AFOEM eBulletin – 17 September 2021

A message from your President

There is a glimmer of light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel! Despite the challenges of keeping the Delta variant in check, case numbers have largely stabilised in Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Canberra. The health system, especially in Sydney and Melbourne, remains under pressure and vaccination is now seen as the major way to stem the tide. Fortunately, vaccination rates in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand have accelerated in recent weeks, due to increased supply and new ways that the vaccines are being delivered. Just this week, it was announced that workplaces in Australia could apply to administer the vaccine to staff at their workplace. Full details are on the AusTender website. Occupational and environmental physicians will play a key role in this important phase of the vaccination rollout.

I’m very pleased to let you know that, despite COVID-19 restrictions, the AFOEM Written Examinations were able to be held last weekend in both countries. After the 2020 examinations needed to be cancelled, this is a great relief to the candidates, their supervisors, regional training coordinators, the Faculty Education Committee and AFOEM more broadly. I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of the College Education, Learning and Assessment (ELA) team. The RACP, with other specialist medical colleges, had negotiated agreements with all jurisdictions to enable specialist medical examinations to be held, even during severe restrictions in a particular city.  In addition, the ELA team has introduced innovative invigilation methods to allow AFOEM and other RACP exams to go ahead this year. The focus will now turn to the practical examinations, which will have some different challenges, but I am confident that these will be able to be held in some form. I’m sure we all wish our trainees well as they navigate these important examinations during COVID-19.

I’d like to update you about a couple of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine’s (ANZSOM) developments. The 2021 ANZSOM Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM), with AFOEM as the scientific partner, has been postponed until 20 to 23 March 2022. It became clear that it would not be possible to hold this face-to-face this year. A March face-to-face meeting in Brisbane is looking more certain as COVID vaccination rates increase and this will be a great opportunity for AFOEM Fellows and trainees to get together after two years of almost exclusively virtual meetings. The program looks terrific and I encourage you all to register for the ANZSOM ASM and look forward to catching up with colleagues and friends next March. Further details are included later in this eBulletin. ANZSOM also held a recent international webinar with the Society of Occupational Medicine in the UK. Our own Dr Graeme Edwards presented on the silicosis epidemic and Dr Clare Raynor from the UK spoke about Long-COVID. This webinar was a great success and a great way to increase our international engagement. This is planned to be the first of a series. For those who missed the webinar, you can access it on YouTube.  

On 30 September the College will be launching the ROC, the RACP Online Community, to all College members, which should provide a useful forum for our Fellows and trainees to interact with each other. The ROC is a great opportunity for us to ask questions, share resources and information, and contact each other. At first, we will all be registered in the Open Forum, which is for all members, and in October our own secure AFOEM community will be launched within the ROC. You will also find a list of upcoming events and other AFOEM announcements. I encourage you to log in to the ROC, get involved and make it an engaging and relevant community for AFOEM members.

AFOEM held its latest Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) webinar on the topic of ‘Gendered and sexual harassment in the workplace’ on 30 August. This webinar provided a very thought-provoking insight into this very topical and important subject. The RACP President-elect, Dr Jacki Small, was one of the speakers and it was great to have Jacki’s involvement and highlight to her the important role that HBGW is playing in improving workplace health. Other speakers were Sophie Ismail ACTU Legal and Industrial Officer – Gender Equity and Dr Karen Williams, consultant psychiatrist who is actively involved in Doctors Against Violence Towards Women. The webinar was very ably facilitated by Keith Govias, Chair of the HBGW Signatories Steering Group. For those who missed it, you can access the webinar via the HBGW resources page on the RACP website. 

I’m delighted to let you know that Dr David Beaumont, who you will all remember was one of our recent AFOEM Presidents and has been very actively involved with many AFOEM and RACP initiatives, has recently become a published author. His book is entitled ‘Positive Medicine: Disrupting the Future of Medical Practice’ and is published by Oxford University Press. David has made the title deliberately provocative and the disruption it advocates for is positive disruption; a future that benefits patients and doctors (and addresses burnout in doctors too). David was inspired to write this book by the Ferguson Glass Oration given by Professor Bill Glass at the RACP Congress in Auckland a few years ago. Bill’s take home message was a call to action for us to improve the health of individual workers, groups of workers, their families, their communities, and ultimately the population as a whole. I’m sure this will be a great read and should inspire us all to take a broader population approach to our practice.

I’d also like to remind you again about the upcoming International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH) virtual Congress which is to be held from 6 to 10 February 2022. The main Congress theme will be ‘Sharing solutions in occupational health through and beyond the pandemic’ and will cover the burden of infections, mental health and other health issues, as well as a focus on how workplaces can be better prepared for future pandemics. The opening keynote address will be given by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, who will speak on health inequalities, with a focus on the workplace, and how these have become greater during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other keynotes will cover mental health and return to work, the resurgence of silicosis, the 24-hour work cycle, worker health and safety in a changing climate and the impact of globalisation on worker health. For further information, please go to the ICOH website. Abstract submission has been extended to 30 September.  


Professor Malcolm Sim AM
AFOEM President

AFOEM Fellows interview series

This series provides insight into the careers of retired and actively serving physicians in occupational medicine. I am very privileged and extremely humbled to continue to meet inspiring colleagues. On this occasion I had the pleasure of talking to Dr Robyn Horsley. 

Dr Farhan Shahzad, Consultant Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sydney

An interview with Dr Robyn Horsley

Farhan: Welcome Robyn, please tell us about yourself, personal life and training?

Robyn: Mother of two daughters and married to Peter, a GP in Hopper’s Crossing for forty years. We have two adorable young grandsons.

Both our daughters are entrepreneurial. Our older daughter is an Innovation Lawyer with Gilbert and Tobin. She also has an online high-end corporate handbag business – ‘She Lion’. Our younger daughter is in the first year of the Physicians’ Training Program. She has an online platform for education of medical students – ‘Beauty within medicine’ and is about to publish her first textbook on respiratory medicine, called Breathe.

At a personal level, I love to play golf and hike. Hiking is a particular interest – we are about to do the six-day Flinders Ranges walk in South Australia. We have done a lot of hikes including Cradle Mountain in Tassie / part of the Camino / Tura Hura in Aotearoa New Zealand / Cape to Cape in Western Australia / Three Capes in Tassie etc.

Farhan: Please tell us how you developed an interest in occupational medicine.

Robyn: I was an athlete in my early days – a 400 metre runner and wanted to do sports medicine after completing three years post graduate at the Austin Hospital. I joined a sports medicine clinic in Victoria Pde, which also had an occupational medicine arm. I much preferred the occupational medicine work.  With the guidance of my mentor Dr Bill Stone, I did a Masters in Public Health, and with my supervisor, Dr Denehy, I completed the requirements to ‘Grandfather’ as an Occupational Physician in 1988.

Farhan: Let’s talk about your achievements, memories and highlights of your career.


  • Consultancy recognition of occupational physicians with the National Australian Qualifications Assessment Committee (NASQAC) in 1995 – Medicare item numbers for occupational physician consultations. The initial submission was co-authored with Dr Catherine Hamilton / the negotiations with Government were co-managed with Dr Ian Gardiner. This was crucial for establishing private practice in occupational medicine.
  • This then allowed negotiation for item numbers for occupational physicians under Workcover (at the time) and TAC – 1996.  Dr Clayton Thomas represented rehabilitation medicine and I represented occupational medicine. 
  • Six years on Federal Council with four years as Secretary.
  • Eleven years on the Education Sub Committee / Lead Fellow of the AFOEM practical exam for 10 years.
  • Lecturer / Tutor of medical students at Monash University for 14 years.
  • Assisting many hundreds of workers with return to work (RTW) management by addressing complex psychosocial issues.
  • I was honoured to receive the AFOEM President’s Medal for Education in 2010.
  • I was honoured to receive an Order of Australia Medal for services to Occupational Medicine in 2012. 

Farhan: What’s your legacy? 


  • Consultancy recognition of occupational and environmental medicine by Medicare (for referred workers) and then gaining item numbers for WorkSafe / TAC referred workers from GPs and employers. The item numbers vastly increased the potential scope of private practice for all occupational physicians.
  • Education and mentoring of trainee occupational physicians.
  • Impacting positively on the lives of injured workers and their families by addressing psychosocial issues, with the focus on RTW in the first instance, but also addressing avocational needs as required. I have always had a particular interest in assisting workers living with significant disability and mental health issues.

Farhan: What are you still working on or have further plans to do?

Robyn: I was appointed to the Workcover Advisory Committee in 2015, (with a recent reappointment). This is an influential committee reporting to the Board, representing various stakeholders in the workers compensation system. With two Ombudsman’s reports highlighting issues with the system in 2016 and again in 2019, the provision of insights from clinical practice and the ability to influence current policies, has and will remain a focus, until my tenure ends.
Farhan: Do you have a message for trainees and fellow occupational physicians?

Robyn: As occupational physicians, we have the capacity to make a real difference in the lives of the workers we assess and manage. To make a difference, we must listen to those workers, undertake comprehensive assessments, and develop realistic action plans. The clinical skills required, however, develop over time. My advice to new occupational physicians is to not truncate the development of those skills with a practice focused on medico legal assessments. 

My second piece of advice is to give back. Get involved with Faculty committees, supervising, writing examination questions, examining etc. The Faculty is very collegiate, and involvement will greatly enhance and enrich your lifelong career as an occupational and environmental physician.

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Health Benefits of Good Work Webinar available online now 

The Health Benefits of Good Work™ Signatory Steering Group (SSG) together with AFOEM Fellows ran a webinar on 30 August 2021 addressing the factors and issues arising in workplaces that can create a culture of violence, aggression and anti-social behaviour. The webinar was chaired by Keith Govias, Chair of the SSG. The speakers included Dr Jacqueline Small, RACP President-elect, Sophie Ismail, ACTU Legal and Industrial Officer – Gender Equity and Dr Karen Williams, a consultant psychiatrist and the founder of Doctors Against Violence Towards Women. 

The session was highly engaging with 108 registrations and lots of Q&A!

The recording is available via the RACP website under HBGW resources.  

AFOEM President’s Awards

Nominate a colleague to recognise their outstanding contributions to the Faculty in one of the following areas:

  • education, training and assessment
  • policy and advocacy
  • trainee commitment.

Nominations close Sunday, 10 October 2021. Visit the website for more details and to nominate.

AFOEM Essay Prize

The AFOEM Essay Prize is awarded for demonstrated excellence through essay, research project or assignment on occupational or environmental health. It is open to medical students or interns in their first year after graduation. Visit the website for more information and to apply.

Applications close Sunday, 31 October 2021. 

College Medals and Awards

Nominations are now open for the following College and Fellowship Awards. They acknowledge outstanding contributions and achievements made by Fellows and trainees in their respective fields.

We encourage you to nominate for the following medals:

  • The John Sands Medal recognises a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to the welfare of RACP and its members.
  • The College Medal is aligned to the College motto hominum servire saluti. It is awarded to a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to medical specialist practice, healthcare and/or health of community through physician activities.
  • The International Medal recognises a member who has provided outstanding service in developing countries.
  • The Medal for Clinical Service in Rural and Remote Areas recognises a Fellow who has provided outstanding clinical service in rural and remote areas of Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • The Mentor of the Year Award recognises a Fellow who has made an outstanding contribution to mentoring or provided a high level of support and guidance throughout training.
  • The Trainee of the Year Award recognises a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to College, community and trainee activities.

Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

HASANZ Conference 2021

The HASANZ Conference 2021 is available at membership rates. Full details are available on the conference registration webpage.

The full program is now available online.

If you have any questions or would like to assist the Committee with this work, please do not hesitate to contact the office:

Geraint Emrys
Chair, Aotearoa New Zealand AFOEM Committee 


ANZSOM Annual Scientific Meeting – new dates

With the recent surge of the COVID-19 Delta variant leading to lockdowns across the country, coupled with the Stamford joining Queensland Government’s hotel quarantine program, the Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) Organising Committee and ANZSOM General Council have decided to postpone the 2021 ASM to March next year.

The conference will now run from Sunday, 20 March to Wednesday, 23 March 2022.

Registration types and prices will remain the same but the early bird closing date will extend to Sunday, 31 October 2021. If you have already paid for your registration, you will have received communication about your options. 

The newly-timed ASM 2022 will continue with the theme Changing Work – CULTURE | COVID | CLIMATE and we anticipate the program will remain unchanged. This will include the History of Occupational Medicine Witness Seminar which will take place on Sunday, 20 March 2022. 

Visit the website to find out more

New RACP video series highlights physicians in remote Australian communities

Practicing rural and remote medicine offers opportunities, career progression and a lifestyle simply not available in Australia’s big cities. Our fascinating new series of short videos 'In our Own Words', about the critical role our Fellows and trainees fulfil in providing healthcare to small towns, the regions and remote Australia, via the Specialist Training Program (STP). 

This month, we’re highlighting the work of Dr Kirsty Neal, General Medicine and Endocrine Specialist and former STP trainee – Alice Springs Hospital.

The STP is a funding initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health. 

There are around 900 STP-funded training positions across Australia, managed by 13 medical colleges. The RACP currently manages around 380 positions. 

With funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health, we’re increasing awareness and understanding of the Program. Our members tell their own stories, what it has meant to them and the communities they serve.  

Expressions of Interest: AFOEM Faculty Assessment Committee vacant positions

The AFOEM Faculty Assessment Committee (FAC) is seeking expressions of interest from AFOEM Fellows to join the AFOEM FAC as:

The AFOEM FAC key responsibilities include:

  • overseeing the coordination of the AFOEM Written and Practical Examinations
  • engaging in continuous quality improvement of all assessments
  • participation in the annual working parties that write examination questions for all the AFOEM Written and Practical Examinations.

Interested AFOEM Fellows should complete and submit the Expression of Interest form with a copy of their CV to Dr Andrew Lingwood, Chair of the AFOEM Faculty Assessment Committee by email to

History of Occupational Medicine Project

History of occupational medicine witness seminar deferred

As many of you will know by now the witness seminar on the evolution of our specialty in Australia has been deferred to 20 March 2022. We are holding it in conjunction with ANZSOM’s Annual Scientific Meeting. 

New members Dr Barry Gilbert from ANZSOM and Dr Philippa Harvey-Sutton from AFOEM, have joined Associate Professor Cate Storey (historian), Dr Farhan Shahzad, Dr Dwight Dowda, Dr Maggie Goldie and Professor Niki Ellis on the Organising Committee.

Committee meetings are lively and interesting as we can’t help but wander down memory lane. 

Here is a reflection from Dr Dwight Dowda on impairment guidelines, a subject he has contributed much to.

"Occupational medicine has continued to evolve in Australia over the years, reflecting progressive changes in science, medical practice, technology and society. 

"One area of increasing involvement for the occupational physician has been involvement in providing medico-legal opinion in relation to work-related injury and disease. 

"Given the special understanding of the demands and hazards of the workplace, of the specific nature of occupations, and the broad understanding of human health and disease that our specialty confers upon the occupational medicine practitioner, it is not surprising that, in an evidence based medical and legal milieu, the occupational physician is now, more than in the past, called upon to assist in assessment and decision making of workers compensation cases. 

"One facet of this has been the formalising of impairment evaluation through guidelines and training in this area over the last two decades, with occupational physicians having had a prominent role in the development of impairment assessing guidelines, along with education of medical colleagues in the correct application of these guidelines.  

"This reflects just one way in which occupational medicine in Australia has evolved over the years."

Pomegranate Health Podcast

Ep72: Modelling a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to public attention, like never before, the work of public health physicians as well as epidemiologists, statisticians and computer modelers. The crisis has also shown how hard it is to make decisions affecting the lives of millions when there is so little evidence to go on. Models of viral spread and interventions to mitigate these have become everyday discussion points, but few people understand how hard these are to put together. In this podcast we share expert talks that were presented at RACP Congress in April and May 2021. While they precede the latest developments of the Delta strain and the National Plan to curb it by increasing vaccination rates, they clarify some of the first principles that go into creating these simulations, and the pressures of giving critical public health advice.

Professor Michael Baker FAFPHM (University of Otago) 
Professor Tony Blakely (Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne)
Professor Jodie McVernon FAFPHM (Director of Epidemiology, Doherty Institute)

Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple PodcastsSpotifyCastbox, 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 our website

Listen now

College 'Are you COVID-19 safe?' member survey now open

Current members practising in Australia will receive a direct email inviting them to complete an internal survey. Now is the time to let us know about the impact of the COVID-19 Delta variant on your workload, workplace safety circumstances and concerns, how the healthcare system is being impacted, and importantly, where the College can direct more support.

The survey is for trainees, Fellows, private and public practitioners. With the de-identified data from the survey, the College will have an evidence base with which to advance our advocacy efforts on members’ safety and protection needs, and associated priority areas, as advised by you. The survey is short and to the point, taking nine to 15 minutes.

Members are advised that an internal report will be prepared using de-identified data only, no individuals will be identified at any stage, and that summary data using de-identified data may be produced for external reporting (for example in the media, to the Australian Government, Commonwealth and State/Territory Departments of Health).

The deadline to complete the survey is close of business Monday, 4 October 2021.For further information or if you did not receive a link to the survey, please email

Blood Matters: Perioperative anaemia assessment and management in elective surgical procedures 2020 audit report

Anaemia is a major public health issue. In surgical patients, preoperative anaemia is associated with adverse outcomes, including increased length of stay, risk of infection and risk of receiving a blood transfusion (Delaforce 2020).

The National Blood Authority (NBA) Patient Blood Management (PBM) guidelines ‘Module 2: Perioperative’ (Module 2) was released in March 2012 (NBA 2012). Blood Matters conducted the 2020 audit to assess health services’ compliance with Module 2 in relation to:

  • assessment and management of reversible anaemia prior to elective surgery
  • blood conservation strategies used intraoperatively to reduce postoperative anaemia
  • post-operative strategies to manage and treat anaemia.

The audit shows that nine years after the publication of the national PBM guidelines, there is still much work to be done to implement and embed timely, quality anaemia assessment and management in the surgical groups reported.

To help address the identified gaps Blood Matters request that:

  • appropriate committees/working groups review the final report, noting recommendations and potential areas for improvement as they relate to each clinical specialty. The ‘Patient blood management checklist (pages 13 to 14)’ includes the components of a quality PBM program, and outlines how each component complies with the:

The final ‘Perioperative anaemia assessment and management in elective surgical procedures – Preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative audit report 2020’ is available for review and action.

Any queries please contact Blood Matters at or call +61 3 9694 0102.

Evolve Webinar Series September session: Prescribing cascade – Improving the trickle down

Unsafe medication practices and medication errors have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as leading causes of injury and avoidable harm in healthcare systems across the world. Patient safety is every clinician’s priority.

Join this important session on Tuesday, 21 September 2021from 6pm to 7pm (AEST), 8pm to 9pm (NZST), led by Dr Genevieve Gabb with speakers Professor Jennifer Martin and Dr Chris Cameron, to discuss the common causes of physician induced harm.

Register now

Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Cultural Competence and Cultural Safety online course

Our self-paced online cultural competence and cultural safety course supports the provision of culturally competent and culturally safe, best practice medicine for Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori patients. The course facilitates reflection on our own cultural values so that we can recognise their influence on our professional practice, while also exploring how cultural safety principles can be applied to improve Indigenous patient health outcomes and experience of care.

Developed by experts and RACP Fellows, this adaptable course features a mix of in-depth content, video scenarios, reflection and discussion activities and recommended supporting materials.

New online course: Specialist Care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

This new self-paced online course has been designed to help physicians and trainees to better understand the RACP’s Medical Specialist Access Framework and take steps to apply its principles in their daily practice, with the aim of addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s inequitable access to specialist healthcare by connecting stakeholders involved in delivering specialist medical care. The course focuses on steps that individual practitioners can take, highlighting successful case studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people accessing specialist care.

New FAQs on ethical relationships between health professionals and industry

The Ethics Committee has developed a set of FAQs to address ethical issues physicians commonly encounter in their relationships with industry covering the following topics:

  • meeting with drug representatives
  • speaking at a pharmaceutical company sponsored event
  • funding from a pharmaceutical company to attend a conference
  • pharmaceutical sponsorship for clinical meeting or grand round
  • funding from a pharmaceutical company to conduct or participate in research
  • invitation to be a member of a pharmaceutical company advisory board.

These FAQs are based on and complement the RACP Guidelines for ethical relationships between health professionals and industry.

Discover your world of benefits with Commercial Pricing

Whether you’re refreshing your wardrobe or searching for a special gift, the Member Advantage portal is your one-stop shop. Save on a curated selection of brands like Myer, The Iconic, Country Road, Sunglass Hut and many more.

Plus, through your membership you can access commercial pricing and discounts from The Good Guys and JB HiFi for all your white-goods, electronic and small appliance needs. Not only do you receive special pricing in real-time, you’ll also get the advantage of personalised customer service, delivery and more.

Learn more about all your benefits through your Member Advantage platform in Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.

If you need assistance activating your benefits account, contact the customer care team on 1300 853 352.

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.

Career opportunities

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

AFOEM contact details

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

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):

AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6361

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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