AFPHM eBulletin – 3 April 2020

A message from your President

Many of our members are working around the clock in response to COVID-19. I would like to express my sincere appreciation and thanks for all of your hard work. This is an excellent example of the importance of having a strong public health physician workforce and a strong public health workforce in general. 

The impact of this workload and the many restrictions required for the response to this pandemic, means that a lot of College business has changed. Many will be relieved (as am I) that we have a longer time to submit our CPD credits for 2019. The College has also convened an expert group to advise management on their response and the impacts on College business. We are currently consulting with management about whether or not to postpone the exam this year, due to the imposts that an exam would have on Fellows as well as the fact that many trainees are pre-occupied with the response to the pandemic. We will keep you updated on the outcome of that discussion. In addition, the due date for workplace reports has been extended to Wednesday, 15 April.

I would like to extend my thanks to the many members who are still working hard to support the Faculty and our activities. We are all run off our feet, and it is gratifying that people are still finding the time to do this important work.

Thank you.

Associate Professor Linda Selvey
AFPHM President


From 5pm on Tuesday, 24 March, all RACP offices in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand closed to members and the public until further notice, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

RACP staff are continuing to work online to support our members during this period. We will advise when our offices will reopen as soon as possible. Further information is available on the RACP website’s dedicated COVID-19 page

As a professional medical college whose aim is to help physicians deliver excellent healthcare, it's our responsibility to put the safety of our members and the community we serve above all else.
We'll share regular updates from the Australian Government, Department of Health and the Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Health.

Update on postponed exams

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold we have had to consider all 2020 examinations.
Finding solutions to the impact of postponed exams has been a priority for the College to support trainees to continue progressing through their training and into their careers as physicians. 

The COVID-19 Examinations Advisory Group which is made up of the chairs of all exam committees, and the College Education Committee have made the difficult decision to postpone most 2020 exams in light of COVID-19 and the increased demands on our health system and membership.

We are continuing to look at contingency plans for each exam and put measures in place to assist trainees through progression of training.

We will provide trainees a minimum three months’ notice of any rescheduled exam to give time for preparation.

RACP Congress update

The RACP has made the decision to cancel RACP Congress 2020 and postpone the Convocation Ceremony, which were scheduled for May 2020.

These difficult decisions were not taken lightly. Considering the global repercussions of COVID-19, as physicians it is our responsibility to put the safety of our members and the community we serve above all else.

Presenters will be offered the option to present at RACP Congress 2021 being held in Brisbane on Wednesday, 28 April to Saturday, 1 May 2021.

We are currently looking at alternative options for delivering the Congress 2020 program and will provide an update on this as soon as we are able.

Further information is available at the Congress website. Any enquiries can be directed to

Guidance for occupational physicians providing advice on COVID-19

The Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) have published a guide for physicians advising workplaces on COVID-19.

The document aims to provide guidance to occupational and environmental physicians and trainees who are advising workplaces on COVID-19 and is available on the RACP website.

New education and training principles 

A new set of education and training principles have been developed to guide the College’s decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide our position on potential impacts to training. 

This includes decisions about the impacts of training time and progression through training as a result of exam changes and cancellation of training events.

Our new COVID-19 Training and Accreditation Advisory Group is discussing these issues and will advise on key decisions. The committee recommendations will be provided to the CEC and we will endeavour to let you know the outcomes as soon as possible.

The new COVID-19 Exams Advisory Group is also discussing contingency planning for all postponed exams. 

Amendments to mandatory notifications

The commencement date for the amendments to mandatory notifications provisions in the National Law was 1 March 2020. The revised 'Guidelines: Mandatory notifications about registered health practitioners' and 'Guidelines: Mandatory notifications about registered students' are now in effect.

These resources have been published and are available on the AHPRA website. In support of the revised guidelines there is also:

  • case studies
  • expanded FAQs
  • new videos including:
    o Mandatory notifications – a psychologist perspective  
    o Mandatory notifications – a video for nurses and midwifes
    o Mandatory notifications – a video for students
  • a podcast – A new look at mandatory notifications
  • a myth busting guide.

All resources are available on AHPRA's website.

The RACP’s 2020-2021 Pre-Budget Submission

More needs to be done to address the joint needs of investment in prevention and deep-seated health reform to better connect the Australian health system and address identifiable gaps in care. The College calls for the 2020-2021 Federal Budget to look longer term.

Access the College’s 2020-2021 Pre-Budget Submission, which addresses the need for:

  • prevention strategies on obesity and alcohol-related harm
  • early intervention in mental and physical health of infants and children
  • calls for more integrated approaches to care and for fundamental reform of the aged care system.

Learn more

Stage 5 Australian telehealth items 

The College has been working closely with the Department of Health advocating to expand the current list of COVID-19 phone and/or telehealth services available for patients for specialist services on the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS). This is Stage 5 of the critical work of transforming the MBS to support Australians impacted by COVID-19. The College has been consulting with all specialty societies and the Divisions and Faculties to ensure that all remaining relevant and appropriate specialist and consultant physician and paediatrician items are given telehealth and telephone equivalent attendance items. 

Request for input from members: College submission to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

Disability and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been a key ongoing policy priority for the College and the broader health sector. The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (the DRC) was established in April 2019 in response to community concern about widespread reports of violence against, and the neglect, abuse and exploitation of, people with disability.

The DRC’s terms of reference cover what should be done in all settings such as the home, schools, out-of-home care, the justice system, as well as in the disability support system to:

  • prevent, and better protect, people with disability from experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • achieve best-practice in reporting and investigating of, and responding to violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation
  • promote a more inclusive society that supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The DRC has released four issues papers to date: education and learning, group homes, criminal justice system and healthcare for people with cognitive disability

Our Policy & Advocacy team has developed a draft submission which covers a range of areas that the DRC is interested in and that the College has a position on. 

You are encouraged to provide feedback, with particular regard to the sections where it is noted that there are no College positions yet. Please provide feedback to Rebecca Randall, Senior Policy & Advocacy Officer, via by close of business Friday, 24 April 2020. We look forward to receiving your valuable feedback. 

Access draft submission

Concerns over increased alcohol use in the time of COVID-19

The World Health Organization has warned that alcohol is an ‘unhelpful coping strategy’ for the stress and isolation of COVID-19 lockdown. Professor Michael Farrell of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre says there is little doubt alcohol consumption will increase in this “time of great social anxiety and stress", especially among vulnerable people. 

Commonwealth Bank of Australia data shows alcohol sales have risen by 20.4 per cent compared to this time last year. Amid reported panic buying and stockpiling of alcohol, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation has expressed fears of increased domestic violence, accidents and injuries.

Trauma surgeons have warned that the availability of alcohol during the crisis, including via online sales and delivery, is likely to see an increase in the number of victims of domestic violence attending emergency departments. Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee John Crozier said emergency departments in Sydney and Newcastle were already dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

In addition to an increase in accidental and domestic violence-related injuries, increased consumption of alcohol will likely result in a raise in acute hospital presentations for cardiovascular disease, stroke and depression, putting even more pressure on Australia’s overextended health system.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan stepped in to mitigate these potential harms by placing limits on takeaway alcohol. The restrictions are designed to assist with the state’s COVID-19 response.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education CEO Caterina Giorgi says leaders must be able deal with an unfolding crisis while acting to prevent future harm. “It would be an even greater tragedy if the fallout from COVID-19 was made far worse through a significant escalation of alcohol-fuelled harm in our community.”

RACP-supported restrictions on the trading hours for alcohol are especially needed in such times of an expanding physical and mental health crisis like COVID-19. 

RACP’s Model of Chronic Care Management featured at IHCRC 2020

On 27 March, Co-Chair of the Integrated Care Working Group Dr Nick Buckmaster featured at the International Health Care Reform Virtual Conference presenting on complex subacute care and the RACP’s Model of Chronic Care Management.

Dr Buckmaster described how the healthcare system could be re-oriented away from episodic care bringing services together for the patient, and incorporating care plans linking care across sectors towards a more integrated approach. In practice, what this means is that a patient is supported and rehabilitated by a team, including a coordinator, a generalist specialist, GP and other key clinicians, such as other specialists and allied healthcare.

COVID-19 information for people affected by cancer 

Cancer Australia has launched a dedicated hub providing coronavirus (COVID-19) information for people with cancer, health professionals and researchers.

People with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, including cancer, may be at increased risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) and increased risk of more severe infection.

The website features information for people affected by cancer and a repository of up-to-date, evidence-based resources and guidance from some of the most trusted sources in Australia and around the world for people affected by cancer, health professionals and researchers in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

For more information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and cancer treatment, visit the hub.   

New Pomegranate podcast: Ep56: Billing in Byzantium

Australia has one of the best-value health systems in the world, but also some of the most complicated health regulation. Amongst the Medicare scheme, the state hospitals, the private health insurers and the patient, it’s not always clear how a provider should invoice their services.

To explain some of the fundamentals, this podcast features a former nurse and lawyer, Margaret Faux, CEO of Synapse Global Medical Administration. Faux describes areas of ambiguity in the legislation and the Medical Benefits Schedule which create confusion as to when and where certain services can be billed, or which items should not be claimed together. While there are many traps for well-intentioned providers and loopholes for the less well-intentioned, there are some simple solutions that would make medical billing much more streamlined. 

Guest: Margaret Faux (CEO, Synapse Global Medical Administration).

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

Presentations on Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori health

A reminder to all members presenting on Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and/or Māori health matters that you can have a co-presenter from the local community, who were involved in the research or project. This will add depth to presentations, providing a unique local perspective. Please keep this in mind if you are planning to present for the Gerry Murphy Prize or John Snow Scholarship this year.

AFPHM Value Proposition and Narrative Toolkit

The AFPHM Council has finalised the AFPHM Value Proposition and Faculty Narrative – Marketing and Communications Toolkit for members to use when communicating to stakeholders. This is a set of tools designed to be used in conjunction with one another or individually to support AFPHM members in raising the specialty profile. Please contact the Faculty Office via if you would like further details regarding this.

My Health Record webinar – Getting started

My Health Record is a secure online summary of an individual's health information available to all Australians. Healthcare providers authorised by their organisation can access My Health Record to view and add to their patients' health information. Understanding how to register and upload to My Health Record can be challenging. 

Watch Professor Steven Boyages' interview of Carey Doolan from the Australian Digital Health Agency, where they explore and provide practical advice to help you register and upload to My Health Record.

View webinar

eLearning Module – Cultural Competence

The College has developed a module titled Australian Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori Cultural Competence which is available to all members (login required) via This is a useful module for those wanting a deeper understanding on traditional Australian and New Zealand cultural practices. The module can be completed in your own time and will enhance your clinical practice, particularly when working with Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori communities.

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:

Accredited AFPHM training positions

As a part of the AFPHM training program, trainees are expected to complete their core training in an AFPHM accredited training position.

A list of accredited AFPHM training positions is available on the RACP website.

Overseas training placements

AFPHM trainees may complete up to (a total of) 12 months in overseas placements. Overseas training must be approved prospectively by the Regional Education Coordinator and the overseeing committee. To do this, trainees need to:

  1. Select and apply for a public health training position overseas. Some positions are already listed in the Accredited Settings for Public Health Medicine.
  2. If your position is not accredited, an application for accreditation of a training position can be submitted. See the ‘Public Health Medicine’ section on the Apply for Accreditation webpage.
  3. Once this position is accredited, apply for this position to be recognised towards your training following the ‘Apply for Approval of Training’ section on our website.

AFPHM trainees are welcome to contact the Faculty Office via to be put in touch with other AFPHM trainees who have successfully undertaken overseas training. 

New online course: Working with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

Learn how to work more sensitively and effectively with migrant, refugee and asylum seeker patients in this new online course.

The course provides relevant facts and practical strategies for developing good cross-cultural communication and facilitating easier navigation of the healthcare system. The course includes the perspectives and stories of a diverse range of individuals to provide the full picture.

Accessible anywhere and optimised for mobile on-the-go learning, RACP Online Learning Resources are free for members and count towards Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements.

Access the course

The Good Guys Commercial through Member Advantage

As we are all trying to adjust to this new way of the world, The Good Guys Commercial are committed to take care of your needs in the best possible way during this time.

Whether it is a laptop or monitor to assist with new working from home arrangements, a microwave or small appliance for preparing healthy meals, a fridge, a washer or any other white goods – they can help with what you need and deliver to your door in the current and ever changing environment.

The team are operating as normal, and members will continue to be supported by TGG Commercial Sales Support Centre who are available to assist with any enquiries – Phone 1300 22 55 64 or Email

Visit your RACP Member Advantage website today to register for this benefit.

*Terms and conditions apply.

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):

Jess Harper, 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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