AFPHM eBulletin – 5 April 2019

Webinar #2 2019: Implementing successful public health policies

This presentation will provide an overview of the processes involved in developing and implementing a successful public health policy. In doing so, Dr Julia Brotherton will be drawing upon her experience of implementing the HPV vaccination.

Presenter:  Dr Julia Brotherton 
Date:  Tuesday, 30 April 2019
Time:  3pm AEST
Location: Online

For information on how to join this webinar, please see the event listing on the RACP website

To watch previous webinars, go to our Youtube playlist.

If you are interested in presenting a future webinar, please contact

A message from your President

March has brought another list of extreme weather events around the world. A couple of these have received very little media attention in Australia, despite their enormity and impact. Because of minimal news coverage in Australia, you could be forgiven for not being aware of the impact of Cyclone Idai, which hit the Mozambique coast on Thursday, 14 March, and arrived after heavy rains had already caused extensive flooding across the affected areas. More than 750 people have been killed and around two million people have been affected by the cyclone and subsequent flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. More than one million people have been displaced, with hundreds still missing in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Floodwaters haven’t yet subsided, and with the floods has come cholera and likely other infectious diseases. The impact will be felt for many years to come with destroyed crops, loss of livestock, homes and livelihoods, as well as destruction of schools and hospitals. USA states Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota have been devastated by unprecedented flooding and strong winds, and the forecast is for more flooding rains in their Spring. Again, there has been very little media attention in Australia to this flooding. Perhaps we’re all suffering from climate fatigue?

The World Meteorological Organisation’s State of the Climate Report was released on Friday, 29 March. It is a grim read but also a must-read for us all. It describes accelerating climate change, including that annual average temperatures exceeded 2oC across much of the Arctic region. Unsurprisingly, atmospheric greenhouse gases continue to increase, as does ocean acidification, which is already having an impact on marine life. The ocean heat content is increasing, and the impacts of the Southern Oscillation Index (what results in El Nino and La Nina events) on surface ocean temperatures are being overshadowed by this increase in ocean heat. Basically, we are in unchartered territory with respect to our climate and it would be no exaggeration to state that we are facing a climate emergency.

School students are leading the way across the world in demanding action on climate with over 150,000 attending a school strike for climate events around Australia on Friday, 15 March, and more than one million students skipped school and participated in strike actions around the world. The fact that this growing movement was inspired by one person, Greta Thunberg, shows what is possible if we take a stand on important issues.

The RACP continues to take a stand on climate change, and recently endorsed a letter from the Climate and Health Alliance calling on all political parties and candidates to take action on climate change and health. This included developing a national strategy and supporting the health sector to adapt and build resilience to climate change impacts. The RACP has also recently written to two superannuation funds to advocate for divestment from fossil fuel industries, not just in their ‘socially responsible investment’ funds, but across the board. They are also leading a multi-college project on climate change and health. On Monday, 1 April, Dr Patrick Tobin, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the College visited Canberra. While there we met with a number of people including the Secretary for the Department of Health and the Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the Hon Mark Butler to advocate for more action on climate change and health. It is clear that our College is committed to making a difference on climate change and health, and we can all play an important role in supporting this venture.

Finally, it would be remiss of me to not mention the shocking massacre of 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch NZ in a terrorist attack committed by an Australian. This attack will have repercussions for many years to come. As the AFPHM President, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families, friends and communities of the people who were affected by the tragedy and express my own commitment to addressing racism and not remaining silent when I see it expressed by others.

Associate Professor Linda Selvey
President, AFPHM 

Register now for the AFPHM stream at RACP Congress 2019

The AFPHM invites you to participate in the AFPHM stream at the RACP Congress. This consists of the following sessions:

Monday, 6 May 2019

Rural and remote populations and health
Dr John Holmes will be chairing this session, facilitating presentations by Australian and New Zealand public health physicians, Professor Ross Lawrenson, Dr Martin London, Dr Margot McLean, Dr Douglas Lush and Associate Professor Linda Selvey. This session will discuss the various factors impacting health in rural and remote communities and will explore how physicians can work with these populations to achieve higher health outcomes.

Gerry Murphy Prize
The AFPHM’s annual competition for the national Gerry Murphy Prize showcases the research that our AFPHM trainees have been undertaking in public health medicine. The following trainees have been selected by each region to present in this competition:

  • Dr Mohammad Akthar Hussain (WA)
  • Dr Priya Janagaraj (NT)
  • Dr Anthea Katelaris (NSW)
  • Dr Therese Marfori (TAS)
  • Dr Sonali Meena (SA)
  • Dr Elizabeth Peach (VIC)
  • Dr Alexandra Uren (QLD)
  • Dr Margaret Wilson (ACT)

The Gerry Murphy Prize was made possible due to a generous bequest from the late Dr Gerry Murphy, FAFPHM. This session will generate discussions and new ideas on several topics in public health medicine. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Populism and public health
Politics is a key component for public health at local, national and global levels. With the rise of Donald Trump, Brexit and several anti-establishment parties across the world, ‘populism’ has found its way into conversations for many scientific, medical and health experts. Now is the time for public health professionals to engage further in political discourse and action, particularly in terms of advocating for the rational use of scientific knowledge in public health policy.

This session will be chaired by AFPHM President, Associate Professor Linda Selvey, and will feature key leaders in this emerging field, Professor Martin McKee, Mr Michael Moore and Mr Patrick Tobin to discuss the impact of populism on public health, and how this can be alleviated. 

John Snow Scholarship
Medical students from Australia and New Zealand have been invited to present their work related to public health medicine for the AFPHM’s annual John Snow Scholarship. AFPHM past President, Professor Lynne Madden, will be chairing this session. This is an opportunity for all AFPHM members to meet our next generation of physicians and hear about the public health issues they are working on. 

To view the full program and to register visit the RACP Congress website.

AFPHM member spotlight: Dr Katherine Todd

The variety of work in public health medicine and its impact on the community at large is what draws many doctors to the field. From coordinating the Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid (PFAS) Epidemiological Study at the Australian National University, to now responding to communicable disease incidents at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Dr Katherine Todd, shares her breadth of public health experience with us below.

Why did you choose public health medicine as a career?

I love the variety of public health. I never know what question I will get asked next – it might be assessing gambling harms, managing an outbreak of measles, looking at the spatial distribution of disadvantage or the health effects of air pollution, and I love the idea of preventing illness before it begins. Although we never get to meet the 'patients' that we prevent from getting ill by taking public health action, knowing that they are out there is enormously satisfying. 

What does your current work involve?

I am a public health physician working in the communicable disease branch of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. My day-to-day work involves responding to communicable disease public health incidents, coordinating staff from across the branch to bring together evidence and make decisions. 

What aspects of your job get you out of bed each morning?

One of the best things about public health is feeling like I am making a difference to the community at large. I like to tell my medical friends that “I don’t have one patient, I have one million”. I enjoy pulling together evidence for action, whether that is coordinating clinical, epidemiological and laboratory evidence to support a food recall, or immunisation coverage rates to support a policy brief. I also enjoy the communication involved in public health, particularly the need to explain complicated and nuanced concepts in a way and format that lay people can understand. 

Have you experienced any challenges working in public health? If so, how did you navigate these?

Sometimes it can be difficult to explain to people what public health is, as it is so broad – although I find there is usually something topical from the headlines I can draw upon as an example. I sometimes get tired of being asked if I “miss medicine working in public health”, as I still very much see myself working as a doctor, just on a much broader scale. It is often difficult to bring together policy, evidence and practice when there are a lot of competing agendas, some of which are unknown, and seeing the gaps between demonstrated need and focus/funding can be frustrating.   

How has your experience conducting epidemiological research shaped your work in public health?  

I love epidemiology because it is such a beautiful blending together of science, mathematics and the humanities. I find that completing epidemiological projects allowed me a lot of practice in explaining complicated or convoluted concepts in order to understand them – to myself first, and then to others. I also gained a greater understanding of the nuances involved in compiling and interpreting scientific evidence. 

What has been the most rewarding part of your career to date?

I have really enjoyed the opportunity to work on large outbreaks from the initial detection of a small increase in cases right through to control measures and presenting the outbreak at an international conference. It was really satisfying to see the process come full circle and see how our activities (for example conducting an analytical study) led to real life consequences in the form of food recalls and public messaging. I have also really enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with public health professionals from around the world. 

What improvements are you hoping to see in Australia’s public health sector over the next 10 years?

Greater coordination across the public health sector, with a reduction in duplication. More broadly, more policies based on evidence and need rather than political agendas. 

What advice do you have for trainees who are starting their career in public health medicine?

Try and get a diverse range of experiences in lots of different settings – it will make you a more flexible, adaptable practitioner and also allow you to identify what really appeals to you. Put the effort into making connections with other trainees – depending on the setting training in public health medicine can be quite lonely and there may be no other trainees around – attending the national training days and identifying other trainees in your state who you can chat (and debrief) with will make the experience (and studying for the exam) much easier and more enjoyable.  

RSVP to NSW AFPHM Trainee Welcome

The AFPHM NSW Regional Committee is hosting the AFPHM NSW Trainee Welcome event on Wednesday, 10 April. 

Date: Wednesday, 10 April 2019
Time: 6pm to 8pm AEST
Location: RACP Sydney office Governor Macquarie Tower, Level 19, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney
RSVP: by Monday, 8 April 2019

This is an opportunity to meet other AFPHM trainees and network with NSW-based AFPHM Fellows. All NSW AFPHM trainees and Fellows are welcome to attend this event. 

Please check the RACP events page or contact the Faculty Office via for more information.

Draft report of the Specialist and Consultant Physician Consultation Clinical Committee of the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce

Members have recently written in to express their interest in the recommendations of the draft report of the Specialist and Consultant Physician Consultation Clinical Committee of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce. The report can be downloaded in full from the Department of Health's website.

The recommendations in this report will have significant implications for the way specialist and consultant physicians work in the future. Accordingly, the RACP Policy and Advocacy team has been inviting member input through various channels and will be developing a submission. 

If you have any questions on the report or wish to share any thoughts, please email The external deadline for submissions is Friday, 17 May so Policy and Advocacy is planning on developing a draft response well in advance of this date to share with respondents.

The National Cancer Screening Register

The National Cancer Screening Register (the Register) is a national electronic infrastructure for the collection, storage and reporting of data for the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP). From November 2019, the Register will begin supporting the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), creating one record per participant for the two programs. 

From 2020, the Register will also feature integration with practice management software and online participant and healthcare provider portals.

Learn more on the National Cancer Screening Register's website

Seeking AFPHM representatives for committees

Are you willing to represent your colleagues and be a voice for the Faculty? Would you like to be part of creating positive change within the Faculty? 

The Faculty is currently seeking Expressions of Interest for the following positions on: 

Funding available for women's leadership development 

Women & Leadership Australia is administering a national initiative to support the development of female leaders across Australia’s healthcare sector. 

The initiative is providing women with grants of between AUD $3,000 and AUD $7,000 to enable participation in a range of leadership development programs. 

The scholarship funding is provided with the specific intent of providing powerful and effective development opportunities for healthcare sector women; however the funding is strictly limited and has to be allocated prior to the end of this financial year.

Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form before 7 June.

Save the Date – AFPHM National Training Days

The AFPHM is hosting the AFPHM National Training Days for all AFPHM trainees across Australia and New Zealand. 

Date: Saturday, 15 to Sunday, 16 June 2019
Location: RACP Melbourne Office, Level 2, 417 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
RSVP: by Friday, 31 May 2019

The final program will be available on the RACP events webpage shortly.

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.

World Health Organizations’ global photo competition on climate change and health

In an effort to improve and expand the imagery on the topic of climate change and health, the World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with Climate Tracker, has launched a global photo competition. Photographers are encouraged to submit pictures that highlight the impact of climate change on human health. 

Further information on the competition is available online

To join the competition and submit your pictures, visit Climate Tracker's competition webpage

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.

Conferences and events

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 RACP 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

AFPHM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
Rachel Smith, Executive Officer
Phone: +61 2 9256 9622

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

AFPHM Oral Examination enquiries:
Caroline Greenaway, 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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