What is the RHPSIG and why is it important?

3 minute read

It’s early days for this new group, but the future is looking exciting

The Rheumatology Health Professionals Association (RHPA) was formed in 1983 to create a national association to provide representation for health professionals who shared an interest in or were involved in the area of rheumatological conditions.

The RHPA functioned as a small, independent entity promoting education and better outcomes for people with musculoskeletal disease.  Achievements of the association included the development of educational scholarships to enable members to attend national and international conferences, active participation in annual scientific meetings and promotion of educational materials available on the organisation’s website.

By 2018 however, it was becoming clear that the structure of the RHPA was not sustainable despite the Australian Rheumatology Association (ARA) providing administrative support.  After discussions with RHPA members and the ARA Board, it was agreed that merging the RHPA into a special interest group of the ARA would be a great step forward – it would strengthen collaborations between rheumatologists and nursing/allied health, it would increase the profile of rheumatology in Australia, and improve integration of care with multi-disciplinary approaches. And so, earlier this year, the Rheumatology Health Professional Special Interest Group (RHPSIG) was established.

Currently discussions are under way to establish short and long-term goals with the development of the following sub-committees:


This subcommittee will be responsible for promoting an integrated, balanced and comprehensive RHP contribution to the annual scientific meeting.  One of the roles will be encouraging members to submit abstracts for oral and poster presentations and providing guidance when necessary.  This subcommittee will also be fostering a learning environment within the RHP by looking at ways of sharing information among members and eventually being a source of information for all rheumatology health professionals.


This subcommittee is looking at ways of incorporating social media with a view to increasing the profile of the RHPSIG.  We hope to create a facebook page in the near future as well as developing plans for populating  it with the information that used to be on the RHPA website. 

But this is just the start.  In the future, we plan to develop a paediatric RHP group and a nurse RHP group with the idea that we can become an information resource for members as well as help with career development.  Continuing the education scholarships is also on the agenda, as we continually look at ways of influencing the future of rheumatology care.

The RHPSIG is in the early phase of development but we are very excited about the future.

We plan on sharing our thoughts and ideas on a regular basis in Rheumatology Republic – if anyone would like to contact us about our work please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Linda Bradbury is a nurse practitioner for rheumatology and chair of the RHPSIG. She can be contacted at:

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