AFOEM eBulletin – 1 May 2020

A message from your President: Last Post

It is ANZAC Day as I write this, my last eBulletin message, as AFOEM President. This morning because of COVID-19 I walked to the end of my drive with a virtual candle at 6am to be greeted by other flickering lights in the street. I listen to the Ode to the Fallen Soldier and play the last post on my iPhone. So much has changed in the last two months as we continue to do battle against an unseen enemy. But despite having to be apart we continue to find innovative ways of being together and honouring the memory of our brave Australians and New Zealanders. 

I am reminded of the similarities between the armed forces of our two countries fighting together on foreign soils across the sea and the current army of frontline health and emergency service workers and other support services who have joined forces and are placing themselves in danger to help care for us as we battle COVID-19.  

Both the armed forces and the civilian workforce require and benefit from the knowledge, skills and expertise of occupational physicians. Both areas are a rich ground of occupational medicine. Professor Alex Collie at Monash University is seeking support for research being undertaken at Monash University and the Australian National University in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have initiated a national study to track the impact of job and loss of work hours on the health and future employment prospects of individuals. See details later in this eBulletin.

I commend our colleagues who are working tirelessly to provide advice and support to employers and the workforce. The Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee (FPAC) has produced the ‘Guidance for occupational physicians providing advice on COVID-19’ document which you will all have received by email and is also available on the College website. The FPAC has been expanded with the addition of co-opted Fellows and has produced additional COVID-19 related documents on ‘pregnant healthcare workers’ and ‘vulnerable health care workers’ that are due to be posted soon. There are other documents in the pipeline on PPE and return to work.
In addition to the RACP Congress 2020 cancellation other casualties of COVID-19 are our Faculty Dinner and Annual Members Meeting (AMM). Fortunately, AFOEM will hold a webinar AMM. Watch out for an email notifying you of the date and time of the AMM, which have yet to be decided on.This is an opportunity not only for you to hear reports from the President and the Chairs of Policy & Advocacy and Education, but for you to provide feedback and ask questions. I will also be officially handing over the Presidency to Professor Malcolm Sim.    

Suddenly, it seems as though it was only a short time ago that Associate Professor Peter Connaughton was welcoming me to the Presidency. I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to serve AFOEM as its President. It has been a rich and challenging time but also rewarding. It started with our Faculty initiating and continuing to lead in partnership with RACP/TSANZ and now other colleges, the national response to Accelerated Silicosis in artificial stone benchtop workers, involvement in the College Curricula renewal process, progressing discussions on the ‘Future of the Faculties’, being a first time scientific partner at the ANZSOM Conference in Adelaide and is ending with the COVID-19 pandemic.   

I give special thanks to the members, Fellows and trainees who sit on Council, Policy & Advocacy Committee, Education Committee, State Committees and the Aotearoa New Zealand Committee. These members volunteer their time and expertise, they have been the eyes and ears of occupational medicine on the ground and have contributed to advocacy, education and innovation within our Faculty and the broader College. Thank you to all the Chairs and your teams. There are too many names to list here but I urge you to go to the AFOEM section on the RACP website to see who they are.    

I also thank the RACP/AFOEM staff without whose support much of what we have been able to achieve would not occur. They are a valuable connection to the wider College and its resources.   I also take this opportunity to welcome our newly appointed Executive Officer Lisa Helson.  

I will miss not being able to see you face-to-face, my friends and colleagues, at the annual AFOEM Dinner in Melbourne, which is also sad for me, as I will not be able to carry out one of my most pleasant duties, which is, to personally congratulate recipients of the AFOEM President’s Awards. These individuals have excelled in their respective contributions to AFOEM in the following categories:

  • Policy & Advocacy – Associate Professor Peter Connaughton 
  • Education Learning and Assessment – Dr Andrea James
  • Trainee Commitment Award – Dr Amy Bright.

A summary of their achievements is presented later in this eBulletin. The recipients from this year will be invited to attend the Annual Faculty Dinner held in 2021.

These continue to be unsettling times, with disruption and change being the norm. I am confident that our Faculty is well placed not only to be responsive to these changes but to continue to provide evidence based best practice advice on the inter-relationship between work and health and to ensure that as we traverse this time in history and emerge on the other side, the Health Benefits of Good Work prevails.

Finally, I invite you to welcome our incoming President, Professor Malcolm Sim and President-elect, Dr Warren Harrex, to whom I extend my best wishes for the future, knowing there is a strong team of dedicated Fellows and trainees to support them.

Stay safe, stay well, and although, for now, we must stay apart, stay together.


Dr Beata M Byok
AFOEM President

Clarification on new Australian telehealth items

We have received the following clarification on the new telehealth items from the Department of Health:

  • Both recognised specialist and consultant physician practitioners practising in pain and palliative medicine, sexual health medicine and addiction medicine are able to bill consultant physician telehealth services (91824, 91825, 91826, 91834, 91835 and 91836).
  • Occupational and environmental health medicine physicians are eligible to bill specialist telehealth services (91822, 91823, 91832 and 91833).
  • Sexual health medicine, addiction medicine practitioners are able to bill telehealth services to prepare and review a management plan (92422, 92423, 92431 and 92432).
  • Public health physicians are able to bill telehealth services (92513-92516 and 92521-92524).

If there is uncertainty, Services Australia can advise practitioners of their eligibility to claim the new telehealth items and can be contacted on 1800 810 586.

AFOEM President's Awards

Congratulations to our Fellows and trainees who have been recognised through the AFOEM President’s Awards this year:

Professor Peter Connaughton
AFOEM President’s Award – Policy & Advocacy

Peter ConnaughtonProfessor Peter Connaughton is past president of AFOEM and he has served on the Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee and on the ‘Health Benefits of Good Work’ (HBGW) executive for the past six years. He represents AFOEM nationally on the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (MHWA) and internationally as the Secretary/Treasurer of the International Occupational Medicine Society Collaborative (IOMSC). He is a member of the RACP ‘Physician Health and Wellbeing Reference Group’ and was previously on the ‘Employment, Poverty and Health Reference Group’. He is a member of the National Organising Committee for the International Congress on Occupational Health 2021. In Perth he is the Occupational Physician to Rio Tinto Iron Ore and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame and at Curtin University. He has recently been awarded Fellowship to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Dr Andrea James 
AFOEM President’s Award – Education Training and Assessment

Andrea JamesDr Andrea James gained her AFOEM Fellowship in 2010 after working as a general practitioner for many years. She has worked in a broad range of occupational medicine including Health Manager for a petroleum company, consulting to the transport industry, Zoos Victoria, mining companies, banking sector and government departments. Andrea has been involved in medical education as a past member of the Faculty Assessment Committee and Practical Exam Lead, Trainee Supervisor and continues to be a sessional tutor at Monash University in undergraduate and postgraduate occupational medicine. Dr James was a joint speaker in the 2018 ANZSOM conference and the 2019 Kevin Sleigh Memorial lecture. Her areas of interest in occupational medicine encompass assessment of fitness for work, psychological ill health in the workplace, workers compensation and drugs and alcohol in industry. 

Dr Amy Bright
AFOEM President’s Award – Trainee Commitment Award

Amy BrightDr Amy Bright was a physiotherapist prior to commencing medicine. She has trained in multiple hospitals across the UK and Australia and has experience in sports injury management.

Dr Bright started work in occupational medicine in 2015. She is a passionate advocate for trainees and enjoys helping with training and development requirements. She is the Trainee Representative on the AFOEM WA Regional Committee, ANZSOM WA Committee and nationally sits on AFOEM Council.  She has organised regional training meetings, worked with Dr David Goddard to establish a national peer support group for trainees sitting exams and advocated for and made a contribution to the Stage B mock examinations for WA trainees. She has enjoyed the recent collaboration through communication networks across Australia and New Zealand trainees. She is an advocate for health and safety and endeavours to promote our voice. She is described by her colleagues as having a “passion for inclusiveness and opportunity”.

When not at work Amy enjoys writing children’s story books, painting, dancing and spending time with her husband and two small children. 

College facilities remain closed for face-to-face meetings

The College continues to follow advice from the Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand Governments and recommendations for social distancing, hence all RACP offices remain closed for onsite meetings. Members will be advised when these circumstances change.

IOMSC Declaration and Statement of Principles on Health Care Professionals’ Health and Well-being

The College and AFOEM have formally endorsed the International Occupational Medicine Society Collaborative’s (IOMSC) 'Declaration and Statement of Principles on Health care Professionals’ Health and Well-being'. The goal of the Declaration is to establish international consensus and to encourage positive action on the unacceptably high international rates of workplace stress and burnout in healthcare professionals. 

Apply for research awards and travel grants

Applications are now open for Career Development Fellowships, Research Establishment Fellowships and Research Entry Scholarships which provide research funding for 2021 through the RACP Foundation. Upwards of 50 awards with a total value of $2.5M are available across these award categories and includes  Travel Grants.

The Faculty is also proud to offer The RACP AFOEM Research Development Grant (up to $30,000) and the RACP AFOEM Registrar Travel Fellowship (up to $10,000) to support and encourage research by its Fellows and trainees. Applications are open from 1 June to 13 July 2020.

Full details of these opportunities are available on the RACP Foundation website

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep57: The art of telehealth 

COVID-19 has left few people around the world unaffected and health practitioners are among those at the top of the list. Their daily and intimate service to the public inevitably puts them at risk of catching the virus, while social distancing precautions can compromise the work that they do. Dreadful as the viral disease is, the bigger consequences of the pandemic may be on the disruption to routine healthcare.

Consulting patients by video or phone can be a way to keep healthcare ticking over, but many doctors are nervous as they adopt it for the first time. In this podcast we go over some of the bureaucratic and tech support questions that clinicians have been asking during the current crisis. We also discuss the art of building trust with new patients and conducting a physical examination through telehealth.

The guest speakers are oncologist Professor Sabe Sabesan and paediatrician Dr Michael Williams, who have been pioneering telehealth outreach to rural and remote Queensland for more than a decade.


  • Professor Sabe Sabesan FRACP (Director, Townsville Cancer Centre; James Cook University)
  • Dr Michael Williams FRACP (Director, Queensland Paediatric Telehealth Service)

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

ANZOM special newsletter

ANZSOM continues to welcome members of Aotearoa New Zealand AFOEM, occupational health nurses and the New Zealand Occupational Hygiene Society (NZOHS) in their 'Special Newsletter 9-24 April 2020'.

SIRA Bulletin

The State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) responded to the Chair of the AFOEM Council providing an update on additional changes to healthcare arrangements in the NSW workers compensation and motor accidents schemes in response to COVID-19. 

Read the Bulletin

Monash University-led COVID-19 Work and Health Study

Monash University’s Insurance and Health Group is leading a study that seeks to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the work and health of Australians who have become unemployed or lost work during the pandemic. This study aims to provide unique and important data that can be used to inform decision making by workers, their employers and government as the pandemic unfolds.

The study is seeking participants who have lost work or become unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It involves completing an online survey that takes about 15 minutes, on four separate occasions over a six-month period.

Further information about the study including how to enrol is available on the Monash University COVID-19 Work and Health Study website.

Request for input from members: College submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

Disability and the NDIS has been a key ongoing policy priority for the College and the broader health sector. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the DRC) was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability.

The DRC’s terms of reference cover what should be done in all settings such as the home, schools, out-of-home care, the justice system, as well as in the disability support system to:

  • prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • achieve best-practice in reporting and investigating of, and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • promote a more inclusive society that supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The DRC has released four issues papers to date: education and learninggroup homescriminal justice system and health care for people with cognitive disability.

The RACP’s Policy and Advocacy team have developed a draft submission which covers a range of areas that the DRC is interested in and that the College has a position on.

Members are encouraged to provide feedback, with particular regard to the sections where it is noted that there are no College positions yet. Please provide feedback to Rebecca Randall, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, via by close of business Friday, 8 May 2020. We look forward to receiving your valuable feedback.

Quality and safety resources for members

Quality and safety are 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.

Evolve case studies

To support the implementation of Evolve and Choosing Wisely recommendations in clinical practice, we have launched two case studies depicting clinical scenarios in which recommendations on reducing low-value care apply. These case studies explore a clinical scenario based on one of the Evolve recommendations on low-value care.

Evolve is seeking enthusiastic Fellows and trainees to partner with us in developing case studies for more specialties. The aim of the case studies is to support Fellows and trainees to build an understanding of low-value care within their specialty and act as a tool for clinical educators and supervisors. Email to get involved.

An update from the Obesity Collective 

When our partners, the Obesity Collective (OC), celebrated the first World Obesity Day in early March 2020, the impact of COVID-19 was just beginning to be felt across Australia’s health system, economy and society. Since then, frontline healthcare and community workers, including many members of the OC, have risen to the challenge of dealing with a major national public health emergency.

Across the wider community, COVID-19 related self-isolation and social restrictions pose challenges for healthy eating and activity goals and may affect access to usual care. On a systemic level there is also hope that the current crisis will lead to greater recognition of the value of the healthcare system, preventative health and to appropriate strategic and financial responses to other public health challenges.

There has been emerging evidence (reference 1reference 2) of a link between obesity, chronic diseases and worse health outcomes from COVID-19. The OC believes it is important to be aware of and communicate these observations clearly – it also notes it is critical to do so in a careful and balanced way that minimises risk of stigma, shame and anxiety. This simple one-pager from Obesity Canada is a good example of clear non-stigmatising communications about COVID-19 and obesity.

Obesity CollectiveWe would also like to remind members that the OC Evidence Hub is growing, with the addition of a new chapter on the health benefits of weight loss by Dr Priya Sumithran FRACP, PhD and updated sections on proposed improvements to Health Star Ratingimpact of food marketing on children, new approaches to restricting price promotions and the case for a tax on sugary drinks. The OC will soon launch a brochure offering patient-friendly, fat bias-free information about obesity, its causes, attendant health challenges and whether and/or how to consider weight loss.

OC Emerging Leaders

A group of OC members and volunteers are creating an Emerging Leaders group for younger professionals who are keen to influence the areas of prevention, treatment and communication about obesity and living with obesity. The group aims to raise awareness of stigma, build up the existing network and enhance ways of talking about and dealing with obesity. The OC is hoping to attract more young leaders in health professions as well as other young people who are interested in the challenge of obesity more broadly. To find out more or to express your interest, please email or

Ventilator Training Alliance App

As hospitals are procuring additional ventilators from wherever there may be supply, healthcare practitioners are having to operate a wide range of ventilator models and makes, regardless of the ones they have had prior training on. To serve this gap in ventilator training, the Ventilator Training Alliance formed by the participating ventilator manufacturers has launched the Ventilator Training Alliance App which provides healthcare practitioners easy access to training materials in a timely and convenient manner. The free app, powered by Allego, contains training videos and manuals for all ventilator types by all major ventilator manufacturers including Medtronic.

Together with Medtronic, the app to-date has training materials for ventilators from Dräger, GE Healthcare, Getinge, Hamilton Medical, Nihon Kohden and Philips.

Available offline and online, this app is ready for download worldwide in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Discounted shopping with your benefits

Australian families are doing it tough with the recent COVID-19 situation and your benefits program can help you and your family save on household essentials and online shopping.

You can save five per cent ordering your WISH e-gift card online through your benefits website, giving you the full buying power of the e-gift card without paying full price. For example, if you order a $300 Woolworths e-gift card with a five per cent discount for $285, you can then use your e-gift card to purchase your entire weekly fuel and groceries up to the value of $300.

Easily available online, you can quickly save hundreds on weekly groceries, fuel and stores accepting WISH e-gift cards. You can even purchase them for your family and friends to use.

Purchase your e-gift cards online and browse the range of other retailers available. Visit your RACP Member Advantage benefits website.

*Terms and Conditions apply; credit card surcharges do not apply to WISH e-gift cards. WISH e-gift cards are typically delivered within 12 hours of purchase.

COVID-19 update from the Medical Board of Australia

See the latest newsletter from the Medical Board of Australia covering the COVID-19 pandemic.

Career opportunities

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

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. 

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

AFOEM contact details

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

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):

Lisa Helson, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8247 6251 

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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