AFOEM eBulletin - 7 February 2020

Emergency Response Plan with a CPD points twist

Potentially, we are all exposed to settings which have Emergency Response Plans (ERP) as part of their modus operandii. Think of fuel stations, high rise buildings, places of work, hospitals, bush fires, airports, movie theatres, conferences, municipal swimming pools etc. The adequacy of these plans is rarely challenged. When an emergency occurs and things go wrong we look back in retrospect and say “if only…..”.

The Western Australian Gliding Association suggested we test our ERP in controlled circumstances at Beverley Airstrip. The airstrip is on the edge of the wheat belt in WA about 130 km from Perth’s CBD.  A power plane crash simulation was followed by an initial response from the Beverley Soaring Society personnel. In the scenario, the pilot was killed, and three passengers were severely injured. The Police were called followed by the Ambulance, Fire and Emergency Services and the Shire. The victims were assessed at the rural hospital in Beverley with support from the Telehealth service in Perth to stabilise the medical situation before being medevaced by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). The AFOEM audited the response against the current ERP. All parties involved attended a debrief and contributed suggestions and critique (audit). This included about 15 occupational physicians (OPs).

Two weeks later a peer review session was arranged where presenters detailed their recommendations with a focus on their decision making process, this was a lively discussion attended by about 30 OPs. The invited guests included a Pathologist who provided insight into the process for Coroners Cases, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Designated Aviation Medical Examiners (DAMEs) medical experts who were able to critique the performance of the AFOEM clinicians and add valuable insight into the regulatory framework in which the members are operating to improve performance/Compliance.

This proved to be a valuable community exercise which had a positive local bonding effect. Similar exercises are now in the pipeline. We have made several changes to the ERP which have been implemented and shared with other local gliding clubs. The ramifications have spread through other parts of the state and even nationally.

This article is shared with you as examples of category 2 and category 3 activities. It proved to be an interesting day for those who would not normally see a rural airstrip, rural hospital or telehealth.

The WA AFOEM Regional Committee were involved and included the WA RACP office who liaised with the College in Sydney from early in the event. They were very helpful in liaising to make sure our activities met the requirements and were properly documented. Their inclusion was valuable and is highly recommended to anyone thinking of doing a similar event/project.

This exercise lends itself to similar application and adaptation in workplaces. It provides opportunities for us as occupational physicians to stop, think, make recommendations and effect changes that might otherwise not be made. 

Dr John Suthers FAFOEM,
Club Safety Officer and AFOEM Committee member


A message from your President 

A new year

It is with mixed emotions that 2019 ended and the New Year started. I hope you were able to enjoy a break and time with family and friends. I also want to acknowledge that it was a time of distress and anxiety for those families, friends and colleagues who were impacted directly or indirectly by the bushfires and ongoing weather extremes. The ferocity and extent of the fires and resultant devastation is something that we have not experienced before. On behalf of the Faculty I want to express our gratitude to the courageous firefighters, some of whom have tragically lost their lives, for protecting us.   

The magnitude, extent and consequences of the bushfires have significant environmental, ecological and human effects. This is an emerging problem that has a bearing on multiple health systems. It presents an opportunity for co-operation and co-ordination between the various disciplines in our College in identifying, managing, treating and communicating with communities and individuals whose physical and psychological health has been affected.

The AFOEM marketing and advocacy toolkit is now available for Faculty members. It contains a customisable PDF brochure and PowerPoint presentation that introduces the Faculty and explains our specialty’s purpose, as well as a template letter with our Fellowship mark. You are encouraged to use these tools as part of your individual advocacy efforts on behalf of occupational and environmental medicine. More information on guidelines for use of the marketing toolkit are available, please contact the AFOEM office to receive a copy.

Dr Dominic Yong, Victorian State Councillor on AFOEM Council, has resigned after his appointment as Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM) President-elect. I congratulate Dominic on his appointment and wish him all the best in the new role. Dominic has been an energetic and valuable member on AFOEM Council and I thank him for his time and contribution. I look forward to future interactions with Dominic in his position on the ANZSOM Executive.

Nominations via an Expressions of Interest (EOI) process for the Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee and Regional Committees will open in February. Speaking from experience I know the demands a volunteer role can impose, but it is also an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing, vision, strength, vitality and viability of our Faculty while at the same time providing avenues for personal and professional growth, networking, transferable skills development, and meeting and working with a great bunch of people. I urge you to seriously consider applying for a position.

There are some other excellent opportunities to get involved with the Faculty in 2020. EOI’s are now open to become a member of a joint Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ)/AFOEM organising group to develop and deliver a workshop on how to facilitate and manage the return to work of workers with chronic pain. The workshop will be presented at the RMSANZ Annual Scientific Meeting, 22 to 25 September 2020 on the Gold Coast. This is an excellent opportunity to work with our rehabilitation colleagues on a topic of common interest to address the epidemic of opioid over prescribing for work related chronic pain and the use of ineffective invasive procedures.

The Fellowship Committee has made recent changes to the Congress Program Committee’s (CPC) Terms of Reference. CPC members will be appointed for a two-year term instead of one year. This is to improve handover and continuity of knowledge to allow for improved forward planning and strategic development of Congress. As the current AFOEM Congress Lead has only been appointed for Congress 2020, AFOEM has been invited to nominate an AFOEM Congress Lead for 2021-2022 to be part of the CPC.  

A reminder that AFOEM is the Scientific Program Partner for the ANZSOM Conference which this year will be held in Launceston 10 to 22 March 2020. Registrations are now open

Don’t forget to register for RACP Congress 2020 ‘Balancing Medical Science with Humanity’. I am pleased to announce that Professor Michael Shanahan, occupational physician and rheumatologist, who is well known to many of you, will be the Ferguson-Glass Orator. Other highlights are a combined session with the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and a panel update on Accelerated Silicosis. 

Wishing you all a successful and fulfilling year.

Dr Beata Byok
AFOEM President

Important message for Australian members

The National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) will be publishing an advance copy of the revised mandatory notification guidelines and supporting resources.

The Guidelines: Mandatory notifications about registered health practitioners and Guidelines: Mandatory notifications about registered students provide information about how to meet mandatory notification requirements. The guidelines aim to help practitioners, employers and education providers understand who must make a mandatory notification about a registered health practitioner or registered student and when.

Summary of changes

The guidelines were revised following amendments to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law passed early in 2019 and is expected to commence in early March 2020. 

The amendments changed the reporting obligations for treating practitioners by establishing a new, higher risk threshold for treating practitioners to report impairment, intoxication or practice that significantly departs from accepted standards. This further limits the circumstances for treating practitioners to make mandatory notifications. These changes aim to give practitioners confidence to seek help for health conditions if they need it, while continuing to prevent the risk of harm to the public. 

The requirement to make a mandatory notification about a practitioner is different for different notifier groups. For that reason, the guidelines about practitioners have been structured according to notifier type (that is treating practitioner, non-treating practitioner, employer) so that relevant information for that notifier group is easier to find.

As there are only limited circumstances when a mandatory notification can be made about a student, separate guidelines for notifications about students and practitioners have been developed.

You can find information and resources such as case studies and FAQs on the AHPRA website

Announcement: Disbanding of the Remote Area Trainees Group

The Remote Area Training (RATS) grouping was originally created to accommodate trainees who were not able to attend trainee meetings in their closest capital city. The state-based trainee meetings were only held face-to-face, and the intention of the RATS group was to enable other ways of meeting. Under the leadership of Dr Fitzgerald and Dr Turner the RATS pioneered the use of new technology in our training program, with meetings initially held by teleconference and then using Zoom. Zoom has also been used for some years in NSW to host trainee meetings from the Hunter and also Sydney CBD, with trainees and Fellows able to attend meetings and also present using the platform. The platform has worked well, allowing Fellows and trainees to attend meetings more easily.

Zoom has now been rolled out to all state RACP offices, and all the states will be using the platform to host trainee meetings from 2020 onwards. This means that as of 2020 the RATS as a group are no longer necessary and those trainees that were RATS will be enrolled in the program of their nearest capital city. A calendar will be created of all training meetings in Australia and New Zealand, and whilst trainees are encouraged to attend their own state meetings, there is the option for trainees to also attend other meetings to enable additional learning opportunities. This will enhance collaboration with colleagues in other states and have a wider range of meeting options available should unforeseen circumstances arise. Trainees and Fellows are encouraged to join as many trainee meetings as possible utilising Zoom facilities to maximise learning opportunities, and no special permission is required to attend a trainee meeting as an audience member. Training Program Directors (TPD) will schedule their local meetings based on trainee numbers in each state following the re-allocation of the RATS trainees. This means that each trainee in a state will have a timeslot to give their six-monthly presentation. Should a trainee need to present at another state’s meeting, it is important that your supervisor, local TPD and the TPD of the state in which you wish to present be contacted and permission obtained. 

All current RATS trainees will need to contact their closest capital city TPD and have them nominated on their 2020 Annual Application. Trainees will need to have their Training Status Report completed by their new state-based TPD for the January to June 2020 period and onwards. The TSR for the current period ending 31 December 2019 should still be signed off by Dr John Turner and submitted to the Education officer at by 31 January 2020.

 A list of all current TPDs can be found below, or a list of all current TPDs can be found on the Occupational and Environment webpage under the apply or re-register tab.   

Regional Training Program Directors:

New South Wales: Dr Nee Chen Khoo – 
Queensland: Dr David Jones –
South Australia: Dr Isle-Marie Stockhoff – 
Victoria: Dr Robyn MacBeth – 
Western Australia: Dr Robert Gillett – 
New Zealand: Dr Rod Douglas – 
Defence Force / Military: Dr Catherine Kelaher –

If any trainees are worried or have any concerns regarding their training and this change, please don’t hesitate to contact the Education Officer, Jessica Cranston on +61 2 8247 6268 or

Yours sincerely

Dr Armand Casolin FAFOEM 
Chair of FTC in Occupational and Environmental Medicine

RACP awards, medals and grants

AFOEM President’s Award for Trainee Commitment

Nominate an AFOEM Advanced Trainee for an AFOEM President’s Award. This award recognises outstanding commitment to the Faculty’s education and training program.

The recipient will receive a $300AUD gift voucher and an award presented at the AFOEM annual event.

Applications close on Friday,14 February 2020.

Further details on these scholarships are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

RACP AFOEM Educational Development Grant applications 

Applications are opening soon for the 2020 RACP AFOEM Educational Development Grant worth up to $10,000. This grant can go towards gaining new technical expertise, training at an institution or providing further education opportunities for a group in fields and competencies relevant to occupational and environmental medicine.

Other Educational Development Grants available include:

  • Aotearoa New Zealand Educational Development Grant
  • Queensland Regional Committee Educational Development Grant.

Submit your applications online from Friday, 21 February to Monday, 23 March 2020. Information about this award including eligibility criteria and the link to the online application form is available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

Trainee re-registrations due

A reminder that registrations for Basic Trainees for the Australian 2020 clinical year close Friday, 28 February 2020.

As a trainee, you must re-register your training annually.

New Zealand registrations have now closed.

For more information check your relevant handbook or contact us.

The AFOEM stream at Congress 2020

You’re invited to one of the premier annual events on the RACP calendar, Congress 2020: Balancing medical science with humanity. Held on Monday, 4 to Wednesday, 6 May in Melbourne, we’ve developed an immense program filled with a diverse range of local and international speakers.

The program includes shared-interest topics and thought-provoking sessions. A dedicated AFOEM stream includes the Ferguson-Glass Oration by Professor Michael Shanahan, an occupational physician and rheumatologist.

You’ll hear exclusive updates on:

  • Communicating the value of occupational physicians with organisational leaders
  • Silicosis: reducing risks for workers.

We are also delighted to be presenting a joint session with our colleagues from the Faulty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) on promoting an inclusive community for people living with disability. In addition, you can hear the latest research from the next generation of occupational and environmental medicine trainees during the Ramazzini Prize sessions.

This is a unique networking opportunity for you to meet members of the Faculty, as well as members from the broader College, while learning about a diverse range of clinical and occupational and environmental medicine topics. For more information and to register, visit the Congress website. Hurry, early-bird rates available until 3 March 2020.

Register now

AFOEM Annual Training Meeting 1 to 3 May 2020

Calling all trainees. AFOEM plans its Annual Training Meeting (ATM) in conjunction with the RACP Congress each year. Trainees of the Faculty come together to learn, share, and network. 

The ATM, held across three days, provides trainees with invaluable experience and knowledge. It is an integral part of the AFOEM training program with breakout sessions tailored to all stages of training.

This year, the AFOEM ATM Dinner will be jointly hosted with the AFOEM Faculty Dinner on Sunday, 3 May 2020 at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. A great opportunity to network and socialise with both Faculty and your trainee contemporaries.

Join us at the Crowne Plaza Melbourne, Friday, 1 May to Sunday, 3 May 2020. Check out the program, register to attend and book your ticket to the AFOEM dinner.

The Australian bushfires

As the bushfires and hot weather continue, our thoughts are with those who have been affected by this unprecedented disaster. Your College released a media statement on the bushfires last month and we recognise that the full extent of the health impacts are not yet known.

We’ve had many members contacting us to ask how they can help. We encourage members who can assist to contact the relevant rural doctors’ organisation coordinating your state’s health workforce response.

For more information, please visit these websites: 

How to protect yourself and others from bushfire smoke

In response to the recent bushfires, the Australian National University (ANU) has put together some useful material for protecting yourself and others from bushfire smoke.

Further details are available on the ANU website.

AFOEM Regional Committee casual vacancies

There are various casual vacancies on AFOEM Regional Committees to be filled by way of expressions of interest.

New South Wales

  • one position open for Deputy Chair of AFOEM NSW Regional Committee

Queensland/Northern Territory

  • one position open for the Trainee Representative of AFOEM QLD/NT Regional Committee
  • one position open for Deputy Chair of AFOEM QLD/NT Regional Committee.

South Australia

  • one position open for AFOEM Trainee of AFOEM QLD/NT Regional Committee
  • one position open for Deputy Chair of AFOEM SA Regional Committee.

Before nominating for the role, candidates must familiarise themselves with the following documents:

To nominate, submit a completed Expression of Interest Form and your resume by email to

AFOEM and ANZSOM – the relationship continues

ANZSOM ASM 2020, Thursday, 19 to Sunday, 22 March 2020, Launceston, Tasmania.

Launceston is proud to be hosting the Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM) Annual Scientific Meeting in March 2020, providing four days to connect, learn and share, and continue the relationship with AFOEM as the scientific program partner.

Renowned for its practical solutions-based approach, the ANZSOM conference features a range of workshops, workplace site visits and expert presentations, addressing contemporary workplace health issues relevant to GPs, nurses and occupational medicine specialists. There will also be dedicated training elements with 'Direct Observation of Field Skills' being supported for the first time on selected site visits and a trainee networking event scheduled for Saturday morning.

Session topics include challenging cases in occupational medicine, thermal injuries, medicinal marijuana, health and wellness in blue collar workers, maritime health and safety, colour vision, audiometry, regulatory ‘failures’, use of occupational health data, CPR, mental stress and dysfunction among sports people, cyber security and much more.

Registration options include the full four-day program or single day registration, plus a range of social and networking events. For further details visit the website.

Taking further action on outdoor alcohol advertising

Alcohol is one of the most harmful yet most heavily promoted products in the world. Evidence clearly shows that young people’s exposure to alcohol marketing increases their alcohol consumption as well as the risk of starting to drink at a younger age. WHO recommends bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship and promotion to reduce alcohol use and harm.

Market research indicates that 92.6 per cent of consumers are exposed to outdoor advertising at least once per day and that three out of five shoppers are influenced by outdoor marketing immediately prior to shopping. This form of marketing is extremely influential and therefore acutely harmful, especially for young people. 

As highlighted in the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education’s Snapshot of the current state of play, most Australian jurisdictions have introduced some controls on outdoor alcohol advertising. While these restrictions work to limit exposure, they are not comprehensive enough to prevent children and young people from viewing all outdoor alcohol advertising.

Current restrictions need to be strengthened by legislating bans or more comprehensive restrictions and introducing sanctions and monitoring and enforcement mechanisms. The RACP’s Alcohol Policy supports the three options proposed by the Foundation to remedy this policy shortcoming:

  • ban on all outdoor alcohol advertising and sponsorship across the jurisdiction
  • ban on all outdoor alcohol advertising and ban on sponsorship at all family-friendly events
  • ban on outdoor alcohol advertising on government-owned assets and public transport infrastructure. 

More about these policy options is available on the Public Health Advocacy Institute of Western Australia's website.

Improving clinical case management, infection prevention and control of Clostridioides difficile infection

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care supports health service organisations in implementing effective infection prevention and control strategies to reduce the risk of patients acquiring preventable healthcare-associated infections. In 2016 the Commission established a Community of Practice to investigate what future measures would support maintaining low rates of Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) in Australia. The Commission continues to monitor the prevalence of CDI in Australian public hospitals annually and has recently published the Clostridium difficile 2017 Data Snapshot report along with an associated Infographic. The Community of Practice also made several recommendations relating to the surveillance and management of CDI in Australia which can be found in the 2018 technical report: A Model to Improve Prevention  and Control of  Clostridium difficile infection in Australia.

Quality and safety resources for members

Quality and safety is central to the delivery of healthcare in Australia and New Zealand. We offer a number of resources to help you create a culture of quality and safety in your healthcare setting. Register for the Quality and Safety online course to learn about developing a preventative mindset and identifying and remediating situations where the quality and safety of patient care may be compromised. Refer to the Quality and Safety Curated Collection for a peer-reviewed list of high quality resources on the topic. Or to learn about strategies for communicating effectively with patients about the risks and benefits of treatment options, enrol in the Communicating Risks and Benefits online course.

RACP Online Learning resources are free for members and count towards Continuing Professional Development requirements.

2019 Novel Coronavirus: A Physician's Guide from the American College of Physicans

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has developed educational resources that are freely available to the healthcare community as a public service from ACP in response to the coronavirus outbreak, including:

  • Novel Coronavirus: A Physician's Guide – an online learning activity providing a clinical overview of infection control and patient care guidance
  • Coronavirus: What the clinician needs to know podcast.
Access resources

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep55: Starting out in practice

This podcast is about one of many pathways in medicine; private practice. It’s a pathway that presents many opportunities, but also personal and financial challenges. When doctors are starting out in private practice, they typically do so within the safety net of an established practice, and perhaps only for part of the working week. In a simple model, they would be renting a room in exchange for an agreed portion of the consultation fees to cover administration costs.

The next level of complexity is setting up shop for one's self, and this requires registering a company in order to employ other staff. Finally, one can partner in a group practice, which may bring efficiencies of scale, but potentially also personality clashes with other shareholders.

And behind all of this, there is the need to build awareness and trust among the patient community. In this podcast we hear the experiences of a private rheumatologist practising for 25 years, as well as learning about accounting and financial planning. 


  • Dr Louis McGuigan FRACP, Consultant Rheumatologist, Miranda
  • Paul Copeland, Director, William Buck Chartered Accountants
  • Scott Montefiore, Managing Director Hillross Montefiore and Co.

Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits via MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources.

Subscribe to Pomegranate Health in Apple iTunesSpotify or any Android podcasting app.

Listen to podcast

The Tri-Nation Alliance International Medical Symposium

Register for the Tri-Nation Alliance International Medical Symposium (IMS), on 'Providing care to underserved populations'. The symposium will be held on Friday, 20 March 2020 at the Amora Hotel in Sydney.

This annual event provides a great opportunity to share the latest insights in higher medical education. The program will explore how best to train, prepare and retain medical specialists to care for underserved populations in Australia, New Zealand and Canada due to isolation, geographical location or many other social determinants and how innovative technologies can enhance their access to healthcare.

Keynote speakers include Professor Roger Strasser, formerly Dean of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, an expert renowned for promoting the importance of socially accountable medical education to serve communities and Dr Lisa Richardson, Faculty of Medicine Strategic Advisor, Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto, an expert in urban underserved populations in Canada. Professor Diane Sarfati, a public health physician and cancer epidemiologist from the University of Otago with expertise in the area of ethnic disparities in disease outcomes and Dr Belinda O’Sullivan, a researcher leading international scale studies on rural health systems, from the University of Queensland Rural Clinical School will provide the other keynote presentations. 

Other sessions will provide interesting insights into education and training to support access to care from Associate Professor Elana Curtis, a public health physician from the University of Auckland. The Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Rural Surgery Section Committee, Dr Bridget Clancy, an ENT surgeon based in rural Victoria, will also provide interesting perspectives on meeting the challenges of practice for rural and underserved populations.   

More information is available on the IMS website.

The member colleges of the Tri-Nation Alliance are the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

Member Advantage benefits on offer

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Apply for your card online or call 1300 853 352 for more information.

*Terms and conditions, eligibility criteria and minimum spend apply. 

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National lung cancer screening program

Cancer Australia is investigating the feasibility for a national lung cancer screening program for people at high risk of lung cancer. The consultation is being hosted on the Department of Health’s Consultation Hub until Monday, 17 February 2020.

You are invited to provide your input into the Consultation Hub. The survey takes around 10 minutes to complete and submissions can also be attached.

For more information about the Lung Cancer Screening enquiry, please visit the Cancer Australia website.

Medical Board of Australia Newsletter January 2020

Read the latest news from the Medical Board of Australia.

Conferences and events

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians publishes notices of events and courses as a service to members. Such publication does not constitute endorsement or mandating of any such events or courses. 

Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) workshops

General information webpage provides an overview of our three SPDP workshops.
Online workshops webpage provides dates and information on how to register for the online SPDP workshops.
Face to face workshops provides a list of dates and registering for the face to face workshops.

Go to the events list at any time to see what other events are coming up.

AFOEM contact details

Member enquiries
(AUS) 1300 69 7227
(NZ) 0508 69 7227

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):

Megan Chard, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 9256 5426

AFOEM Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) enquiries:

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:

AFOEM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment and Selection Unit

AFOEM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit

AFOEM CPD enquiries:
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