AFOEM eBulletin – 1 June 2018

2018 ICOH Congress in Dublin

The 32nd International Congress on Occupational Health (ICOH) was held over five days in Dublin in early May and was hosted by the Irish Faculty of Occupational Medicine. 

The Congress was a great success, attracting about 2,200 delegates from all corners of the world, with over 100 delegates from Australia and New Zealand. The Congress included an amazing array of occupational health topics, covering the spread of interests of the 37 Scientific Committees of ICOH, including the Occupational Medicine Scientific Committee. The main plenary talk and policy forum focused on the prevention of occupational cancer, while other plenaries covered topics such as the health of doctors, education and training in occupational health, total worker health, migrant occupational health and sleep disorders.

The next ICOH Congress will be held in Melbourne from 21 to 26 March 2021, with the Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine as the local host body and ​me as Chair of the National Organising Committee. Please put these dates in your diary – it will be a great opportunity to showcase occupational health programs in Australia and New Zealand and hear from a wide range of international speakers. For more information, to register your interest and to go on the email list please visit the 2021 Congress website. I’d also encourage you to join ICOH and, apart from other benefits, this will entitle you to a reduced registration fee for the Melbourne Congress.

Professor Malcolm Sim

A message from your President

Welcome to my first eBulletin as President of AFOEM.  I feel privileged to be representing you as your President for the next two years.  Firstly, on behalf of Council, the Fellows and trainees and personally, I want to thank Dr Peter Connaughton for his vision, passion, commitment, hard work and professionalism as our President over the last two years. He has steadfastly supported and succeeded in maintaining our international involvement with the Hong Kong College of Community Medicine, been instrumental in forging a Memorandum of Collaboration with ANZSOM in Australia and New Zealand and continued to champion the role of the occupational physician and the Health Benefits of Good Work.

I look forward to working with Professor Malcolm Sim, as President-Elect, your regional councillors, AFOEM committees, Fellows, trainees and the College dealing with the many opportunities and challenges over the next two years. I extend a warm welcome to new and existing AFOEM Councillors, and members of Policy & Advocacy and Education and Assessment Committees, who unstintingly give their voluntary time to work for our Faculty and without whom we would not be able to achieve as much as we have.

Some of my focus areas for the next two years include:

  • education and the training program
  • finding out what it is that Fellows require from our Faculty and College to support them in their practice
  • to continue to progress the current collaborations and projects. 

My congratulations and a very big thank you to Dr Judy Balint for leading the organising committee for the AFOEM stream at Congress in Sydney. Judy and her team, including Dr Armand Casolin, Professor Tim Driscoll and Dr Louise Crowle, put enormous effort into arranging a very successful program. Some of the topics included what artificial intelligence (AI) can and can’t do and the impact the evolution of AI will have on the workforce and occupational medicine in general. Other informative presentations included an update on dermatology and an update on medicinal cannabis.  The nine Ramazzini presentations were of a high standard. Dr Blanaid Hayes, Dean, Faculty of Occupational Medicine Ireland, who I had the pleasure of meeting in Dublin at the International Congress on Occupational Health (ICOH), delivered a thought provoking Ferguson-Glass Oration focusing on the mental health of doctors; thank you Blanaid. 

I heard positive feedback from Fellows regarding the shared sessions that included climate change, mental health of doctors, disruptive technologies, and medically unexplained symptoms.
Congratulations also to the Annual Training Meeting (ATM) organising committee, including Lead Fellow Dr Armand Casolin and trainees Dr David Heslop and Dr Prasad Abeydeera. The feedback from the ATM was excellent.

Congratulations to the winners of the AFOEM President’s Prizes: Dr David Cleveland was awarded the Trainee Commitment Award, Dr Maurice Harden received the prize for Education, Training and Assessment and Dr Neil Westphalen for Policy & Advocacy. 

This year was unusual with the presentation of three Deane Southgate recipients for 2018 – Dr Patricia Batchelor and Dr Chung Yew Chee achieved the highest aggregate scores in their 2017 exams and due to the eligibility criteria changing, Dr Catherine Kelaher was also included for achieving the highest aggregate score in 2016. Congratulations also to Dr Elizabeth Ryan for the best Ramazzini presentation, her topic was "Effectiveness of cardiovascular risk assessment in Australian professional aviators – a cohort study."

I had the great pleasure of attending the 32nd ICOH in Dublin from 29 April to 4 May 2018, at whichICOH 2021 there were 2,200 delegates, with a strong attendance from Australia.  The meeting was an example of international collaboration identifying global issues related to the occupational burden of disease and injury. It highlighted for me the importance of international collaboration to not only provide evidence based knowledge based on science, but also the need for robust discussion on how best to advocate for effective and sustainable change for the benefit of all workers (and by implication society). One such action is the World Health Organization (WHO) initiative of 'Zero Harm' today to prevent death, disability and disease in future generations. Professor Malcolm Sim, has written more on ICOH for this newsletter.  I would urge everyone to consider attending ICOH 2021 to be held in Melbourne from 21 to 26 March.  This is a wonderful opportunity to meet with and hear from a broad international perspective of research, initiatives and outcomes. 

On Thursday, 7 June 2018 the Australian Health Benefits of Good Work Signatory Steering Group will host the first of two industry forums in Queensland. The Forum will focus on what will define ‘good work’ into the next decade and explore ways to assist employers deliver ‘good work’ thereby driving greater employee engagement and productivity gains. To register for this free event please email

Council will be meeting on Thursday, 2 August 2018 for the AFOEM planning day when we will determine the strategic direction and priority areas for the next two years. The new Council will then meet for the first time the following day on Friday, 3 August. I encourage you to stay in communication with us through your regional councillor. This is your opportunity to have input into what happens over the next two years. Don't miss such opportunities.

With kind regards,

Dr Beata Byok, 
President, AFOEM 

Ramazzini Prize recipient, Dr Elizabeth Ryan, on her big win at RACP Congress 2018

At the RACP Congress 2018, nine Advanced Trainees presented their Ramazzini Prize submissions in a hotly contested competition. Dr Elizabeth Ryan was the winner for 2018 with a submission titled 'Effectiveness of cardiovascular risk assessment in Australian professional aviators – a cohort study.' 

"Like most studies, this one took a lot more work than anticipated, partly due to dealing with a system that was not completely electronic until the end of the study period. It would be interesting to reproduce when more complete data is available.  I’m grateful for the support from my CASA aviation medicine colleagues and supervisor, and for the supportive way the whole process was conducted at Congress. I thought all the presentations were excellent, and was very surprised and honoured to be selected as the winner," said Dr Ryan.

About the submission

Cardiovascular events often have no preceding symptoms, so screening is paramount for aviation regulatory bodies. CASA uses a cardiovascular risk prediction model based on the Framingham data, however this has not been validated in the Australian aviation population. This study aimed to explore whether the Framingham model accurately identifies those professional pilots who are at future risk of cardiovascular disease. A retrospective cohort study was conducted looking at professional pilots’ cardiovascular risk index using the Framingham model, and examined if any were diagnosed with coronary artery disease or ischaemic heart disease (IHD) during the next five years. The initial selection criteria were pilots aged 55 or younger holding a class 1 medical certificate in 2011.

Six out of 1802 pilots included in the study developed IHD during the five year period. The sensitivity of detecting IHD in the following five years was 66.7per cent, and the specificity 95 per cent, with a positive predictive value of 4.3 per cent, and a negative predictive value of 99.9 per cent. Four cases in the group were identified as high risk by the screening tool.  Two of the cases were symptomatic presentations – neither incapacitating or requiring immediate surgery, nor during flight, which is reassuring. All pilots identified as high risk underwent further testing and discussion regarding risk reduction.  Due to the low numbers of identified pilots with IHD, a larger study is required to provide conclusive evidence of the appropriateness of the current Framingham model for cardiovascular risk stratification in Australian professional pilots.

RACP Congress 2018 de-brief

More than 1,100 members gathered to discuss the far-reaching ramifications of disruption in healthcare at the RACP 2018 Congress held at the beautifully renovated International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour, Sydney from Monday, 14 May to Wednesday, 16 May. 

The theme of the Congress was disruption in medicine and during the next consecutive eBulletins we will explore the content presented in the three AFOEM stream sessions held on the Monday and Tuesday that provoked lively and robust discussions and were hugely popular. 

The first presentation on Monday morning was a panel discussion chaired by AFOEM President Peter Connaughton titled 'The future of work and work in the future'. The first presentation was delivered by Professor Toby Walsh, Australia’s leading expert in artificial intelligence (AI). Professor Walsh explained to the audience what AI can (and can't) do, debunking some of the common myths relating to how advanced AI is currently and what limitations it will have for at least the next 50 years. Professor Walsh also explained the impact of AI technologies on the workforce and the types of jobs that would be replaced by the emerging technologies and what ramifications this will have for employers and employees. This was then followed by a presentation from Gaston Carrion, Managing Director at Accenture, who explored the future of work staff global welfare in the context of the evolution of AI. Gaston’s presentation was based on data presented by Accenture at the International Monetary Fund’s annual World Economic Outlook Forum in January in Davos, Switzerland earlier this year. The data demonstrates that in the age of AI, business success will increasingly depend on people and machines collaborating with each other. AI will elevate people’s capabilities as workers help intelligent machines to learn and improve. This will not only drive efficiencies, but create new forms of growth and innovation. To succeed, organisations must reimagine work, pivot their workforce to new growth models and ‘new skill’ their people to ​undertake more valuable work.

The session was closed by Dr Rob McDonald who is a FAFOEM and Vice President, Health and Hygiene at BHP. Rob demonstrated BHP’s application of AI and by extension how his role as an occupational physician in the mining industry also needed to evolve to match the transforming sector. The take home message was that occupational physicians need to evolve or become obsolete; they need to understand and embrace new and emerging technology, develop an increasing focus on cognitive performance and mental health, focus on prevention and enhancing physical health rather than treating injuries and illnesses and use health prevention and promotion as a key enabler of positive workplace culture.

The presentation was extremely well-received and the overwhelming response was that it was incredibly useful to understand the science about AI from a leading expert, see how it fits in the world labour force and hear about a local example of implementation and the ramifications for occupational and environmental physicians. 

Find a consultant page on RACP website

Just a reminder to all AFOEM Fellows and trainees, AFOEM is the only Faculty, Chapter or Division that has created a dedicated page on the RACP website that lists contact details for AFOEM Fellows by state. It is an incredible resource that c​an be utilised by all members of the Faculty.

The list is located on the find a consultant page on the RACP website. If you are included in the current listing and your details have changed or you would like to be included on the webiste, please email the AFOEM Executive Officer, Victoria Patterson at with the details you would like included on the page (name, address, contact number and preferred email address).

This page is also a useful resource for finding contact details for colleagues in your state and for regional committees to reach out to other Fellows that may want to be included in the various state-based activities. 

Queensland New Fellows Forum and Scientific Meeting

A Queensland New Fellows’ Forum, Annual Scientific Meeting and Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) Workshop 3 will be held in South Brisbane on Saturday, 16 June 2018.

The day begins with an optional Supervisor Workshop 3 for RACP Fellows and Advanced Trainees from 9am to 12pm, followed by a free networking lunch to give RACP Members the chance to discuss current issues. 

All RACP Fellows and Advanced Trainees about to become Fellows are invited to the New Fellows’ Forum and Annual Scientific Meeting, taking place from 1pm to 5pm.  The afternoon is a terrific opportunity to take part in a range of sessions to help Advanced Trainees establish their careers as a consultant and for more established Fellows to discuss issues and areas of interest to physicians and paediatricians.

Presentations will cover topics such as: ethics and healthcare, resilience training, medico legal, communication skills and tax/practice structuring. 

Further information is available on the RACP Website.  To reserve your place please contact or call RACP QLD on +61 7 3872 7000 by Wednesday, 6 June.

AFOEM examinations open for applications from 25 June

We are pleased to advise applications will be open from 25 June for all eligible trainees (who have met the training program requirements) for the September and November 2018 examinations.

Upcoming 2018 AFOEM examination dates are:

  • Stage A Written Examinations – Saturday, 1 September 2018 
  • Stage B Written Examinations – Saturday, 1 and Sunday, 2 September 2018
  • Stage B Practical Examinations – Saturday, 17 November 2018 (an additional date of Sunday, 18  November 2018 may be added depending on the number of eligible candidates).

Applications will be open from 25 June 2018 and will close on 9 July 2018 at 5pm (AEST). Any applications received after this closing time cannot be accepted.

Examination invoices will be sent in August, after all training requirements have been successfully submitted by email to, by Tuesday, 31 July 2018. 

A reminder you will need to have satisfactorily completed all requirements for the January to June 2018 training period by the relevant deadlines in order to be eligible. The Training Handbook provides more information. 

Research and career development funding opportunities

Close to $2.5M in research funding is currently being offered through the RACP Foundation in the following award categories:

There are several awards offered in each category. 

For details of funding and award opportunities offered by your Faculty please visit the Division and Faculty webpages

For any queries regarding the eligibility criteria, or application process contact the Senior Administration Officer: or phone +61 2 9256 9639. 

Reminder – RACP IT systems update

Systems unavailable on 3 June and 9 to 11 June 2018
* Please note the updated times

Due to essential technology upgrades, all RACP internal and external facing IT resources will be unavailable on the following dates:

  • Sunday, 3 June – 12.01am to 11.59pm* AEST
  • Saturday, 9 June – Monday, 11 June inclusive 12.01am to 11.59pm* AEST

This will impact all Fellows, trainees and staff.

These weekends have been chosen to minimise disruption as many Australian states have a public holiday on Monday, 11 June. Unfortunately, Queensland, Western Australia and New Zealand who are not on a public holiday will experience a greater impact as there will be no access until 11.59pm on Monday, 11 June during the outage.

We apologise for any inconvenience, but these upgrades are essential and cannot be deferred.

We are aware a number of members access College systems on weekends, and we want to provide you with as much advance warning as possible.

Systems and resources that will be unavailable include:

  • All member portals
  • All trainee portals
  • MyRACP
  • MyCPD
  • eLearning@RACP
  • College Learning Series
  • College Intranet
  • Outlook (Email via webmail will still be accessible through
  • All remote access services
  • Alfresco Share Sites

If you have to complete essential tasks during either of these weekends, we strongly recommend you save any required documents to the device you will be using before the outage begins.

If you have any further questions or enquiries, please contact RACP Member Services on or in Australia on 1300 MyRACP (1300 69 7227) or in New Zealand on 0508 MyRACP (0508 69 7227).

Obesity Position Statement launched

The RACP’s Obesity Position Statement and Evidence Review was launched at RACP Congress 2018 on Wednesday, 16 May.

A Working Group chaired by Professor Boyd Swinburn including leading paediatricians, endocrinologists and public health physicians developed the position statement. It makes evidence based recommendations on the management and prevention of obesity and calls on governments to:

  • introduce regulations to restrict the marketing of unhealthy diets to children and young people
  • implement an effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce consumption and use the revenue to facilitate access to healthy diets and culturally relevant initiatives to improve health equity
  • revise the Health Star Rating system’s nutrient profiling algorithm to give stronger weight to sugar content and by 2019 require the labelling be mandatory to encourage consumers to choose healthier options and motivate food manufacturers to develop healthier products.

View the Position Statement and Evidence Review or contact for further information.

Episode 36: Acute Coronary Syndrome Part 2 – Secondary Prevention

Listen to author Professor David Brieger discuss secondary prevention of acute coronary syndrome and adherence to therapy in the newest Pomegranate Health podcast.

Listen to the podcast

HCF Foundation Research Grants

Would you like to undertake a research project based on the RACP Evolve recommendations? The HCF Foundation is currently accepting Expressions of Interest for their 2018 Research Grants, which focus on research projects aiming to reduce the incidence of low-value health care provided in the hospital setting. 

Find out more

Spread the Evolve message

Evolve ​​call-to-action and implementation resources, including media, podcasts, posters, presentations, research, training, videos, webinars and worksheets are now available.

Download now

A new benefits website for The Royal Australasian College of Physicians members 

Same benefits, same savings, new design.
The new member lifestyle benefits website has been re-designed to offer improved navigation and functionality while allowing you to see the full benefit range on offer.
Access to your benefits directly from

Core competency guidelines released

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have developed guidelines on Core competencies for Australian academic clinical trialists (available on the NHMRC website). It is envisaged that NHMRC-developed competencies will eventually be incorporated into higher education and general education frameworks in Australia.

These guidelines support the training of staff involved in the conduct and oversight of clinical trials. The competencies are designed to support graduated and stratified learning with three competency levels and three roles. The Competencies can be incorporated into RACP educational materials and courses, adapting to align with practice areas.

Groundbreaking report into brain injury and family violence

New research from Brain Injury Australia identifies a strong association between brain injury and family violence. 

The Australian-first report also shows significant gaps in service responses, ranging from lack of screening for brain injury through to inadequate opportunities for effective rehabilitation, recovery and support.

Read more

Expressions of Interest

You can now go to the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you.​ 

Career opportunities

View all ​positions vacant

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. 
View all occupational and environmental health medicine events.

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

AFOEM contact details

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
Victoria Patterson, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6351

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Georgina Kempton, 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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