AFOEM eBulletin – 4 May 2018

On site occupational practice

Working on site gives an occupational physician the ability to positively influence the return to work process.  By encouraging appropriate work practice and positive workplace culture it is possible to influence the provision of a proactive approach to occupational health, safety welfare and rehabilitation. Building relationships at work allows the onsite doctor to obtain the cooperation of management at all levels and influence attitudes of supervisors and co-workers, which is important in the way the injured worker is perceived and the provision of appropriate duties. 

The onsite doctor can be involved in the provision of good injury management programs that enable the identification of potential hazards and formulation of effective remedial strategies. 

With early intervention we are able to facilitate the early return to work, which improves outcomes. I believe working on site enhances the case management approach, involving early initial assessment, effective evidence based treatment, reassurance and good communication to allay any fears. This enables a timely and safe return to work and successful rehabilitation. The improved return to work outcomes are facilitated by knowing the jobs and tasks and being in the position to deal with the barriers to early return to work. Being on site enables us to perform work site visits and address any issues in regard to return to work.

The aim of a comprehensive model of prevention and treatment is to return the injured workers to work and to keep employees at work, which is beneficial in regard to the person’s mental, physical and social wellbeing. 

Working onsite enables us to have an intimate knowledge of the work environment, including the physical, organisational and personnel requirements. This is beneficial when liaising with the offsite treating doctors in regard to returning employees to appropriate duties. 

There are no doubts that working on site has many benefits. There are also potential conflicts that need to be addressed due to the at times adversarial nature of the return to work process and the involvement of third parties. The occupational physician has responsibilities under legislation and also to the employer and the employee he/she is managing and treating. When doubt about an ethical situation arise it is important to consider the general ethical principles as noted in Guideline on Ethics and Professional Conduct for Occupational Physicians. These include autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence and justice.
Finally, the wide variety of different work is the reason why most occupational physicians choose to work on site. I have discussed rehabilitation and the return to work process but we are also involved in pre-employment assessments, health promotion activities, fitness for work assessments and health surveillance, as well as education. 

Dr Bill Panayiaris / Dr Shepherd
Occupational Physicians

A message from your President

Occupational physicians are fortunate to be able to assist people who are facing challenges in two of the most important aspects of their lives – both their health and their work. Our specialty also provides unique opportunities to improve health and wellbeing at individual, organisational and population levels.
As I prepare to step down as President of the Faculty, I also reflect on the fortunate position that I have been in for the past two years. The Faculty has a positive culture which is collaborative, cooperative and innovative. I thank and acknowledge all of the Fellows, trainees, Faculty and College staff who are committed to working, in many different ways, to advance and improve occupational and environmental medicine in Australia, New Zealand and globally. I particularly acknowledge those who contribute in the highest priority areas of education, training, assessment, policy and  advocacy.

The President’s Awards acknowledge the outstanding contributions of three of our colleagues. I am delighted to announce that the recipients for 2017 are Dr Maurice Harden, for Education, Training and Assessment, Dr Neil Westphalen for Policy & Advocacy and Dr David Cleveland for Trainee Commitment. Congratulations to each of them for their leadership and for being role models in the Faculty.

I am also delighted to announce the results of the Deane Southgate Award. The criteria for the award changed in mid-2017, so during this transition phase, we have the unique outcome of having three winners. Dr Cath Kelaher achieved the highest scores in the 2016 examinations and two candidates, Dr Patricia Batchelor and Dr Chung Yew Chee, had the equal highest score in the 2017 examinations. Congratulations to each of the three winners on their outstanding results and success.

Congratulations to Professor Niki Ellis on her success in the recent elections for the Board of the RACP. As a Fellow of both AFOEM and AFPHM, and having been the inaugural President of AFOM, Niki will bring her extensive skills and expertise to the Board. Congratulations also to Dr John Wilson, as College President-elect, and the other elected Board Members Professor Paul Komesaroff, Dr Jacqueline Small and Dr Alice Grey.

In other recent news, the College Policy & Advocacy Committee has endorsed the completed scoping phase of the Employment Poverty and Health (EPH) Project. The Faculty will continue to lead the development of this important College-wide project to guide doctors on how to have a real influence on the social determinants of health.

The first Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) Australian Signatory Steering Group (SSG) Industry Forum for 2018 will be held in Brisbane in early June. Thank you to Dr Graeme Edwards who is leading the planning, which is already well advanced. 

The development of the Model of Collaboration with ANZSOM New Zealand is almost complete and I am looking forward to signing this with Dr John Heydon at the ASM in Sydney in May.

Reflecting on the past year, the Faculty has achieved a range of important goals. Some examples and highlights include:

  • signing the Model of Collaboration with ANZSOM Australia
  • amending our By-Laws to include an ANZSOM representative on Council
  • acceptance by the RACP Board to extend for five years our agreement with the Hong Kong College of Community Medicine (HKCCM)
  • creating the AFOEM Registrar Travelling Fellowship
  • the ongoing uptake and implementation of the HBGW message, including industry forums in Sydney in May 2017 and in Perth in November 2017
  • collaborations with a range of organisations including the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiology.

I express sincere thanks to Wynne Bell (Manager, Faculties), Lisa Penlington (Manager of DFACs), Rumbi Mabambe and Victoria Patterson (Executive Officers) and Claire Celia (Senior Policy Officer) for their outstanding work and support in achieving each of these important outcomes.

At the Annual Meeting in May a number of Council members will be stepping down at the end of their terms, and I express our sincere thanks to them for their individual and joint contributions. They are Dr Warren Harrex, Dr Kevin Sleigh, Dr Claire Hollo, Dr Chris Cunneen and Dr Steve Overmeire. I thank each of them for their years of outstanding and dedicated service to the Faculty. 

Dr Robin Chase is standing down as Chair of the Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee (FPAC) having completed the maximum number of years in the role. Robin’s contribution and leadership have been extraordinary, and on behalf of the Faculty, our sincere thanks. Robin will continue to lead the GP Support Project within the Collaborative Partnership and to contribute to the EPH Project.

I congratulate and welcome the new members of Council including Professor Malcolm Sim as President-Elect, Dr Sandra McBurnie (NSW), Dr David Fitzgerald (ACT), Dr Dominic Yong (Victoria), Dr Michael Lucas (WA) and Dr Graeme Edwards (Queensland). Those continuing on Council include Dr Helen McArdle (Tasmania), Dr Alexandra Muthu (New Zealand), Dr Josh Munn (SA) and Dr David Cleveland (Trainee Representative).

Finally, my thanks to Dr Beata Byok for her great support over the past two years. As President-elect, Beata has represented the Faculty on both the College Council and the Fellowship Committee. As the incoming President, Beata will be leading an outstanding team and on behalf of all of the Faculty I wish her every success.

With best wishes,
Associate Professor Peter Connaughton
President, AFOEM

Dr Ray Fabius Lecture

On Monday, 26 February the Occupational & Aviation Medicine School, University of Otago Wellington hosted a lecture by Dr Ray Fabius, in partnership with the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) in Auckland.

Dr David Beaumont, Deputy Chair, AFOEM NZ Committee, said the lecture was extremely well received by the 30 attendees, who left inspired and equally challenged.

“Dr Fabius’ offered his insights and experience from building a “culture of health” through integrating health protection and promotion. In fact, he made it clear that health and wellbeing programs in the workplace don’t work unless they are part of a culture of health.

“It was a fabulous opportunity to hear such a charismatic speaker, particularly one of our American colleagues from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), who are leading the world in demonstrating how truly integrated occupational health influences not only the health of the workforce (and the health of the company’s bottom line), but also population health. A debt of gratitude is owed to Rob Griffiths for both inviting Ray and chairing the evening, which was sponsored by RACP, ACC and the University of Otago,” said Dr Beaumont.

Dr Raymond J. Fabius (MD, CPE, Distinguished FACPE) is Co-founder of HealthNEXT – the emerging leader in building cultures of health. In 2016 Ray was given the prestigious honour of delivering the C.O. Sappington Memorial Lecture at the opening session of the 101st annual meeting and Centennial Anniversary of the ACOEM. 

RACP Congress 2018 updates

RACP Congress 2018 program includes engaging sessions, workshops, demonstrations, exhibits, video presentations and social functions for all Divisions, Faculties and Chapters.

We look forward to seeing you at RACP Congress 2018 at the International Convention Centre Sydney from 14 ​to 16 May 2018, confirm your attendance ​at Congress and affiliated social functions ​via

AFOEM Annual Training Meeting (ATM) – Last chance to register!

The 2018 AFOEM ATM will be held on Friday, 11 May to Sunday, 13 May 2018. 

The AFOEM ATM Working Group has developed another stimulating program for trainees at all stages of training. This year we have included topical presentations from the following experts:

  • Overview of Occupational Hygiene in Practice – Carmen Smith and Mitchell Thompson
  • Health Surveillance – Dr Kelvin Wooller
  • Maximising Performance and Resilience – Dr Clare Wood, Dr David Wood and Dr Tristan Coulter
  • Epidemiology – Professor Tim Driscoll.

Trainees will have the opportunity to explore workplaces across Sydney, including Sydney Harbour Bridge Works, Taronga Zoo and Sydney Opera House on the first day. The ATM is an integral part of the AFOEM training program. It is an excellent event for trainees to meet other trainees from around Australia and New Zealand, as well as learn from experts in a friendly and informal setting.  

Register now

AFOEM Dinner

The AFOEM Dinner will be held at the beautiful L’Aqua Restaurant in the heart of Darling Harbour on Sunday, 13 May 2018. Three delicious courses will be served with accompanying wines to match. Please join your fellow occupational physicians for a relaxing night. Spots are limited so please visit the RACP Congress website to register now.

Trainees’ Day 2018

RACP Trainees’ Day and Trainees Dinner is an opportunity for Basic and Advanced Trainees to network and discuss professional critical topics and training pathways. We are pleased to advise that due to the generous contribution from our sponsors Trainees' Day is now AUD $50. Trainees ​who have already registered will receive a refund equivalent to the difference in ticket price. We would like to thank our sponsors: Westpac, Avant Mutual, Novartis, Professional Transcription Solutions and the NSW Government for making this reduced price possible.

Trainees Day is on Sunday, 13 May 2018, just prior to RACP Congress 2018. Trainees will meet at the RACP Office Sydney to discuss the following topics:

  • The global refugee crisis: its our responsibility
  • Australian refugees: stand up and be counted
  • How can we advocate for a brighter future?
  • Professional skills workshop: a powerhouse of presidential knowledge
  • Cognitive bias
  • Coaching and mentoring.

The Trainees' Day Dinner will be held over looking Sydney's Darling Harbour. Confirm your attendance during the Congress registration process. 

Date: Sunday, 13 May 2018 
Time: 6pm to 10pm 
Venue: Blackbird Café, 201 Sussex Street, Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour, Sydney 
Cost: $59 per person

Register and view the program on the Congress website

We look forward to seeing you in Sydney. 

Regional Committee elections

Following a recent call for nominations, elections are being held for elected positions on ​a number of RACP Committees.

Detailed election information, voting instructions, forms, candidate information, Committee Member Position Descriptions and Committee By-Laws can be found on the RACP website. Voting closes at 5pm AEST on Friday, 25 May 2018. 

Expressions of Interest for RACP Councils and Committees

Expressions of Interest are being sought for a number of appointed positions.  Available positions are listed on the RACP website along with position descriptions, By-laws for each Council or Committee and the forms you will need to complete the process.

​Apply for funding opportunity

Applications are now open for the RACP AFOEM Education Development Grant, which provides up to $10,000 to support the advancement of occupational and environmental medicine knowledge. Funding can be used to gain new technical expertise, undertake training or play an active role at conferences or scientific meetings. Applications close on Monday, 28 May 2018.

For full details about this and other research funding opportunities visit the RACP Foundation website

Congress session on increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples access to medical specialists

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Committee (ATSIHC) will be discussing the Medical Specialist Access Framework. The Framework is a guide for health stakeholders to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples access to medical specialists. The session is on Monday, 14 May 3.30pm to 5pm in room C2.2 and C2.3, and will include Dr Tamara Mackean, Professor Noel Hayman, Dr Catherine Yelland, Professor Donald Campbell and Dr Simon Quilty discussing their experiences in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. This is an opportunity for Fellows to consider their practice and care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 
Register for RACP Congress 2018 on the website.

Congress session on the RACP Indigenous Child Health statement 

An RACP Working Group is developing a statement on Indigenous Child Health in Australia and New Zealand. This is an opportunity for Fellows to participate in a session with the Working Group chair Dr Danny de Lore and Dr Niroshini Kennedy to discuss the content of the draft statement and provide important input on the direction and key messages of the statement.  Fellows are encouraged to attend to ​contribute to the development of a robust and impactful statement. The session is on Tuesday, 15 May 11.15am to 12.15pm, Cockle Bay Room 2.

Register for RACP Congress 2018 on the website

New Evolve Recommendations to Improve Child Neurology Care

As part of the Evolve initiative, the Australia and New Zealand Child Neurology Society and the RACP have released a new series of recommendations to help avoid unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures carried out in child neurology clinical practice. 

Read more on the Evolve website

Slow-release opioid statement

Mounting evidence highlights the inappropriate use of slow-release opioids for the treatment of acute pain. The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) and its Faculty of Pain Medicine have released a statement which is designed to inform and recommend action.

Recommendations in the statement align with the approved indications for slow-release opioids listed by domestic and international regulatory authorities.

Biologicals Regulatory Framework proposed changes to start on 1 July 2018

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have published guidance on the upcoming changes to the regulation of autologous human cells and tissues (HCT) products. This is to assist you in interpretation of new requirements that are likely to come in to effect from 1 July 2018 (subject to Government approval).
As a result of the changes some autologous human cell and tissue (HCT) products will be subject to increased regulation by the TGA from 1 July 2018. These changes will improve patient protection from providers of unproven therapies, ensure patients have access to safe and effective new therapies, and support a patient-prescriber relationship to access appropriate treatments.
The increase in regulatory oversight from 1 July will include a prohibition on advertising autologous HCT products to patients, and a requirement to report adverse events. Transition arrangements will be included for the other regulatory requirements, with the intention for the provisions to balance the need for increased oversight of this sector, while allowing sufficient time for providers to bring their operations in line with the new requirements. These provisions will allow continuing supply until June 2019.
The guidance also includes an explanation of key terms, new definitions for classifications of biologicals, minimal manipulation, homologous use and regulatory pathways for supply of autologous HCT products. Examples have been used throughout the guidance document to clarify how the definitions operate in practice.
We encourage you to familiarise yourself with this guidance ahead of regulatory changes in July 2018. 
If you have questions or feedback please contact the TGA directly at

Pan-American Occupational and Environmental Health Conference

The Pan-American Conference on Environmental and Occupational Health will be held from 27 to 29 September 2018 in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

The objective is to broaden the Pan-American interaction in environmental and occupational health, with systemic approaches and at the same time considering the peculiarities of each country and region.

Please visit to register and for more information.

Adverse ​Events Reporting Survey

Analysis of adverse event reports is an important way that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) monitors the safety of medicines and vaccines used in Australia.

Health professionals play an important role in ensuring the safe use of medicines particularly by reporting adverse events they see in clinical practice for new medicines. 

The TGA are undertaking an online survey to seek information about health professionals’ experiences and attitudes towards key issues related to medicines and their use, particularly related to identifying, managing and reporting adverse events. Your responses will help the TGA improve the way they collect and use adverse event reports.

The survey is available ​online and is estimated to take about 10 minutes to complete.

Note: All responses are anonymous and this survey does not collect any personally identifying information.

Career opportunities

View all ​positions vacant

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.

AFOEM contact details

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

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Georgina Kempton, 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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