AFOEM eBulletin – 31 May 2019

Recognition of occupational medicine

“It took a while, but I figured out why cough medicine was so popular in town, it was the large amount of alcohol the pharmacist was using in the preparation,” my father observed. At the time he was working as a true generalist. He gave up general practice to focus on general surgery, but I noticed how the specialties took away breast surgery, thyroid surgery and orthopaedic work. He branched out into keyhole surgery, scopes and even writing his own commercial practice management software so he thrived to the end. 

I have observed that occupational physicians, like our general physicians, general surgeons and general practitioners, have periodic crises of identity and self-worth. There is the railing against craft groups that erode our ‘turf’, wistful nostalgia and condescension towards commercially valuable work (medicolegal work, cosmetic work, bariatric surgery etc). 

My own practice is a hodgepodge involving a working week at WA Police, the Education Department, Fiona Stanley Hospital, a group full service occupational medical practice and after-hours oil and gas MRO.  

The bulk of my work is fitness for work for non-compensable, primarily mental health, conditions. There is a lack of coordinated multidisciplinary services in the community for ‘mild’ conditions that nevertheless have a substantial work impact. 

In this non-compensable space, my generalist training allows me to be part physio, occupational therapist, psychologist, social worker, mediator and sometimes doctor, connecting patients with services (Work Assist providers, income protection, specialists) and working with employers to develop pragmatic return to work plans. 

My experience is that clients greatly value our ability to know a bit of medicine about everything and work practically with employers. 

I am not immune to those vague feelings of vocational gloom which are part and parcel of generalist practice. But objectively, at least in WA, there is real strength and recognition in the ‘generalty’ of occupational medicine. Our freedom to range from primary to tertiary care and clinical to non-clinical work allows us to build a tailored and fascinating career.

Occupational medicine resists delineation – why pigeonhole ourselves? Adapt and find your niche. I would like us to celebrate the diversity of our Fellows’ work to help inspire us during those times we feel down in the dumps. 

I am also involved in advocating for doctor’s health and helped initiate a well-regarded doctor wellbeing program at Royal Perth Hospital when I was the occupational physician there.

Please come to the Australasian Doctors Health Conference – Creating a Healthy Workplace in November 2019. Further details can be found on the event website.

Check out my presentation on 'Workers compensation and return to work' available on the Remote Vocational Training Scheme 4 GPs website.

Roger Lai
Occupational Physician

A message from your President

It was wonderful to see so many of our members both from New Zealand and from across the Tasman Sea in Auckland at Congress 2019: Impacting health along the life course.  

I extend my personal thanks, and on behalf of the Faculty to the AFOEM Congress organising committees: Annual Training Meeting chaired by Dr Rod Douglas and the AFOEM Congress stream Chaired by Dr Alexandra Muthu.

The meeting was not only stimulating, thought-provoking and educative but was enriched by showcasing the often hidden and unknown talents, outside of medicine, of our colleagues through the ‘Fringe experience’. The activities and pursuits that add richness, perspective and happiness to our lives. Planning for Congress 2020 in Melbourne is underway and we are calling for Expressions of Interest for an AFOEM lead to shape our stream in Melbourne next year and contribute to the overall program.

My annual report and those of Dr Warren Harrex, Chair of the Faculty Policy and Advocacy Committee, and Dr Alison Drewry, Chair of the Faculty Education Committee, were presented at the AFOEM Annual Members’ Meeting on Tuesday, 7 May 2019. My President’s report is available for you to read on the College website

I want to congratulate the following recipients who received awards at Congress. The Faculty is proud of you and your contributions to occupational and environmental medicine.

2018 Deane Southgate Award

  • Dr Hui Ting Ooi 

2019 President’s Awards

  • Dr Ilse-Marie Stockhoff (Education, Assessment and Training) 
  • Dr Graeme Edwards (Policy and Advocacy)
  • Dr Rosemarie Knight (Trainee Commitment). 

2019 Ramazzini Prize

  • Dr Bianca Cheong, with her presentation titled ‘Risk factors of work absence in mental health claims’. You can read her abstract on the College website

A special thank you to Professor Maureen Dollard for presenting the Ferguson-Glass Oration titled ‘Socio-political context of physician health and wellbeing’. Her presentation expanded on the concept and implications of having either a good or bad workplace psychosocial safety climate (PSC). In addition, she has developed a questionnaire to measure the PSC within an organisation. You can access more information on the University of South Australia’s website.

At Congress I was approached by members who were concerned about the article written by Dr Graham Wright (SA) from the 3 May edition of the AFOEM eBulletin which portrayed a negative view of the future of our Faculty. Graham is from my own state, but I do not totally agree with his statements and it is but one view. I consider it important for our members to be able to air their opinions and concerns and by doing so encourage constructive debate among the membership. Dr Roger Lai has written an alternate view, which you can read in this eBulletin.  

We are constantly living in the future, things are not static but change over time and we need to be agile and adaptable. Our value to the community, our general practice colleagues, insurers and organisations, was repeatedly expressed by these groups to me when I met with them in Tasmania recently. No other specialty has the same ability to manage the interaction between work and health across the board, from an individual to organisational level.  

You are the future of occupational medicine and have the ability to shape that future. Your combined passion, involvement, advocacy and innovative spirit is needed to continue to do what we do best – care for workers’ health.

If you have views, information, or comments you would like to share on this or other topics please email them to

Dr Beata M Byok
President, AFOEM 

Announcement – Lead Fellow Congress 2020

Following a highly successful Congress 2019, I am pleased to announce that Professor Don Campbell has been appointed to the role of Lead Fellow for Congress 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. Professor Campbell is a recent past President of the Internal Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (IMSANZ) and is currently President-elect of the Adult Medicine Division. 

With his interest in and commitment to health system design and fostering medical leadership, Don regards Congress as a unique annual opportunity for College members to meet and be stimulated and challenged to continually strive to achieve better health outcomes for all New Zealanders and Australians.

Congress 2020 will explore how quickly medical science is developing. How can we predict where we will be in five or ten years? How do we keep up when science is changing so rapidly? How do we design a system that puts the patient first? How do we retain the humanity and empathy in what we do; for our patients and for each other? 

These are just some of the themes that will challenge our thinking.

Congress 2020 is being held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from Monday, 4 May to Wednesday, 6 May. To register your interest to attend visit the RACP Congress website.

Associate Professor Mark Lane
RACP President

Post AFOEM ATM 2019

On behalf of the Faculty, we would like to thank the AFOEM Annual Training Meeting (ATM) 2019 organising committee members as well as Fellows who were involved in the AFOEM ATM program this year. Thank you to the trainees who attended the ATM for your participation, engagement and enthusiasm. We have a new section on our website, curating the 2018 and 2019 ATM presentations and supplementary documentation.

Be the RACP Congress 2020 Committee AFOEM Representative 


The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) is seeking expressions of interest from AFOEM Fellows to join the RACP Congress Program Committee. 


Auckland recently hosted a highly successful RACP Congress 2019. The vast majority of members who attended rated Congress 2019 as one of the best meetings they had attended this year, with some going so far as to describe it as "best Congress ever" – we encourage you to view the highlights from Day one and Day two.

Congress 2020 will be held in Melbourne 4 to 6 May, and we are seeking expressions of interest from AFOEM Fellows for the role of AFOEM Representative on the Congress Program Committee (CPC).       

The AFOEM Representative will lead the development of the occupational and environmental medicine stream and will work with the Congress Lead Fellow, Professor Don Campbell and other CPC members and College staff to implement the agreed Congress themes and develop shared interest sessions. This is a key opportunity for AFOEM members to shape the topics and discussions for next year’s Congress.
The AFOEM Representative will:

  • coordinate all content within the occupational and environmental medicine stream, while linking to the purpose, goals and key themes of Congress
  • collaborate with the Congress Lead Fellow and other CPC members to optimise shared interest sessions and broader Congress program through identifying notable speakers, significant topics and innovative delivery formats
    attend the CPC fortnightly planning meetings via teleconference
  • participate in email correspondence outside of meetings regarding suggestions and opinions of speakers and sessions
  • actively promote Congress to members.

The successful candidate is appointed by the AFOEM Council.

To apply, submit an expression of interest form and your CV to

Update and further information on changes to MyCPD

An overview of changes to MyCPD that impact all Fellows was covered in the last eBulletin
The annual minimum requirement is still 100 credits. Note that there is NO requirement to record credits in all three categories. While Fellows may continue to complete educational activities, they will also need to complete activities that review performance and/or activities that measure outcomes to obtain the minimum of 100 credits. Please also note that there are no mandatory activities.

To give you an overall idea of how you might meet the new requirements there are some worked examples (including an example for academics) of how the new requirements could be met. These examples will not apply to everyone and are designed to give an overall approach to meeting 100 CPD credits.

The CPD unit is currently working with the Faculty to provide further resources to support AFOEM Fellows to meet these requirements. Two examples of this are:

  • an expanded list of examples of activities for each of the three categories
  • recommended non-clinical activities that may, if relevant to your practice, meet the requirements of Category 2 and Category 3.

Examples of activities that meet Category 2 and 3 may provide guidance on possible activities that will suit your practice.  

Upcoming Continuing Professional Development (MyCPD) Sessions

Two separate MyCPD information sessions in Canberra and Sydney to help you understand what the changes mean for you and why we have made them. There will also be opportunities to ask any questions you may have and speak directly to a member of our CPD team. The Canberra session will be held  on Thursday, 18 July from 6pm to 7.30pm and the Sydney session will be held the following week on Thursday, 25 July from 6pm to 7.30pm. 

To find out more, visit our event pages: CanberraSydney.

The CPD team is happy to answer any questions you may have, contact us on the details below.

Phone: 1300 697 227
Overseas: (+61) 2 9256 5444 
New Zealand
Phone: 4 460 8122
Overseas: (+64) 4 460 8122

Apply for research awards and travel grants

Apply now for the RACP AFOEM Research Development Grant (up to $30,000) or the RACP AFOEM Registrar Travel Fellowship (up to $10,000) offered by AFOEM through the RACP Foundation.

Fellows and trainees of AFOEM are also eligible for other research awards and grants offered by the RACP Foundation across the different categories:  career development fellowships, research establishment fellowships, research entry scholarships and travel grants.

Full details for these opportunities are available on the RACP Foundation website. Email the RACP Foundation to sign up for updates.

2019 Ramazzini Prize recipient: Dr Bianca Cheong

I am honoured to be awarded the Ramazzini Prize for 2019. My research project focused on work related mental illness, especially those cases that lead to many weeks off work. I felt this was an important topic for two reasons: firstly, mental health illness is the fastest growing cause of disability in Australia. Secondly, one of the most expensive challenges facing worker's compensation statistics are mental health claims, which account for a small proportion of all worker's compensation claims but are associated with twice as many days off work and double the cost. There is currently a scarcity of local research into the risk factors of work related mental health claims and my research question was: Are the risk factors of long duration (defined as a claim with more than 60 days off work) mental health claims different to short duration claims?

The study was a retrospective cohort study of Western Australian compensation data from 2005 to 2015 and 3,345 claims met the inclusion criteria. Analysis of the data revealed there are indeed differences in the risk factors of long duration mental health claims compared to short duration claims. Of particular interest was the difference identified in the mechanism of the mental health illness.

My study showed that 'work pressure' is a major risk factor for a long duration mental health claim. The data indicates that we should no longer view 'work pressure' merely as a HR issue as it is clearly a health issue and a financial issue. It is my hope that this study is of help to my fellow occupational physicians as we are in the unique position to engage with business leaders to bring about a positive change.

Dr Bianca Cheong
RACP trainee

AFOEM examinations open for applications from 24 June

Applications will open from 24 June 2019 for all eligible trainees (who have met the training program requirements) for the September and November 2019 examinations.

Upcoming 2019 AFOEM examination dates are:

  • Stage A Written Examinations – Saturday, 7 September 2019
  • Stage B Written Examinations – Saturday, 7 and Sunday, 8 September 2019
  • Stage B Practical Examinations – Saturday, 16 November 2019 (an additional date of Sunday, 17 November 2019 may be added depending on the number of eligible candidates).

Applications will open from 24 June 2019 and will close on 5 July 2019 at 5pm (AEST). Any applications received after this closing time may not be accepted.

Remember you will need to have satisfactorily completed all requirements for the January to June 2019 training period by the relevant deadlines in order to be eligible. The Training Handbook provides more information. 

RACP Congress 2019 

RACP Congress 2019 took place from 6 to 8 May 2019 at the Aotea Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. While we are still collating feedback the initial responses have been extremely positive with 86 per cent of attendees saying RACP Congress gets better every year and more than half rating RACP Congress as their go-to educational forum. 

Listen to what 2019 attendees have to say about Congress and why you should mark your calendar to attend RACP Congress 2020 in Melbourne from 4 to 6 May next year. 

Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register in Queensland 

A Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register is being established in Queensland through amendments to the Public Health Act 2005. The Notifiable Dust Lung Disease Register will ensure that Queensland Health has a comprehensive register of all cases of notifiable dust lung diseases in Queensland. It is proposed prescribed medical practitioners from the following specialties or specialty fields will be required to notify Queensland Health of diagnoses of notifiable dust lung diseases:

  • occupational and environmental medicine
  • respiratory and sleep medicine.

It is also proposed that the notifiable diseases include the following diseases caused by occupational exposure to inorganic dust:

  • cancer
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease including chronic bronchitis and emphysema
  • pneumoconiosis including asbestos, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis mixed dust pneumoconiosis and silicosis.

Further information is available on the Queensland Health website

RACP supports OraTaiao's call for action on climate change and health

The RACP sees climate change as one of the most significant public health challenges of the 21st century. Climate change is also an opportunity for public health: reducing greenhouse gas emissions will have health co-benefits, including changes to diet and physical activity levels. In New Zealand, the government introduced the landmark Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill in May 2019 to transition to a zero-carbon society by 2050. 

The RACP is a strong advocate for evidence-based, equitable climate action policies, and recently supported the Revised Call to Action on Climate Change and Health from OraTaiao, the New Zealand (NZ) Climate and Health Council. OraTaiao is focused on raising awareness and acting on the health challenges and health opportunities climate change presents. 

OraTaiao and the RACP recognise that in Aotearoa NZ, action on climate change will mean a whole-of-society transition founded on the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi of partnership, participation and protection. Read more about the work of OraTaiao on their website.

PCHD President acknowledged for research

Congratulations go to Professor Paul Colditz, who is the recipient of the Queensland Metro North Hospital and Health Service Researcher of the Year award.

Professor Colditz is the President of the Paediatrics and Child Health Division, a past Board Director and current Chair of the RACP Research Committee. He has an extensive research career which has had an enormous impact on improving health outcomes for preterm babies both in Australia and internationally.

Our Research Committee is in capable hands.

AFOEM Regional Committee casual vacancies

There are various casual vacancies on AFOEM Regional Committees to be filled by way of expressions of interest.

New South Wales

  • one position open for Trainee Representative of AFOEM NSW Regional Committee

    Queensland/Northern Territory
  • one position open for the Chair of AFOEM QLD/NT Regional Committee
  • one position open for Deputy Chair of AFOEM QLD/NT Regional Committee.

South Australia

  • one position open for Deputy Chair of AFOEM SA Regional Committee.


  • one position open for Trainee Representative of AFOEM VIC/TAS Regional Committee.

Western Australia

  • one position open for Chair of AFOEM WA Regional Committee
  • one position open for AFOEM Trainee Representative of AFOEM WA Regional Committee.

Before nominating for the role, candidates must familiarise themselves with the following documents:

To nominate, submit a completed Expression of Interest Form and your resume by email to

The Doctor Dash

The Doctor Dash this Sunday, 2 June 2019 promotes the benefits of exercise and raises awareness for the good mental health of doctors, medical students, nurses and other health professionals. 

You can participate anywhere in the world in your own time, at your own pace and in your Crazy Socks 4 Docs.

My Health Record survey

The My Health Record (MHR) is a secure online summary of an individual’s health information. Over 90 per cent of Australians have a MHR, and healthcare providers authorised by their healthcare organisation can access MHR to view and add to their patients’ health information. 

PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting (Australia) has been engaged by the Australian Digital Health Agency to review the private specialist sector landscape and develop an understanding of the key opportunities and barriers around driving further adoption of MHR.

This online survey will only take 10 minutes and seeks to gain a better understanding of private practice workflows and the views of specialists and practice staff towards the MHR. 

All survey responses will remain anonymous.

Please contact Jen Vo-Phuoc or Nick Dimitropoulos from PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting if you would like any further information.

Women & Leadership Australia grants

This is the final call for all women currently working in the healthcare sector to express their interest in the current financial year scholarship funding available through Women & Leadership Australia.
This opportunity provides women with funding of between $3,000 and $7,000 to undertake a range of leadership development programs commencing later this year. 
To ensure equitable access to the grants, the funding window has been extended until Friday, 21 June 2019. It is important to note that it is uncertain when these grants will be available again. More information and initial expressions of interest are available on the Women & Leadership Australia 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. 

ANZCA 2019 Medical Education Special Interest Group meeting, 20 September, Sydney
ANZCA 2019 Rural Special Interest Group meeting, 2 to 4 November, Ballarat

AFOEM Victoria Educational Meeting
Date: 17 June 2019 from 6pm to 7pm
Location: RACP Victoria, Level 2, 417 St Kilda Road, Melbourne VIC
Host: RACP Victoria
For further information visit the event webpage.

2019 QLD Fellows’ and trainees’ Forum
Date: Saturday, 29 June 2019 
Location: Queensland Children’s Hospital
All Queensland Fellows and trainees are invited to the 2019 Queensland Fellows’ and Trainees’ Forum on Saturday, 29 June at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in South Brisbane. 
This free member event is presented by the RACP Queensland Regional Committee. 
Topics include: 

  • financial wellbeing: tax efficiency and reducing financial stress
  • medico legal
  • clinical ethics
  • medical stewardship.

For more information and to register please visit the event webpage

Medico Legal: A physicians update 

Worried about legal matters but don’t know where to turn? As we move through the technology era, social media and online interaction is evolving to play a huge part in the way we interact with patients and other professionals. In addition to this, physicians continue to face legal issues in both civil and disciplinary matters. Join us in Sydney on Saturday, 29 June from 9.30am to 12pm for an informative and insightful workshop in collaboration with Avant Mutual. You’ll be able to learn about your legal and professional obligations from our experienced speakers. 

To find out more visit the event webpage.

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

Career opportunities

View all positions vacant

AFOEM contact details

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
Lucie Perrissel-Taggart, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6351

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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