AFOEM ebulletin - 6 May 2022
After two years, this will be my 24th and final President’s post. What an amazing two years it has been, and it has been both a privilege and an honour to have been President during this time. While COVID-19 has dominated the health landscape, AFOEM has progressed a large number of other important issues to improve worker health and promote healthy workplaces.
These activities include supporting the work of the Australian National Dust Disease Taskforce and providing high level input to the implementation of its recommendations, including a National Occupational Respiratory Disease Registry, a National Silicosis Prevention Strategy and better training for those diagnosing and managing cases of silicosis. All of these projects will play a major role in reducing the burden of silicosis and other occupational lung diseases in the future.
AFOEM has played a key role in the outputs of the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance, including COVID-19 resources. We have also made an important contribution to the Collaborative Partnership to give those with a health condition or disability a better chance to engage in good work. Both programs build on AFOEM’s longstanding Health Benefits of Good WorkTM, which has been a flagship AFOEM program for many years.
The AFOEM ‘It Pays to Care’ initiative was officially launched via webinars in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand last week. Each webinar included fascinating talks highlighting the evidence base and principles behind providing better outcomes for injured workers. Both webinars had large registration numbers, not just from AFOEM members, but also people from external organisations. The launches will be followed up by high level communications in 2022 with key stakeholder agencies and other promotional activities.
Other policy and advocacy projects starting to get underway relate to the health of medical practitioners and other healthcare workers. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown up many limitations in the prevention of disease and injury in our healthcare systems and this project, to be led by AFOEM within the College, will aim to improve prevention systems and promote the physical and mental health of workers who are critical to providing high level healthcare to our communities.
Another key project underway is to update the AFOEM guidance on workplace health assessments, which provides the blueprint for much of the day-to-day work of occupational and environmental physicians. The original guidance was published more than 25 years ago, but so much has changed in performing these assessments since that time, an update is long overdue.
My last official duties as President will be at RACP Congress next week. There will be an AFOEM stream, including the Ferguson-Glass Oration to be given by Professor Karen Walker-Bone. There will also be the Ramazzini Prize presentations, where we will have the opportunity to support our registrars as they present their research projects. I’m also hoping to catch up with many of you at the AFOEM dinner on the Wednesday evening. For more information, visit the Congress website.
The first AFOEM Annual Training Meeting in three years will follow Congress, on 14 to 16 May. I’d like to encourage as many of our registrars as possible to attend this important training event. I will be officiating at the College ceremony on the Saturday, which will include bestowing Fellowship on our successful registrars from 2021.
While we have had a good response to our call for expressions of interest for many AFOEM committee positions, we still have several vacant positions. I’d like to encourage our Fellows and registrars to consider nominating for one of these positions and contribute to the important work and activities of AFOEM. This would be particularly suitable for new AFOEM Fellows who want to learn about the workings of the College and take on a leadership role as part of their career development.
I’d like to sign off by thanking the many Fellows and registrars who have supported me during my two years as President. I’d like to pay special tribute to Alison Drewry and Robin Chase who have completed their terms as Chair of our two major committees - Faculty Education Committee and Faculty Policy and Advocacy Committee respectively. These have been demanding roles, especially during COVID-19, and I am very grateful for their active contribution to the important work of these committees.
I would also like to acknowledge the major contributions from our Faculty Manager, Jo Goldrick, AFOEM Executive Officer, LynFay Shapiro, the Policy & Advocacy team of Kathryn Powell and Justine Watkins, Kat Dundas and the rest of the ELA team, and the many others in the College administration. They have provided AFOEM with outstanding support for our training and assessment activities, policy and advocacy projects and the many other activities AFOEM has been involved in over the past two years.
Finally, I will be handing over next week to Warren Harrex as the next AFOEM President. Warren will be well-known to many of you. He had a long and distinguished career in the Royal Australian Air Force before moving to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs as a Senior Medical Officer in health care policy. He has had many leadership roles with AFOEM, including being Chair of the Health Benefits of Good WorkTM Executive Committee and Chair of the AFOEM Policy and Advocacy Committee. I am confident that AFOEM will be in very capable hands under Warren’s leadership over the next two years.
Professor Malcolm Sim
This series provides insight into the careers of retired and actively serving occupational physicians. The interview series has supported a collaboration amongst our peers in developing projects on compiling the history of occupational medicine. On this occasion, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr Armand Casolin.
Dr Farhan Shahzad, Consultant Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sydney
Farhan: Welcome Dr Casolin, please tell us a bit about yourself including your training and how you ended up in occupational medicine.
Armand: When I left the hospital system in 1995, I wanted to be involved in managing a variety of medical problems, as opposed to just specialising in one system, and work in corporate or industrial settings. I began working in occupational medicine, at what used to be the Australian Government Health Service, and quickly realised that occupational medicine was the specialty for me.
Farhan: Tell us about your journey in occupational medicine.
Armand: I started at the Australian Government Health Service where I did occupational medical assessments but also other work like immigration and social security medicals. When I was about halfway through the training program, I started a new role as Deputy Medical Director with the NSW Government occupational medicine service. They had a different client base, and the work was 100 per cent occupational medicine. It was a good learning experience being exposed to a wide variety of problems and industries and I stayed on for about five years until I graduated.
After the Waterfall train crash, RailCorp advertised for a Chief Health Officer and I was fortunate to move into this new role, which meant that I could work inside the industry rather than consulting from the outside. You can achieve more preventative goals from the inside and affect change and the work is varied and interesting.
I’ve enjoyed working in rail for these reasons and we actually do more than just operate trains as we also have a large construction business. Additionally, I'm not just responsible for trains, but also buses, roads, ferries, light rail and maritime. There is a lot to keep me busy.
Farhan: What have been some of the highlights or interesting experiences of your career?
Armand: Highlights include the Q Fever vaccination program when I was still a trainee. I made that my Ramazzini Prize presentation - looking at the rates at which different occupations showed evidence of prior infection with Q Fever. I travelled to different parts of NSW as part of this program and learned a lot about the agricultural industry.
After starting at RailCorp, one of the first projects that I dealt with was the development of the Railway LED Lantern Test. At the time, the medical standard required practical testing for colour vision. Rather than have on-site practical tests, our intention was to create a simulation that could be completed in a standard way. It was satisfying to see this project through and, ultimately, being written into the National Standard. It’s made a difference to the way people with a colour vision deficiency are assessed in the rail industry and standardised the whole process, which I think is a good thing.
More recently, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with the Australasian Medical Review Officers Association (AMROA) and I consider it a privilege to be part of the organisation. It’s given me the opportunity to meet many other Fellows, as well as trainees and doctors from around Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand who might not be Fellows, but who do a lot for occupational medicine.
Farhan: What else do you aspire to do in your career?
Armand: I'm also involved with the Faculty Training Committee and on the NSW Regional Committee. They are two things which have occupied my time in recent years and have been very satisfying. It was great to organise a training meeting when I was the Training Program Director in NSW. It has been very satisfying being Chair of the Faculty Training Committee and implementing changes that help improve our program and make it better for trainees and the Faculty.
For the past two years, the vast majority of my time has been taken up with COVID related problems, particularly the COVID Task Force at Transport for NSW. I've been involved in a team that deals with employee communications, procedures and COVID safe practices. It’s been a rewarding experience to work with such a great team and it resulted in me joining Transport for NSW as Chief Health Officer.
Farhan: What message do you have for our trainees and Fellows?
Armand: Keep your eyes out for opportunities. Make the most of opportunities that come your way and never turn down an offer, because it can lead to unexpected opportunities that might be really rewarding. The pandemic has been top of mind to everyone in Australia for two years and has highlighted the importance of public health. The public health physicians are all superstars.
Occupational medicine is very similar to public health, just with a focus on the subset of the population who are workers, rather than the entire population. Just as the pandemic has made public health physicians crucial to the government and has highlighted their importance to the general public, it has also created opportunities for occupational physicians to sell our expertise to industry. It has changed the focus of our practice, opened up new opportunities for us, and demonstrated the value that we can offer business.
The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) is leading the call to improve the health and recovery outcomes for people who experience a work injury, including reducing barriers to care.
To support this initiative, AFOEM has developed two complementary documents which focus on work injury management:
Bringing evidence-informed practice to work injury schemes (PDF) presents the evidence regarding psychosocial factors as barriers to return to work and the evidence about how these barriers can be addressed. The paper describes ways to improve scheme delivery in the four central work injury domains of leadership and regulation, case management, the workplace and healthcare.
A values and principles based approach to bringing evidence-informed practice to work injury schemes (PDF) which describes the values and principles of healthy insurance schemes and sets out why 'it pays to care'.
This work has been led by Dr Mary Wyatt FAFOEM, Lead Fellow, with support from Dr David Beaumont FAFOEM, Dr Beata Byok FAFOEM, Dr Robin Chase FAFOEM, and Associate Professor Peter Connaughton FAFOEM.
For more information and to download the policy documents, visit the ‘It Pays to Care’ webpage.
The AFOEM ATM will be held from Saturday, 14 May to Monday, 16 May 2022, in conjunction with the RACP Congress in Melbourne, Australia.
We look forward to seeing trainees and supervisors there.
Times: Please refer to the program.
For further details, visit AFOEM ATM 2022.
We encourage AFOEM supervisors to attend the AFOEM ATM and make the most of this opportunity to actively engage with trainees, other supervisors, and the AFOEM training program.
If you are interested in attending, please contact email@example.com.
Applications are now open for the September and November 2022 AFOEM examinations for eligible trainees who have met the training program requirements. Applications close Friday, 13 May 2022.
Upcoming 2022 AFOEM examination dates are:
- Stage A Written Examinations – Saturday, 10 September 2022
- Stage B Written Examinations – Saturday, 10 September and Sunday, 11 September 2022
- Stage B Practical Examinations – Saturday, 19 November 2022 (an additional date of Sunday, 20 November 2022 may be required depending on the number of eligible candidates).
To apply, please visit the examination webpage, download the application form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 13 May 2022 at 5pm AEST.
There are more than 50 awards with a total value of over $2.5m available in the following categories:
AFOEM Fellows and trainees are encouraged to apply.
Visit the RACP Foundation to see the eligibility criteria for each award and to access the online application form.
Watch AFOEM trainees present during RACP Congress 2022.
The Ramazzini Prize is awarded annually for the best scientific paper related to Occupational and Environmental Medicine presented by AFOEM trainees. All AFOEM trainees must present a paper for the Ramazzini Prize at least once during their Advanced Training to meet eligibility requirements for Fellowship.
Presentations are held on Friday, 13 May 2022, from 8am to 10am AEST. You must be registered for Congress to attend.
The Curriculum Advisory Group, which oversees the Curricula Renewal project, is seeking a new member. Expressions of Interest (EOIs) are welcome from Fellows and trainees, with a deadline of Friday, 20 May 2022.
Submit an EOI.
The new Primer of CPD Activities in Digital Health has been developed by the RACP’s Digital Health Advisory Group to help you earn CPD credits in the fields of digital health and clinical informatics. The Primer provides a range of digital health activities across the three CPD categories:
- Educational activities
- Reviewing performance
- Measuring outcomes.
Browse the primer for examples of how to meet your CPD requirements in digital health.
Applications for new Specialist Training Program (STP) positions are now open and will be available until Friday, 13 May 2022. Please visit the Department of Health website for more information.
All queries regarding the new STP position process should be directed to email@example.com.
Following consultation with relevant College bodies, the College has formally endorsed the MAPW Australia’s Health Professional Statement on the situation in Ukraine. This statement is intended to bring attention to the medical and humanitarian dimension of the crisis in Ukraine and to unite trusted medical voices in a call for peace.
The content of this statement aligns with a previous MAPW statement urging Australia to join the UN Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons which the College endorsed in 2018, and it also reflects the recent RACP President’s message about Ukraine.
We would also encourage individual members to sign the statement in their individual capacity and to promote it to their networks.
Hear from expert voices, receive clinical updates, and make the most of catching up with friends and colleagues.
Join us from 12 to 14 May for RACP Congress 2022: A Climate for Change. There are still plenty of opportunities to join us, either in-person or online. Attend for the full two and a half days, or a single day, or purchase a virtual ticket to watch the streamed sessions. All tickets have access to recorded sessions for six months to watch in your own time.
Explore the ticket options and the full Congress program.
Joining us in-person? Have you registered for your workshops?
For those of you joining us at Congress in Melbourne, time is running out to secure your place in the range of workshops.
From Media spokesperson essentials to the Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP), these in-demand sessions have limited places so make sure you secure your seat when you register. If you need to secure your seat, email the RACP Congress Events Team.
The globe has already warmed by more than one degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels and is on track to exceed two degrees by the end of the century.
It doesn’t sound like a lot, but this will have a profound effect on human health — with Australia being particularly vulnerable. If this were to happen, Australia’s biggest cities will become furnaces in summer with heat-related mortality rates more than doubling. The rising temperatures will also increase frequency of the climate oscillations that delivered record-breaking temperatures and bushfires in 2019 to 2020, followed by historic rains and floods last summer.
In this podcast we discuss the effects of this increasingly volatile climate on the health of Australians — from infectious disease to respiratory and even mental health. Professor Lynne Madden explains how the health system can become more resilient to these demands and what measures the RACP is asking the Federal Government to commit to in preparation for this.
Find out more about the "Health Climate Future" campaign.
- Professor Lynne Madden FAFPHM (University of Notre Dame)
Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Castbox, or any podcasting app. Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits for listening via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references please visit our website.
Did you know that RACP members can access the ROC via an app? The easy-to-use mobile app will help you get the most out of your online community and connect you with other members. The app can be used to initiate discussions, find other members, read the latest posts, and share your expertise. Download the ROC app from the App Store or Google Play, or login via MyRACP.
This May, we bring you a series of special offers to reward that special person in your life – Mum. With so many online options to choose from, Mother’s Day shopping has never been easier.
Here are some of the great deals on offer:
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Gourmet food and wine to delight
Reward Mum with delicious gourmet food, paired with exclusive wines from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and France. Save up to 10% on Mother’s Day gift hampers and choose from the extensive range at StellaRio or build your own to suit Mum’s taste.
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Not yet sure what to get Mum? Spa treatments, shopping experiences, so many choices! Discounted eGift Cards provide you with great savings and are the perfect gift for Mum.
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Log in today to start shopping or call 1300 853 352 for more information.
For more information, visit: https://racp.memberadvantage.com.au (Aus) or https://racpnz.memberadvantage.com.au (AoNZ).
Check the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you.
AFOEM contact details
AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
AFOEM Executive Officer
AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Phone: +61 2 8247 6268
AFOEM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment and Selection Unit
AFOEM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit
AFOEM CPD enquiries: