Pot-pourri newsletter 7 April 2017

President's ​Post

Today is World Health Day. This year the World Health Organization ​is focusing on addressing Depression. Their campaign ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’ aims to encourage people to seek and get help. This topic is one we know resonates with you, our members. The RACP Board are keen to provide members with resources to support their health and wellbeing. A particular focus for the Board is ensuring trainees have access to support. All members may access the confidential ​member support program, 24 hours, seven days per week.

In the last newsletter I noted that paediatricians satisfaction with policy and advocacy matters of the College increased in 2016. Following that, in the first three months of this year the Division has been active in this area, contributing to a number of RACP submissions including: 
  • the Royal Commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory 
  • the [Australian] national digital health strategy 
  • the review of the NSW Guardianship Act 1987 
  • the inquiry into the provision of education to students with a disability or special needs in government and non-government schools in NSW 
  • to the Australian Prime Minister calling for national leadership on youth justice (joint letter - Change the Record).
It is encouraging that the RACP is increasingly becoming a ‘go to’ for policy and decision makers. I’d also like to thank the Division members who worked closely with the College policy team to submit a proposal Early childhood and disadvantage – looking ahead after a request from a Queensland ​Member of Parliament.

Our submissions make a difference and are vital in shaping the policy agenda. A great example of this came from a report in November last year on the harm being done to Australian children through access to pornography on the internet – the RACP was cited or quoted around ten times and the report recommendations closely aligned with the RACP submission. We keenly await the government response to the report.

Paediatricians also contribute to policy and clinical matters as endorsed RACP representatives to external committees. Topics include tuberculosis, autism, breastfeeding, gastrointestinal endoscopy and Vitamin K.

Thanks go to the ever busy PCHD Policy & Advocacy Committee who contribute to the Division’s policy work as well as provide leadership for the updating and development of position statements. Through our working groups they are currently updating a statement on early childhood, and are in the process of developing two new statements – one on Indigenous child health, and the other on inequities in child health. 

Meanwhile we continue to be active in media. Most notably, the RACP remains very active in its campaign against alcohol promotion during sports due to the negative impact it has on children. The recent news that VB and Carlton United Breweries would no longer sponsor cricket, handed Cricket Australia a chance to lead the way for healthy sport sponsorship options. Unfortunately they decided to lock in XXXX Gold, another alcohol sponsor, continuing a long history of alcohol saturation and undesirable effects on children and young people. 

It is through this eBulletin and the mid-year and end-year communiques we, the PCHD Council and Committees, endeavour to communicate our direction and achievements to you. Another means of communicating this is at the PCHD Annual Meeting, held during RACP Congress 2017. Please be aware, it is scheduled for Tuesday, 9 May at 12.30pm during the lunch break. Lunch will be provided outside of meeting room. If you have anything you would like to raise in advance of the meeting please let me know by 9am Tuesday, 18 April via paed@racp.edu.au. On that note, a reminder… only five weeks to go until Congress so make sure you register now.

I would also like to congratulate the 174 trainees who passed the recent written exam for PCHD. This represents a 79.4 per cent pass rate – an improvement of just over nine per cent on last year.

Finally, Philippa Ardlie has supported the Division as Senior Executive Officer (SEO) for the last five and a half years. Sadly she is leaving the College – her last day is Friday, 21 April 2017.

In advance of her final day at the College, on behalf of the PCHD Council and Committees, I would to thank her for her commitment and hard work in a challenging role and wish her every success as she moves in to a new phase in her career.

Dr Sarah Dalton
PCHD President

Paediatrics at Congress 2017

RACP Congress 2017 is only five weeks away​. Register now and while you are registering, make sure to book a ticket to the PCHD dinner on Sunday, 7 May. Also of note is that the PCHD Annual Meeting is scheduled for the lunch break of Tuesday, 9 May. 

There is a strong paediatric component in the Congress program – whether in the dedicated paediatric stream or the shared interest sessions. A few of the presentations are highlighted below.

‘Novel therapies for spinal muscular atrophy: a new era in paediatric neurology’

Spinal muscular atrophy affects ​one in 10 000 children and is the most frequent genetic cause of death in infancy. Treatment of this progressive neurodegenerative disease has, until very recently, been purely supportive. This has changed in the last few years as several new therapies have been identified.

These exciting developments put us at the forefront of research into paediatric neuromuscular disorders, enabling Australian patients to access state of the art therapies as they are developed and brought to market, and potentially transforming the lives of patients treated with these new medications. 

The changing treatment landscape, however, also brings new challenges: difficulties in establishing standards of care and prognostication in a disease with an evolving natural history, the need to balance patient expectations with the limitations of our health care system, equity of access to new drugs and the cost of new therapies. These practical and ethical challenges are likely to apply to all new genetic therapies and will be an increasing issue for clinicians in the next decade.

Professor Monique Ryan will present this topic at RACP Congress 2017, Tuesday, 9 May, 4.15pm to 5pm

‘Shifting the paradigm to improve function and modify the natural history’ 

Although there has been an enormous amount of research into the neurobiology, neuropsychology and genetics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - ADHD, there is still a limited understanding of the variables influencing how children with ADHD progress over time. 

To truly advance the field the best mix of interventions for different subgroups of children with ADHD need to be worked out in order to optimise educational, social and mental health outcomes and therefore life chances. The Children's Attention Project (CAP), Australia’s first longitudinal ADHD study, is aiming to address this knowledge gap.

Key findings on academic and social outcomes, comorbidity profiles and influence on functional status, service use patterns, predictors of medication use, influence of maternal ADHD symptoms and diagnostic stability will be presented. Data will also be presented on Australian paediatric practice in relation to a) ADHD diagnosis and b) the prescribing of psychotropic medications.  

Dr Daryl Efron will present this topic at RACP Congress 2017, Monday, 8 May 2017, 4pm to 4.30pm.

Chapter Satellite Day 2017 – a community child health initiative

The Chapter of Community Child Health Committee invites members and anyone else with an interest in this field to attend the 2017 Chapter Satellite Day on Sunday, 7 May. This year’s program reflects the theme of ‘Trauma’ and covers child protection, child development and behaviour, and child population health.

Dr Anne Smith, the Director at the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service based at the Royal Children’s Hospital will deliver a plenary session titled ‘Battered babies, noxious neglect and the epigenetic effects of maltreatment: How the concept of ‘child protection has evolved over time'.

Dr Georgia Paxton, Head of the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne Immigrant Health Service, will present on the need to protect child refugees and Dr Chidambaram Prakash will cover the impact of trauma on mental health in childhood. 

Professor Raimond Gaita, author of Romulus, My Father – a book based on his early life which was made into a feature film - will join us to discuss his experiences. Following a viewing of the film, attendees will have the opportunity to discuss the adversities his family faced as immigrants and the effect of mental illness within their family. 

This year’s Satellite Day aligns with the Neurodevelopmental & Behavioural Paediatric Society Australasia (NBPSA) meeting themed Trauma and the Developing Brain on Saturday, 6 May. 

Book a seat at the table for the joint Chapter / NBPSA dinner, Saturday, 6 May when you register for the Day

Congratulations: paediatric recipients of RACP awards 2017

Congratulations to these paediatricians who have been successful in receiving RACP awards for 2017. All the best in your future endeavours.

RACP PCHD NHMRC Award for Excellence

Dr Bianca Middleton ‘Strategies to reduce the burden of gastroenteritis in Aboriginal children’

Indigenous Health Scholarship in Paediatrics and Child Health

Dr Ngaree Blow

Trainee Research Awards for Excellence – Paediatric Medicine

Dr Karrnan Pathmanandavel – New South Wales
'Antibodies to surface dopamine-2 receptor and n-methyl-d-aspartate receptor in the first episode of acute psychosis in children'

Dr Jin Russell – New Zealand
'Cumulative socioeconomic disadvantage increases the risk of multi-morbidity in early childhood'

Dr Anna Lithgow – Northern Territory
'Patterns of paediatric emergency presentations to a tertiary referral centre in the Northern Territory'

Dr Chris Richmond – Queensland
'FIBRE: Feeding Interventions Because of Respiratory Events in Preterm Infants - A Randomised Triple Crossover Study'
Dr Harharan Gopakunar - Tasmania 
‘Epidemiology and risk factors for Gastroschisis – a 20 year experience in a regional neonatal surgical centre’

Dr Rosie Murphy – Victoria 
‘Factors affecting the performance of doctors in high-stakes summative oral examinations required for specialty training qualifications: a systematic review’

Dr Jamie Tan – Western Australia 
‘Diagnosis of childhood lower respiratory tract illness using non-contact sound recordings’

RACP Fellows Career Development Fellowship

Professor David Burgner ‘A mechanistic investigation of the adverse effects of acute childhood infections on cardiovascular risk: The VASCFIND study’

Cottrell Research Establishment Fellowship   

Dr Valerie Sung ‘Improving treatment and outcomes of congenital hearing loss at the population level’

ResMed Foundation/SHF Research Entry Scholarship 

Dr Jasnik Chawla ‘Evaluation of the Impact of Treatment for Sleep Disorders in Children with Down Syndrome’

RACP Jacquot Research Entry Scholarship in Nephrology 

Dr Anna Francis ‘Improving the long term outcomes for children with chronic kidney disease’

RACP NHMRC CRB Blackburn Scholarship

Dr Jeremy Rajanayagam ‘The role of  mucosal associated invariant T (MAIT) cells and gut micro-biota in the pathogenesis of paediatric autoimmune liver disease (AILD)’

New Zealand Research Development Scholarship 

Dr Maria Saito-Benz ‘Neonatal Neurocritical care: Near Infrared spectroscopy for Monitoring brain Oxygenation in preterm infants (NIMO)’

Queensland State Committee Research Development Grant 

Dr Friederike Becker ‘Smell and taste to improve body composition in very preterm infants: a randomi​sed controlled trial’

World Autism Day, celebrating diversity and inclusion

Sesame Street recently introduced a new character into its iconic children’s educational program, a little girl called Julia. Julia has autism, and what is really delightful are the gentle and natural encouragements offered by her friends, including Elmo, as they play together, evidence of the producers’ goals of educating children in the community. 

Autism spectrum disorders are common at an estimated prevalence of over ​one per cent, although the exact prevalence is difficult to define. Based on data from 2015 Carer Allowance applications, autism occurs in 0.4 per cent of children under ​four years and up to 2.2 per cent of children aged 10​ to 14 years. Autism at 28 per cent is the second largest primary disability of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants with an approved plan according to the NDIS Quarterly Report in December 2016. Autism has long been recognised to have a strong genetic basis, with over 850 genes having been found to be implicated in autism (SFARI, 2017).

Paediatricians play vital roles in the diagnosis and management of autism spectrum disorders and related conditions and are actively involved in a variety of initiatives to improve the health, wellbeing and inclusion of children with autism. These include providing advice to the NDIS on evidence based interventions, involvement in national diagnosis guideline development being led by the Autism Cooperative Research Centre and in RACP advocacy for the needs of children with autism.

World Autism Awareness Day was Sunday, 2 April 2017 as part of the broader month of raising awareness of autism.

Dr Jacqueline Small
Developmental Paediatrician and
Chair, Paediatric Policy & Advocacy Committee

A network working to promote child and youth wellbeing: ARACY

The Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) vision is where ‘All young people are loved and safe, have material basics, are healthy, are learning and participating and have a positive sense of culture and identity’. Australia currently ranks in the top third of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries on a quarter of the indicators for child and youth wellbeing. ARACY’s goal is to move the indicators to half by 2025.

To achieve this ARACY relies on a wide network of members both individual and organisational. The Paediatrics & Child Health Division is a member, and has been since 2008. Membership enables access to a range of national networks as well as specialist information and high profile experts across the research, policy and practice sectors in areas of interest. Members may share research findings and practice wisdom to promote the dissemination of evidence. 

PCHD members may contribute to debates, decisions and influence important issues including the national direction of The Nest​ – Australia’s first evidence-based framework for national child and youth wellbeing (0 to 24 years).

The Paediatrics & Child Health Division via the RACP has been a member of the ARACY since 2008. 

Society for Adolescent ​Health and Medicine (SAHM) meeting, New Orleans

I was privileged to join with many other adolescent and young adult health clinicians and researchers ​at the recent annual meeting of the Society for Adolescent Health & Medicine (SAHM) meeting in New Orleans. Though US based, this organisation has a steadily expanding international membership and international focus. As always Australian members were well represented. SAHM is one of the largest adolescent and young adult health organisations. It is not only a leader in Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine but a truly multidisciplinary organisation. It attracts expert clinicians and researchers from many backgrounds all working toward better services and outcomes for adolescents.  

The meeting highlighted the latest clinical and basic science research findings, training opportunities and workshops, meetings of core special interest groups and much networking with many international collaborations starting off from informal conversations during this meeting.

With a large international attendance, the International Association of Adolescent Health (IAAH) has a members meeting during the conference. IAAH is another organisation with strong participation by Australian members and the current ​president is College Fellow Professor Susan Sawyer from Melbourne. The IAAH World Congress in Adolescent Health takes place every ​four years and the 11th World Congress in October this year will be close to home in New Delhi, India. Closer to home, the Australian Association for Adolescent Health (AAAH) will be hosting the 2017 Youth Health Conference in Sydney in July.

With Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine (AYAM) now being an integral part of the RACP family and with trainees from both the Paediatric & Child Health and Adult Medicine ​Divisions commencing specialist training in AYAM as part of their ​College accredited training we are fortunate to not only have many AYAM related topics as part of the upcoming RACP Congress 2017 in Melbourne but also opportunities for further education and networking  at the AAAH conference in Sydney and IAAH congress in India. 

Dr Rod McClymont, FRACP
Chair, AYAMC

Victorian Further Education & Training (VicFEAT) for Paediatric Fellows and Advanced Trainees

Four Continuing Education Workshops will be held in 2017 with the first on Wednesday, 26 April.

Each VicFEAT event focuses on a pertinent paediatric medical issue and provides current information on that topic for paediatric practice. 


Consultation – new policy on Post Fellowship Specialty Recognition

The RACP is seeking feedback on the draft Post Fellowship Specialty Recognition Policy which is proposed to replace the current Recognition in a Specialty Policy without completion of the relevant Advanced Training Program Policy (2010).


RACP submission to Medical Council of New Zealand recertification consultation

The RACP made a submission to the Medical Council of New Zealand consultation on strengthening recertification for vocationally registered doctors.


Update on the Clinical Exam for Examiners and Other Fellows

This update on the Clinical Exam for Examiners and other Fellows has been released by the Paediatrics & Child Health Clinical Examination Committee.


Continuing Education Workshops – 2017 Dates Announced 

Four Continuing Education Workshops will be held in 2017. 

The first, on Saturday, 22 April, will feature presentations on obesity and diabetes, and updates on immunology and haematology.

Each workshop is broken into three 45 minute sessions, with each session focusing on an update in a certain specialty allowing members to update their knowledge in areas that are not their area of expertise.


National Youth Week: a time to think about the health of our young people

National Youth Week is an annual, week-long celebration of young people throughout Australia which runs from Friday, 31 March to Sunday, 9 April this year.

It is an opportunity for young people to express ideas and views and to act on issues that affect their lives, including their health and wellbeing. 


Consultation: National Framework for Maternity Services led by Queensland Health

Queensland Health are leading the development of a National Framework for Maternity Services.


Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health ​April 2017 edition

Articles in the April 2017 edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health include:
  • Clinical and psychological effects of excessive screen time on children
  • Acute rheumatic fever and exposure to poor housing conditions in New Zealand: A descriptive study
  • Effects of the Youth Fit 4 Life physical activity/nutrition protocol on body mass index, fitness and targeted social cognitive theory variables in 9 to 12 year olds during after school care
  • Sleep duration and obesity in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies

RACP Foundation Awards and Prizes

Applications for the RACP Foundation Study Grants for 2017 open on Monday, 10 April. 

The grants are available for RACP Fellows and trainees to undertake further educational training, develop educational initiatives, present research at or attend a conference, gain technical experience, or partake in work shadow experience.

The grants include: 
  • The Eric Burnard Fellowship (value up to $10,000), to support Fellows or trainees in the area of neonatology. 
  • The Macquarie Health Corporation Gaston Bauer Work Shadow Grant (value up to $3,000), for rural Fellows and trainees to undertake a short course Work Shadow Program with specialists at a hospital or institution.
  • M D Silberberg Study Grant (value up to $5,000, to support and encourage advancement of knowledge in matters connected with the field of cardiology.
  • New Zealand Education Development Grant (value up to NZ$10,000), to support and encourage advancement of knowledge in an area relevant to the applicants field of medical study.
  • RACP AFOEM Education Development Grant (value up to $10,000), to support and encourage advancement of knowledge in matters connected with the field of occupational and environmental medicine.
  • RACP AFRM Education Development Grant (value up to $10,000), to support and encourage advancement of knowledge in matters connected with the field of rehabilitation medicine. 
  • AChSHM Education Development Grant (value up to $4,000),to support and encourage the advancement of knowledge in Sexual Health Medicine.
The grants close on Monday, 29 May 2017. 

For more details regarding eligibility criteria or the application process, please contact the Foundation’s Senior Administration Officer by email  foundation@racp.edu.au 

Career Opportunities

Neonatal Paediatrician: Christchurch Women’s Hospital 
Reference number: 231334
Closing date: Monday, 10 April 2017

Expressions of Interest

We have introduced a new way of advertising Expressions of Interest. 

You can now check the Expressions of Interest page at any time, to find out if there are any opportunities that are of benefit to you.


View all ​Paediatrics and Child Health events here.

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