AFOEM eBulletin – 6 March 2020

A message from your President: cherry blossom time  

GettyImages-827003392_Cherry blossoms_resizeThis month Dr Alan Huynh, one of our trainees and Trainee Representative on the Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee, reports on two recent trips he made to Japan. He provides an insight into the training and practice of occupational medicine in Japan. He highlights the benefits of establishing international connections by forming relationships and learning from our colleagues in other countries.  

I want to remind trainees of the AFOEM Registrar Travelling Fellowship that provides an opportunity for them to apply to undertake overseas study that can be used for both education and research but does not require a research project uniquely for the award. This may include either a single aspect or a combination of travel to appropriate centres overseas, an OEM attachment, active participation in a Conference or scientific meeting to present a paper or poster or as a panel member. This is but one of a suite of research and development grants earmarked for AFOEM members. There were no applicants for these in 2019, don’t let an opportunity pass you by in 2020.  

AFOEM Council’s first meeting of 2020 was on 24 February via teleconference. Progress is under way to enable more effective communication between AFOEM members, which is part of a College wide project to develop ‘online communities’.  Dr Amanda Sillcock, current chair of the AFOEM stream organising committee for RACP Congress 2020 was endorsed as the AFOEM Congress Lead for 2021 and 2022. Updates were received from Dr Peter Connaughton, as AFOEM representative, as to developments in the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and International Occupational Medicine Society Collaborative, where he also holds an executive position.

Advanced curriculum renewal work is underway. I, together with Dr Alison Drewry, Chair of the Faculty Education Committee (FEC) and the Presidents of Public Health and Rehabilitation Medicine and their respective Education Committee Chairs met with Professor John Wilson, Chair of the College Education Committee (CEC) on 10 February to discuss Faculty specific training and assessment requirements. While recognising that there are common values across the College we emphasised that there are Faculty specific differences and training needs. Professor Wilson reassured us that the College has the capacity to accommodate for such differences. Further discussion and clarification will be sought in relation to common learning and assessment programs as well as future methods of assessment to maintain relevance in the face of a changing workforce. My thanks to Alison and her committee for the work they are doing in this area on behalf of the Faculty.

I warmly congratulate the following Fellows who were nominated and appointed, as there was only one nominee for these positions, in the recent College elections. They will take up their positions after the RACP Annual General Meeting at RACP Congress 2020 on Monday, 4 May.

AFOEM President-Elect

  • Dr Warren Harrex

AFOEM Council Representatives

  • Dr Alexandra Muthu, Aotearoa New Zealand
  • Dr Josh Munn, South Australia
  • Dr Andrea James, Victoria (Andrea was endorsed by AFOEM Council to step into the recently vacated position for the remainder of the current term.)
  • Dr Helen McArdle, Tasmania

AFOEM Council still needs representatives from WA, QLD, NSW, ACT, and NT. Nominations are also now open for positions on AFOEM Policy & Advocacy Committee, the Aotearoa NZ and Australian Regional Committees. Don’t forget to put your nomination in by 18 March.

Best wishes,

Dr Beata Byok
AFOEM President

Going global: An insight into occupational and environmental medicine in Japan 

 Alan H
Alan Huynh (Centre, seated), Professor Toshiaki Higashi,  
President of UOEH, Japan (Right, seated) and other 
professors at the University during Alan’s visit.

On two recent trips to Japan, I was fortunate to be able to meet with members of the local occupational and environmental medicine (OEM) community. Through introductions from Professor Ken Takahashi, who is Director of the Asbestos Disease Research Institute, I had the opportunity to engage with occupational health doctors who worked at Sony Corporation in Tokyo. I also met with academic staff at the University of Occupational and Environmental Health (UOEH), Japan in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka. My intention was to learn more about OEM training and clinical practice in Japan.


At Sony, I met Dr Akio Iwasaki and Ryosuke Sugano. Both were alumni of UOEH, with Dr Sugano a recent graduate who was still completing his doctorate in occupational health. In Japan, all company employees are required to have a comprehensive annual health check. This involves a pre-screening health questionnaire, general medical assessment, blood tests and follow up consultation with the company doctor. At Sony, employees also undertake an ‘annual stress check’. This has a parallel focus on workplace mental health including identifying potential psychosocial stressors, risk factors for overwork and how these may impact on physical health. 

I learnt about the OEM training pathway for OEM physicians in Japan. It is six years in duration with an integrated research component and supervised professional experience. We also had an interesting discussion about the similarities and differences between OEM training in Australia and Japan. 

Over the course of the day at UOEH, I had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with the University President, Professor Toshiaki Higashi and several heads of faculty. Each Lead Academic gave a presentation on their OEM area of expertise. This provided me with useful insights into topical issues in OEM in Japan and the focus of current research projects being undertaken. I also had discussions with students and recent graduates to learn about their professional interests and career aspirations. 

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with my OEM colleagues and discussing the key challenges confronting the Japanese workforce in the 21st century. These include an ageing population, the decline of lifelong employment with a single company and a transition to a high-tech skills-based economy. Whilst there are similarities and differences between Australia and Japan with respect to OEM training and clinical practice, having the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences can serve to nurture and deepen professional relationships. On future trips to Japan, I look forward to re-connecting with everyone I have met.

Dr Alan Huynh
Occupational and environmental medicine trainee physician

AFOEM Committee elections

The College elections are now open allowing the next generation of College leaders to step up and shape the agenda and future of the RACP. Elected members will start their two-year terms at the conclusion of the RACP Annual General Meeting on 4 May 2020. AFOEM members are warmly invited to be involved in this process and take part in shaping the College’s future.

Nominations for positions on the AFOEM Council, Regional Committees and Policy & Advocacy positions close on Wednesday, 18 March 2020. 

For a list of available positions and all information needed to get involved, please visit the AFOEM elections webpage. Interested members will be instructed to read the Candidate Code of Conduct (PDF) and the Nominations and Election Process for the Board of the College and its College Bodies By-law (PDF) before nominating for elected and appointed positions.

For all election enquiries, email memberservices@racp.edu.au.

AFOEM Stage B Practical Examination Coordinator 

The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) Faculty Assessment Committee (FAC) is seeking an enthusiastic Faculty Fellow to coordinate the Stage B Practical Examination in 2020. 

This is your opportunity to help your Faculty and to contribute to the training of the next group of occupational physicians.  

Key responsibilities of the Stage B Practical Examination Coordinator are:

  • coordinate the development of questions for the Stage B Practical Examinations
  • participate in question development meetings by teleconference with the AFOEM Assessment Committee
  • coordinate the materials and media associated with the questions
  • participate in the selection of examiners from the list of available examiners
  • liase with the RACP Assessment and Selection Unit with regards to the examination venue and recruitment of role players
  • assist in the training of role players for the examination
  • interview and select appropriate patients for the examination.

For further information and to complete an expression of interest form please go to the RACP website.

I look forward to receiving your expression of interest.  

Dr Andrew Lingwood
AFOEM FAC Chair

RACP Fellows at the WorkSafe Victoria Silicosis Summit

On Thursday, 27 February 2020, Professor Malcolm Sim, AFOEM President-elect, Dr Graeme Edwards, AFOEM Fellow and College spokesperson on accelerated silicosis, presented at a Silicosis Summit organised by WorkSafe Victoria in Melbourne. Dr Ryan Hoy, a respiratory and sleep physician and member of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, also took part in the summit as an expert panel member. The event was attended by over 600 people from the stone masonry, construction and tunneling industries who came to learn about prevention of silica dust exposure in the workplace. 

Join our College’s Gender Equity in Medicine Working Group

Our College is calling upon members to submit expressions of interest to our new Gender Equity in Medicine Working Group (GEMWG). The GEMWG is being established to develop an understanding of the gender equity issues and barriers experienced by Fellows and trainees and examine what our College can do to better support gender equity in medicine. This is a great opportunity to be involved in an important College initiative and we encourage you to apply today.

Apply now 

The Tri-Nation Alliance International Medical Symposium

The program for the International Medical Symposium (IMS) has now been released. 
Exploring the theme of providing care to underserved populations, this event will give Canadian, Australian and New Zealand perspectives on how we can achieve positive health outcomes for people living in remote areas, those who are isolated or those who have any number of other social determinants.

The symposium brings together leaders from the medical profession, educators, regulators and policy makers to address big-picture subjects from across the medical education sector. 

Join the conversation and register at the IMS website

Feedback survey on LEGOSH

LEGOSH, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) global database on occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation was launched in 2014. The time has come to evaluate it and reflect on ways to enhance its value to users and LEGOSH welcomes your views on the database.

If you have an interest in comparative information on OSH legislation, you are invited to fill a short feedback survey on LEGOSH on the ILO website. The survey will take less than five minutes of your time and your feedback will greatly help improve the LEGOSH database in the future. All answers are and will be kept anonymous.

RACP awards, medals and grants

Last chance to apply for an RACP AFOEM Educational Development Grant

Applications for the 2020 RACP Educational Development (Study) Grants close on Monday, 23 March 2020. 

One of the grants offered is the 2020 RACP AFOEM Educational Development Grant, worth up to $10,000. This grant can go towards gaining new technical expertise, training at an institution, or providing further educational opportunities for a group in fields and competencies relevant to occupational and environmental medicine.

Other Educational Development Grants available include:

  • Aotearoa New Zealand Educational Development Grant
  • Queensland Regional Committee Educational Development Grant.

To access the eligibility criteria and the online application form, please visit the RACP Foundation webpage.

Research projects and research supervision: online courses for trainees and supervisors

Each trainee is responsible for completing their own research project. Trainees can learn about conducting a research project by enrolling in our Research Projects online course. It’s designed to support trainees through 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.

RACP Online Learning Resources are free for members and count towards Continuing Professional Development requirements.

ANZSOM ASM 2020

The Australian and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine (ANZSOM) Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) 2020 will be held from Thursday, 19 to Sunday, 22 March 2020, Launceston, Tasmania.

Launceston is proud to be hosting the ANZSOM ASM in March 2020, providing four days to connect, learn and share, and continue the relationship with AFOEM as the scientific program partner.

Renowned for its practical solutions-based approach, the ANZSOM conference features a range of workshops, workplace site visits and expert presentations, addressing contemporary workplace health issues relevant to GPs, nurses and occupational medicine specialists. There will also be dedicated training elements with 'Direct Observation of Field Skills' being supported for the first time on selected site visits and a trainee networking event scheduled for Saturday morning.

Session topics include challenging cases in occupational medicine, thermal injuries, medicinal marijuana, health and wellness in blue collar workers, maritime health and safety, colour vision, audiometry, regulatory ‘failures’, use of occupational health data, CPR, mental stress and dysfunction among sports people, cyber security and much more.

Registration options include the full four-day program or single day registration, plus a range of social and networking events. For further details visit the website.

Join the Evolve Policy Reference Group

Improving the quality and safety of healthcare is at the heart of Evolve. We regularly consult, collaborate and partner with RACP Fellows and trainees who are part of the Evolve Policy Reference Group. They play an important role in leading and shaping Evolve to make it more relevant and fit-for-purpose. 

Join the Evolve Policy Reference Group by emailing your interest to evolve@racp.edu.au.

Reporting on obesity – a handy anti-stigma guide 

The RACP Policy Statement on Obesity notes that weight bias is prevalent in society and people with obesity often experience bias and stigma, also within the health system. Weight bias negatively impacts the mental, emotional and social wellbeing of people with obesity, affecting health outcomes and experience of healthcare. Healthcare providers must offer respect and dignity by delivering care that meets the needs of people with obesity. 

Similar principles apply when physicians talk or write about the challenge of obesity and the people who face it. Our partners at the Obesity Collective are hard at work promoting the responsible model for communicating with media on this subject. 

In collaboration with the Weight Issues Network and the Cancer Council Victoria, the Collective has developed a one-page media guide to help reduce the negative and stigmatising portrayal of people with obesity. As a member of the Collective, the College asks Fellows and trainees to consider the following:

  1. If you are doing an interview or providing expert input, please share the media guide with the journalist upfront.
  2. If you see disrespectful images or framing of obesity in reporting, feel free to contact the journalist and share the guide. 

As part of this effort, the Weight Issues Network has started a library of respectful images to use when required. The longer-term goal is to expand the library by adding more Australian images. The Collective also has a new weight stigma page which will be updated as more research and resources relating to this issue become available. 

If you need to refresh your memory on the College Policy Statement on Obesity, it’s available on the RACP website.  

NSW Government releases the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ final report

On Thursday, 27 February 2020, the NSW Government released the four-volume report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ and its interim response a month after the inquiry’s findings were delivered by Commissioner Professor Dan Howard. On 16 February 2020, the RACP had issued a joint media release with St Vincent Health Australia on 16 February calling for the NSW Government to make the Inquiry's report public. The RACP also made a submission to the Inquiry in May 2019 which recommended:

  • more medically supervised injecting centres in areas of need to reduce overdose death and increase links to treatment and support services
  • the urgent establishment of needle syringe programs in custodial settings to address not only the health of inmates, but also the wellbeing, health and safety of the broader community
  • the establishment of carefully designed and evaluated pill testing trials to keep people as safe as possible at music festivals to be employed in conjunction with other harm minimisation measures including a stronger healthcare focus with priority resourcing for ambulance, medical support, protocol development and training so as to improve resuscitation, retrieval and transfer to hospital when overdoses occur
  • the development of strategies for early identification of serious toxicity
  • public messaging and support to attend a health facility with immunity from police action and positive partnerships between health and law enforcement.

The Inquiry's final report makes 109 recommendations to the NSW Government including more supervised injecting centres, pill testing; retiring its drug detection dogs; implementing a trial of a needle and syringe program in correctional facilities; establishing greater coordination of alcohol and other drug policy; decriminalisation; reframing substance use as a health issue; a greater investment in treatment, diversion and workforce initiatives; education and prevention programs; better data, reporting and research; a clear focus on priority populations, especially Aboriginal people who experience disproportionate impacts from ATS, rural and regional people and people in contact with the criminal justice system.

The NSW Government has already indicated it would not support the Inquiry’s recommendations to open more medically supervised injecting centres, run needle and syringe programs in prisons, allow consumer substance testing (more commonly known as pill testing) and stop using drug detection dogs. Its interim response states that "the Government will carefully consider the Inquiry’s findings and recommendations and will prepare a final response".

Traveling this Easter? Save on hotels, hire cars and more

The long weekends in April are the perfect time for a trip away and your benefits can help make your holiday less of an expense.

Under the travel category on your benefits website, you have access to a range of offers including hire vehicles from popular brands, travel insurance and a promotion code to save up to 60 per cent off your next holiday accommodation.

There are even discounted e-gift cards for travel essentials like petrol and Flight Centre. Browse the full range to discover where you could save on your Easter break. Visit your Member Advantage website today.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Medical Board of Australia Newsletter February 2020

Read the latest news from the Medical Board of Australia.

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. 

Supervisor Professional Development Program (SPDP) workshops

General information webpage provides an overview of our three SPDP workshops.
Online workshops webpage provides dates and information on how to register for the online SPDP workshops.
Face to face workshops provides a list of dates and registering for the face to face workshops.

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

Expressions of Interest  

Check the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you. 

Career opportunities

View all positions vacant

AFOEM contact details

Member enquiries
Phone: 
(AUS) 1300 69 7227
Phone: 
(NZ) 0508 69 7227
Email: 
memberservices@racp.edu.au 

AFOEM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):

Megan Chard, AFOEM Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 9256 5426
Email: afoem@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Health Benefits of Good Work (HBGW) enquiries:
Email: HBGW@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Education and Training enquiries:
Email: occenvmed@racp.edu.au

AFOEM Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment and Selection Unit
Email: faculty.examinations@racp.edu.au

AFOEM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit
Email: accreditation@racp.edu.au

AFOEM CPD enquiries:
Email: mycpd@racp.edu.au
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