Northern Territory — August 2018

A message from your Northern Territory (NT) Committee Chair

The NT Regional Committee commenced a new two-year term on 1 July and I look forward to getting to know our new members and continuing the great work of the previous committee. I am delighted that we have increased the representation from Fellows in Alice Springs and Katherine providing us with much needed local intel in those regions.  More details about the membership of the NT Regional Committee can be found on the College website in the coming weeks following final approval by the RACP Board.

The Committee recently had the opportunity to listen to Dr Roger Sexton, Medical Director of Doctors Health NT. Committee members fully support all physicians and trainees to make their own health and wellbeing a priority and to look out for signs of colleagues being in distress. More information can be on the Doctors Health NT website.  

The Committee is working hard to finalise arrangements for this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) titled Vulnerable Populations.  Clinicians in Alice Springs can access the ASM via a live stream in the RED Centre Auditorium at Alice Springs Hospital.

Featuring a keynote address from Young Australian of the Year in the UK, Dr Geordan Shannon, the ASM will bring together experts from Australia and abroad to share ideas, acquire new knowledge and develop unique insights that will help improve our practice.  I am particularly delighted that the RACP Dean, Professor Richard Doherty will be presenting on paediatric thoracic empyema and we welcome Olga Havnen, CEO of Danila Dilba Health Service, to speak on Building Resilience.

Workshops on the innovation surrounding Arts in Health and Medicine, and the importance of advocacy, mark the beginning of the ASM, which starts on Friday, 26 October in Darwin and concludes on Saturday, 27 October.

Global stories of vulnerability, a focus on health care in the Northern Territory and a look at whether the medical workforce is a vulnerable population, form part of day two of the ASM.

The exceptional achievements of local trainees are also being honoured, with 2018 RACP Trainee Research Awards and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine (AFPHM) Gerry Murphy Prize presentation taking place on Saturday afternoon.

A Trainees’ Breakfast and Boat Cruise Dinner will provide opportunities to meet new people and network with colleagues.

Registration is essential at

I look forward to seeing you there.

Dr Rob Tait
Northern Territory Regional Committee

A message from the Northern Territory Trainees’ Committee

The inaugural Northern Territory Trainees’ Committee (NTTC) has been meeting since the start of this year and has been off to a great start.  I had the great honour of being selected as co-chair along with Madeline Venables, and committee members Nick Fancourt, Pyi Naing, Azlan Hashim, Megan Brown, Ben Watson, Richard Sullivan and Peter Riley. We have been working closely with the NT Regional Committee to develop a voice for the trainees gaining experience across the Northern Territory, with NTTC committee members working across Darwin, Alice Springs and Katherine.

There has been an excellent start to the year with the NT Flinders Careers Night, where committee members Dr Sullivan and Dr Hashim assisted me in promoting the RACP training pathway and met with over 40 medical students who have expressed an interest in exploring their future possibilities. Representatives from the Colleges of Physicians, GP’s, Surgeons, Psychiatry, Rural & Remote Medicine and Emergency Medicine each presented to the attendees promoting their college and its training program. The evening commenced with a brief talk from each of the specialities represented and was followed with an opportunity to discuss the training pathways with us directly.

Basic Trainees preparing for the RACP exam next year were provided a videoconference link to the South Australian Basic Trainee Lecture Seminars on the weekend of 23 and 24 June, with topics including epidemiology, pharmacology, immunology, genetics, statistics and antibiotics. There has been great feedback regarding this lecture series and it has been great to be able to support trainees in the Northern Territory who are preparing for their exams in 2019. We are very thankful to the South Australian Trainees Committee who welcomed the NT trainees for this event.

The NT Trainee Committee is also excited about future events including the NT Trainee Research workshop on 29 August with Professor Peter Morris, Paediatrician and Research Guru, and a newly added “Meet The Dean” Trainee’s breakfast as a part of the Northern Territory Annual Scientific Meeting in October this year, with RACP Dean Professor Richard Doherty.

Joining the NT Trainees Committee has been a great opportunity to become more involved in the College and to advocate for the Trainees in the Northern Territory.  I feel truly lucky to be able to train and work in such a culturally rich and remote part of our country and hope that through my time on the NT Trainees Committee, I am able to advocate for more trainees to obtain equally incredible training opportunities.

Dr Rosie Rock
NT Trainees’ Committee

Careers Night Presenters

Above: Dr Rock and Dr Mohd Hashim presenting at the Careers Night.

Trade Table set up
Above, L to R : Dr Azlan Mohd Hashim, Dr Richie Sullivan, Dr Rosie Rock at the Flinders University Medical Careers Night.

Interview with Dr Geordan Shannon, Young Australian of the Year in the UK and Keynote Speaker at the 2018 NT Annual Scientific Meeting

In addition to running a workshop about the Arts in Health and Medicine, Dr Shannon is discussing wellness pathways and other topics at the upcoming NT-ASM. We caught up with her to find out more about her work and what NT-ASM delegates can expect to hear.

Although you live in London, you have strong ties to the Northern Territory.  Why is that?

I've always had an affinity with the Australian outback and Indigenous Australians.  My father comes from a cattle farming background and I grew up with close family friends who are Aboriginal and educated me about aspects of their culture.  Although I love bush medicine, I ended up at Katherine Hospital accidentally on a short-term locum stint about six years ago.  But I enjoyed it so much I continued to come back at least once a year - I'm really pulled to the town, the people, and the environment.  Katherine Hospital also has a dynamic and growing program of medical training and research, and it is great to be involved in current projects such as the Wellness Support Pathway (led by Dr Simon Quilty, supporting frequent presenters to the Emergency Department who often have complex needs such as homelessness).

At the moment, I'm based at the Institute for Global Health at University College London. To me, the field of Global Health is about addressing health inequities, and working with Indigenous Australians exemplifies the social, political and commercial drivers of such health inequities. It is a very dark mark against our country that we are complacent about the current gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.  So, I will always feel passionate about working in this area to address these drivers of health: both inside and outside the healthcare system.

Being awarded the Young Australian of the Year in the UK must have been exciting for you.  How did that come about?

It was such a surprise! I was asked to go to Australia House in London one afternoon, but the reason why I was going was kept secret.  So, I had no idea - I thought perhaps I had  Visa troubles... Ha!  So, getting this award came completely out of the blue.  It turns out that my friend and mentor, Dick Porter (an Australian businessman here in London), had nominated me through the Australian-UK Chamber of Commerce. 

The ceremony itself was an incredible experience, and gave me pause to reflect on the need for more generosity and adventure in the world.  Generosity, because the world is built on acts of kindness no matter how small, and adventure because now more than ever we need to see/go/think beyond borders.  I was also able to recognise Aboriginal Australians and the importance of changing the date of Australia Day celebrations. 

You spend considerable time in Peruvian Amazon which must be incredibly challenging – tell us about that work.

I've always been drawn to remote places. In fact, now I make a career of research in communities so remote that no formal healthcare systems exist.  One of these places is the Napo River in the Amazon of Peru.  I've worked there for about five years with the NGO, DB Peru, who provide medical outreach and focus on building capacity for local health workers. We travel upriver - up to 12 hours by boat - and work with a group of about 25 jungle communities. 

One of my favourite projects right now is a community-led project against domestic violence. This was initiated by a group of health workers, and is a project that has been shaped by and for the communities out there. We talk about risk factors like machismo (sexism), poverty, alcohol, and education, and then think about what can be done at the community level to address these issues. It sounds simple enough, but it is the first project of its kind in the world using this approach - meaning that we've recently been funded by the World Bank. 

 Your work fits perfectly with the NT-ASM theme ‘Vulnerable Populations’.  In terms of your knowledge and experience, what do you hope to bring/share with Fellows and trainees working in the Territory? 

Actually, I want to challenge the concept of vulnerability. 

In my travels, I've met the most resilient and wonderful people who have extended me huge amounts of generosity.  These are often people from communities who are considered most vulnerable, but who are, in fact, anything but.  In the medical profession, we tend to have a misperception of what constitutes vulnerability, and are often quick to assign this label when, in fact, we are really seeing the symptoms of unequal societal structures and a health system that isn't able to respond to complex human needs.  As doctors, we can and should do something about this. 

You will be facilitating an interactive workshop ‘Arts in Health and Medicine’ at the NT-ASM.  What can participants expect from this workshop?

This will be fun. 

A while back, I co-founded an organisation called Global Health Disrupted, which works across art, science and media with a multidimensional and often off-beat perspective on global health.  Because of this, I'm a strong advocate of the arts in health and medicine and I'm very happy to facilitate a more creative and challenging workshop at the ASM.  Although this field of work may sound a bit fuzzy for some people, the bottom line is that art and culture connect us to what it means to be human and help change health behaviours for the better. It's another effective tool for clinicians to know about and to use. 

The workshop is designed to encourage creative and human approaches to identifying and addressing health problems. It will involve some theory, some case-studies, some self reflection and some interactivities. I will be running this workshop with Dr Ameeta Patel, who is an expert in the field. Please come along.

Dr Geordan Shannon is speaking at the RACP Northern Territory Annual Scientific Meeting in 2018.

Above: Dr Geordan Shannon

Funding available for Fellows in regional areas

Grants worth up to $10,000 are on offer to RACP Fellows who live and work in rural and remote Australia. SRSA logo

To help Fellows undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) activities, the grants are being offered as part of the Support for Rural Specialists in Australia (SRSA) Program funding round three.

Fellows who receive grants can take part in the CPD activity between 1 November 2018 and 31 December 2019.

Learn more about this opportunity and apply on the SRSA website.

Rob Tait in Resident Magazine

Above: Article and photograph, courtesy of RESIDENT magazine – Lifestyle for the Northern Territory. May-November 2018 edition.

Attention Northern Territory Trainees

Join your fellow trainees for a relaxed breakfast networking session at the Darwin Waterfront.  Meet the RACP Dean Professor Richard Doherty and chat with members of the NT Trainees' Committee.  This session is included free as part of the NT-ASM registration, however individual tickets to the breakfast may be purchased separately.  This event is strictly for trainees only.

The Breakfast Networking Session takes place from 7.30am to 8.30am on Saturday, 27 October 2018.

Registration is essential via

Trainee Research Awards for Excellence and the Gerry Murphy Prize

Trainee Research Awards 2018Are you currently undertaking a research project?  Or recently completed one?  Why not submit an abstract for the Trainee Research Awards for Excellence – trainees who
take out top honours at their regional event are invited to have their abstracts published in the Internal Medicine Journal or Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health. They are also given the opportunity to attend the RACP Congress in Auckland, New Zealand, in May 2019.

Public Health trainees can also submit an abstract to compete for the Gerry Murphy Prize. Applicants must be trainees currently enrolled in the AFPHM training program.

Abstracts must be submitted to by Saturday, 15 September.

Creating a sustainable health care model for assisted dialysis in remote Australia

Dr Clif van der Oest & Dr Jacqui Hughes

The development of an MBS item number for assisted dialysis in remote Australia was announced by the Federal Government just prior to the Federal Budget on 8 May 2018.  This MBS item number creates for the first time access to assisted dialysis close to home, which has never been possible before for so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with kidney failure.  It importantly highlights the collaboration of physicians, health care users and policy makers.

Read the full article

Basic Training Lecture Seminars

On the weekend of 23 and 24 June, 2018 the SA and NT Trainees’ committees collaborated to deliver a lecture seminar for Basic Trainees.  

It was also the first time the lecture seminar was streamed live to Darwin and Alice Springs trainees.

Thirty basic trainees attended and had the opportunity to be involved in five informative and entertaining lectures by well-respected and experienced facilitators.

The educational lecture subjects were facilitated by:

  • Professor Sepher Shakib – Pharmacology, Statistics & Epidemiology
  • Dr Tina Marinelli – Antibiotics
  • Dr Tiffany Hughes – Immunology
  • Dr Nicola Poplawski – Genetics.

Feedback from the attendees confirmed that the subjects were of great benefit, as access to these topics are limited within hospital training.

In addition to the lectures, Dr Nick Fancourt, of Royal Darwin Hospital, spoke about his experience being a competition participant and winner of the Trainee Research Awards for 2017 for the NT.  He gave an insight into what the research awards were about and what he experienced throughout the process and attending RACP Congress 2018.

The SA and NT Trainees’ Committee would like to thank the facilitators for donating their time and to the trainees for attending.

Prof Sepehr Shakib

Above: Professor Sepehr Shakib – Delivered two lectures on Epidemiology & Statistics and Pharmacology

Dr Sally Kellett

Dr Sally Kellett – SA Paediatric Trainee Research Award winner

Dr Tiffany Hughes – Lectured on Immunology

Dr Tiffany Hughes – Lectured on Immunology


Trainee Research Workshop 

If you are a trainee interested in learning how to develop a research proposal, you're invited to join Professor Peter Morris for a workshop on the topic.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, 29 August from 6pm to 8pm at the Royal Darwin Hospital Campus. 

Visit the RACP website for full details. 

College Learning Series offers support

The free College Learning Series (CLS) is an interactive e-learning platform, which provides a range of lectures and resources mapped to the Adult Medicine Division Basic Training curriculum. Accessing the CLS

With three lecture topics added to the CLS  every week, basic trainees can access these educational resources on any device at any time, making the CLS a convenient tool for busy trainees.  

Since the CLS launched in February, more than 2,300 basic trainees across Australia and New Zealand have enrolled.

Check out the CLS and let us know if you have any feedback or if you would like to make any contributions to this e-learning platform by emailing

Need a hire car for work or holiday?

Book your passenger vehicle through your new RACP Member Advantage benefits website to access discounted rentals from popular car hire companies. Member Advantage

Compare the great offers available* and select the one that best suits your vehicle needs. Choose between set rates all year round with a reduced excess^ or a specially negotiated discount off the daily price.

Visit the RACP Member Advantage website to find out more about this offer and get an online quote.

*Terms and conditions apply.
^Offer not available on prestige car vehicles including Audi.

Doctors Health NT - Poster

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