AFPHM eBulletin – 26 June 2020

A message from your President

And so, we swing into my presidential term. We had our Faculty Council planning day this week, followed by my first Council meeting as President. These meetings were an opportunity to set the work plan for the next two years. I am looking forward to working with Council to embed the Indigenous Strategic Framework into our work plan.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a meeting on the planning for the 2021 RACP Congress. Pre-COVID, in 2021 AFPHM would have joined with the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), the Australasian Epidemiological Association (AEA), and the Australian Health Promotion Association (AHPA) to co-host the 2021 Population Health Congress (in September 2021). Work had begun on the planning for that meeting, with expressions of interest from possible venues being considered. However, the postponement of the World Congress of Epidemiology from November 2020 to September 2021 – with the overlap in timing and likely participants – led to a decision to postpone the Population Health Congress until September 2022. This means that AFPHM will again join the RACP Congress in 2021. The shape of that Congress is currently being considered. You will be aware that many of the sessions for Congress 2020 are now available online – one consideration is how the mix of online and face-to-face might be used in the future. This is an opportunity to re-imagine the intent and value of Congress, including to AFPHM. 

I also met with the Presidents of the Faculties of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine and the RACP CEO, Peter McIntyre to revisit the Future of the Faculty report and the recommendations of that report. We hope to be able to work together to progress at least some of these recommendations. I’ll endeavour to keep you posted on progress in that regard. 

Professor Robyn Lucas
AFPHM President

Queen’s Birthday Honours 

The Faculty would like to congratulate Professor Susan Lesley Forster FAFPHM, who was named a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to tertiary education, to rural public health and to medical administration.

Congratulations to Professor Forster for this well-deserved recognition.

For all members honoured read the list on the RACP website.

Update on postponed Faculty exams

We have recently announced the planned months for the rescheduled 2020 AFPHM exams.

These are the earliest possible months to hold the exams and they are dependent on the ongoing improvement of the COVID-19 situation. These dates are subject to change should the situation change. We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and will ensure all trainees receive at least three months' notice of the exam dates once they are confirmed. An update will be provided in August. 

For any questions about the Faculty exams, please contact

Exam Cohort Planned month 
AFPHM Oral Examination (no supplementary exam) 2020 (Those who would have been eligible to sit in October 2020) March 2021
AFPHM Oral Examination (including supplementary exam) 2021 (Those eligible to sit in October 2021 and unsuccessful March 2021 candidates who wish to re-sit in October)
October 2021

Trainee positions available on AFPHM Council

There are currently two positions available on the AFPHM Council for trainees.

Please note that one of these two positions will become the Chair of the AFPHM Trainees' Committee, with the other being a member of the AFPHM Trainees' Committee.

More information on these roles can be found on the College website, however if anyone is considering applying and has further questions regarding these positions, Professor Robyn Lucas can be contacted via

You can submit your application to Applications close on Friday, 3 July 2020.

Congress Online Series

Congress is now online

Last week, Professor John Wilson AM, RACP President launched the RACP Online Congress Series. A first of its kind for the College and members, as we are delivering the series entirely online. From June to December you can join live webinars and access on-demand content including videos, podcasts and past recordings.

Given the role physicians and trainees play in the current healthcare crisis, the Online Congress Series is being delivered free for all members this year. Visit the Congress website for more information about upcoming webinars.

Professor Catherine Crock AM opens Congress with her keynote address on 'Balancing science with humanity: how kindness restores the whole in medicine'

Login to the RACP Online Congress Series platform using your username and MIN to view the opening keynote address on-demand – one not to be missed.

2020 Interim Program Requirement changes

This letter was sent to trainees and supervisors on 1 June 2020, and we have included it in this eBulletin to update all Fellows on training and accreditation changes as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.

Applications closing soon – RACP Foundation Research Awards 

Don’t miss your chance to apply for funding for 2021 under the following award categories:

Applications for Research Entry Scholarships, Research Development Scholarships and Travel grants are due on Monday, 13 July 2020.

Please refer to the RACP Foundation webpage for information on specific eligibility requirements for each award.

College medals and awards

Nominations open Wednesday, 1 July 2020 for College prizes. They acknowledge outstanding contributions and achievements made by Fellows and trainees in their respective fields.

We encourage you to nominate for the following medals:

  • 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.

Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

Trainee Research Awards 2020

Applications for the Trainee Research Awards are open from Wednesday, 1 July to Monday, 31 August 2020. Trainees and New Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training are encouraged to apply.

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 three nights to attend the RACP Congress.

Please send your abstract submissions or inquiries by email to your respective regional RACP offices.

Training opportunity through the 2021 Master of Applied Epidemiology Program

Do you want to be on the frontline addressing public health threats? Do you want sound skills in epidemiology and to be able to use these to make a difference? Do you want to add experience to your CV while getting a degree? If so, the Master of Applied Epidemiology (MAE) is for you. Many AFPHM trainees use the MAE to gain practical experience across the range of public health medicine.

The MAE Program is Australia’s long standing and globally recognised Field Epidemiology Training Program. This is a two-year research degree that emphasises learning at work, from work and for work; in general, it can be counted for two years of AFPHM training. You will spend the majority of your time in a field placement (typically a government health department or other appropriate health organisations) conducting useful and important projects while being supported via a tax-free scholarship of $50,000 per annum for your degree.  

The MAE has been run by the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at the Australian National University since 1991. The scholars before you have investigated over 500 outbreaks, including taking important roles in the COVID-19 pandemic, established or evaluated multiple surveillance systems, conducted important projects into communicable and non-communicable disease and then gone on to hold senior positions in health in Australia or work with international organisations including the World Health Organization (WHO). Fifteen per cent of graduates are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons. 

If you are interested in the MAE, please see the MAE website or contact Applications are open from 1 July to 24 July 2020.

New, free 24/7, 365 days a year, confidential mental health counselling service 

Doctors and medical students around Australia now have access to free, confidential telehealth mental health services through the new Drs4Drs Support Service, which has been established by Doctors’ Health Services Limited (DrHS).

The Drs4Drs Support Service provides crisis support, as well as non-urgent mental health support, and complements services provided by the network of state-based doctors’ health advisory services that are also funded by DrHS. 

Corporate mental health provider, Converge International, will deliver the Drs4Drs Support Service, deploying mental health professionals who are experienced in helping people work through workplace issues, conflict management, relationship concerns, financial problems, legal matters and lifestyle issues. 

All services funded by DrHS are completely confidential. DrHS does not receive any information that could identify anyone using this service, as they appreciate patient privacy is paramount and provide the option of anonymity.

DrHS is a subsidiary of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), established with funding from the Medical Board of Australia to provide health and wellbeing support to medical students and doctors.

The Drs4Drs Support Service is funded by a grant from the Federal Department of Health, allowing participants to have up to three free telehealth counselling sessions.

Accessing the Drs4Drs Support Service is simple. Doctors and medical students can call 1300 374 377 (1300 DR4 DRS) or visit – a national one-stop-shop for wellness and support resources for the medical profession.

Supporting prevention and management of COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, the Lowitja Institute and The Australian National University are working together to provide practical and timely advice for primary healthcare teams supporting prevention and management of COVID-19 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia.

An expert committee guiding the work is providing recommendations for healthcare workers operating in Aboriginal community-controlled health services and other primary care settings.

The first set of recommendations was released on National Sorry Day 2020, a day to acknowledge and recognise members of the Stolen Generations as part of an ongoing process of healing. Visit the NACCHO website for updates.

Read RACP Quarterly online

RACP Quarterly is our member magazine featuring healthcare and medical news. In Issue Two 2020 we move to our new online platform for this magazine.

After feedback from many of our members about the ongoing carbon footprint of printing and postage of the hard-copy magazine, we intended to transition at the end of this year to an online only publication. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate our plans and bring forward the move to an online only publication for the RACP Quarterly magazine from now and into the future.

In this issue we feature the RACP Fellows recognised in the Australia Day 2020 Honours and the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020 in both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. Congratulations to the recipients – these awards highlight the outstanding work RACP members do and the importance of that work in local, national and international communities.

This issue also features a range of articles in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • How are our hospitals and members dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Supporting trainees through the pandemic
  • The race to find a vaccine
  • New Telehealth items for physicians and their patients
  • The demand for access to Personal Protective Equipment during COVID-19
  • Physicians leading the way on opioid treatment during a global pandemic.

Other highlights in this issue include ‘On the frontline of Australia’s worst bushfire season on record’, ‘Guidelines for ethical relationships between health professionals and industry’, ‘Navigating healthcare the Māori way’ and ‘Turning back the clock on heart attacks’.

Read RACP Quarterly Issue Two 2020 online now. 

Access previous editions of RACP Quarterly on the RACP website.

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep59: Essential Ethics in Paediatrics 

The ethical questions that come up in paediatrics can appear overwhelming to begin with. When can a child be said to have cognitive capacity and bodily autonomy? For those who don’t, where does the guardianship of the parent give way to that of the medical professionals? When might treating one child have implications for the resources available to others? And what about not treating or vaccinating a child, if that is what the parents want?

All of these issues are tackled in the Essential Ethics podcast, produced within the Children's Bioethics Centre in Melbourne. The Centre was established at the Royal Children’s Hospital to promote the rights of young patients and to support families and clinicians facing some vexing ethical questions. The Essential Ethics podcast takes a case-based approach to demonstrate how dilemmas in clinical ethics can be worked through in a systematic way. A couple of these are presented as part of the RACP Online Congress Series program.

In the first story discussed, a child with autism spectrum disorder is suspected of having COVID-19, but the mother refuses testing as it will distress him for little gain. The second, real life case, is that of a 16-month-old boy born with a developmental abnormality of the lower leg. In the most severe cases the recommended clinical management involves amputation, but this boy’s deformity can be corrected through a number of involved surgeries. Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Chris Harris describes the confronting course he had to take. He is interviewed by paediatric respiratory physician Professor John Massie and clinical ethicist Professor Lynn Gillam. They are respectively the Clinical Lead and Academic Director of the Children's Bioethics Centre and both have Professorial appointments at the University of Melbourne.


  • Professor Lynn Gillam (Academic Director, Children’s Bioethics Centre, University of Melbourne)
  • Professor John Massie FRACP (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne)
  • Dr Chris Harris FRACS (Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne).

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 podcast

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:

Open letter to Food Forum Ministers: It is time for a clear, visible health warning label on alcohol products 

For over a decade, the College and other medical and public health bodies have advocated for effective, mandatory labelling of alcohol products with pregnancy-related warnings. Responsible Ministers from all jurisdictions are yet again preparing to debate this urgent matter. The decisive meeting is planned for mid-July 2020. 

In March 2020, the Ministers delayed approving the evidence-based labelling scheme recommended by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand to allow for a review of the use of the colour red in the warnings. Best evidence clearly shows that the colour red is essential for the label to be noticed, trusted and understood as a warning. It is also clear that the alcohol industry has used the issue to further delay the mandatory implementation of clear and visible labelling of alcohol on the market.

Our close collaborators at the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education have launched a timely online letter urging the Ministers to finally endorse the implementation of appropriate health warnings on alcoholic products across Australia. The College is a strong supporter of the letter.

The industry and the decision-makers have had enough time. As the letter states, “watering down the label through changes to its colour, size or wording would be risking the health and wellbeing of thousands of Australians for years to come". 

Please sign the online letter and share it with your networks and on social media. It only takes a couple of minutes and is part of a wider campaign to persuade the Ministers to do the right thing, at last. 

Read findings from RACP voluntary member survey on telehealth in Australia

In May 2020, the RACP conducted a voluntary survey to all its practising Australian-based members on their use of the new Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth attendance items introduced for COVID-19. A summary report is available, highlighting the impacts of the new telehealth items and outlining key findings and recommendations. 

Learn more

Evolve case studies 

To support the implementation of Evolve and Choosing Wisely recommendations in clinical practice, we have developed two case studies depicting clinical scenarios in which recommendations on reducing low-value care apply. These case studies explore a clinical scenario based on one of the Evolve recommendations on low-value care.

Evolve is seeking enthusiastic Fellows and trainees to partner with us in developing case studies for more specialties. 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. Email to get involved.

Supporting the health of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Commonwealth Department of Health have prepared a range of fact sheets for health professionals regarding supporting the health of people with disability during the COVID-19 pandemic. In her capacity as President of the Australian Association of Disability Medicine, President-elect Dr Jacqueline Small was part of the advisory committee which developed the resources and which has continued meeting to oversee the implementation of the plan.

The fact sheets complement the recently released Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability and associated resources. 

College endorsement of the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism

The College recently developed a Statement on Organ Trafficking condemning the trafficking in organs, including removing organs from living or deceased donors without valid consent or authorisation. As a further step to demonstrate support for ending organ trafficking, the RACP Ethics Committee has led the work of formal RACP endorsement of the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism

The Declaration aims to provide ethical guidance for professionals and policymakers on how the benefits of transplantation can be maximised and shared equitably with those in need, without reliance on unethical, harmful and exploitative practises. The Declaration outlines 11 key principles to eliminate trafficking of organs and establish ethical frameworks for the legitimate sourcing of organs for transplantation.  

The College is pleased to formally endorse the Declaration and is committed to upholding the principles of the Declaration in all our activities and supporting our members to do the same.

Career opportunities

The following position may be of interest to AFPHM members:

For more 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
Close overlay