PCHD Council 2018 end-of-year communiqué

Read about the latest key activities of the Paediatrics & Child Health Division (PCHD) Council for the second half of 2018.

Key activities

  • Development of the PCHD Council work plan for the next two years.A key focus will be to collaborate with the College on the importance of the ‘first 1000 days’.
  • Contributing via the College and other peak medical groups to the ‘Kids Off Nauru’ campaign. We are pleased that the government has committed to removing all children from Nauru by the end of 2018, but we believe more immediate action is required. We will continue to urge swift action to ensure these children and their families receive the urgent medical care they need.
  • Professor Catherine Choong as PCHD President-Elect attended the 16th Asia Pacific Congress in Bali, Indonesia. The theme of the program presented was “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Reducing Inequalities: How Far Have We Come?” Prof Choong contributed to two sessions, titled “Injury: you cannot always protect your child from it”, and “By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents”. Prof Choong also met with Presidents and leaders from several paediatric groups from the Asia Pacific region to discuss matters of shared interest.
  • Both the Early Childhood and the Indigenous Child Health position statements are on track to launch in early 2019.

Planning for Congress 2019

Planning is well underway for the PCHD stream of the RACP Congress 2019, to be held in Auckland New Zealand from 6 - 8 May 2019. We will contribute very significantly to the theme of this congress: ‘Impacting health along the life course’. PCHD President-elect Professor Catherine Choong is our representative to the Congress Program Committee, and with the support of New Zealand-based Fellows, is developing a lively and engaging PCHD stream. Information on speakers and topics will be promoted as finalised via the monthly Pot-pourri newsletter.

Policy and advocacy

The PCHD Council and Committees have provided feedback on many significant policy and advocacy matters:

Inequities in child health

On 28 November the PCHD hosted a large consultation event as part of development of the National Child Health Action Plan being overseen by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY). The National Child Health Action Plan is being developed based on the Healthy, Safe and Thriving: National Strategic Framework for Child and Youth Health report produced by the Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Council.

Commonwealth Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the Action Plan at the PCHD’s Inequities in Child Health Forum at Parliament House in Canberra in August this year. This Forum formed part of advocacy based on our Inequities in Child Health Position Statement. The Co-Chairs of the group that developed that Position Statement, Professor Sharon Goldfeld and Associate Professor Sue Woolfenden were present with me at the 28 November consultation event to represent the RACP and PCHD and help lead discussions to find practical ways to maximise child health outcomes throughout the next decade.

Partnering with ARACY and the Department of Health to help deliver a National Child Health Action Plan is a great outcome, and highlights the benefit of policy work like our Inequities in Child Health Position Statement.

Select Committee on Stillbirth Research and Education

The Senate recently released its report on stillbirth education and research in Australia. It makes a series of important recommendations for the management of stillbirth in Australia’s health system and for employers whose employees may experience stillbirth. The RACP made a submission to the Select Committee, and Dr Adrienne Gordon presented at the Committee on the RACP’s behalf. The final report mirrors many of the RACP’s key recommendations, especially around the collation of data, the need for national awareness campaigns and establishment of funding priorities.

Kids Off Nauru

PCHD has campaigned for the removal of children from immigration detention on Nauru on health grounds. The Commonwealth Government announced on 1 November that all children will be removed from immigration detention on Nauru by the end of 2018. The RACP continues to campaign for their immediate removal given the immediate risks to their health. I would like to thank all of those RACP Members, both paediatricians and adult specialists, who supported our campaign. PCHD will continue to campaign on this issue until all children are removed from offshore immigration detention.

NSW Inquiry into Support for New Parents and Babies

The NSW Committee on Community Services recently released its final report from the Inquiry into Support for New Parents and Babies in NSW. The Inquiry presents a number of recommendations intended to improve the physical health, mental health and child protection outcomes for new parents and babies, as well as current areas of disadvantage in relation to infant health outcomes.

The RACP provided a submission to the Committee, and Dr Jacqueline Small and Associate Professor John Eastwood gave evidence at the hearing on behalf of the College. The recommendations in the report mirror many of the RACP’s key recommendations, particularly around sustained home visits, perinatal anxiety and depression and improving continuity of care.

A full list of position statements, submissions and all related media over the past year can be viewed in the PCHD Policy & Media Outputs and media releases.

Council meetings

The PCHD Council met face-to-face on 26 and 27 July 2018; first for a planning day to discuss the work plan for 2018-2020, and then on the second day a business-as-usual meeting was held. The second teleconference of the year was held on 24 October 2018. Meeting dates for 2019 are currently being finalised.


There have been few changes since the new PCHD Council was constituted in May this year (see previous Communique for full member list). Those changes are as follows:

  • A/Prof Michael Gabbett stepped down as Elected Fellow in July
  • Dr Daryl Cheng filled the vacated position of Elected Fellow
  • Dr David Newman joined as NZ Elected Fellow
  • Dr Elizabeth Keeling joined as Trainee Representative
  • Dr Daina Rudaks joined as Trainee Representative

A vacancy currently exists on Council for one New Zealand Fellow (by-laws allow for two such positions, one of which is filled). Information is available on the RACP website.

View the PCHD Council membership.

PCHD Committee communiqués

For information on key activities of the PCHD Committees, please visit their pages:

Finally, your contribution to the PCHD Council, Committees and their associated activities is very much encouraged and feedback welcomed. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via paed@racp.edu.au

Professor Paul Colditz, President
Paediatrics & Child Health Division
Close overlay