AFPHM eBulletin – 29 May 2020

A message from your President

Hello everyone. On 4 May, the Presidency of the AFPHM  was passed from Associate Professor Linda Selvey to me – quietly and electronically in this time of social distancing and working from home. I feel very privileged and I’m looking forward to two years as President of the Faculty. However I  was very disappointed not to be able to celebrate Linda’s achievements during her Presidency with friends and colleagues, as we would normally be able to do. Hopefully there will be a future time when we can get together to properly acknowledge that work. 

For those who do not know me, I trained in medicine in Auckland and worked in clinical positions for a few years in Aotearoa New Zealand, Canada, Australia and the Solomon Islands before taking time off (20 years) to raise four fabulous children (now all wonderful adults). I returned to study in 2000 and completed a PhD in epidemiology and population health at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) at the Australian National University and have been Head of NCEPH since 2015.

My PhD was on social determinants of health, much of my research was on environmental risk factors for health. I am passionate about training in public health medicine – I was a member then Chair of the Faculty Assessment Committee, member then Chair of the Faculty Education Committee, examiner and then Lead Examiner for the Faculty. 

Over the next two years, I want to maintain Linda’s (and Lynne’s before her) focus on climate change and health, work to strengthen links with the New Zealand College of Public Health and with public health medicine in the Pacific, and ensure that we maintain rigor and an excellent training program during the College’s Curriculum Renewal. 

The COVID-19 pandemic (following on from the bushfires) has presented many new challenges – but has also highlighted public health medicine. Flattening the curve, reproduction rates and epidemiology are now terms in common use and the public has a much greater appreciation of the value and contribution of public health medicine to the nation’s wellbeing. I hope that we can document the contribution and impact of public health physicians and trainees during this pandemic to build a narrative around the value of public health physicians to Australia’s health and wellbeing.

I very much look forward to working with Council, the Faculty committees and the RACP AFPHM staff over the next two years.

Professor Robyn Lucas
AFPHM President

Faculty Trainees’ Committee – message from the outgoing Chair 

Time has passed by strangely these last few months. March seemed to last forever, while April passed in a flash, leaving us in May – almost winter, despite it feeling like it was just late January, when the first few cases of COVID-19 in Australia had just been diagnosed.

May is also the change-over period for AFPHM committees, which means the end of my two-year period as Chair of the Faculty Trainees' Committee (FtC). Over the last two years, the FtC has worked hard to advocate for trainees on issues relating to training, assessment, supervision, selection and overall experience.

Some key accomplishments have been in getting the National Training Days recorded, to improve access, and increasing the frequency of webinars. We have aimed to improve transparency and communication with our Committee and are completing an FtC-led survey of trainee demographics and views (findings coming soon). We’ve also contributed to some longer-term projects and learnt to accept that some changes occur on a timescale longer than the term of one Committee.

It’s been great to sit on the FtC with such a dedicated bunch of trainees, who have worked tirelessly to advocate for trainees. We also thank the members of the wider AFPHM committees and College staff for their support of the FtC and commitment to trainees.

The COVID-19 pandemic offers valuable learning opportunities, but also brings a new set of challenges for trainees. The role of the FtC will be more vital than ever, including to ensure that there is continued teaching, flexibility in training and assessment and adequate support for trainees. I encourage all trainees to get involved and apply to join the FtC and other AFPHM committees.

Best wishes,

Dr Anthea Katelaris, AFPHM trainee

AFPHM Policy & Advocacy Committee

Here’s a question – whether a Fellow of the Faculty or trainee acquiring your skills in public health medicine, when were you most proud to be a member of the College?

Many of us would likely answer “When the College took a stance I believed in”. Think of all the work undertaken by the College behind-the-scenes as well as in very public arenas to shape Australia’s healthcare system, promote health and challenge inequity. 

Our Faculty has a huge role to play in the College’s policy and advocacy agenda. Get involved – we have an active, irrepressible and effective Policy & Advocacy Committee. As part of the College’s policy workplan, we are contributing to major initiatives in climate change and health, supporting self-determination of First Nations peoples, child health and social determinants of health.

This is a shout-out to all agents for change. Please come on board and join your Faculty’s Policy & Advocacy Committee.  Many hands make light work.

Please contact AFPHM Executive Officer, Melanie at with any immediate questions or visit the College website for more details.

Apply for a Digital Health Scholarship 

In partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency, the RACP are offering digital health scholarships to eligible Australian Fellows and trainees. 

Ten $4,000 scholarships are available for Fellows and trainees familiar with or practicing the use of My Health Record and/or other digital health initiatives in the healthcare environment.

Applicants must:

  • be an RACP Fellow or trainee who resides in Australia
  • be currently employed in a public or private accredited clinical environment
  • have a recent, demonstrated record of adopting various digital health initiatives.

Applications close on Wednesday, 10 June 2020.

For further information and to apply visit the EOI webpage

Seeking AFPHM representatives for committees

Expressions of Interest are currently open to all AFPHM members for the AFPHM Council, Policy & Advocacy Committee and Regional Committees. This is an opportunity to become more involved in Faculty activities and meet other members.

Further details are available online for the positions available on: 

If you have any queries, please contact the Faculty Office via

Updates on Advanced Training Curricula Renewal 

The common standards for Advanced Training curricula have now been finalised.

Thank you to all members who participated in consultation activities on the draft common standards throughout 2019. Your feedback was used to identify the content that is common across the Advanced Training programs and to refine that content.

There is more work to be done to develop appropriate competencies for cultural competence. We will continue development and consultation in this area. 

This year we will also focus on developing the common elements of the learning, teaching and assessment programs that will support the new Advanced Training curricula. 

Some specialties will also start developing their program-specific curriculum content with assistance from the Curriculum Advisory Group and RACP Curriculum Team. 

Apply for the new role of RACP Executive General Manager Strategy and People and Dean of the College

We are recruiting for a strategic leadership role which has been newly created for an RACP Fellow. 
The Executive General Manager Strategy and People and Dean of the College is an integral component of our Senior Leadership Team. The successful applicant will play a significant role in enhancing the strategic impact of the College, representing the greater membership and enhancing the strength of the partnership between members and staff. 

About the role

Reporting to the Chief Executive Officer you will be a leader of the RACP, managing several business areas including the Strategic Coordination Unit, the College Foundation, International Partnerships, the Office of the Dean and People and Culture (formerly HR). 

In this new role you’ll help shape our new direction by delivering a physician’s perspective across the entire College that supports, engages and represents our membership base. You will be a trusted adviser to the Board, its Peak Committees and the CEO. You’ll also play a key role interacting with external stakeholders to evolve the model of healthcare in both Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. 

This high-profile role is ideal if you are looking to expand your career beyond clinical delivery into organisational leadership and development. 

More information about this critical new role is available in the job advertisement and position description

Research award applications

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

There are also other grants available in the Research Entry Scholarships, Research Development Scholarship and Travel Grant categories which provide research funding for 2021.

Full details for these opportunities are available on the RACP Foundation website.

Trainee Research Awards proceeding in 2020

Applications for 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 wonderful opportunity to trainees to do an oral presentation of 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 2021 RACP Congress.

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

COVID-19 impact on trainees

We recognise many trainees and training settings are concerned about the impact postponed exams and cancelled training events have on job applications, training time, progression through training and accreditation. To learn more about how COVID-19 changes affect you, visit the RACP website.

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep58: Billing Part Two – Compliance and the Free Market

In this episode we continue the discussion from episode 56 about medical billing in Australia. Almost 500 million Medicare rebates are processed every year and for the most part these are claimed appropriately. But non-compliant billing could be costing the health system over $2 billion annually. The vast majority of this comes down to misunderstanding of the conditions around MBS items, according to our guest Loryn Einstein of Medical Billing Experts.

Every year the Department of Health shifts its attention onto a different specialty area to look at the statistical spread of claiming behaviour. Practitioners at the top end of the curve receive warning letters and flagged practitioners who persist with unaccountable billing behaviour will have their practice audited more thoroughly. Finally, they may be referred to the Professional Services Review, a sort of judicial panel made up of clinical peers.

Questions have been raised by professional bodies and lawyers about the sensitivity of these processes to clinical nuance or procedural fairness, and the lack of education available to practitioners. We hear responses to such concerns from the Department of Health.

Finally, we take a look at the huge range of private medical fees in Australia. Loryn Einstein considers how factors like regulation and supply and demand shape this market.

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

Expressions of Interest – College Education Committee Chair

The RACP Board is seeking Expressions of Interests for the Chair of the College Education Committee (CEC) which is the peak committee overseeing all education, training and assessment policy and strategy.

The Chair of the CEC will be appointed by an Expression of Interest process with selection and approval by the Board.

As Chair, the successful applicant will need to commit to attending all meetings throughout the year. Meetings are held three times per year face-to-face, with at least two additional teleconference meetings or as required. There will also be a requirement, as Chair, to participate in several assessment and education committees of the College and associated workshops.

Read the full EOI

WEBINAR: Restructuring financial affairs post COVID-19 – loans, mortgages, superannuation and insurances

RACP and The Professional Medical Practice have worked together to create a webinar on how to restructure your financial affairs to optimise the outcomes and get you back on track despite the massive disruption caused by COVID-19.

Our speakers will cover various topics surrounding investment, loans, mortgages, superannuation and insurances.

Date: Thursday, 4 June 2020
Time: 7pm to 8pm (AEST)

Registrations are essential so make sure you register your interest online.

Aotearoa New Zealand – Budget 2020 

On 14 May 2020, the New Zealand Government delivered Budget 2020, Wellbeing Budget: Rebuilding Together. In response, the RACP released two media statements entitled, ‘Doctors say new health funding must prioritise equity’ and ‘Sustained focus on wellbeing essential to support Aotearoa NZ post-COVID-19’.

The first of these releases welcomes the focus and funding in Budget 2020 for the Aotearoa New Zealand health system, including $3.92b over four years for District Health Boards (DHBs) and a one-off boost of $282.5m to address the backlog of elective procedures and hospital appointments. This investment provides an opportunity for equity to be placed at the forefront of decision-making and to improve health outcomes for Māori and Pasifika facing the reality that, in the face of prognostication and health rationing algorithms, they often fare worse in our health system.

As Dr George Laking, Aotearoa New Zealand President said “Right now, health policy is economic policy, it’s social policy and fiscal policy. The investment we make in health as a country will support our social, economic, physical and environmental wellbeing, as Aotearoa recovers and rebuilds through the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The second of these releases focuses on changes made to the social support system and how they influence the social determinants of health – the ‘causes of the causes’ of poor health and wellbeing. The social determinants of health are at the heart of the RACP’s Making It The Norm campaign, which calls for Whānau Wellbeing, Healthy Housing and Good Work to become the norm in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr Laking said that “The Budget places an emphasis, naturally, on jobs and training. The RACP sees work and employment as inextricably linked to housing and whānau wellbeing. We call on the Government to prioritise sustained investment in addressing the social determinants of health. 

“Budget 2020 still only skirts the edges of long-awaited systemic change in social security. We welcome the direction of change but would support the Government going further to support whānau wellbeing.”

This is something that will be ever more important in the continually evolving world of COVID-19 and the resultant economic shock.

No more time to waste: Pregnancy warning labels on alcoholic products 

It has taken over two decades since the first calls for effective and mandatory alcohol pregnancy labeling in Australia for the issue to become subject to government regulation. For well over a decade now the RACP has actively supported this crucial and cost-effective intervention to reduce alcohol-related harm amongst the most vulnerable – children. 

In March 2020, when a new, mandatory evidence-based regime recommended by Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) finally seemed within reach, then-RACP President Associate Professor Mark Lane sent a letter of support for the measure to all federal, state and territory Ministers responsible for approving the scheme. Yet again, the approval of best-practice labeling was delayed because of industry pressure.  

As FSANZ concludes another review of the scheme and the Ministers prepare to again debate the benefits of the proposal, the College will once more appeal to the law-makers to endorse this overdue yet vital initiative. With the estimated 75,000 alcohol-exposed pregnancies in Australia each year, the time for decisive government action on effective pregnancy warnings on alcohol products is long past. 

Over June and July, we will be urging the responsible Ministers to approve the labeling scheme as originally recommended by FSANZ. We ask you to support our effort by engaging with RACP media and social media as we continue to advocate for this indisputable gain for alcohol harm reduction across Australia.

AFOEM COVID-19 – Guidance for pregnant healthcare workers now available online

The Australian Government’s Infection Control Expert Group has advised they have endorsed the AFOEM COVID-19 – Guidance for pregnant healthcare workers.

This document is now available online via the RACP COVID-19 webpage under Advice and news > Clinical advice for physicians.

Access the AFOEM COVID-19 – Guidance for pregnant healthcare workers online.

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

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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