-committee or even joining the Board, please contact AMT Head Office by email and they’ll point you in the right direction.


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