AFPHM eBulletin – 13 November 2020

A message from your President

What an amazing job our public health workers and leaders have done over the last months to put Australia in such a welcome position. I look at the numbers in the UK where I have close friends, and in the US where my daughter lives, and wonder if they will ever manage to gain control of COVID-19. So, congratulations to all of those people who have worked, across Australia, to give us the possibility of Christmas with family and friends. 

You will have seen the email from the College Policy and Advocacy Committee inviting you to participate in a survey for health professionals on climate change (see also later in this eBulletin). The RACP has partnered with the Climate and Health Alliance to survey health professionals across Australia to assess the: 

• views of health professionals on climate change as a human health issue
• willingness and ability of health professionals to communicate the health impacts of climate change.

You can participate in the survey online

Later this month we will hold the next of our Zoom meetings, co-hosted with the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine, for Pacific public health physicians and colleagues. The topic will be on diagnostic testing for COVID-19, with speakers from Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. The recordings of the meetings are available further in the eBulletin below.

Late in October, supervisors were invited to complete a survey on supervision within the College. It is really important that supervisors in our training program take part in this survey, as our model of training and supervision is quite different to most of the RACP (given it is outside of hospitals and those well-established formal training networks). Please make sure the public health medicine voice is heard. Please complete the survey if you are a supervisor.

I would like to draw your attention to an item later in the eBulletin, that is an invitation to join a virtual journal club in 2021 for AFPHM Fellows working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “With new opportunities for strategic public health as the country commits to the National Agreement for Closing the Gap, two colleagues seek interest from other Fellows about a virtual journal club in 2021. This would be a self-supporting virtual journal club dedicated to the evidence needs of Fellows working in partnership with Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples and their organisations. If this is you, please read more about this proposal on the expressions of interest webpage and contact either Jeanette or Liz whose contact details can also be found on the webpage.”

I recently attended my first College Council meeting. This is quite a large group, with representation from the Faculties and Chapters, as well as all of the different specialties within the Divisions. Much of this meeting was taken up with membership issues, but I was excited to be able to speak to a document prepared by trainees and our Faculty Policy and Advocacy Committee on limiting the use, or at least having a good hard think about it before using, the word ‘vulnerable’ to describe population groups. It was received well at Council and is well worth reading and thinking about. 

Professor Robyn Lucas
AFPHM President 

AFPHM National Training Days – Sessions 2 and 3

Session 2

AFPHM National Training Days Session 2 will be held Thursday, 19 November, commencing at 5pm AEDT, 7pm NZDT, on the subject of ‘Health Promotion and Community Engagement’. The second workshop in the series will cover health promotion for Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), working in Indigenous health and promoting culturally safe practice in our future health workforce. 

Join Guest Speakers Professor Rob Moodie and Dr Leanne Coombe. Dr Coombe will share some personal reflections from her career working in in Indigenous health as a non-Indigenous public health professional.  She will also outline some of the work she currently does to promote culturally safe practice in our future health workforce.  

Register now

Dr Coombe and Dr Moodie
Left: Dr Leanne Coombe. Right: Professor Rob Moodie

Session 3

The third and final session of the AFPHM National Training Days will be held Tuesday, 1 December, commencing at 12pm AEDT, 2pm NZDT, on the subject of ‘Public Health Emergencies’.
Hear from Dr Ian Norton, founder and Managing Director of Respond Global, who is a specialist emergency physician and an expert in coordinating emergency health responses to disease outbreaks and disasters. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Surgery, International Health and Tropical Medicine. 

Dr Vanesa Johnston will speak on Air pollution, the world’s largest single environmental and preventable health hazard. While Australian cities enjoy relatively good air quality, the catastrophic 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires bought into sharp focus the potential public health impacts – both physical and mental – of short, medium and long term exposure to poor air quality. Vanessa’s presentation will focus on the health impacts of bushfire smoke and the public health response to prolonged smoke events. It will also explore the role of public health practitioners in building long-term resilience to bushfires and smoke events, generating evidence and awareness of the causes and effects of air pollution, as well as advocating for action on climate change, the key driver of air pollution in Australia and globally

Register now

Dr Norton and Dr Johnston
Left: Dr Ian Norton. Right: Dr Vanessa Johnston

AFPHM monthly webinar

The AFPHM Monthly Webinars resume this month. Listen to Dr Becky Freeman speak on the topic of ‘Strengthening Public Health Messages using Mass Media’ on Wednesday, 18 November from 11.30am to 12.30pm AEDT, 1.30pm to 2.30pm NZDT. 

Trainees are encouraged to stay online after the webinar and take the opportunity to informally network with other AFPHM trainees.

Register now

Pacific Public Health Webinars

In May 2020 the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) requested support under the memorandum of understanding it has with the RACP and AFPHM in developing this initiative. The Pacific community joining the webinar series stretches from Polynesia in the far west Pacific (for example: Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu), to Micronesia in the Northern Pacific (for example: Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Kiribati) to Melanesia (Fiji, Vanuatu, Nauru, PNG) as well as  the nation of Timor Leste.

The recordings from recent webinars (with passcodes) are as follows:

RACP Congress 2021

RACP Congress 2021, coming to you, wherever you are

The location for the 2021 RACP Congress has been unveiled and it is…everywhere.

Spread over six cities, two countries and streaming live, it has never been easier to attend.

Under the theme of ‘Transformation, adapting for the future’, RACP Congress 2021 will explore diverse topics that address ideas of transforming the way we deliver healthcare, how we look after ourselves in a connected age and what we need to know to prepare ourselves and our practice to remain relevant.

Register now

Call for abstracts for the 2021 RACP Congress

Abstract submissions are now being welcomed for the 2021 RACP Congress series. Submissions must be received for review no later than Wednesday, 23 December 2020. Accepted abstracts will be published in the Internal Medicine Journal/Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health journals supplements so don’t miss this opportunity.

Find out more

Invitation to join virtual journal club in 2021 for AFPHM Fellows working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

AFPHM Fellows who work in remote locations in Australia are less able to access face-to-face conferences, seminars and other types of learning opportunities. Yet the policy landscape for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ advancement has experienced an unprecedented shift in 2020 with the release of the National Agreement for Closing the Gap. It is vital that those working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities have a mechanism to stay current with evidence, controversies and policy contests.  

We are seeking expressions of interest from AFPHM Fellows who would consider committing to a virtual journal club in 2021. A virtual journal club session will be held every second month throughout 2021 with the support of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT) in providing the IT links. More details can be found on the expression of interest webpage.

To register your interest, please contact either Jeanette Ward or Liz Moore

AFPHM Oral Exam applications open next week

The 2021 AFPHM Oral Exam will be held from Tuesday, 9 March to Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Applications open this Monday, 16 November, 2020. If you’re eligible to sit the exam you’ll receive an email on opening day with details on how to apply.

The College Education Committee (CEC) have also decided that this exam will not count as an attempt due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

More information about the exam, previously known as the Instructions to Candidates, is now available on our website.

Find out more

Share your views on climate change and health: Climate and Health Alliance survey

We invite you to participate in a survey on climate change and health run by the Climate and Health Alliance in collaboration with Monash University.

This survey is open to all RACP Adult Medicine Division and Chapter members and members of the Faculties of Public Health Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine based in Australia. 

The survey is being sent to health professionals across Australia and is assessing their:

  • views on climate change as a human health issue
  • willingness and ability to communicate the health impacts of climate change.

We encourage you to participate in the survey – regardless of the focus of your work – because your participation will help us understand our members' needs and interests in this area.

The survey is confidential, administered online and open until Monday, 30 November 2020. The survey should take approximately 25 minutes to complete.

If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Climate and Health Alliance at

AFPHM President’s Awards for Outstanding Contribution

Nominate a Fellow or Advanced Trainee of the AFPHM for the AFPHM President’s Awards for Outstanding Contribution to recognise their extraordinary contribution to the Faculty in any of the following areas:

  • Education, Training and Assessment
  • Policy and Advocacy
  • Trainee Commitment
  • Other.

Nominations close Monday, 1 February 2021.

RACP Indigenous Health Scholarships

AFPHM is proud to offer the 2021 John McLeod Indigenous Health Scholarship as part of the RACP Indigenous Health Scholarship Program.

The program aims to support medical graduates and RACP trainees who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Māori on their chosen career path to becoming a physician. The scholarships provide a funded pathway through Basic, Advanced, Faculty or Chapter Training in Australia and/or Aotearoa New Zealand.

Several scholarships are available for 2021, including:

  • College Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Scholarship
  • Aotearoa Māori Health Scholarship
  • Aotearoa New Zealand Pacific Islander Health Scholarship
  • Indigenous Australian and Māori Health Scholarship for Paediatrics and Child Health

Applications close on Monday, 30 November 2020.

Further details on these scholarships are available on the scholarship webpage.

RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize

The RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize is open to medical students, junior medical officers and RACP trainees who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Māori. The selected applicant will receive support to attend RACP Congress 2021 to gain educational and networking opportunities and exposure to career pathways within the College. 

Please encourage anyone you know who is eligible to apply before the deadline on Monday, 1 February 2021.

Quality and safety online course

Quality and safety are central to the delivery of healthcare in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Our Quality and Safety online course has been designed to help you identify and overcome common quality and safety challenges. Don’t have time to complete the whole course? That’s no problem. Our courses are designed to enable you to dip in and out, or just do the parts that are relevant to you.

We understand you’re busy, so we’ve made sure RACP Online Learning resources are accessible anywhere and optimised for mobile on-the-go learning.

Seeking Evolve case study volunteers for online learning course

To support the implementation of Evolve recommendations in clinical practice, we have launched a series of case studies exploring a clinical scenario based on one of the Evolve recommendations on low-value care. The aim of the case studies is to support Fellows and trainees to build an understanding of low-value care within their specialty and act as a tool for clinical educators and supervisors. We have had approval to turn some of our case studies into an RACP Q-stream. Q-streams are an interactive learning platform, which disseminates case studies via email at spaced intervals. To support this we are seeking enthusiastic Fellows and trainees to lead the development of case studies.

Outlined below is a list of Evolve recommendations we think would be appropriate. If you would like to be involved, email Gemma Altinger, Program Implementation Lead at to receive more information on the case study development process.

Specialty Recommendation/s
Rehabilitation medicine (AFRM)

Recommendation 3: Do not use Mini Mental State Examination as the only tool to assess cognitive deficit in acquired brain injury.

Geriatric medicine (ANZSGM)

Recommendation 1: Do not use antipsychotics as the first choice to treat behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Recommendation 2: Do not prescribe benzodiazepines or other sedative-hypnotics to older adults as first choice for insomnia, agitation or delirium.

Recommendation 4: Do not prescribe medication without conducting a drug regimen review or IMSANZ Recommendation 1: Avoid medication-related harm in older patients (>65 years) receiving five or more regularly used medicines by performing a complete medication review and deprescribing whenever appropriate or combined.

Addiction medicine (AChAM) Recommendation 1: Do not undertake elective withdrawal management in the absence of a post-withdrawal treatment plan agreed with the patient that addresses their substance use and related health issues.

Recommendation 3: Do not deprescribe or stop opioid treatment in a patient with concurrent chronic pain and opioid dependence without considering the impact on morbidity and mortality from discontinuation of opioid medications.

Occupational and environmental medicine (AFOEM)

Recommendation 2: Do not request X-rays or other imaging for acute non-specific low back pain, unless there are red flags or other clinical reasons to suspect serious spinal pathology.

Immunology and allergy (ASCIA)

Recommendation 1: Do not use antihistamines to treat anaphylaxis – prompt administration of adrenaline (epinephrine) is the only treatment for anaphylaxis.

Neurologists (ANZAN)

Recommendation 1: Do not perform imaging of the carotid arteries for simple faints

Recommendation 5: Do not routinely recommend surgery for a narrowing carotid artery (>50% stenosis) that has not caused symptoms.

Dermatological Society (NZDS) Recommendation 5: Do not routinely use topical antibiotics on a surgical wound.
Paediatrics (PCHD)

Recommendation 3: Do not routinely order chest X-rays for the diagnosis of asthma in children.

Recommendation 5: Do not routinely order abdominal X-rays for the diagnosis of non-specific abdominal pain in children.

Sexual health medicine (AChSHM) Recommendation 5: Do not prescribe testosterone therapy to older men except in confirmed cases of hypogonadism.

Pomegranate Health podcast Ep64: Big pharma and the people’s vaccine

This is part two in our series on global public health and focuses on the impact of intellectual property (IP) laws on the development and distribution of pharmaceuticals. The COVID-19 pandemic has stimulated a frenzy of vaccine development never seen before, but also examples of hoarding, price hikes and vaccine nationalism. The crisis has brought together scores of governments, manufactures and philanthropic organisations to pool research outcomes and patents, but the response from big pharma has been mixed.

In this podcast, we’ll discuss where the IP rules have come from and where exceptions are sometimes made for public health emergencies. We also discuss how pooled procurement mechanisms and advanced market commitments can help get drugs and vaccines to populations in developing countries and whether COVID-19 can prompt a permanent change to the existing IP regime.


  • Dr Owain Williams (University of Leeds)
  • Associate Professor Peter Hill AFPHM (University of Queensland)
  • Dr Deborah Gleeson (La Trobe University)

Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits via MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources at the website. Subscribe to Pomegranate Health in Apple PodcastsSpotify, any Android podcasting app or our email alerts list.

New advocacy resource on minimum unit pricing for alcohol 

As part of the ongoing campaign to reduce the many harms of alcohol, the RACP has produced an advocacy resource on minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol. MUP sets a floor price below which a fixed volume of alcohol cannot be sold to the public. MUP is designed to increase the price of the cheapest alcohol; since heavier alcohol users typically consume cheaper products, the policy effectively targets price increases at heavier users. As the heavy use of the cheap, high-alcohol products drives health inequalities, MUP is also likely to be an effective mechanism for reducing these inequalities. 

The new information sheet on MUP shows there is a robust evidence base supporting its effectiveness at reducing alcohol consumption and harm. Growing evidence from Scotland, Russia and the Northern Territory (NT) has shown that MUP can be effective across diverse settings. The success of the RACP-supported (reference 1reference 2) measure in the NT, recently corroborated by an independent evaluation, further underlines its appeal to other jurisdictions in Australia.  

The handy information sheet is being launched in support of the College’s Queensland election statement. It will be used to bolster a continuing push to introduce MUP in all Australian jurisdictions. We also urge members to use the resource in their own advocacy efforts.

RACP endorses Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) campaign for universal free early childhood services

Following strong support from Paediatric & Child Health Division Fellows, the RACP has endorsed a new ARACY campaign which calls on the Government to invest in a universally accessible, high‐quality early learning and childcare system, delivered by a skilled and supported workforce. The open letter at the centre of the campaign outlines how investment in a universally accessible childcare system will support the important role played by families and set Australia up for an equitable and sustainable future in the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

This campaign aligns with the PCHD position statement on Early childhood: the importance of the early years position statement which notes that there is ample research supporting the benefits of early childhood education on child development. It recommends that the Australian Government:

  • commits to long-term, sustainable funding of the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education beyond 2020–21 for all Australian children and expands it to starting at three years old
  • continues to fund early childhood education through the Child Care Subsidy program.

Changes to the Authorised Prescriber Scheme

On 24 July 2020, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) implemented a change to the Authorised Prescriber Scheme to streamline the application process for medicines considered to have an established history of use in Australia. The application form and process have been updated for medical practitioners to apply under the new arrangements.

This change removes the requirement for Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) approval or specialist college endorsement to be submitted to the TGA in circumstances where the medical practitioner is applying to become an Authorised Prescriber of medicines specified in subregulation 12B(1B) of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990. A printable version is available on the TGA website of a list of medicines with an established history of use. The Human Ethics Research Committee (HREC) or institutional approval may still be required to use certain ‘unapproved’ therapeutic goods within an institution, such as a hospital. Medical practitioners will need to liaise with the relevant institution to confirm the requirements.

A medical practitioner will also still need to obtain prior HREC approval or specialist college endorsement for products that are not included in subregulation 12B(1B) of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990. Further details on applying for approval/endorsement are available in the guidance document ‘Authorised Prescriber Scheme – Guidance for Medical Practitioners, Human Research Ethics Committees, Specialist Colleges and Sponsors’.

Information and access to the Special Access Scheme & Authorised Prescriber Online System to submit applications is available on the Authorised Prescribers webpage.

New member benefit: discounted Microsoft Surface devices and accessories

ASI Solutions has created an exclusive portal for our Australian members to purchase Microsoft Surface devices and accessories at group discount pricing. 

Log in to MYRACP and click through to the ASI portal. You will need to set up an account with ASI Solutions to access the offer.

If you have any questions please contact ASI Solutions.

Why Surface?

The business range of Surface devices is uniquely placed to support you in your everyday work and professional learning.

Coupled with your choice of the right software and cloud services to meet your unique needs, the beautifully-engineered Surface devices deliver secure access to information and allow deep communication and collaboration wherever you are. 

Please note the RACP is publishing this offer as a service to members. Such publication does not constitute endorsement. 

*Offers only available to current RACP members that are Australian residents. 
ASI Solutions respects your privacy. Please read their online Privacy Statement.

Australian members – save on electronics with JB HiFi Solutions

Save on computers, phones, TVs and more with exclusive offer at the JB Hi-Fi Corporate Benefits program. Australia’s largest retailer of consumer electronics, the portal never sleeps and provides you access to great offers 24 hours, seven days a week.

Start shopping for Christmas presents or prepare for the summer sports season with these November specials.

  • Samsung Series 4 HW-T450 200W 2.1 Channel Soundbar, (433961) – Now $285.00
  • Hisense 55S8 Series 8 55' 4K UHD Smart TV [2020] (444439) – Now $884.00
  • Dell Inspiron 3505 15.6' Full HD Laptop (512GB) (475758) – Now $982.00
  • Apple Airpods with Charging Case (2nd Gen) (381102) – Now $220.00

Visit your Member Advantage benefits platform to find these offers and more.

Terms and conditions apply to JB HiFi Solutions products, Member Advantage members only. Promotion Offer pricing valid until 30 November 2020.

Useful AFPHM training resources

A reminder to all AFPHM trainees, the following resources are available for your training:

Other resources you may be interested in, include:

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

The following positions may be of interest to AFPHM members:

  • Public Health Specialist – Department of Health, Darwin, NT. Applications close Monday, 30 November 2020.
  • Public Health Physician – Southern District Health Board Public Health Service, Dunedin, Aotearoa NZ. Applications close Sunday, 15 November 2020.

For career opportunities, please see the College website to view all medical positions vacant.

Events and conferences

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.

AFPHM contact details

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

AFPHM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):

Melanie Matthews, Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 9256 9622

AFPHM Education and Training enquiries:
Education Officer
Phone: +61 2 8247 6286

AFPHM Oral Examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator, Assessment and Selection Unit
Phone: +61 2 9256 9681

AFPHM training site accreditation inquiries:
Site Accreditation Unit

Phone: +61 2 9256 9674

AFPHM CPD enquiries:
Office of the Dean (CPD)
Phone: +61 2 8247 6285

AFPHM New Zealand enquiries:
RACP New Zealand Office
Phone: +64 4 472 6713
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