AFPHM eBulletin – 6 March 2020

A message from your President

It is difficult to talk about public health at the moment without mentioning COVID-19. This is not surprising as we are facing the strong likelihood of a pandemic of a virus that the vast majority of the world’s population is not immune to. Apart from the direct health impacts of the pandemic, the economic and social impacts are being discussed publicly more and more, and share prices are plummeting. Our public health capacity, already under-resourced, is increasingly being occupied with the COVID-19 response, and this is unlikely to change any time soon. As our health and social services prepare for, and then respond to COVID-19, they will also become stretched. The capacity of all human services will also be affected by the virus itself, as staff or their family members get infected, or quarantined. School closures and other responses will also place a greater impost on staff.

These capacity constraints will affect the day-to-day public health work as well, particularly when already under strain due to bushfires, heat and floods. Maintaining routine services and activities will become increasingly difficult, and this will also impact on the health of the population. Will we see increases in foodborne disease, vaccine preventable diseases, vector-borne disease and the like? Or will we not even be able to detect them if they occur?

In an increasingly uncertain world, where we’re facing an unprecedented climate crisis as well as a pandemic that we don’t yet fully understand, the need for a strong public health workforce has never been greater. We can’t take our eyes off the ball of the work that has led to huge health gains, while also responding to new health threats. The case for public health medicine training is clear.

To close my contribution to this eBulletin, please take a look at our draft statement about the role of public health physicians in today’s health system. The AFPHM Council asked the Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee (FPAC) to prepare a succinct pitch for decision makers in health departments and other organisations confronting serious challenges in population and public health. Public health physicians bring crucial expertise as a result of our training and continuing professional development.  This will be an important document to refer to when persuading stakeholders of our value. Please provide feedback via email to by COB Friday, 20 March. We look forward to receiving your comments.

Associate Professor Linda Selvey
AFPHM President

Last chance to apply for an RACP Educational Development Study Grant

Applications for the 2020 RACP Educational Development Study Grants close Monday, 23 March 2020. 

Awards worth up to $10,000 are available for this round including:

  • Aotearoa New Zealand Educational Development Grant
  • Queensland Regional Committee Educational Development Grant
  • Eric Burnard Fellowship
  • Richard Kemp Memorial Fellowship.

To access the eligibility criteria and the online application form, please visit the RACP Foundation webpage.

Join our College’s Gender Equity in Medicine Working Group

Our College is calling upon members to submit expressions of interest to our new Gender Equity in Medicine Working Group (GEMWG). The GEMWG is being established to develop an understanding of the gender equity issues and barriers experienced by Fellows and trainees and examine what our College can do to better support gender equity in medicine. This is a great opportunity to be involved in an important College initiative and we encourage you to apply today.

Apply now 

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.

Seeking AFPHM Representatives for Committees

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

Further details are available on the AFPHM elections webpage.

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

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.

Research projects and research supervision: online courses for trainees and supervisors

Each trainee is responsible for completing their own research project. Trainees can learn about conducting a research project by enrolling in our Research Projects online course. It’s designed to support trainees through a detailed walk-through of the research process.

A trainee’s experience can be greatly enhanced by a supportive and informed supervisor. The Research Supervision online course helps supervisors who want an update on research project requirements and the research process in general.

RACP Online Learning Resources are free for members and count towards Continuing Professional Development requirements.

The Tri-Nation Alliance International Medical Symposium

The program for the International Medical Symposium (IMS) has now been released. 
Exploring the theme of providing care to underserved populations, this event will give Canadian, Australian and New Zealand perspectives on how we can achieve positive health outcomes for people living in remote areas, those who are isolated or those who have any number of other social determinants.

The symposium brings together leaders from the medical profession, educators, regulators and policy makers to address big-picture subjects from across the medical education sector. 

Join the conversation and register at the IMS 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. 

Join the Evolve Policy Reference Group

Improving the quality and safety of healthcare is at the heart of Evolve. We regularly consult, collaborate and partner with RACP Fellows and trainees who are part of the Evolve Policy Reference Group. They play an important role in leading and shaping Evolve to make it more relevant and fit-for-purpose. 

Join the Evolve Policy Reference Group by emailing your interest to

Reporting on obesity – a handy anti-stigma guide 

The RACP Policy Statement on Obesity notes that weight bias is prevalent in society and people with obesity often experience bias and stigma, also within the health system. Weight bias negatively impacts the mental, emotional and social wellbeing of people with obesity, affecting health outcomes and experience of healthcare. Healthcare providers must offer respect and dignity by delivering care that meets the needs of people with obesity. 

Similar principles apply when physicians talk or write about the challenge of obesity and the people who face it. Our partners at the Obesity Collective are hard at work promoting the responsible model for communicating with media on this subject. 

In collaboration with the Weight Issues Network and the Cancer Council Victoria, the Collective has developed a one-page media guide to help reduce the negative and stigmatising portrayal of people with obesity. As a member of the Collective, the College asks Fellows and trainees to consider the following:

  1. If you are doing an interview or providing expert input, please share the media guide with the journalist upfront.
  2. If you see disrespectful images or framing of obesity in reporting, feel free to contact the journalist and share the guide. 

As part of this effort, the Weight Issues Network has started a library of respectful images to use when required. The longer-term goal is to expand the library by adding more Australian images. The Collective also has a new weight stigma page which will be updated as more research and resources relating to this issue become available. 

If you need to refresh your memory on the College Policy Statement on Obesity, it’s available on the RACP website.  

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:

RACP Fellows at the WorkSafe Victoria Silicosis Summit

On Thursday, 27 February 2020, Professor Malcolm Sim, AFOEM President-elect, Dr Graeme Edwards, AFOEM Fellow and College spokesperson on accelerated silicosis, presented at a Silicosis Summit organised by WorkSafe Victoria in Melbourne. Dr Ryan Hoy, a respiratory and sleep physician and member of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, also took part in the summit as an expert panel member. The event was attended by over 600 people from the stone masonry, construction and tunneling industries who came to learn about prevention of silica dust exposure in the workplace. 

NSW Government releases the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ final report

On Thursday, 27 February 2020, the NSW Government released the four-volume report of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Drug ‘Ice’ and its interim response a month after the inquiry’s findings were delivered by Commissioner Professor Dan Howard. On 16 February 2020, the RACP had issued a joint media release with St Vincent Health Australia on 16 February calling for the NSW Government to make the Inquiry's report public. The RACP also made a submission to the Inquiry in May 2019 which recommended:

  • more medically supervised injecting centres in areas of need to reduce overdose death and increase links to treatment and support services
  • the urgent establishment of needle syringe programs in custodial settings to address not only the health of inmates, but also the wellbeing, health and safety of the broader community
  • the establishment of carefully designed and evaluated pill testing trials to keep people as safe as possible at music festivals to be employed in conjunction with other harm minimisation measures including a stronger healthcare focus with priority resourcing for ambulance, medical support, protocol development and training so as to improve resuscitation, retrieval and transfer to hospital when overdoses occur
  • the development of strategies for early identification of serious toxicity
  • public messaging and support to attend a health facility with immunity from police action and positive partnerships between health and law enforcement.

The Inquiry's final report makes 109 recommendations to the NSW Government including more supervised injecting centres, pill testing; retiring its drug detection dogs; implementing a trial of a needle and syringe program in correctional facilities; establishing greater coordination of alcohol and other drug policy; decriminalisation; reframing substance use as a health issue; a greater investment in treatment, diversion and workforce initiatives; education and prevention programs; better data, reporting and research; a clear focus on priority populations, especially Aboriginal people who experience disproportionate impacts from ATS, rural and regional people and people in contact with the criminal justice system.

The NSW Government has already indicated it would not support the Inquiry’s recommendations to open more medically supervised injecting centres, run needle and syringe programs in prisons, allow consumer substance testing (more commonly known as pill testing) and stop using drug detection dogs. Its interim response states that "the Government will carefully consider the Inquiry’s findings and recommendations and will prepare a final response".

Traveling this Easter? Save on hotels, hire cars and more

The long weekends in April are the perfect time for a trip away and your benefits can help make your holiday less of an expense.

Under the travel category on your benefits website, you have access to a range of offers including hire vehicles from popular brands, travel insurance and a promotion code to save up to 60 per cent off your next holiday accommodation.

There are even discounted e-gift cards for travel essentials like petrol and Flight Centre. Browse the full range to discover where you could save on your Easter break. Visit your Member Advantage website today.

*Terms and conditions apply.

Medical Board of Australia Newsletter February 2020

Read the latest news from the Medical Board of Australia.

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.

Career opportunities

Please see the College website to view all medical positions vacant.

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 events list at any time to see what other events are coming up.

AFPHM contact details

Member enquiries
(AUS) 1300 69 7227
(NZ) 0508 69 7227

AFPHM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):

Rachel Smith, 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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