Pot-pourri eBulletin 14 December 2020

President's Message

This year has been a story of both enormous challenges and inspiring resilience. The devastating bushfires in Australia, 12 months ago, would have been the defining event of the year, but then COVID-19 spread across the globe. The way Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand have worked to reduce active cases is envied and admired by the rest of the world, and the efforts of our medical workforce to achieve this have been heroic.

It is important to celebrate the positives that have come out of this last year. Restricted air travel has meant a reduction in carbon emissions and reduced air pollution has been noted around the world, both of which create health co-benefits.

The College’s work on climate change is commendable, and in recent months the College has supported the annual MJA-Lancet Australian policy brief and urged the Commonwealth Government to address the link between health and the environment in our submission to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act Review and our subsequent media release.

The College’s current key calls for action within our climate change and health work are for:

  1. the Commonwealth Government to develop and implement a national climate change and health strategy to coordinate action on health-specific climate adaptation and mitigation across all states and territories
  2. an urgent transition from fossil fuels to zero emission renewable energy across all economic sectors, with support to affected communities.

Supporting the College to address the health impacts of climate change remains a key priority in our Division’s current workplan, as we continue to work towards a healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable future for our children.

This year has been challenging for our trainees, with the uncertainty around the examinations and a change in exam format, our trainees have shown resilience. For those sitting the clinical examination now and over the next few months, the College website contains all the information you need. Please reach out if you have any questions or require support.

Some exciting news for paediatrician Associate Professor Asha Bowen who was awarded the Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science. Associate Professor Bowen is the Head of Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the Telethon Kids Institute, a paediatric infectious disease specialist at the Perth Children's Hospital and the paediatric representative on the RACP COVID-19 Expert Reference Group. Congratulations Asha, well deserved. 

I would like to draw your attention to the Cure Kids State of Child Health Aotearoa New Zealand Report. RACP members were instrumental in the preparation of this report, including Dr Mavis Duncanson, contributing both as an author and on the advisory board, Dr Tim Jelleyman and Dr Hamish McCay serving on the advisory board. Thank you for your hard work in this space, further details and findings of the report can be read later in this edition. 

Registrations are now open for RACP Congress 2021 which comprises a series of one-day events across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, as well as a virtual program for those unable to attend person. Under the theme ‘Transformation: Adapting for the future’ there will be nearly 50 hours of sessions, with some sessions exploring digital health, sustainable healthcare and gender equity in medicine. On top of that, the program features the PCHD virtual program and clinical updates. Attending in person also presents an opportunity to engage with colleagues from different specialties in a more relaxed environment. Abstract submissions are currently open for the Rue Wright Memorial Award, PCHD Best Poster Prize and General Orals with the last date for submissions being Tuesday, 12 January 2021. Details can be found on the RACP Congress website.

A continued focus on our own health and wellbeing will be essential for the near future. Don’t forget that the College’s Health & Wellbeing resources are always available. Make sure to use the upcoming end-of-year break to rest, recharge, and look after yourself so you can look after others.

I would like to thank the PCHD Council and Committee members for their work this year and particularly thank the RACP staff for their invaluable support and assistance in achieving our goals. I wish you all a wonderful holiday with friends and family, both near and far, and a happy and bright new year.

Clinical Professor Catherine Choong
PCHD President

Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine update

This article marks the beginning of a regular update from the Chair of the Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine Committee (AYAMC) on key priorities underway and on the radar. It will be shared with both Paediatrics & Child Health Division and Adult Medicine Division members, in the hope of bringing together all those interested in this very specific, very important medical specialty.

The AYAMC are dedicated to promoting excellence in skills, expertise and ethical standards through future training and education at the RACP (learn more about the Committee). I stepped into the Chair role in May and over the last few months our priority has been developing the Committee work plan for the next two years. Priority areas include:

  • advocating for increased access to appropriate youth-focused healthcare for young people with complex medical conditions, with a particular focus on providing mental health support within medical services
  • ensuring all health services are more appropriate for young people
  • supporting the College’s advocacy around the impact of climate change, particularly on young people and future generations
  • work to include adolescent and young adult medicine skills and knowledge as a core competency in Basic and Advanced Training with appropriate assessment
  • developing education materials for trainees and promoting existing resources
  • better engagement with AYA trainees and physicians
  • exploring partnerships and collaborations with affiliated organisations.

We will report back regularly via these newsletters as the above priorities are addressed. Meanwhile, we have a number of useful resources for those interested in adolescent and young adult medicine; you can view the article, or contact Paed@racp.edu.au for more information.

Dr Simon Denny
Chair of the Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine Committee

Upcoming Basic Training deadlines

A quick reminder of some upcoming deadlines for Basic Training in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

PREP Requirements

Your PREP training requirements for the 2020 clinical year are due by Sunday, 31 January 2021.

Check the Basic Training handbook (either Adult Internal Medicine or Paediatrics & Child Health) for information on the requirements and how to submit them.

Register for 2021

Registrations are now open online.

If you are interrupting your training, please complete the 2021 Interruption of Training Form. Information on how interruption affects your training can be found in the Flexible Training Policy.

Moving on to Advanced Training

If you are transitioning to Advanced Training, make sure you submit your application by the following dates:

For Aotearoa New Zealand – please contact advanced.training@racp.org.nz.

If transitioning, check the relevant specialty handbook for a list of core and non-core requirements. You may be eligible to commence non-core training and as such should submit an application.

Cure Kids State of Child Health in Aotearoa New Zealand Report

Cure Kids’ inaugural State of Child Health Report 2020 sets out three key indicators to benchmark the health of children in Aotearoa New Zealand. As at 30 June 2018, the estimated population of Aotearoa New Zealand included nearly one million children younger than 15 years – almost 20 per cent (or one fifth) of the total.

This inaugural report focuses on three main areas of health for children in Aotearoa New Zealand – dental disease, respiratory conditions and skin infections.

For dental disease, data showed that less than 60 per cent of children brush their teeth at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, and 40 per cent of five year olds have evidence of tooth decay, with higher rates for Māori and Pasifika children. Hospitalisation for tooth decay is particularly high for children living in areas of high deprivation.

The report found that respiratory conditions are the leading cause of acute admissions to hospital for children, with ‘asthma and wheeze’ the most frequent diagnosis. Māori and Pasifika children, and children living in areas of high deprivation have the highest hospitalisation rates for respiratory conditions.

For skin infections, ‘cellulitis’ and ‘cutaneous abscesses, furuncles, and carbuncles’ are the most likely causes of hospitalisation for children. Rates of hospitalisation for serious skin infections are highest in Pasifika, Māori, children younger than five years, and children living in areas with high socioeconomic deprivation.

The report agrees with the need to urgently prioritise equity in health outcomes for all children. In terms of practical action, it supports the introduction of the evidence-based policies set out in the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and the Child Poverty Reduction Act, to address and monitor progress towards equity for all children. Gaps in data collection, must be fixed to enable this.

RACP members, Dr Mavis Duncanson, Dr Tim Jelleyman and Dr Hamish McCay were instrumental in the preparation of this report. 

Read the full report

Update on telehealth in Australia

On 27 November 2020, the Commonwealth Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt announced that telehealth will become a permanent part of the Medicare system in Australia. While this announcement is welcome news, it does not necessarily resolve the issue of what the final form of the new permanent telehealth items in the MBS will be. This is why the College has been proactively engaging with the Department of Health, and will continue to do so, to ensure that the final form of these items is properly aligned to the clinical needs of our members and their patients.

Introducing our new online Heritage Centre

To celebrate our College’s rich history, we have developed a Heritage Centre on the website. The ‘Our heritage’ webpage brings together the revamped College Roll, the first release of a College timeline and the History of Medicine Library.

College Roll

The College Roll celebrates the stories and achievements of our inspiring Fellows. We encourage retired and Life Fellows, aged 70 years or older, to share your story. We also accept biography or obituary submissions on behalf of deceased Fellows.

We encourage everyone to visit the College Roll and read about the achievements of our esteemed physicians, their stories and their impact on medicine, communities and patients.

College timeline

Discover the history of the College through the new College timeline. Vision, dedication and passion — explore the College’s history over the years, the evolution of medicine and the role of our physicians.

Can you add to our timeline? We encourage members to submit a timeline entry that you think is of significance.

History of Medicine Library

Our History of Medicine Library, located at our head office in Sydney, has a leading collection of medical history items from Australasia and around the world.

The College established the Library in 1938 as a clinical library. The focus of the library changed to medical history in the mid-1950s. The Library continues to grow through the contributions of our College members. The Library holds over 30,000 medical history items.

While the library is currently closed due to COVID-19 you can browse the Library’s catalogue online.

Visit the Heritage Centre

RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize

The RACP President's Indigenous Congress Prize is open to medical students, junior medical officers and RACP trainees who identify as Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or Māori. The selected applicant will receive support to attend the 2021 RACP Congress to gain educational and networking opportunities and exposure to career pathways within the College.

Please encourage anyone you know who is eligible to apply before the deadline on Sunday, 31 January 2021.

2021 Congress_Informz_800

RACP Congress 2021

RACP Congress 2021 continues to take shape with a growing number of speakers now confirmed for the six-day event. We are pleased to announce that Professor Anne Chang will deliver the Paediatrics and Child Health Howard Williams Medal Oration on the opening day.

Professor Anne Chang is a Professor of Child Health and Head of Child Health Division, Menzies School of Health Research Darwin and Adjunct Professor, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Recognised for her research contributions to evidence-based management and clinical care in the areas of paediatric cough, asthma, bronchiectasis and Indigenous child lung health, her original works include the world’s first description of protracted bacterial bronchitis and international multicentre trials involving children with bronchiectasis.

You can find out more about the sessions and speakers in your local city.

RACP Congress 2021 abstract deadline extension

Submission deadline for RACP Congress 2021 abstracts extended

The deadline for abstracts to be submitted for consideration for RACP Congress 2021 has been extended to Tuesday, 12 January 2021. Those of you wishing to submit in any of the categories available should visit the RACP Congress 2021 to find out more details. 

RACP Congress 2020 online learning series

RACP Congress 2020 has been the first entirely digital RACP Congress, free for members. This year’s Congress has provided members with learning opportunities while earning CPD credits and connecting in new ways, through webinars, livestreams and podcasts. The RACP Congress 2020 Online Series has been made available free to all members with all sessions available via the Congress Online Learning platform until Friday, 18 December 2020.

Access now

RACP Quarterly Issue Three 2020

RACP Quarterly is our member magazine featuring healthcare and medical news.

In our last issue for 2020 we feature the incredibly worthy inaugural recipient of the new College Medal, Professor Douglas Bridge. We also feature Dr Matthew Wheeler, an Indigenous Health Scholarship recipient.

COVID-19 related articles include: ‘Will the COVID-19 pandemic encourage a reflection on what is low-value clinical care?’ and ‘Telehealth transforming access to healthcare during COVID-19 and beyond’.   

Other highlights in this issue are ‘New recommendations to help stop early heart attacks for Indigenous Australians’, ‘Introducing effective pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products’ and ‘Natural killer’ cells may be the answer to treating Hepatitis B’.

Read RACP Quarterly Issue Three 2020 online now.

Access previous issues of RACP Quarterly on the RACP website.

New online course: Chronic breathlessness in advanced illness

Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to better identify, assess and manage chronic breathlessness in advanced illness through our new online course. Watch this video from the online course which explores something many of us find challenging: answering sensitively and truthfully when a patient wants to know how they’re going to die.

AI for healthcare webinar now on Medflix

Watch this engaging webinar where Dr Olivier Salvado, Head of Imaging and Computer Vision at CSIRO, presents on the opportunities and challenges for the medical application of artificial intelligence (AI), and reviews the main AI methods in the medical context. Hosted by Associate Professor Clair Sullivan FRACP, the webinar explores why the deployment of AI technologies in healthcare is lagging and highlights the current challenges that hinder AI deployment into clinics.

A message from Dr Ben McConchie: The 2020 RACP Physician Training Survey is closing soon

Add your perspective to training settings

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the 2020 Physician Training Survey. Highly valuable feedback has been received so far. We are keeping the survey open a little longer to allow more time for trainees and educators to share their perspective during this busy period. The survey closes Wednesday, 16 December 2020.

We use trainee and educator feedback to guide improvements to training environments. To protect respondent anonymity, we only communicate results when we meet response volume thresholds. The more responses we get, the more data we can use to promote positive change.

The anonymous survey can be completed via the personalised link in the email eligible participants received on Monday, 30 November 2020. If you didn’t receive this link or would like it resent, please contact Engine. For information about the survey, including confidentiality and how you could win an iPad, please visit the Physician Training Survey webpage.

The survey has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) – Concord Repatriation General Hospital of the Sydney Local Health District 2019/ETH12472. If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of the research study, please email the Executive Officer of the Ethics Committee or call +61 2 9767 5622.

Pomegranate Podcast: A new script for global public health

In episode 65, we present some provocative solutions to problems presented in the previous two stories. We heard about pharmaceutical patents and how embedded intellectual property law is in global trade relations. There’s a fundamental assumption that innovation occurs thanks to the vigour of the private sector and the plucky entrepreneur. It’s even been said that financialised capitalism is "the greatest engine of progress ever seen".

But the reality is that shiny smartphones and targeted drugs wouldn’t exist without massive government spending on research. It’s public money that funds the riskiest stages of development, before private enterprise takes these products to market with the benefit of monopoly pricing. Dr Owain Williams and Associate Professor Peter Hill argue that states can demand more control over the outputs and pricing of drug and vaccine research and that the current intellectual property regime is not the only way to stimulate innovation.

In the second part of this episode, Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott talks about the lessons learned and not learned from pandemic modelling in past years. He also makes the case for establishing an Australian Centre for Disease Control with standalone jurisdiction, to cut through some of the conflict we’ve seen in recent months between state and federal leaders.


  • Dr Owain Williams (University of Leeds)
  • Associate Professor Peter Hill AFPHM (University of Queensland)
  • Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott (University of Sydney, United States Studies Centre)

Claim CPD credits

RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits via MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources available on the webpage. To be the first to find out about the latest Pomegranate Health episodes, subscribe today in Apple PodcastsSpotify, any Android podcasting app. You can also join our email alerts list to remain updated with future podcasts.

Listen now

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health

An early view of future articles is now available.

Share your views on climate change and health

We invite members to participate in two surveys on climate change and health. The first survey is aimed at members practising with adult patients and the second survey at members practising with paediatric patients. See further details below.

Climate and Health Alliance survey

This survey is run by the Climate and Health Alliance in collaboration with Monash University and open to all RACP Adult Medicine Division and Chapter members and members of the Faculties of Public Health Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine based in Australia. 

The survey is being sent to health professionals across Australia and is assessing their:

  • views on climate change as a human health issue
  • willingness and ability to communicate the health impacts of climate change.

We encourage you to participate in the survey – regardless of the focus of your work – because your participation will help us understand our members' needs and interests in this area.

The survey is confidential, administered online, and open until Thursday, 17 December 2020, 12pm (AEDT). The survey should take approximately 25 minutes to complete. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Climate and Health Alliance at office@caha.org.au.

Go to survey 

George Mason University and World Health Organization survey

This survey is run by George Mason University in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Global Climate and Health Alliance and open to all RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division and Chapter members and paediatric members of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine based in Australia.

The survey is being sent to health professionals in numerous countries to assess their:

  • views on climate change as a human health issue
  • awareness of and support for the international #HealthyRecovery initiative.

The survey is confidential, administered online, and open until Thursday, 17 December 2020, 12pm (AEDT). The survey is short and should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions, please contact the RACP Policy & Advocacy team at racpconsult@racp.edu.au

Go to survey

National Obesity Strategy – consultation report

Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Obesity Strategy working group has recently released a report from an extensive national public consultation. The report summarises the main themes and ideas arising from the consultation and discusses key areas of the consultation paper that were supported by 1,380 survey responses, 35 stand-alone submissions and 604 Australians who participated in community events.

The findings of the consultation on the forthcoming strategy show strong public and stakeholder support for a range of measures to promote the health and wellbeing of Australians. These include implementing protections against the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks and using price levers to increase affordability of healthy food and increase prices of processed foods.

The results of the consultation clearly indicate that Australians want significant, specific and well-resourced government action on obesity. Such action needs to be guided by a comprehensive strategy to tackle the commercial drivers of obesity and ill-health. This and other findings, such as a clear focus on population-level systemic intervention, the demands for tailored efforts for priority groups and the need to avoid stigma, are closely aligned with the RACP submission to the consultation.

The full report and the summary report from the consultation are available. The final draft of the strategy is expected to be considered by Health Ministers in early 2021. 

Inviting nominees for potential vacancies on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Council and Principal Committees 2021-2024 triennium

Nominations are being sought from people with appropriate expertise to participate on the NHMRC Council and Principal Committees for the 2021-2024 triennium. Nominees should be exceptional leaders who can advise the government on health and medical research (HMR). Nominees should have demonstrated knowledge and experience of the breadth of HMR in Australia and be recognised as a leader in their field.

Please note that successful candidates would be appointed by the NHMRC in an individual capacity, and not as a representative of the College.

Nominations should be provided directly to the NHMRC by Sunday, 31 January 2021. Details on how to do this can be found on the NHMRC website.

Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released the revised Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard, which has been endorsed by the RACP.

The Standard was first published in 2014 and revised in 2020 and has eight quality statements and a set of indicators. It is used by health service organisations as part of their antimicrobial stewardship programs, as required by the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

Last chance to register for Women & Leadership Australia scholarships

Women currently working in the healthcare sector have a final opportunity to register their interest in a scholarship worth up to AUD$5,000 to support participation in an accredited leadership development program.

Funding must be apportioned promptly, and it is unsure when these grants will be available again. Find out more and register your interest by completing the Expression of Interest form prior to 5pm on Monday, 14 December 2020.

Australian Institute of Health Innovation – COVID-19 and future crisis preparedness in healthcare

The Australian Institute of Health Innovation (AIHI), Macquarie University, is pleased to announce the release of five new domestic PhD scholarships, focusing on research into COVID-19 and health system crisis planning.

With a track record of delivering internationally significant research, AIHI leads in understanding responses to the pandemic along with preparing for future health crises. The AIHI Directors, Professors Jeffrey Braithwaite, Johanna Westbrook and Enrico Coiera, are seeking suitably qualified candidates with pioneering ideas for research in this field. 

Find out more

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.

Forensic course in Medical Evaluation of Suspected Abuse in Children and Adolescents

The Child Protection Unit of the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick presents its Forensic Course in 'Medical Evaluation of Suspected Abuse in Children and Adolescents' from Monday, 22 to Thursday, 25 February 2021 via Zoom. This course will be accredited by the RACP for Advanced Trainees. For enquiries, please email Dr Lydia Garside.

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

Pot-pourri submissions welcome

To submit an article for publishing in Pot-pourri, please email paed@racp.edu.au. The article should be no more than 350 words. If you would like to submit an image with your article, it would be assumed that you have received appropriate permission to use the photo and it needs to be of high resolution, above 300 dpi. Please note that articles may need to be edited by the RACP Communications Team.

Update your details with the College

Did you know that you can now update your address details online? Simply Login to MyRACP and go to 'Edit my details'.
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