Northern Territory – November 2017

A message from the Northern Territory (NT) Committee Chair

As we move towards the end of 2017, I reflect on the work of the NT Committee this year and the successes we have had in a number of areas:

  • We have advocated on a number of issues such as lead toxicity, youth detention, inequities in child health, the abolishment of open speed limits and improved services for child and adolescent health.
  • We contributed to the RACP submission to the NT Alcohol Legislation and Policy Review.
  • We continue to maintain a focus on preventative medicine, in particular advocating to ban sugary drinks from all NT hospitals and health facilities.
  • As a Committee, we are committed to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of all NT Fellows and trainees.
  • We have an ongoing commitment from the NT Minister for Health to meet on a regular basis to collaborate on issues of importance to physicians in the NT.  

Recently, we held the 2017 RACP NT Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) in Alice Springs in partnership with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute. We commenced with a Doctors’ Health and Wellness Seminar which was very well attended by both Fellows and trainees. The NT ASM Working Party is to be commended for producing yet another highly informative and successful ASM.  

Video recordings from both the NT-ASM and the Baker Institute Educational Symposium can be viewed online.

I look forward to continuing to work with Committee members in 2018 and hope to see the formation of a NT Trainees’ Committee.

Dr Rob Tait
Northern Territory Committee Chair

Collaboration with Northern Territory Minister for Health


We are most fortunate to have an ongoing opportunity to meet regularly with NT Minister for Health, The Hon. Natasha Fyles. 

Our first meeting was at Parliament House in February and it was there that a commitment was made to meet three to four times per year to ensure that we don’t lose sight of important health issues in the NT.  

RACP Chief Executive Officer Ms Linda Smith attended the second meeting in August and we are scheduled to meet with the Minister again later this month.  

Pictured: Dr Rob Tait, NT Committee Chair, The Hon. Natasha Fyles and RACP Chief Executive Officer Ms Linda Smith

Northern Territory Trainees’ Committee

The RACP Northern Territory (NT) Committee has committed to the formation of a Northern Territory Trainees’ Committee.

Once formed, the Committee will play a role in providing a forum for the views of all trainees in the Northern Territory.

Their role will include advocating on behalf of trainees in matters relating to their selection, training, assessment, supervision and overall education experience, making recommendations regarding policy relating to any training matter, provide forums to encourage trainees across hospitals and training programs to meet each other and liaise with trainee representatives across the College and College bodies.

The NT Committee have sought nominations from both Basic and Advance Trainees, in all Divisions, Faculties and Chapters.

If you are interested in being part of this committee please forward your expression of interest to

Paediatric Nephrology Update – Darwin, September 2017

The first Paediatric Nephrology Update was held on Wednesday, 6 September during the 2017 Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology (ANZSN) Annual Scientific Meeting.

This is the first time that a Paediatric Nephrology Update was incorporated within the annual adult nephrology society meeting and it was wonderful that Darwin was the first Australian venue for this meeting. Hopefully it will become an annual affair with other cities participating as well. 

A total of 31 participants registered. The audience was diverse and included General Practitioner registrars, paediatric trainees, paediatricians, pharmacists, nurse educators, paediatric and adult nephrologists.

There were six talks and four case presentations in the half day update. All the talks were appreciated and informal feedback indicated the format and content was right on target. 

Some found it great to hear the latest evidence, or lack thereof, about the common renal diseases. Others liked the discussion around the management of cases. The patient discussions were really interesting. Thanks to Dr Louise Martin, Dr Nick Fancourt and Priyali Wijeratne for their hard work.
Last but certainly not the least, a special thanks to Dr Gurmeet Singh for her excellent research presentation which generated lot of interest among the paediatric nephrologists.

Dr Swasti Chaturvedi
Paediatric nephrologist

Doctors' Health and Wellness Seminar – Friday, 27 October – Alice Springs

sam-heardA Doctors' Health and Wellness Seminar was held on Friday, 27 October as an adjunct workshop to the 2017 NT Annual Scientific Meeting. The workshop was attended by 21 Fellows and trainees who actively participated with facilitator Dr Sam Heard to discuss the complex topic of doctors’ health and wellness and the additional burdens faced by medical practitioners on a daily basis.

Dr Heard is one of a number of specially trained General Practitioners working for Doctors Health NT – an independent and profession-controlled program dedicated to improving the health of doctors and medical students for the good of the community. Doctors’ Health NT offers a suite of clinical, training and educational services designed to support Fellows and trainees.  

Visit the Doctors Health NT website for more information.

2017 RACP Northern Territory Annual Scientific Meeting – Friday, 27 and Saturday, 28 October – Alice Springs

Partnering with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

The 2017 RACP Northern Territory Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) was held in Alice Springs this year and we were delighted to have the opportunity to partner with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute (the Baker Institute) to bring an exceptional educational event to the red centre.  

The Baker Institute is an independent, internationally renowned medical research facility, with a history spanning more than 90 years. The Institute's work extends from the laboratory to wide-scale community studies with a focus on diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

Baker’s growing team of researchers in Central Australia and across the country have forged important partnerships and collaborations to help address the profound disadvantage experienced by Aboriginal people through scientific research that is rigorous, culturally appropriate and ethically sound. The research undertaken is based on community needs, with a strong focus on working with local providers to build knowledge and provide practical contributions to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health.

Partnering with the Baker Institute provided an opportunity to bring physicians, trainees, general practitioners, and nursing and allied health professionals together in the one event.  

2017 RACP Northern Territory Annual Scientific Meeting (NT ASM)


The RACP NT ASM was hosted by Dr Rob Tait, RACP NT Committee Chair. The audience saw an impressive line-up of guest speakers with the removal of sugary drinks from hospitals and health care facilities being one of the main topics. Dr Jeff Brown, RACP New Zealand Committee President-Elect was inspiring with his talk Getting the fizz out of the foyer: removing sugary sweetened drinks from hospital vending machines – a social movement.   

Dr Brown’s talk followed a passionate presentation by Ms Jane Martin, Manager Obesity Policy Coalition regarding a number of education campaigns and policies aimed at reducing sugary drink consumption in the population. Her talk outlined these campaigns and described some of the initiatives that are being undertaken by government and in community settings such as sport, health and education to address sugary drink consumption.

Ms Samantha Togni from the Menzies School of Health research co-presented with local women Ms Margaret Heffernan and Ms Irene Nangala on a consumer-led project which provided a transformative experience for Aboriginal people and the mainly non-Aboriginal renal workforce involved in their care. For Aboriginal consumers, care is more than good clinical care. It is about relationships, respect and caring both ways; this is what promotes culturally safe care. There is great potential for Aboriginal consumer-led initiatives to be implemented to improve the health care experience for Aboriginal people and clinicians.

Ms Samantha Togni, Ms Irene Nangala and Ms Margaret Heffernan

One of the final guest speakers for the day was Mr Blair McFarland, Manager at Central Australian Youth Link Up Service (CAYLUS) who outlined how many people have fallen through the welfare safety net, resulting in great hunger, leading to poor health, developmental delays and a host of other poverty related situations including domestic violence and poor school performances.  Mr McFarland’s presentation explained the operations of CAYLUS and practical solutions to some of these problems.

All guest speakers returned at the end of the day for a panel session to reflect on the day’s work and to discuss practical ways forward. The panel, facilitated by Dr Rob Tait, comprised of Dr Sam Heard, Ms Samantha Togni, Ms Jane Martin and Mr Blair McFarland.

Dr Rob Tait, Dr Sam Heard, Ms Samantha Togni, Ms Jane Martin, Mr Blair McFarland

Social activities

This year, there were a number of opportunities for delegates to catch up with peers in a more relaxed setting. Following the Doctors' Health and Wellness workshop, RACP Fellows and trainees joined audience members from the Baker Institute Educational Symposium to enjoy tunes from 'The Cheeky Docs' band, led by Dr Sam Heard.
The Cheeky Docs – Dr Richard Hosking, Dr Margaret Zwerk, Dr Kate West and Dr Sam Heard

At the conclusion of the NT ASM, over 20 Fellows and trainees enjoyed dinner at the beautiful Tali restaurant.

Dr Rob Tait, Professor Peter Morris, Dr Ari Horton, Dr Nick Fancourt, Dr Liz Moore and Dr Keith Edwards

RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence – Northern Territory representatives announced

The RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence competition is held to select State, Territory and New Zealand representatives to present their research in Sydney in May 2018.

This year, eight trainees were assessed by a judging panel comprising of Dr Christine Connors, Dr Bernhard Kuepper and Dr Keshan Satharasingthe.

Congratulations to our trainees selected to represent the Northern Territory:

 In the field of adult medicine  In the field of paediatric medicine
Dr Megan Brown for her presentation The Emergence of Myonecrosis: A Case series of Myonecrosis in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease and Diabetes in Central Australia. Dr Nick Fancourt for his presentation Chest radiograph findings in childhood pneumonia cases from the multi-site PERCH study.
Dr Brown with RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence judge Dr Christine Connors

Dr Fancourt with RACP Trainee Research Awards for Excellence judge Dr Christine Connors
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