AFOEM ebulletin - 8 April 2022

A message from your President

For the first time in the almost two years of being AFOEM President, I intend to write a COVID-free President’s Post. This is not because COVID has gone away, far from it, but because there are so many other recent and upcoming AFOEM activities I would like to let you know about.

I was very pleased to be able to travel to Brisbane last month to participate in the ANZSOM Annual Scientific Meeting, for which AFOEM was the scientific partner. For many, this was the first face-to-face meeting in more than two years. ANZSOM also offered a digital option for those who could not make it to Brisbane. The ANZSOM ASM was also offered as an alternative to the AFOEM Annual Training Meeting for AFOEM Registrars, so it was very pleasing to see so many of our younger members participating. 

The History of Occupational Medicine Witness Seminar was a highlight of the ASM. This brought back memories of the origins and development of occupational medicine in Australia and also explored future directions for occupational medicine practice. Congratulations to Niki Ellis and colleagues who planned this Seminar. Further details can be found on the ROC

The ASM also included the launch of the ANZSOM Occupational Health Value Proposition, in partnership with the Society of Occupational medicine in the UK. Another highlight was the conference dinner, which included an inspiring address by Dr Dinesh Palipana, who became a quadriplegic during his medical course, but completed his training and now works as an emergency physician. Dinesh highlighted the importance of occupational medicine input, with its focus on ability rather than disability, to his successful return to the workplace.

AFOEM has made a major contribution to the release of the Mentally Healthy Workplaces and COVID-19: Emerging Issues series coordinated by the National Mental Health Commission as part of the National Workplace Initiative. I’d like to acknowledge the very active leadership of Teri Lillington, who has been the AFOEM rep and has taken a major role in the development of these guides, with the assistance of other AFOEM members. This is a great example of applying the principles of AFOEM’s Health benefits of Good Work program - in this case the mental health benefits of good work. The Guides and stakeholder communication kit can be found here. I’d like to encourage you to promote these valuable Guides to organisations and workplaces you are involved with.

AFOEM’s ‘It Pays To Care’ initiative continues to gain traction under the passionate leadership of Mary Wyatt. IPTC has a strong focus on improving health outcomes for patients who experience a work injury and was strongly endorsed by the College Policy and Advocacy Council earlier this year. The main focus then turned to promotion and stakeholder engagement. The launch of the IPTC policy is being planned for Wednesday, 27 April in both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, where David Beaumont has taken the lead. This promises to be a very high-level event and a great way to showcase how AFOEM members can contribute to system changes to improve work injury outcomes. More details on the launch will be released soon.

There has also been major recent developments regarding silicosis prevention, with the release this week of the whole of Government response to the recommendations of the Dust Diseases Taskforce. Most recommendations were fully supported and the Australian Government has earmarked $11 million over the next four years to implement the recommendations. Current projects include the development of the national occupational respiratory disease registry, a national silica prevention strategy, a monitoring and evaluation framework and education and training programs for medical practitioners. This has been a very successful example of AFOEM and RACP advocacy and AFOEM continues to play a major role in each of these projects. 

AFOEM is about to release two EVOLVE program case studies. The first relates to the management of non-specific low back pain and the second relates to the role of X-rays in pre-placement medical assessments. These two issues are fundamental aspects of occupational medicine practice but are often handled poorly by those not trained in occupational medicine. These case studies should help to promote good practice in common clinical situations. 

I’d like to remind these all Fellows and trainees of the upcoming RACP Congress and encourage you to register. The dates are 12 to14 May and there is to be a Melbourne program and a Tamaki Makaurau Auckland program. The Congress has an interesting program with a fascinating set of speakers lined up to present, including Professor Karen Walker-Bone, who will give the Ferguson-Glass Oration this year. More information can be found here. The AFOEM Annual Training Meeting is to follow the Congress on 14 to 16 May and this will be the first ATM to be held since 2019. This is a very important part of the AFOEM training program, and I hope to see many of our registrars there. 

The 2022 AFOEM Annual Members' Meeting (AMM) will be held digitally on Thursday, 28 April 2022 from 5.30 to 6.30pm AEST. The AMM is usually held at the RACP Congress, but due to ongoing uncertainty around in-person attendance, and the absence of some AFOEM office bearers, it has been decided to hold this digitally again this year. I'd like to encourage you all to tune into the AMM and hear about AFOEM's achievements over the past year and future activities.

Finally, you will have seen recently that nominations have been called for several AFOEM positions, including for AFOEM President-elect, Council members and regional committee members. While the nomination period has now officially closed, we still have several positions unfilled, including President-elect. It is still possible to submit a late nomination, so I’d like to encourage you to consider nominating for one of these key positions and contribute to the important work and activities of AFOEM. The future of AFOEM is very dependent on a high degree of Fellow and trainee engagement.


Professor Malcolm Sim
AFOEM President

AFOEM Fellows interview series

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 Ian Cheng.

Dr Farhan Shahzad, Consultant Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sydney 

Farhan: Welcome Dr Ian Cheng to the interview series. Please tell us about your personal and professional life.

Ian: I was born in Sydney, so I’m an ABC (Australian-born Chinese). I didn’t map out a particular career pathway when I was young. I think a number of serendipitous moments have characterised my post-high school course. I unintentionally ended up with several Graduate and Post-Graduate qualifications because they were relevant or were required for the things that I was interested in at the time. Growing up, I was a bit of a formula 1 and aviation geek. After completing a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering, I was offered a scholarship to complete a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering, but also had the choice of going to medical school. I chose the latter.

After completing my residency at Westmead Hospital, I spent the next 14 years there, working part‑time in Emergency Medicine, because I decided to help in the family business which involved manufacturing commercial and household cleaning chemicals. After divesting the business, I applied to be an Occupational Medicine Registrar at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH). I thought that would be an interesting area where I can combine both engineering, business and medicine because as you know, engineering controls are often applied as a hazard control measure. So that’s how I ended up in Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 

Presently, I am a Senior Staff Specialist for Northern Sydney Local Health District based at RNSH. I’m also in private practice doing occupation, environmental and aviation medicine. I’ve also worked for Qantas Airways, IBM, and the aviation regulator, CASA.

Farhan: Please tell us about your achievements, memories, and highlights of your career.

Ian: As a trainee, I won the Ramazzini Prize, but only two of us presented. With regards to Aviation, I was President of the Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine from 2013 to 2016. I feel very fortunate and privileged to have had Dr Roman Simson as my supervisor and mentor. I think his wisdom, empathy, and vast experience was both inspirational and invaluable - not just as a trainee but also as a Fellow. I’ve also been lucky to job share at RNSH with Dr Nalayini Kanagaratnam for nearly two decades.

Farhan: What interests you now and what’s your legacy?

Ian: I think I’ll leave it to others to determine whatever legacy I may or may not have left. One of the challenges has been trying to raise the profile and promote the value of Occupational Medicine within NSW Health. The initial risk assessment and management of COVID-19 within healthcare facilities was understandably driven by infection control practitioners, infectious diseases physicians and public health. However, in 2021 I was invited to be the Occupational Physician representative on the NSW Clinical Excellence Commission COVID-19 Infection Prevention Control Strategic Task Force and also to be on the NSW Health Infrastructure Ventilation Panel. Prior to COVID-19, I was appointed to the NSW Health Blood Borne Virus Advisory Panel and the NSW Health Occupational Assessment Screening and Vaccination Expert Working Group. 

Farhan: What advice do you have for trainees and Fellows?

Ian: Even though the opportunities for hospital-based occupational medicine are limited, I would encourage both trainees and Fellows to avail themselves of opportunities as they arise.  Sure, it’s not as financially rewarding as working in private practice or in industry, but it’s off-set by the terrific breadth and variety of things one can see and do. Hospitals aren’t just about staff delivering clinical services; we have hotel services (porters, cleaners, laundry, food & beverage), transportation services and maintenance (plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc.).  My private practice also contributes towards further diversity of work and rewards.

I would like to see occupational medicine apply what aviation medicine training has achieved. You may or may not be aware that there is a rotational traineeship position in aviation medicine where a trainee is periodically rotated through placements at Qantas, Virgin and CASA. It would be wonderful for an occupational medicine trainee if they could rotate through a public hospital, a manufacturing company, a mining company, Safework, etc. in a structured program to get that broad experience. It was drilled into me by Dr Roman Simson that a wide range of workplace visits and assessments were a fundamental activity and competency for a trainee.

AFOEM Annual Members Meeting

The AFOEM Annual Members Meeting (AMM) will take place on Thursday, 28 April 2022 from 5.30pm to 6.30pm AEST.

AMM Agenda:

  • An address and report from the outgoing AFOEM President – Professor Malcolm Sim, AM.
  • Professor Sim will officially hand over and welcome our incoming President, Dr Warren Harrex.
  • Dr Harrex will address members.
  • Reports from the Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee Chair and the Faculty Education Committee.

Questions during the AMM are welcome and can also be emailed in advance to the Faculty Office.

Register now to secure your place.

AFOEM Annual Training Meeting (ATM) 2022

A reminder to all AFOEM trainees that 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 encourage all AFOEM trainees to attend the ATM, as it will be a great opportunity for you to learn, network and ask questions pertaining to your training requirements.

Date: Saturday, 14 May to Monday, 16 May 2022
Times: Please refer to the program
Cost: Tickets are $600 per person

Registrations close on Friday, 22 April 2022.

For more information or to register for the event, visit the AFOEM ATM 2022 website.

Examination Applications and Dates 2022

We are pleased to advise that 2022 AFOEM examination applications will be open on Monday, 2 May to Friday, 13 May 2022 for eligible trainees (who have met the training program requirements) for the September and November 2022 examinations.

The 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 to by Friday, 13 May 2022 at 5pm AEST.

Applications for the 2022 RACP Educational Development (Study) Grants now open

Educational Development Grants provide support to Fellows and trainees to undertake further educational training or to develop educational initiatives.

Apply now for the 2022 RACP AFOEM Educational Development Grant. This grant can go towards gaining new technical expertise, training at an appropriate institution, or participation and presenting a paper at a conference or scientific meeting in fields and competencies relevant to rehabilitation.

Other Educational Development Grants available include:

  • Skilled Medical Scholarship for Advancement of Indigenous Health - NEW
  • Aotearoa New Zealand Educational Development Grant
  • Queensland Regional Committee Educational Development Grant

Applications for the 2022 RACP AFOEM Educational Development Grant close on Monday, 2 May 2022.

Visit the RACP Foundation webpage to view the eligibility criteria for each award and to access the online application form.

Research Awards for 2023 Funding Round

Through the RACP Foundation, we're able to offer financial support to Fellows and trainees pursuing careers in medical research. Over 50 different fellowships, scholarships and grants are available annually, totaling over $2.5 million in funding.

Trainees and Fellows are encouraged to apply for the following opportunities from Monday, 2 May 2022:

Visit the RACP Foundation webpage to view the eligibility criteria for each award and to access the online application form.

Queensland Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register

(For Queensland OEPs only)

The Queensland Health Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register was established in response to the re-identification and emergence of occupational dust lung diseases, including Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis and Silicosis.

Recently, Queensland Health completed a review of the sources of notifications received by the Register during its first two years of operation (1 July 2019 to 30 June 2021).

The review found that the number of notifications from occupational and environmental physicians (OEPs) was lower than expected. Nine of the 149 (6%) confirmed notifications received by the Register were made by OEPs, while 140 (94%) were made by respiratory/sleep physicians.

Please be advised that all OEPs who practice in Queensland must notify the Queensland Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register, as required by the Public Health Act 2005.

Please visit the Queensland Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register for more information, including how to make a notification to the Register.

Save the Date: ‘It Pays to Care’ virtual launch

The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) would like to invite you to the virtual launch of a key policy initiative: 'It Pays to Care: Bringing evidence-informed practice to work injury schemes helps workers and their workplaces'.

The launch will feature a panel of keynote speakers and the public release of the two documents as part of a drive to promote national discussion about core elements of workers compensation schemes. The documents highlight that health care in compensation settings should feature:

  1. A systematic approach to addressing psychosocial factors
  2. Evidence-based medical care (high value health care)
  3. Increased certification options to ensure access to high-quality treatment
  4. Better training for health professionals.

This work has been led by AFOEM members: Dr Mary Wyatt FAFOEM, Fellow Lead, with support from: Dr David Beaumont FAFOEM, Dr Beata Byok FAFOEM, Dr Robin Chase FAFOEM, and Associate Professor Peter Connaughton FAFOEM.

The virtual launch will take place on:

  • Wednesday, 27 April 2022, 3.00pm to 4.30pm AEST (Australia)
  • Friday, 29 April 2022, 3.00pm to 4.30pm NZT (Aotearoa New Zealand)

Register now to attend the event.

The 2022–2026 RACP Strategic Plan 

The College has released its 2022–2026 RACP Strategic Plan – which defines where we want to be in the future. It sets out four strategic focus areas and underlying priorities to achieve our strategic goals and to add value to our membership.

These areas will be key priorities for future delivery of our core role, which is to educate, advocate and innovate, while lifting the health outcomes for the First Nations people of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Learn more about the 2022–2026 RACP Strategic Plan.

New and improved Curated Collections to support your professional development 

We’ve been reviewing and updating our Curated Collections so we can provide you with the most up-to-date and relevant resources to support your professional development and lifelong learning needs. Check out these updated Collections and earn CPD credits while you learn:

Ongoing College advocacy on telehealth and other system reform priorities in lead up to Federal Budget 2022-23

As outlined in a recent media release, the College is continuing its advocacy for the permanent reinstatement of telehealth phone Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) services in the lead up to the Federal Budget 2022-23.

We continue to stress to the Government that the permanent reinstatement of these MBS items is essential to ensure equitable access to specialist care for patients in rural and remote areas, those living with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and other people who may have limitations in travelling or accessing video technology.

For more information about the College’s advocacy priorities in the lead up to the Federal Budget, access the College’s Pre-Budget Submission 2022-23: Delivering a Future-Focused Health System for Equitable Care and Healthier Communities.

In addition, keep an eye out for the College’s Federal Election statement and campaign due to be launched soon.

Co-administration of COVID-19 vaccination and a flu vaccine

A COVID-19 vaccination and an influenza vaccination can be administered at the same time and may be provided to patients during the same attendance. While a medical practitioner is under no obligation to bulk-bill a patient receiving an influenza vaccination, a patient who also receives a COVID-19 booster vaccination as part of the same occasion of care must be bulk-billed for the MBS COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment component of the overall service. 

Further information can be found at: MBS online - FAQ - Bulk Billed MBS patient COVID-19 Vaccine Suitability Assessment Service.

Key documentation:

ATAGI Recommended Doses and Vaccines (PDF)
ATAGI Advice on recommendations for key population groups (PDF)

Ep79: Melanoma vs the Double-Edged Sword

Immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionised care for patients with advanced melanoma and other cancers. These days around half of patients with unresectable metastatic melanoma can expect to live to five years after a regime of agents such as nivolumab and pembrolizumab. That’s up to 10 times the survival rate of patients a decade ago, when chemotherapy Dacarbazine was the front-line treatment.

Over half of these patients who respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors will go on to survive long-term but it’s still not possible to identify responders in advance. On top of this, some of the immune-related side-effects of therapy can be serious enough to require therapy to be stopped. Associate Professor Matt Carlino explains how to approach challenging conversations with patients around expectations for prognosis and quality of life. He also discusses the process of getting these new indications listed on the PBS, and how treatment can be funded when they are not.


Associate Professor Matteo Carlino FRACP (Westmead Hospital, Blacktown Hospital, Melanoma Institute Australia, University of Sydney)

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 and learning via MyCPD.

For a transcript and further references please, visit the RACP website.
Special interest directory 2

The ROC Special Interest Directory

When you join the ROC, you can post questions and start discussions with other members.

But did you know you can also sign up to the ROC ‘Special Interest Directory’ and search for other members based on their special interests, speaker presentations, published papers and books.

To complete your own entry, go to your Profile and select ‘My Special Interest Directory profile’ from the ‘Profile’ tab.

To search the Directory, go to 'Directory' in the navigation bar, then select ‘Special Interest Directory’ and fill in the criteria to refine your search. It's that easy!

Explore the Special Interest Directory and connect with your colleagues today.


Explore the AFOEM program at RACP Congress 2022

Join us at RACP Congress 2022 for an exciting Occupational and Environmental Health program, which includes discussions on workplace injury schemes, offshore wind energy, and the digital health revolution.

Keynote speaker, Professor Karen Walker-Bone will debate the ins and outs of our aging workforce: is it good or bad for our health to work later in life? Is it sustainable for the workforce to coexist with chronic diseases like osteoarthritis? How can we support older workers?

The program also features Dr Mary Wyatt speaking as Project Lead to the soon-to-be-released ‘It Pays to Care: Bringing evidence-informed practice to work injury schemes helps workers and their workplaces’. This is important work for improving the health and wellbeing outcomes for people who experience a work injury.

View the program and register today.

Catch up at the AFOEM Dinner

The AFOEM dinner is a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues. It’s been a while since we’ve had this chance, so why not join us at the Wharf Hotel, Riverside on Wednesday, 11 May 2022. Register now to attend. We look forward to seeing you there.


Time poor? Purchase a one-day ticket and enjoy the rest of Congress virtually

It can be hard to find time to attend Congress every day, but with a range of ticket options available, you can attend one full day at Congress and the rest of the event online. RACP Congress has a range of ticket options available for both Melbourne and Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

Member advantage easter

Member Advantage - Enjoy shopping online this Easter

Our online offers provide you with great savings, especially if you are gift shopping for those tricky-to-buy-for people on your list this Easter.

Your RACP membership gives you access to exclusive online offers and discounts. Log in now, check out the online offers and start saving today.

Accessing these offers is easy. Simply log in to your member portal, find your favourite store, get your coupon code and start saving! 

*Terms and conditions apply.

Visit your Member Advantage platform or call 1300 853 352 for assistance.


Upcoming ANZSOM meetings and webinars – #itswhatyouknow

ANZSOM has a number of educational meetings coming up, which are available to AFOEM members at no-cost (webinars) or discounted rates (dinner meetings).

SA/NT Branch Dinner Meeting
'The RTW regime in South Australia – how far has it come and where is it going?'

Presenter: Patrick Walsh, Worker’s Compensation, OH&S and Employment Lawyer; Director, DW Fox Tucker
Date: Tuesday, 12 April 2022
Time/venue: TBC

Visit the ANZSOM website for more information.

#itswhatyouknow - WA Branch Webinar
'Biomathematical modelling and fatigue risk management in shift work disorder'

Presenter: Dr Andrew Webster, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Physician
Date: Wednesday, 13 April 2022
Time: 6.00pm (Perth Local Time)
Cost: Free for ANZSOM/AFOEM members

Visit the ANZSOM website to register.

Not an ANZSOM member? 
Join ANZSOM or subscribe to ANZSOM news.

Career Opportunities 

For career opportunities, view all positions vacant on the RACP website.

AFOEM contact details

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
AFOEM Executive Officer

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Education Officer
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:


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