AFOEM eBulletin – 24 August 2018

Occupational Physicians needed 'Down-Down Under'

Occupational Physicians (OPs) are arguably the most important medical specialty in the management of work related injuries and occupational rehabilitation. OPs play a leading role as mentors and guides to other medical practitioners managing patients in compensation systems and roles in directly managing workers with more complex or potentially poor-prognosis injuries, in addition to important roles as independent assessors.

In Tasmania, there is a diminishing pool of doctors able to manage cases of work-related injury. The local Tasmanian OP workforce is about to take a substantial additional 'hit' with the impending retirement of 80 per cent of the current OP workforce that has been in practice since the 1980's. 

The 2016 Australian Government Factsheet on the OP workforce provides some sobering statistics. We are an ageing speciality with well over 50 per cent of practitioners over the age of 60 (myself included). The OP workforce in Tasmania is particularly affected by this trend.

Tasmania already has amongst the lowest numbers of OP clinicians per 100,000 population (close behind Queensland) as illustrated by the following chart.

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I hope that strategies to promote the specialty of occupational and environmental medicine in Tasmania can be developed so that we have enough OPs to serve our future needs. There is a need to encourage local trainees by development of a local training program in Tasmania, but in the short term we need more qualified OPs to relocate to beautiful Tasmania and enjoy the professional and personal benefits of living here. There are good opportunities for an enthusiastic practitioner to establish a practice performing a wide variety of OP roles, including managing complex cases and conducting fitness for work assessments as well as advisory roles to employers and insurers and providing a local resource to GP’s and specialists about workplace health. Hobart is a very liveable city.

Don’t take any notice of cartoonist Jon Kudelka’s campaign to keep mainlanders out.


A message from your President

AFOEM Council
It was a fine and sunny two days in Sydney and not only in the meetings for the Planning Day review and AFOEM Council but outside as well.

I extended a warm welcome to Professor Malcolm Sim, President-Elect, returning councillors Dr Josh Munn SA, Dr Helen McArdle Tas, Dr Alexandra Muthu NZ, Dr David Cleveland trainee representative, new councillors Dr Sandra McBurnie NSW, Dr David Fitzgerald ACT, Dr Graeme Edwards Qld, Dr Dominic Yong Vic, and Dr Michael Lucas WA,  and to Dr Warren Harrex Chair Policy and Advocacy Committee (previously ACT councillor), Dr Alison Drewry Chair Faculty Education Committee, and Dr Miguel Kabilio ANZSOM representative.

Thank you to the outgoing councillors Dr Claire Hollo NSW, Dr Steve Overmeire WA, Dr Chris Cunneen Qld and Dr Robin Chase, Chair Policy and Advocacy Committee for their contributions and commitment.

AFOEM Planning Day review

At the Planning Day, facilitated by Rodger Watson from ThinkPlace, there was a lively and interactive interchange where the combined experience, knowledge, insights and passion for the faculty brainstormed to map out our strategic initiatives for the next two years.   

  • There was a strong focus on supporting registrar training and not forgetting support for training supervisors.  
  • An emphasis on AFOEM's value proposition, working on collaborative partnerships, and taking a leadership role in obtaining evidence based best practice information for return to work outcomes.
    Evaluating the impact of the Health Benefits of Good Work by gathering qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Building a culture of research. Promoting opportunities, identifying resources, and looking to establish better links with research bodies. Encouraging uptake of available AFOEM grants, including the AFOEM Research Development Scholarship. 
  • How to better engage with members within our Faculty in regional and remote areas, nationally, over the Tasman Sea and across specialties with commonalities that complement the work we do.
  • An initial step is to find out what our members want by distributing a short survey.

I was reassured to see that the strategic initiatives that emerged from the Planning Day align with my focus areas including our education and training program, finding out what it is that the Fellows require from our Faculty and College to support them in their practice, and to continue to progress the current collaborations and projects.

AFOEM Council Meeting

Dr Niki Ellis, current RACP Board Member and past President of AFOEM addressed the meeting. She referred to the recently published list of short term priorities prepared by the RACP Board after it met over two days on Thursday, 19 July and Friday, 20 July 2018. The list was produced in the knowledge that the current Strategic Plan is due for renewal by the end of 2018. A RACP communique was circulated to Fellows, trainees and staff on Monday, 30 July 2018, listing the values, principles and behaviours to which the Board is committed and the intended short-term outcomes. I urge you to read this document

Written Examinations

I would like to take this opportunity to wish our Candidates all the very best at the upcoming Stage A and Stage B Written Examinations on 1 and 2 September 2018.

Awards available for members

I encourage members to consider nominations for RACP awards, medals and Honorary Fellowship. The details are included in this eBulletin.   

Staff updates

Congratulations to Lisa Penlington on her appointment as Director, Member Services.  Phillipa (Pip) Warnes returned as Faculties Manger on 13 August 2018 – welcome back Pip.  Thank you to Joanne (Jo) Goldrick for covering while Pip was on maternity leave – we wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

Finally, this is your eBulletin, if you have a story or information that you would like to share or is of general interest please send it to

Yours sincerely,

Dr Beata M Byok
AFOEM President

Trainee News 

We would like to highlight the following casual vacancies that are open to AFOEM trainees.  


The AFOEM Policy & Advocacy Committee (FPAC) is responsible for the development, coordination, implementation and monitoring of the policy and advocacy interests, and activities of the Faculty.  

There is a casual vacancy open for a Trainee Representative on FPAC:  

College Trainees’ Committee 

The College Trainees’ Committee (CTC) was established in 2003 by the RACP Board as the College’s peak body representing the interests of all RACP trainees.  There is a current vacancy for an AFOEM Trainee Representative on the CTC.  Please visit the link below for further information.

To apply, please submit an Expression of Interest Form – clearly stating where you are in your training and when you expect to finish – and a CV of no more than two pages to

RACP awards and medals

To acknowledge outstanding achievements of our members, the College grants a number of awards. These awards provide an opportunity for the College and its membership to recognise and celebrate the accomplishments of members as well as promote their successes to inspire others. Fellows and trainees of AFOEM are encouraged to consider nominating members of the Faculty for these awards.

Nominations are now being accepted for the following:

Expressions of Interest for RACP Councils and Committees

Expressions of Interest are being sought for a number of appointed positions on various RACP Councils, Committees and groups.  Available positions are listed below: 

Have you logged into your new RACP benefits website?

Your RACP member benefits program can save you hundreds throughout the year, with discounts on a range of lifestyle, leisure and financial services. 

Including holidays and work trip essentials, discounted business management software or financial planning and insurance for professionals. 

Your member benefits program can also help you save on everyday essentials like fuel and groceries or household necessities with pre-purchased gift cards*.

Visit your RACP Member Advantage website or call 1300 853 352 for more information.

*Terms and Conditions apply.

Trainee research awards reminder

Deadlines  for abstract submissions for Trainee Research Awards events are fast approaching. 

Trainees across Australian states and territories, and New Zealand can take part.

Learn more

Final call: up to $8,000 available for women's leadership development

Women currently working in the healthcare sector have a final opportunity to register their interest in a scholarship worth up to $8,000 to support participation in a leadership development program. 

Funding must be apportioned by the end of September and it is unsure when these grants will be available again. Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form prior to 5pm on September 21: 

Child health experts and key stakeholders come together in Canberra for the RACP Inequities in Child Health Forum 

On Wednesday of last week, the RACP hosted our Inequities in Child Health Forum at Australian Parliament House in Canberra, where leading child health experts presented to an audience including Members of Parliament and Senators, state and territory Chief Paediatricians and heads of key medical, public health and community bodies.

Australian Federal Minister for Health and Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare spoke at the event, with the Minister for Health announcing funding for the development of a National Action Plan for Children’s Health 2020 to 2030. The Minister stated that the plan “will ensure that we give our Indigenous Australians, our rural Australians, and our younger Australians in more difficult socio-economic circumstances, the best shot at the best life to be the best person that they can otherwise ever hope to be."

Child health experts Associate Professor Susan Woolfenden, Professor Sharon Goldfeld and Professor Ngiare Brown presented on the actions and strategies needed to reduce inequities in health care access and outcomes, and the part that health practitioners and politicians can play in acting as a buffer against cycles of disadvantage. The Forum and its messages received significant media coverage across print, radio, social media and television, helping to promote discussion of an important area for child health and wellbeing.

The RACP President Associate Professor Mark Lane, President of the Paediatrics and Child Health Division Professor Paul Colditz, and senior Paediatricians also met with the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer, and other government representatives. 

The RACP will continue its dialogue with key decision makers to ensure high quality, truly universal health care services are available to all children regardless of their postcode.

To find out more about this issue, you can read our Inequities in Child Health Position Statement or its accompanying fact sheet, and access the tools in our online advocacy kit

You can also listen to Professor Sharon Goldfeld discuss the issue of child health inequities on ABC RN Breakfast as recorded on 15 August 2018. 

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.

Career opportunities

View all positions vacant

AFOEM contact details

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

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Molly Davies, 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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