Read the highlights of key issues discussed as part of the 01-2019, 02-2019 and 03-2019 meetings, held on 15 March, 21 June and 30 August.
Education and Training
At the beginning of 2019, Dr Mark Montebello stepped down from his position coordinating the Addiction Doctors Education Program, a weekly registrar training webinar. The Chapter is enormously grateful for the highly successful program that Mark has developed and run for many years.
The first AChAM and Addiction Psychiatry Trainees’ Day was held on Thursday 28 February 2019 at Turning Point, the day before the International Medicine in Addiction Conference. The Trainees’ Day was a huge success, thanks to the efforts of Dr Keri Alexander and Dr Jonathan Brett from the RACP, and Dr Cathy Watson from RANZCP.
Policy and Advocacy
Throughout the first part of 2019, the AChAM has led the College’s advocacy on pill testing trials urging state premiers and chief ministers to support carefully designed and evaluated pill testing trials to inform drug policy and minimise harm to young people and the broader community via a media release and open letter.
The AChAM continues to lead the College’s advocacy on alcohol and other drugs through submissions to the NSW Government on the NSW music festival safety guidelines, to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’, to the Australian Department of Health on the Draft National Treatment Framework on Alcohol and Other Drugs and to the NSW Parliament Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s Night-time Economy.
The College’s submission to the Joint Select Committee on Sydney’s night-time economy reiterated the College’s strong support for retaining the current harm minimisation policies in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross with an emphasis on the need to maintain the restriction in trading hours for licensed venues. Associate Professor Nadine Ezard FAChAM, and Professor Paul Haber FAChAM, FRACP gave evidence to the Parliamentary inquiry. In light of the recent relaxation of the last-drinks measures, the AChAM has decided to strategically diversify its advocacy activities in this area by launching a campaign to introduce minimum unit pricing on alcohol in all States and Territories (the NT is so far the only jurisdiction to have embraced this policy).
In addition, the Chapter endorsed a letter to the World Health Organisation’s Director-General supporting the inclusion of Gaming Disorder in International Classification of Diseases, 11th Revision (ICD-11) and supported a number of other RACP submissions including to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, and the RACGP consultation on supporting smoking cessation: a guide for health professionals.
The AChAM Committee is progressing a scoping document to develop an RACP drug policy in collaboration with the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) Policy & Advocacy Committee (PAC). The purpose of this policy will be to highlight the need for the Australian and New Zealand Governments’ drug policy to adopt a health-focused approach to substance use and to increase funding for responses that prioritise effective treatment, prevention services and supply reduction measures.
The AChAM Committee is also undertaking advocacy on the roll out of real time prescription monitoring system (RTPM) for high risk medications. This advocacy focuses on highlighting the need for State and Territory Governments to implement RTPM alongside wider system planning and resourcing. This needs to include addressing the limited availability and access to specialist multidisciplinary pain clinics and addiction medicine services, and improving the funding model for primary care to ensure that GPs are supported to manage complex patients.
In June 2019, AChAM President-elect Prof. Nick Lintzeris, and AChAM Fellows Dr Nadine Ezard and Professor Paul Haber, met with the Network of Alcohol and other Drugs Agencies (NADA) CEO and Deputy CEO to discuss funding in the alcohol and other drug sector. Professor Lintzeris, Dr Ezard and Professor Haber also met with NSW Health Minister the Hon Brad Hazzard, to discuss funding in the sector in NSW.
For further information about the Chapter’s policy and advocacy work, visit the Chapter of Addiction Medicine webpage or contact the RACP’s Policy & Advocacy Unit on Policy@racp.edu.au.
Over its meetings in 2019 the AChAM Committee discussed the Addiction Medicine Evolve list of low value clinical practices and interventions. The Committee received thoughtful and useful feedback from Fellows on its initial draft, which was used to further refine the list. The Committee will be releasing the final list in the coming months.
International Medicine in Addiction Conference (IMiA)
The biennial IMiA Conference is the premier addiction conference for medical practitioners in Asia and Oceania and is co-convened by the RACP, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. The RACP was the lead convenor for 2019, with AChAM President Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones as the Chair of the Program Committee. Approximately 600 delegates attended the 2019 conference, which was held at the Melbourne Conference and Exhibition Centre from 1 to 3 March 2019. The engaging and topical program developed by the Program Committee was well-received by delegates.
Planning has begun for the IMiA 2021 Conference, with the RACGP as the lead convenor. Dr Hester Wilson from the RACGP will chair the Program Committee. Three AChAM Committee members will participate as members of the Program Committee – President-elect Prof Nick Lintzeris, SA/NT Branch Chair A/Prof Mike McDonough, and NZ Representative Dr Vicki Macfarlane.
Dr Martyn-Lloyd-Jones, President
Australasian Chapter of Addiction Medicine