Pot-pourri eBulletin 6 March 2020

President's Message

Last month the Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell launched her final report on Children’s Rights in Australia which detailed how children’s rights are protected and promoted across Australia. Whilst the report highlights some positive developments, there are still many critical issues that we must address including the significant inequalities faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, child suicide and the lack of a comprehensive national plan to support children’s rights.  The full report can be read Australian Human Rights Commission website.

Another recent report is the WHO/UNICEF/Lancet report on the progress countries across the world have made on the Sustainable Development Goals in the last five years. Sadly, few countries including Australia and New Zealand have made much progress, placing significant uncertainty on our children’s future. We know that investing in the early years brings benefit to short and long-term health outcomes, and so too will investing in ecological sustainability. Urgent action on climate change is needed to improve health outcomes for children as well as ourselves.

I am pleased that the College is addressing some of the concerns raised in these reports including the recent RACP submission to the Council of Attorneys-General (CAG) review of age of criminal responsibility advocating for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to at least 14 years of age. There is clear evidence that children in the youth justice system in Australia have high rates of neurocognitive impairment, trauma and mental health issues and we must provide greater support for this vulnerable group through targeted trauma specific interventions and care for families. I commend the Fellows involved in the submission and urge the CAG to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

I recently attended the Commonwealth Department of Health Primary Health Care Roundtable on the First 2,000 Days on behalf of the College. The roundtable brought together consumers, organisations and experts to assist the Department in planning. The important role our College members, Professor Sharon Goldfeld and Professor Harriet Hiscock, played in establishing the roundtable and the important on-going role of paediatricians was highlighted. We will hear more of the process, with an opportunity for wider input, as the model develops during the year.

The PCHD Policy and Advocacy Committee is currently seeking expressions of interest from members to join the Health Care of Children in Care and Protection Services Working Group to revise the current out-of-home care policy paper. This is particularly important now as the number of children in out-of-home care in Australia has risen in the last five years and in both Australia and New Zealand, First Nations children are markedly over-represented. Please see the website for further details on how to apply.

If you want to help drive the PCHD agenda, share your voice and expertise now by applying for one of the numerous positions available on our PCHD Committees. To find the list of positions available and instructions on how to apply, please see the RACP website.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all paediatricians who have been selected as 2020 Research Awards and Grants recipients. It is wonderful to see so many of our colleagues involved in research and supported by the College.  To see the full list of recipients, see the RACP website.

Professor Paul Colditz
President, Paediatrics & Child Health Division

Committee Spotlight: Chapter of Community Child Health Committee

It has been my pleasure and honour to be Chair of the Chapter of Community Child Health Committee (CCCHC) for these past several years. I will be standing down from this committee at the Chapter’s Annual Meeting in May this year, but I look forward to continuing my involvement with the Chapter as our representative on the College Council. I wish to thank all the members of the CCCHC who have supported the committee and contributed to its many successes, and will no doubt continue to do so well into the future.

I would like to invite all Chapter members to attend the CCCH Satellite Day 2020, to be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Sunday, 3 May 2020. As mentioned earlier, this event will include the Chapter’s Annual Meeting, but it will also be an opportunity to hear presentations from a range of prestigious community child health experts. We’re very pleased to advise that Associate Professor Jill Sewell will be our plenary speaker presenting on ‘Community Child Health – a past and future perspective.’ The program is being finalised and more speakers will be confirmed soon. 

Professor Harriet Hiscock will be speaking on the 'Inequalities in mental health for children and adolescents', Associate Professor Emma Sciberras will present on 'Child Development and Behaviour: Sleep' and there will be a session on 'Fabricated illness and medically unexplained symptoms' featuring Dr Anne Smith and Dr Andrew Court. Please see the website for further speakers/topics as they are confirmed and to register for this event.

Looking back over the six months since our last Chapter Chat communique was published, it is evident that the CCCHC has contributed to a number of wide-ranging and important consultations, including but not limited to:

  • NDIS Act review
  • ADHA Medicines Safety Program
  • RACP Advanced Training Curricula
  • MBS review
  • Medevac Bill
  • Abusive Head Trauma in Infants and Young Children
  • AHPRA Guidelines for Mandatory Notification
  • Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health.

Again, thank you all for allowing me to lead such a vital and engaged group as the CCCHC. I would especially like to thank Dr Tim Jelleyman, Dr Deepa Jeyaseelan and Dr Jan Connors, all of whom will join me in stepping down from the committee this May. A number of vacancies will become available on the CCCHC as part of this RACP election process and I would encourage anyone who is eligible for such positions to nominate – see links elsewhere in this edition of Pot-pourri for further information. I can assure you that it is very rewarding to contribute to the ongoing development of the specialty of community child health.

Dr Chris Pearson
Chair, Chapter of Community Child Health

PCHD Medal history

PCHD Medal

May 2020 will see the PCHD Presidency handed from Professor Paul Colditz to current President-elect, Clinical Professor Catherine Choong.

Part of the ceremonial handover includes the transfer of the PCHD Presidential Medallion (pictured above). Recently, a small pamphlet was created to accompany the medallion to its new owner, ensuring the meaning and importance of this object is passed along to future PCHD leaders. The medallion was struck in 1978, and bears the coat of the-then 'Australian College of Paediatrics'. We are most grateful to Dr Peter Jones for his enthusiastic involvement in the development of this coat of arms, featuring a central shield bearing representations of surgeons’ bandages, medicinal herbs, a breastfeeding mother and child and other symbols of the physicians’ care, as well as simple depictions of early paediatric figures Thomas Phaer and Felix Wurtz (circa 1500s). Both these esteemed figures hold symbols of their skills and art: Phaer holds a copy of his book ('The Boke of Chyldren') and Wurtz a fleam (an early form of surgeon’s scalpel).

The intricacy of this coat of arms cannot be fully described in this short article, so we strongly recommend accessing Dr D G Hamilton’s 'A History of the Australian College of Paediatrics 1950 – 1980'. This slender but energetic booklet is not just an education on the early days of paediatrics and adolescent health in Australia, but it warmly visits many well-known early characters in the Australian paediatric scene and provides an insight into the birth of this professional body we now call the Paediatrics & Child Health Division of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians. It is both an intriguing and highly entertaining read.

To access the booklet, contact the History of Medicine Library at the RACP in Sydney. Members are reminded that the library has a leading collection of medical history items from Australasia and around the world.

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

Last chance to apply for Educational Development Study Grants

Applications for the 2020 RACP Educational Development Study Grants are closing by Monday, 23 March 2020. 

The 2020 Eric Burnard Fellowship worth up to $10,000 is one of the grants offered in this round. This grant can go towards gaining new technical expertise, training at an institution, or participating and presenting a paper at a conference or scientific meeting in the field of neonatology.

Other Educational Development Grants available include:

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

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

Research Awards recipients

Congratulations to the following Fellows and trainees who have been selected as 2020 Research Awards and Grants recipients:
  • Dr Amanda Gwee – RACP Research Establishment Fellowship
  • A/Prof Susan Rosemary Woolfenden – The Sir Roy McCaughey Research Establishment Fellowship
  • Dr Rowena Lalji – Jacquot Research Entry Scholarship
  • Dr Alicia Montgomery – RACP Fellows Research Entry Scholarship
  • Dr Yassmin Musthaffa – NZ Fellows Research Entry Scholarship
  • Dr Karrnan Pathmanandavel – RACP Fellows Research Entry Scholarship
  • Dr Michelle Scoullar – Basser Research Entry Scholarship

The Research Awards are available to Fellows and trainees to support research.

Complete lists of Research Award recipients for 2020 and for past years are available on the RACP Foundation Award Recipients webpages.

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.
IMS banner

International Medicine 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.

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.  

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".

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 evolve@racp.edu.au.

Evolve Recommendations inform new NPS MedicineWise Asthma Education Program

Asthma is responsible for considerable morbidity and health care costs in Australia, with clinical differences in diagnosing and managing the condition in different age groups. The Global Initiative for Asthma strategy report April 2019 has recommended a change to first-line treatment of adults and adolescents with mild asthma.

Through Evolve, the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand and the RACP Paediatrics and Child Health Division have developed recommendations to help medical practitioners reduce low-value care in diagnosing and managing asthma. These have informed the latest NPS MedicineWise asthma education program.

The program will rollout in 2 phases: the first phase – Paediatric asthma: breathing new life into diagnosis and management- focuses on the paediatric asthma population. Phase 2 commences later in the year and focuses on adults and adolescents. 

Find out more

Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health February 2020 is available online

The Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, Volume 56, No. 2, February 2020 is now available on the JPC Wiley page

Medical Board of Australia Newsletter February 2020

Read the latest news from the Medical Board of Australia.

Conferences and events

  • Thriving in Basic Training 2020

    Are you about to begin Basic Training, but are not sure where to start, or what is required? Thriving in Basic Training is a great introductory event to get you started on the right track.

    Held on Saturday, 14 March at RACP's Sydney event space (GMT 1, Level 19, Governor Macquarie Tower, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney) in a jam-packed two-hour session, join us for plenty of tips and tools. There will be opportunities to ask questions, network with other trainees and learn about all the experiences available to you in physician training.

    The program includes:

    • hearing from other trainees about their basic training experience
    • expectations of training and trainees
    • understanding assessment requirements
    • exam preparation
    • where to find support and maintaining your mental health and wellbeing.

    There are limited spots available, so RSVP by Friday, 6 March to avoid disappointment. Video-conferencing will be made available to those interstate.

  • Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care's Better care everywhere Healthcare variation in practice, Tuesday, 20 to Wednesday, 21 July 2020, Sydney, NSW
  • 20th International Vasculitis and ANCA Workshop, Sunday, 18 to Wednesday, 21 April 2021, Dublin, Ireland

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'.

Member Advantage deal

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.

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