AFPHM eBulletin – 24 July 2020

A message from your President

What an interesting year to be in public health. After years of trying to get others to understand what public health is, suddenly there has been an explosion of understanding and appreciation of our discipline. Let’s hope it outlasts COVID-19. 

You will be aware of the Specialist Training Program which provides training positions, including in public health medicine. There are currently no public health medicine training positions on the reserve list, but it seems likely that a new expressions of interest (EOI) round will take place later this year. The focus is likely to again be on rural and private practice. It would be good to have some strong submissions for public health medicine training positions. I am happy to chat with anyone who is thinking about developing a position and putting in an EOI if that is useful. You can contact me through the Faculty office.

I would like to thank and celebrate all of the Fellows and trainees who are working on the COVID-19 response – and all of those who are not directly working on the response, but backfilling for those who are, or keeping the rest of our public health systems working. Each day I am blown away by the calm competence and fantastic communication from our public health physicians – fabulous role models and leaders. Thank you.

Professor Robyn Lucas
AFPHM President

University of Sydney survey

The University of Sydney invites AFPHM members to participate in a survey for the ‘Health professionals' knowledge, preparedness and experiences of managing SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 in the Australian healthcare settings: A multidisciplinary cross-sectional study’. 

This study is an anonymous online survey of public health physicians and nine other health professional craft groups, namely the infectious diseases physicians, infection control practitioners, emergency physicians, emergency nurses, intensivists, critical care nurses, general practitioners, paramedics and anaesthetists via their professional college or society.

The survey comprises of four sections and will take approximately ten minutes to complete.

  • Section 1 asks a few demographic questions about you. 
  • Section 2 asks questions about your knowledge of COVID-19. 
  • Section 3 explores aspects about your preparedness for COVID-19, including training, provision of information and availability of guidelines.
  • Section 4 explores your experiences of working as a public health physician in the context of COVID-19. 

The study is led by Professor Ramon Z Shaban, Clinical Chair for Infection Prevention and Disease Control at The University of Sydney and Western Sydney Local Health District. 

If you have any questions about the study or would like to know more information, please contact Professor Shaban at

To begin the survey visit the University of Sydney website.

2020 Basil Hetzel Leadership in Public Health Award

The Faculty would like to congratulate SA Chief Public Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier FAFPHM, who is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Basil Hetzel Leadership in Public Health Award, awarded by the Public Health Association.

Congratulations for this well-deserved recognition.

2019 Gerry Murphy Prize and John Snow Scholarship presentations

Due to the cancellation of RACP Congress 2020 in Melbourne, these events will now be conducted virtually, and you are invited to attend. 

Gerry Murphy Prize

Date: Thursday, 10 September 2020
Time: 5.30pm to 7pm (AEST)
Register online

John Snow Scholarship

Date: Thursday, 24 September 2020
Time: 5.30pm to 7pm (AEST)
Register online

RACP Online Congress Series – The AFPHM Redfern Oration

The Redfern Oration was instituted by the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine in 1994 to acknowledge the significant contribution of Dr William Redfern to public health medicine in Australia. William Redfern occupies a distinguished place in Australian medical history. He was both a pioneer in public health and represents the earliest beginnings of the first medical specialty to develop in Australia – that of preventive medicine.

This year’s Redfern Oration, Planetary health: protecting and promoting health in the anthropocene epoch, is presented by Professor Tony Capon

Professor Capon directs the Monash Sustainable Development Institute and holds a chair in planetary health in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University. He is an authority in environmental health and health promotion and his research focuses on urbanisation, sustainable development and human health.

In the Redfern Oration Professor Capon shares his expert knowledge, insights, and perspective on how the health of our planet is directly linked to the health of our communities.  

The Redfern Oration is available for you to watch on demand as part of the  RACP Online Congress Series.

Telehealth in Australia now

Telehealth was brand new for many of us, and now some of us might be getting rusty on the fundamental considerations to make before, during and after telehealth consultations.

The animated overview below will be included in a new online learning resource that will be available on and will also include Aotearoa New Zealand specific information.


Calling all artists and performers – the Online Congress Series Fringe Experience

At RACP Congress 2019, we launched the inaugural Fringe Experience. The Fringe Experience provided an opportunity for you to share the things you do outside of your life as healthcare professionals. We were treated to singing performances, poetry readings, art displays and yoga sessions, highlighting the extraordinary talents of our members and focusing on some of the things you do to look after your health and wellbeing.

Although we are unable to meet face-to-face this year, we are still excited to bring you the Online Congress Series Fringe Experience.

Are you a budding musician, singer, dancer or mime artist? Send us a short video that we can share on the Online Congress Series platform.

Do you dabble with paints, pencils or crayons? Send us a picture of your artwork to include in our Fringe Experience Gallery on social media.

Perhaps you have an eye for photography. We would love to share your work.

The Online Congress Fringe Experience will include meditations, yoga sessions, creative writing workshops and more.

If you would like to lead a session, showcase your art or share a performance email with a short synopsis of your presentation. We will work with you to bring your ideas to life.

Trainee Research Awards 2020

Applications for the Trainee Research Awards are now open for trainees and New Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training.

The Trainee Research Awards provide a valuable opportunity for trainees to present their research at an Australian regional or Aotearoa New Zealand event. The best presenters from each local event are invited to be part of the Research and Innovation stream at the RACP Congress. Selected representatives will also receive complimentary registration, return airfares and accommodation for up to three nights to attend the RACP Congress.

Please send your abstract submissions or inquiries by email to your respective regional RACP offices.
Applications close on Monday, 31 August 2020.

College medals and awards

Nominations are now open for the following College prizes which acknowledge outstanding contributions and achievements made by Fellows and trainees in their respective fields:

  • The John Sands Medal recognises a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to the welfare of the RACP and its members.
  • The College Medal is aligned to the College motto hominum servire saluti. It is awarded to a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to medical specialist practice, healthcare and/or health of community through physician activities.
  • International Medal recognises a member who has provided outstanding service in developing countries.
  • Medal for Clinical Service in Rural and Remote Areas recognises a Fellow who has provided outstanding clinical service in rural and remote areas of Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • Mentor of the Year Award recognises a Fellow who has made an outstanding contribution to mentoring or provided a high level of support and guidance throughout training.
  • Trainee of the Year recognises a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to College, community and trainee activities.
  • The Eric Susman Prize is awarded by the College to a Fellow for the best contribution to the knowledge of internal medicine.

Successful nominees are presented a medal at the RACP Congress and receive full Congress registration, return economy airfares and up to three nights’ accommodation.

Outcomes from the member survey on telehealth

The RACP distributed a voluntary survey in May 2020 to all its practising Australian-based members on their use of the new Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth attendance items introduced for COVID-19. The survey closed on 25 May 2020, with 950 responses received. A similar survey is under development for RACP members based in Aotearoa New Zealand.

A summary report highlighting the impacts of the new telehealth items and outlining key findings and recommendations can be found on the College website

RACP a key player in the historic decision on pregnancy warnings on alcoholic products

On 17 July 2020, the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation made the important and pioneering decision to endorse evidence-based pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products, safeguarding the health and wellbeing of children in Australia and New Zealand. The College has welcomed the Ministerial decision to adopt effective pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products.

The evidence-based labelling scheme recommended earlier in the year by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand was finally endorsed by a majority of ministers after a more than decade-long campaign for mandatory, clear and effective labelling of alcoholic products with warnings that indicate drinking while pregnant harms the unborn baby.

Special thanks in this long, coordinated campaign go to Professor John Wilson, Associate Professor Mark Lane, Professor Elizabeth Elliott, Dr Adrian Reynolds, Dr George Laking, Professor Judy Savige, Dr Rajesh Raj and Associate Professor Nick Buckmaster, as well as to our dedicated partners at the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education. It’s truly impossible to overestimate the positive effects of this critical public health win.

In the words of Professor Elliott, “The colour of this label is particularly important. Red attracts attention and conveys warning, the black text on white background is easily legible, the pictogram is understandable even by non-English speaking populations, and the words ‘alcohol can cause lifelong harm to your baby’ give a clear warning message.”

As Professor Wilson stressed, “The RACP has been supportive of pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products for over a decade – it’s great to see Australian and New Zealand governments now take this necessary step for the health of our communities.”

Join the College Policy and Advocacy Council Executive Committee

Do you want to be a force for change and be recognised and listened to by health policy decision-makers and be an advocate for patients’ interests? Apply to be a member of the Executive Committee for our College Policy and Advocacy Council.

There are seven vacant positions open on the College Policy and Advocacy Council Executive Committee (CPAC EC). Members of the CPAC EC make a real difference by tackling emerging policy and advocacy issues to improve the quality and safety of healthcare in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Find out more

Prioritising Health 2020 Northern Territory election statement

The Northern Territory Regional Committee has developed an election statement to identify and advocate for its priority areas.

The statement makes NT-specific recommendations on the following priority areas, drawn from existing approved College positions:

  • climate change and health
  • alcohol
  • Indigenous health
  • acute rheumatic fever (ARF) and rheumatic heart disease (RHD)
  • raising the age of criminal responsibility.

This statement is designed to position the Committee and the RACP for post-election advocacy on these priorities over the next four-year term. 

Hotline for health professionals caring for people with disabilities during COVID-19

The Australian Government Department of Health has set up a telephone advisory service providing specialised clinical advice for health professionals involved in the care of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some people with disability may become very anxious in these situations and require reasonable adjustments to their healthcare to ensure they receive either COVID-19 testing or treatment with minimum distress.

Health professionals can call the service on 1800 131 330 between 7am and 11pm (AEST), seven days a week.

Thank you to RACP Fellows who are involved in this service.

Recent changes to the National Immunisation Program

From 1 July 2020, additional at-risk groups are eligible for funded vaccines under the National Immunisation Program.

Changes relate to the following vaccines:

  • Pneumococcal vaccine (Pneumovax 23 and Prevenar 13) – there are changes to the timing and type of pneumococcal vaccine for some at risk groups, adults and Aboriginal people.
  • Meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero) – this vaccine is now funded for Aboriginal children and some at risk people.
  • Meningococcal ACWY (Nimerix) – this vaccine is now funded for some additional at-risk people.
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (ACT-Hib) – this vaccine is now funded for some additional at-risk people.

For further details on the changes, please visit the NSW Health website.

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep60 and Ep61: Delirium

Detection and Causes: In the first part of these podcasts we talk about the presentations and detection of delirium. We also go through some of the medical risk factors, including dementia, infection and metabolic disorders like hypercalcaemia. Even more common than these precipitants, are a host of drugs that can alter cognition or increase agitation by their anti-cholinergic properties. Importantly, we hear Adam Kwok describe his experience as the carer of a patient going through the trauma of three bouts of delirium, and the challenges of care.

Prevention and Management: In the second part we discuss a host of environmental triggers that are highly modifiable. Anything that contributes to a person’s disorientation and discomfort can increase the likelihood of a delirium episode. While a lot of these factors are compounded in elderly and frail patients, it’s important not to be fatalistic. Delirium can be reversed in a majority of patients by non-pharmacological means, though there are no medications indicated for treatment anywhere in the world. Antipsychotics should only be considered in patients experiencing severe distress intractable by other means as they are associated with many adverse side effects.


  • Adam Kwok
  • Professor Meera Agar FRACP, FAChPM (Liverpool Hospital, UTS)
  • Professor Gideon Caplan FRACP (Director of Geriatric Medicine, Prince of Wales Hospital, UNSW)

Fellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits via MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources.

Subscribe to Pomegranate Health in Apple iTunesSpotify or any Android podcasting app.

Listen to Ep60: Delirium Part 1 – Detection and Causes

Listen to Ep61: Delirium Part 2 – Prevention and Management

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. 

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.

Career opportunities

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

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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