The President's Message - 19 June 2015

19 June, 2015

The President's Message - 19 June 2015 

I was pleased to meet with the NSW Minister for Medical Research, the Hon Pru Goward on Monday, 15 June to receive an update on the medicinal marijuana clinical trials. The NSW Government has committed to clinical trials to learn more about the efficacy of cannabis and cannabis products in offering relief from a range of illnesses. Minister Goward highlighted the Government's intention to establish a firm evidence-based footing for any use of medicinal cannabis in NSW, particularly for children. I welcomed this approach, which concurs with that of the College. The Minister also raised the government's appreciation of the complexities in this space - and of the concerns around the alternative approach that has been taken in certain US jurisdictions. The meeting also allowed me the opportunity to highlight some key priorities of the College, outlining our focus on End of Life Care and calls for greater use of advanced care planning as well as our work on Integrated Care.

The Minister welcomed this work and committed to keeping the College updated about the progress of these trials - I look forward to that continued engagement.

Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health

Climate change and health is an important topic. I would like to invite all members to attend the official Australasian launch of the Lancet Commission Report on Health and Climate Change 2015 next Wednesday, 24 June, which will be hosted by the College.

Building on the success of the Lancet's 2009 Commission on Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change, the 2015 report of the new Commission reviews the climate science and impacts of climate change on human health and outlines the necessary policy response options under four themes: community resilience and adaptation, energy and technical solutions, economic policy and financing alternatives and political mechanisms.

I encourage you to read more about the event in the story below and register your interest to attend the event in person in Sydney or join the videoconference at any of our state offices (Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Adelaide) and Wellington, New Zealand.

Refreshed College website coming soon

Following several months of consultation with Fellow and Trainee Members, we will be launching a refreshed and reinvigorated College website before the end of June. The website project is one of many initiatives underway to improve services for members and enhance your experience with the College.

The new look website is designed to make it easier for you to find the information you need, quickly and easily. The new website focusses on the needs and preferences of members, and includes scope for broader functionality such as online communities and the delivery of personalised information for members which will be introduced as we continue to improve our digital channels in future phases of development.

Our College

As communicated in my eBulletin last week, we're moving forward on governance reforms that includes a new College Council. I'm excited about the new Council, as are many of the members I have been speaking to since our Governance Reform workshop in Cairns.

I am pleased to announce that the new information site titled, 'Our College, honouring our past and embracing our future', is now live. Please visit the site and explore the available information on the new College Council and broader College Reform. You will also be able to voice your opinions, ask questions and engage in dialogue with your colleagues via online discussion. This is a new site so we're interested in hearing what you think, and how it could be improved.

I urge you to take a look, find out what's going on, sign up for updates and be informed and involved in the future of our College.

Laureate Professor Nicholas Talley
RACP President


This week is Refugee Week, and the week's theme ‘With courage let us all combine' is a reminder of the true, positive influence refugees have on Australian culture and community.

We are a country founded on immigration. It's what makes us great. I am the son of immigrants, and I know many of you reading this will have families who have travelled from far and wide to call this great country home. This week is a chance for everyone to reflect on the benefits brought to our country and our culture by those who have fled persecution and trauma and found protection here.

I am proud that as a College we have taken a strong stance in calling for the immediate end to detention because of its devastating impacts on the physical and mental health of asylum seekers - including children. As physicians and paediatricians many of you will frequently care for refugee patients - and you will know the complexity of their stories and their needs.

Our Refugee and Asylum Seeker Health Position Statement was launched at Cairns Congress, with widespread coverage in the mainstream media, including in the Guardian and on the ABC's AM program.

In the lead up to Refugee Week, we have furthered our support for refugees and asylum seekers. Last week I authored an opinion piece that was published in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald in response to the quiet passing of the amendments to the Australian Border Force Act which effectively threatens to jail health professionals for up to two years if they speak out about conditions inside detention centres. I also conducted a number of radio interviews with ABC Radio National which was an opportunity to draw further attention to the issues.

This week, an article authored by Associate Professor Karen Zwi and I was published in the Medical Journal of Australia. This article highlights the RACP's strong advocacy for children in detention. Following this publication I was interviewed for radio stations including 2GB (Sydney), 4BC (Brisbane), 6PR (Perth) where I endorsed our support for the release of all people from immigration detention. This interview received subsequent media coverage in the Australian Financial Review and demonstrated the strategies our College, with the support of other medical colleges and health industry bodies, is employing to pressure the federal government to release children from detention. 

I know we all have busy lives and practices but as physicians, as well as neighbours and members of the community, we are in a position to influence policy. If you can, get involved with your community's local refugee support services to offer your time, your expertise, or make a donation. Alternatively, write to your local MP or Senator to call for policies which better support refugee and asylum seeker health, or to your local health authority urging better access to health services for refugees in your area.

I look forward to hearing how you choose to show your support this Refugee Week.


On Wednesday, 24 June 2015, the College will host the Australian and New Zealand launch of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change Report (report).

This report follows the highly influential report released by The Lancet in 2009 which identified climate change as "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century", through changing patterns of disease, water and food insecurity, vulnerable shelter and human settlements, extreme climatic events and population migration.

Produced by a new multidisciplinary, international Commission, the 2015 report will be solution focussed and provide a policy road map to lever influence on the international community. It will review the climate science and impacts of climate change on human health, and present policy options around four central themes: community resilience and adaptation; energy and technical solutions; economic policy and financing alternatives; and political mechanisms.

Speakers include Dr Nick Watts (UK) Head of Project, 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, Professor Anthony Costello, Director UCL Institute for Global Health (UK) and Associate Professor David Harley, epidemiologist, GP and zoologist. I will also speak at the event. 

The event will be held at 145 Macquarie Street, Sydney and broadcast simultaneously to regional College offices throughout Australia and New Zealand. The event is open to all members at no cost, though places are limited. To register to attend the event, or for further information about times and locations, please visit the event website.

Anyone unable to attend will be able to view the presentation at a later date on the RACP YouTube channel.

I am very proud that our College has been selected as the official launch partner by the Lancet Commission for the Australian and New Zealand launch of the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change Report.

I hope you can join us at this special event - visit the event website to RSVP.


EOI: Nominations for doctor in training representative to the Expert Advisory Group to Doctors' Health Services Pty Limited, closes 24 June 2015

The Medical Board of Australia and the AMA have recently entered into an agreement for the national delivery of health services to medical practitioners and medical students. While the Medical Board will fund the national delivery of health services, it will not be involved in establishing or running the services. The services will be coordinated through a subsidiary of the AMA, Doctors Health Services Pty Limited (DrHS), and delivered by service providers in every state and territory.

The intention of the MBA and the AMA is to ensure doctors and medical students, no matter where they live, have access to consistent and readily available services. The services will combine face-to-face health-related triage, advice and referral with telephone help line and online tools and resources where appropriate. Over time services might expand to also include resilience training and early intervention.

Read a recent AMA-MBA communique that gives some more background on the new arrangements for doctors' health services.

The Board of DrHS will be advised by an Expert Advisory Council (EAC) made up of representatives of the service providers, doctors in training, medical students, and the AMA. The EAC will provide a forum for sharing information among providers; developing advice to the Board on matters such as program design; developing policy on broader doctors' health issues; and developing common information and materials on doctors' health.

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training is seeking nominations for the doctor in training representative to the EAC. While there is no specific criteria for this position, the nominee would be expected to have a strong interest in the health and welfare of doctors in training and medical students. The nominee would also be required to provide regular updates to the AMA Council of Doctors in Training.

Appointment to the EAC would be for one year initially.

Doctors in training interested in nominating to the EAC are asked to provide a brief summary of their interest in doctors' health and a resume/CV. Nominations close COB Wednesday, 24 June 2015. Further information is available from Richard Boutchard at the AMA Federal Secretariat on +61 2 6270 5423 or

EOI: Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Working Party, deadline extended to 26 June 2015

Applications are invited from Fellows and trainees of the College who are interested in becoming a member of the College's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Working Party.

Australia's NDIS is a new way of providing community links and individualised support for people with permanent and significant disability, their families and carers. Under the NDIS, people with a disability will have greater control over government funded disability support services. Individuals will exercise choice and control over a needs-based funding envelope to purchase supports that will most effectively meet their needs.

The RACP has been approached to contribute physicians' perspective and expertise at various stages of the NDIS roll-out, and is establishing a Working Party to lead this work.

Fellows who are interested in joining the NDIS Working Party are invited to complete the attached Expression of Interest form by COB Friday, 26 June 2015. The NDIS Working Party Terms of Reference are also attached for your information.

Please email your completed EOI form and CV to, or for further information please contact Alexander Lynch at


Early Childhood Development Workshop Representative, 23 June 2015, Darwin

Northern Territory Aboriginal Health Forum (NTAHF) is holding a workshop which aims to gather experts on Early Childhood Development to produce and gain agreement on an ideal, evidence based core services early childhood model for Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory. This one day workshop is focussed on utilising local expert knowledge from a variety of services, pertinent to early childhood development, to achieve outcomes.

If you have expert knowledge in an area of child health, you are invited to attend this workshop. Please email your interest to

The ANZ Society of the History of Medicine 14th Biennial Conference - Missions, Methods and Management, 30 June to 4 July 2015, Sydney

Join delegates for lectures by distinguished international and local speakers, attend a witness seminar focusing on changes in the administration of health services over the past 50 years, and hear researchers present their original work.

Venue: Australian Catholic University, North Sydney
Date: Tuesday, 30 June to Saturday, 4 July
Registration: Please visit the ANZSHOM Conference website.

Australasian Symposium on Perioperative Medicine, 15 to 17 October 2015, Noosa

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists will host the 4th Annual Australasian Symposium on Perioperative Medicine, themed 'The post-operative period: from recovery into the unknown'.

Venue: Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa, Noosa, Queensland
Date: Thursday, 15 October to Sunday, 18 October 2015
Registration: Please visit the conference website.

Australasian Doctors Health Conference 2015, 22 to 25 October 2015, Melbourne

In line with our theme of "Pathways and Progress", we will focus on proactive and reactive approaches to optimising physician health. Our two day academic program will appeal to all who have an interest in the health and welfare of our profession. We will discuss and showcase some of the advances in understanding the health of medical professionals and some of the great initiatives in improving welfare and support systems for doctors and medical students.

Venue: Pullman Mercure Albert Park, Melbourne Victoria
Date: Thursday, 22 October to Sunday, October 25 2015
Registration: Please visit the conference website.

RACMA E-dgy Issues Webinars, various dates in 2015

The Royal Australasian College of Medical Administration in conjunction with the Rural Health Continuing Education Stream is hosting a set of E-dgy Issues webinars based on contemporary and ‘e-dgy issues' that are current to health services. The programs provide doctors in rural and remote areas opportunities to enhance their CPD and sustain best practice in medical leadership and management.

July 2015 - Playing ball: Embracing collaborative care and reducing load on rural practice through thru multidisciplinary integration
August 2015 - Conquering fragmented rural mental health and other specialist medical services (telehealth)
October 2015 - Ageism, sexism, bullying, respect or un-esteemed collaborations between medical professionals. Are we duplicating what is taught in medicine?

For enquiries regarding the E-dgy Issues Program contact Carmel at


Nominations are now open for a range of awards for Fellows and trainees.

The Eric Susman Prize 2015
Fellows are invited to submit nominations for the award of the Eric Susman Prize for the best contribution to the knowledge of any branch of internal medicine. Nominations close on Wednesday, 30 September 2015.

RACP Mentor of the Year 2016
Fellows and trainees are invited to submit nominations for the RACP Mentor of the Year Award 2016 for a Fellow who has made an outstanding contribution to mentoring or provided a high level of support and guidance throughout training. Nominations close on Saturday, 31 October 2015.

RACP Trainee of the Year 2016
Fellows and trainees are invited to submit nominations for the RACP Trainee of the Year Award for a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to College, community and/or trainee activities during 2015 and earlier. Nominations close on Saturday, 31 October 2015.

Please visit the RACP Foundation webpage to download nomination forms and for further details about each award.


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