AFOEM eBulletin – 16 October 2020
A message from your President
During October the COVID-19 situation in Victoria continued to improve. The 14 day average has plateaued out to around 10 per day, which is stubbornly above the target for the next stage of easing of restrictions for those of us in this state. There is considerable pressure from many sections of the community and industry to open up more quickly, despite not meeting the target as yet. Factors such as the mental health impact from prolonged lockdown and high unemployment or underemployment are important to take into account. We know this from our Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) principles.
The rest of Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand are coping well with eased restrictions, with the focus on comprehensive testing especially for higher risk groups and prompt and effective contact tracing and quarantine when outbreaks occur. The situation contrasts markedly with the rising toll in most of the rest of the world, especially in many countries in Europe and in the USA. For those of us who used to spend much of our time travelling the world for various international commitments, this is very unlikely to resume for quite a long time yet.
AFOEM is continuing to arrange webinars and other information to keep our Fellows and trainees up to date on the COVID-19 situation. The most recent webinar was held on 23 September and the speakers were Dr John Parkes, Dr Rob McDonald and me on the topic ‘COVID-19 lessons from the frontline’. This webinar covered many aspects of COVID-19 management, with a focus on industry-related prevention programs both locally and internationally. Following the presentation there were many questions and a lively discussion. For those of you who could not attend on the day I encourage you to watch the recording of the webinar on the College website. AFOEM Faculty Policy and Advocacy Committee (FPAC) is also continuing to update written information about COVID-19 for our members. Most recently, we have updated the COVID-19 risk management document to keep pace with the evolving nature of the pandemic and measures to address this in industry.
The second of our HBGW COVID-19 webinars for the HBGW signatories is to be held on Monday, 2 November. As with the first webinar in this series, this will focus on industry-related aspects of COVID-19. Dr Teri Lillington will be providing the occupational and environmental physician (OEP) input. In addition, the annual HBGW forum will be held on Wednesday, 11 November. This will be held virtually and will cover the following topics:
- promoting the HBGW for younger and ageing workforce and those returning from parental leave during COVID 19
- domestic violence and the employers WH&S obligation for employees working from home
- good work design – considerations around work design during COVID 19.
This should be an informative and stimulating session with plenty of time allocated to Q&A and panel discussion. We are very grateful for the commitment of Keith Govias, the SSG Chair, and Chairs of the SSG Committees in organising this forum.
The ANZSOM 2020 Annual Scientific Meeting, with AFOEM providing scientific support, will be held virtually this year from 19 to 22 November. The main keynote speaker is Professor Brett Sutton, Chief Health Officer for Victoria, talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. There will also be other sessions covering important COVID-19 topics, such as mental health. Innovations this year include virtual worksite visits and a journal club. There will also be a wide variety of non-COVID topics, including case studies in rehabilitation, thermal injury, health surveillance, regulatory failure and telehealth. This should be a very informative and lively conference and I’d like to encourage all AFOEM Fellows and trainees to attend. Further details about the program and registration can be found on the event website.
Finally, we are always on the lookout for further content from our Fellows and trainees for our monthly eBulletin. Please let us know of any news items you would like to have included in a future eBulletin. The AFOEM email is AFOEM@racp.edu.au.
Professor Malcolm Sim
AFOEM Fellows interview series
This series provides insight into the careers of retired and actively serving physicians in occupational medicine.
Dr Farhan Shahzad MBBS, FAFOEM, Consultant Occupational Physician, Sydney
An interview with Dr Kar Chan (KC) WAN
MBBS, DIH, M.Sc.OccMed, MFOM, FACOEM, FAFOEM, G.Dip.Pub Admin
Farhan: Hi KC, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Please tell us about yourself.
KC Wan: My pleasure Farhan. In 1969, I graduated from Singapore University with MBBS and in 1972 I attended the London University M.Sc. Occupational Medicine in the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The course was conducted by Professor Richard Schilling who was renowned for his work in ‘byssinosis’ and I had the privilege to meet Dr Donald Hunter, the author of Diseases of Occupations. There were 24 students from Australia, USA, UK, Ireland, Kenya, Uganda, Burma, Singapore and I was from Malaysia. In the class were Dr David Douglas and Dr Bill Bisby who subsequently set up the Australian College of Occupational Medicine when they returned to Australia. The training included sessions in the London Skin Clinic, Brompton Chest Hospital and Harwell Atomic Centre in Oxford. I had a posting with Dr Tim Carter who later became Director of OHS in the UK at the Rio Tinto Lead Smelter in Wales where I gained experience in inorganic lead health surveillance. My M.Sc. dissertation was Noise Induced Hearing Loss in a Malaysian quarry.
Farhan: How did you develop an interest in occupational and environmental medicine?
KC Wan: My interest arose from the Industrial Health lectures in Singapore University delivered by Public Health Professor Dr Phoon Wai Onn, as Occupational Medicine at the time had yet not been established.
Farhan: Let’s talk about your achievements, memories and highlights of your career.
KC Wan: From 1973 to 1979 I was the occupational health consultant to the Malaysian Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour where I investigated inorganic lead poisoning in a battery factory which I presented at the Manila SEAMEO medical conference in 1976. In August 1979, I arrived in Perth and worked as an occupational physician in the WA Meat Commission abattoir at Robb Jetty Coogee and Occupational Health, Clean Air and Noise Abatement Branch of the Health Department of Western Australia. I had the honour of working with Dr Alan Cumpston who was Director of Occupational Health and his successor, Dr Fred Heyworth and Health Commissioner Dr Jim McNulty who is renowned for his work with asbestosis, mesothelioma and silicosis in WA.
From 1938 till my retirement in 2001, I was Chief Occupational Health Physician and medical factory inspector in the Department of Occupational Health & Safety (DOHSWA) that became WorkSafeWA.
My duties included working as medical factory inspector in charge of all medical and health facilities in WA, Consultant to the Mines Inspectorate and the Workers' Compensation Commission as well as chairing the Pneumoconiosis Medical Panel which is now the Industrial Diseases Medical Panel (IDMP) that make medical determinations on pneumoconiosis, mesothelioma or lung cancer on claimants for worker's compensation. The highlights of my career is the eradication of silicosis in 1984, eradication of zoonoses such as Brucellosis, Q fever and Leptospirosis and prevention of inorganic lead poisoning in Western Australia. Following the presentation of my paper on silicosis in Western Australia at the Asian Occupational Health Conference in Beijing, the People's Republic of China (PRC) sent a delegation of government officials to Perth to explore the WA experience for preventing silicosis in mining. As Adjunct Professor, I worked with Edith Cowan University and Curtin University with courses in distance learning and training of doctors in Perth, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia.
Farhan: What’s your legacy and what are you currently focusing on?
KC Wan: My achievements include setting up the medical determinations process and criteria for the Identification of Medicinal Products (IDMP) and the health surveillance programs for inorganic lead and urinary carcinogen MOCA.
I am interested to share my occupational health experience in WA in reducing exposure to hazardous substances in the work environment, prevention of occupational diseases such as pneumoconiosis, zoonoses and recently made a submission to the National Task Force on silicosis.
I am of the view that for occupational physicians, clinical competency for diagnosis and management of work-related diseases and injuries is paramount.
5pm to 6pm (AEDT), Monday, 19 October 2020 (new time), via Zoom
Don’t forget to register for Monday’s virtual Town Hall meeting to discuss a range of topical health policy issues hosted by the RACP President, Professor John Wilson AM and President-Elect Dr Jacqueline Small. We’re also excited to welcome the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health to join us to speak directly with you, our members.
Please register via Eventbrite and you will be sent the Zoom link ahead of the event. If you have a question for the Minister, please provide it during the registration process via Eventbrite. We can’t guarantee that we’ll have time to ask every question, but we hope to cover all the main themes.
AFOEM webinar – COVID-19 Lessons from the Frontline
On 23 September a panel of occupational physicians shared their expertise in managing COVID-19 across a range of industries.
- Dr Rob McDonald from BHP presented on their management of COVID-19 in the field with insights from an expert technical advisory committee led out of Yale University.
- Professor Malcolm Sim shared his knowledge in relation to the construction industry and as a member of the national Healthcare Workers COVID-19 taskforce.
- Dr John Parkes spoke about his experience as Lead Occupational Physician with Victoria’s Department of Health.
The webinar was recorded and is available to watch on the RACP website.
Health Benefits of Good Work Webinar Series
AFOEM’s Health Benefits of Good Work Signatory Steering Committee are running a series of free webinars on COVID-19.
The first took place on 16 September and was titled 'How to support employees who are vulnerable to COVID-19 return to the workplace'. This webinar recording is now available on the RACP website.
The second webinar will take place on 2 November 2020 from 1pm to 2pm AEDT on the topic 'Returning the workforce back into the workplace considerations from a mental health, WHS and productivity perspective'.
The webinar will cover three key areas:
- effective leadership skills
- understanding WH&S obligations as an employer
- silver linings of COVID-19.
Speakers are Noni Byron, Teri Lillington and Julie Ann McCormick with Keith Govias as Chair.
Register for this webinar
Health Benefits of Good Work Forum – 11 November
AFOEM’s Health Benefits of Good Work are running a free virtual forum on 11 November 2020 titled 'Promoting the Health Benefits of Good Work during COVID-19'.
There will be three presentations in a range of areas.
Rachel Palmer will speak about promoting the HBGW for the younger and ageing workforce and those returning from parental leave during COVID-19.
Cathy Oddie will present on domestic violence and employers' WH&S obligations for employees working from home.
Sara Pazell will discuss considerations around work design during COVID 19.
AFOEM 2021 examinations
AFOEM key examination dates have been released for 2021. This includes the application dates and results release dates. These are available on the RACP website
. For up to date information please regularly visit the webpage
AFOEM Essay Prize
The AFOEM Essay Prize
is open for medical students or interns in their first year after graduation. This prize is awarded for the best essay written additional to curriculum requirements, or the best research project or assignment on any topic in the fields of occupational or environmental health. The recipient of this prize will receive $1,000.
Applications close Friday, 30 October 2020.
Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship for Occupational and Environmental Medicine
AFOEM is proud to offer the 2021 Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship for Occupational and Environmental Medicine as part of the RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship Program.
The program is an opportunity for those who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, Māori or Pacific Islander (NZ) to receive support throughout their Basic, Advanced, Faculty or Chapter Training in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
Other scholarships available under this program for 2021 include:
- College Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Scholarship
- Aotearoa Māori Health Scholarship
- Aotearoa New Zealand Pacific Islander Health Scholarship
- Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship for Paediatrics and Child Health
Recipients of these scholarship receive the following support:
- RACP training fees for the duration of the selected training program
- examination fees
- annual attendance at either RACP Congress, relevant scientific meeting or trainee days
- AUD$2,500 cash assistance at the beginning of the Scholarship
- Other support as advised in the letter of offer.
Applications are open from Thursday, 1 October to Monday, 30 November 2020.
Further details on these scholarships are available on the RACP Foundation website.
A special three-part COVID-19 Symposia series has been included in this year's Online Congress Series.
2020 has been a challenging year for healthcare and our community. Over three sessions we will explore the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus will be on clinical aspects of COVID-19 and will involve clinicians who have been treating COVID-19 patients, experts in epidemiology, drug therapy, vaccines and research.
Register now for the second and third symposiums. The recording of symposium one will soon be made available via the Congress Online Learning Series.
Symposium one: COVID-19 – Emerging patterns: in illness and in therapies
Our understanding of COVID-19 and its clinical course, especially post-acute, continues to develop. We know that many chemicals can kill viruses like COVID-19 in the lab. However, ensuring they are safe and effective for patient use is a completely different process. Before we can design any drug therapy trials, we need knowledge of drugs, pharmacology and a clinical understanding of the physiology of COVID-19.
Held on 15 October 2020, Chair, Dr Jacqueline Small was joined by our panel: Mr Karl Schurr, Professor Greg Dore, Professor Jennifer Martin and Dr Philip Britton.
A recording will be available via the Congress Online Learning Series shortly.
Symposium two: Vaccinations: What we know and where we're going
Thursday, 22 October 2020
5.30pm to 7pm (AEDT), 7.30pm to 9pm (NZDT)
Chaired by RACP President, Professor John Wilson AM, the panel will address emerging vaccine contenders, safety, strategies for the elderly population and implementation of population vaccination programs:
- Professor Terry Nolan will discuss the science of vaccines and describe the front runners in COVID-19 vaccine development.
- Professor Kristine Macartney will provide an overview of safety concerns, delivery methods and implementation strategy.
- Professor Tony Cunningham will present a vaccine strategy for the elderly population and discuss therapeutic treatments for the very sick and elderly in the absence of a vaccine. He will look at efficacy results in people over 60 years of age and why their response is different to younger people.
- Associate Professor Margie Danchin will ask the difficult questions about vaccine program effectiveness. Which groups should be prioritised? Why mandatory vaccination should wait. How do we achieve high uptakes rates on an Australian, Aotearoa New Zealand and global scale?
There will be time for Q&A at the end of the presentations.
Symposium three: COVID-19: Redesigning healthcare systems
Thursday, 29 October 2020
5.30pm to 7pm (AEDT), 7.30pm to 9pm (NZDT)
Join the panel:
- Professor Don Campbell, Medical Director of the Hospital Without Walls and Staying Well Program, Northern Health
- Professor Graeme Maguire, Head of the General Internal Medicine unit at Western Health Melbourne
- Dr Jade Tamatea, member of Te Rōpū Whakakaupapa Urutā, the National Māori Pandemic Group
- Mr Ben Gauntlett, Disability Discrimination Commissioner for the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Chair: Dr George Laking, RACP President Aotearoa New Zealand.
- community support from a Victorian perspective
- innovative models of care for different patient groups such as inpatients, and those in ICU
- Indigenous community led decisions, the Aotearoa New Zealand experience
- equity and human rights especially for people with disabilities.
The 2020 Physician Training Survey will open on Thursday, 22 October.
This is your chance to help strengthen RACP training programs and the workplace experiences in the settings in which you work and train. With the impacts of COVID-19 on training throughout this year, it’s more important than ever that we understand your experience.
The survey will open to trainees and educators across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and includes, for the first time, public health and occupational and environmental medicine trainees and educators.
The survey is completely anonymous. Your participation helps us build robust data so we can make evidence-informed improvements to training. This includes support for your health and wellbeing.
For information about the survey, including confidentiality and how you could win an iPad in the prize draw, please visit the Physician Training Survey webpage.
The Physician Training Survey has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) – Concord Repatriation General Hospital of the Sydney Local Health District 2019/ETH12472.
If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of the research study, you may contact the Executive Officer of the Ethics Committee at SLHDfirstname.lastname@example.org or on +61 2 9767 5622.
Trainee Research Awards
Support your trainees by watching them compete at the regional events over Zoom. The best presenters selected at each event are invited to present as part of the 2021 RACP Congress Program.
Visit the Trainee Research Awards
webpage for event details and to register.
AFOEM Victoria – Kevin Sleigh Lecture 2020 (virtual)
You’re invited to ‘A hard landing: Navigating the aviation health aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic’ on Monday, 19 October from 6.15pm (AEDT) or 8.15pm (NZDT).
Presented by Dr Ian Hosegood, the Director of Medical Services Qantas, you won’t want to miss this session. Jointly hosted by RACP AFOEM Victoria, ANZSOM and Worksafe Victoria.
ANZSOM ASM 2020
The 2020 ANZSOM Annual Scientific Meeting will be taking place virtually from 19 to 22 November.
The conference theme 'Exploring the new normal in workplace health' will include three mornings dedicated to COVID-19 with presentations by leading experts, including Victoria's Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton.
Visit the event website
for more information and to register.
Don’t miss your chance to register for Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) 3, our last online course of the year. Running from Monday, 19 October to Monday, 23 November 2020, this work-based learning and assessment is a five-week, online facilitated course. The program covers important topic areas including the learning and assessment cycle and determining trainee performance and progression based on evidence of learning and achievement. This is a great opportunity for those who enjoy learning with peers through discussion and shared experiences and prefer time flexibility.
Note that supervisors are required to complete:
- one SPDP workshop by the end of 2021 (an extension of 12 months)
- all remaining workshops by the end of 2022.
Please visit the SPDP webpage for more information, or contact us to register with your full name and MIN. RACP Online Learning resources are free for members and count towards Continuing Professional Development requirements.
Upcoming RACP Victorian Regional Committee webinars
Climate change: What can we do?
Saturday, 24 October, 10am to 12.30pm AEDT (12pm to 2.30pm NZDT), online.
This webinar will discuss topics such as zoonoses and pandemics, as well as bushfires and emergency medicine.
Investigations in medicine
Saturday, 7 November, 9am to 5pm AEDT (11am to 7pm NZDT), online.
This webinar will cover:
- ECG and electrophysiology
- cardiac catheters
- blood films.
Each trainee is responsible for completing their own research project. Trainees can learn about conducting a research project via our Research Projects online course. It’s designed to support trainees with a detailed walk-through of the research process.
A trainee’s experience can be greatly enhanced by a supportive and informed supervisor. The Research Supervision online course helps supervisors who want an update on research project requirements and the research process in general.
We understand you are busy and on-the-go, and that’s why our online courses are designed to enable you to dip in and out, or just do the parts that are relevant to you.
RACP Online Learning Resources are free for members and count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.
The RACP Ethics Committee are pleased to advise members of a new RACP clinical ethics resources webpage. Curated by the RACP Clinical Ethics Working Party, the new webpage provides a set of clinical ethics resources for Fellows and trainees.
The clinical ethics resources webpage will assist with reflection on the role clinical ethics plays in practice and healthcare settings. The new webpage includes clinical ethics information for:
- professional development
- trainee education
- clinical ethics services
- academic studies
- research and fellowships
- other clinical ethics related resources.
RACP Fellows and trainees are encouraged to review the new webpage and consider clinical ethics as part of their education and continued professional development. The site provides information about clinical ethics support services and access to clinical ethics information.
During the COVID-19 crisis there has been some criticism of the World Health Organization (WHO) as to whether it declared a pandemic soon enough or covered up for China’s failings.
But few commentators have explained the role and responsibilities the WHO shares with its member states in dealing with a pandemic. A prototype of the International Health Regulations (IHR) was conceived during the cholera epidemics of the mid 1800s, and the most current version of the IHR was formalised in 2005 in response to SARS. Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott has documented the political and social factors that have accompanied the implementation of the IHR.
In this podcast we consider how the unprecedented scale of the current pandemic and the mixed response from member states has challenged the viability of the WHO.
- Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott (University of Sydney, United States Studies Centre)
Two new Medical Specialist Access Framework case studies have been released – ‘ANTAC and the Ngangkaṟi Healers of Central Australia’ and ‘Regional specialist services in the Kimberley’. The Medical Specialist Access Framework is a guide for health sector stakeholders to promote and support equitable access to specialist care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The case studies demonstrate successful approaches to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander access to specialist care across Australia in various health settings.
RACP members are encouraged to read the Medical Specialist Access Framework, the case studies and use the Guide for Physicians to implement these tools in your workplace and professional practice. Please share the Medical Specialist Access Framework and case studies with your networks.
In 2019, the College joined the Obesity Collective, a platform for individuals and organisations across the community to take on the obesity challenge together, with empathy and from a whole-of-society perspective. We invite members to explore the key activities of the Collective: its system activity mapping sets out current obesity-related actions and opportunities for action, the frequently updated Obesity Evidence Hub, the advocacy of the peer-led Weight Issues Network and the ongoing campaign to shift away from shame and blame towards a better understanding of the obesity challenge.
The Obesity Collective has recently issued a statement on the Healthy at Every Size® (HAES) movement. The Collective supports most of the principles of HAES and believes it is possible and positive for people to take steps to improve their health at any size, that equitable access to healthcare should be available to people of all sizes and that there is an urgent need to reduce societal weight bias and stigma to prevent harm to physical health, mental health and wellbeing. The Collective also acknowledges that obesity is a serious public health issue and advocates for respecting the diversity of people’s wishes for support in managing their health and weight. Read the Collective’s full statement.
Notable to early career professionals, the Emerging Leaders of the Collective are gearing up for their next event, ‘Systems thinking for healthier environments’, on Tuesday, 24 November 2020. The Emerging Leaders recently hosted their first virtual event, 'Obesity as a systems challenge'; presentations from Ms Jane Martin, Professor Stephen Simpson, Associate Professor Michael Talbot and Ms Clare Mullen are available for viewing on Obesity Australia's website.
Find out more about the Collective
The End of Life Law for Clinicians (ELLC) national training program has been extended to June 2023. ELLC is a free training program funded by the Department of Health that delivers education to clinicians about the law at end-of-life. The program for clinicians and medical students focuses on the law relating to end-of-life decision-making, including the law about decisions that happen in the last days and months of life, as well as earlier Advance Care Planning (ACP). The next phase of ELLC will deliver updated modules tailored to medical practitioners, medical students, nurses and allied health professionals. New content will be produced for clinicians working with specific populations at the end of life. These will focus on care for older people, people living with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people who identify as LGBTIQA+, and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Workshops and webinars will commence in 2021.
Further information about ELLC can be found on CareSearch Blog. You can register for the ELLC training modules or contact email@example.com to join the ELLC mailing list.
In a related development, the recently updated Factsheet for clinicians – Informed consent in health care from the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care provides information for clinicians on the key principles for informed consent, how to obtain informed consent, principles for assessing legal capacity and legal obligations. Members might also be interested in a recent article in the Internal Medicine Journal that sets out key recommendations for policy and practice in the system-wide implementation of ACP, to enable a more ethical, coordinated and person-centred response in the COVID-19 context.
Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) has residual funding available to support the development of female leaders across Australia’s healthcare sector.
The initiative is providing women with grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 to enable participation in one of three programs that cover such things as elements of a successful team, communication, presence and influence, driving performance, problem solving and decision making, and progressing diversity and inclusion.
The scholarship funding is provided with the specific intent of providing powerful and effective development opportunities for healthcare sector women.
The funding needs to be allocated by the end of 2020.
Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form on WLA’s website by Friday, 4 December 2020.
Get ready for summer with this month’s specials from The Good Guys Commercial. Find household essentials like reverse-cycle air conditioners, washing machines and vacuums. Upgrade your TV and make life easier with commercial prices on kitchen appliances.
Available online 24/7, The Good Guys Commercial will deliver your products to your door and even arrange installation. Register for your free account through your benefits portal and talk with the dedicated Member Advantage commercial team today.
Register for your account online
Terms and conditions apply.
Cancer Australia has released a new evidence-based resource for health professionals to guide the management of patients with early breast cancer in Australia. Guidance for the management of early breast cancer comprises approximately 200 recommendations and practice points underpinned by the current evidence-base to assist health professionals and patients engage in shared decision-making and support the delivery of best practice patient-centred care for people with early breast cancer.
The TGA has developed new communication materials to help consumers and health professionals understand access pathways for medicinal cannabis in Australia including videos and printable infographics. This new material is available from the TGA Medicinal Cannabis webpage.
Expressions of Interest
Trainee Representative on AFOEM Council
Check the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you.
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.
For career opportunities, view all positions vacant on the RACP website.