May 2023 newsletter

A message from our President

This year, Australia will vote on a proposed law to alter the Constitution to establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice to Parliament. As you may have seen, we published a statement last week supporting this proposal. This statement was developed and approved by the Executive and Council, in consultation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Fellows. You can read the full statement on our website, along with links to further resources about the Voice. 

AAHMS Fellow Professor Fiona Stanley recently shared with me this powerful statement from the late Dr Yunupingu, a great supporter of the Voice, who eloquently suggests a path forward for Australia:
What Aboriginal people ask is that the modern world now makes the sacrifices necessary to give us a real future. To relax its grip on us. To let us breathe, to let us be free of the determined control exerted on us to make us like you. And you should take that a step further and recognise us for who we are and not who you want us to be. Let us be who we are – Aboriginal people in a modern world – and be proud of us. Acknowledge that we have survived the worst that the past has thrown at us, and we are here with our songs, our ceremonies, our land, our languages and our people – our full identity. What a gift this is that we can give you, if you choose to accept us in a meaningful way.”

Elsewhere, the Academy has recently hosted two Life as a Clinician-Scientist events, in New South Wales and in Queensland, attracting very engaged audiences. Our goal with these events is to support and nurture the next generation of clinician-scientists – providing advice, mentorship opportunities and a forum where they can learn about the challenges and rewards of this essential career. We’ve been focused on growing the Life as a Clinician-Scientist program this year, and this month we will launch a dedicated newsletter, Hypothesis, to our audience, ensuring we’re providing support and opportunities to engage with the program year-round. There is a sign-up form on our website – please do share it with any interested potential clinician-scientists.

The Federal Budget will be handed down tonight – expect to see the Academy’s annual budget analysis land in your inbox later this evening. My thanks to our policy team, led by Lanika Mylvaganam, who work to release this analysis as soon as possible, ensuring Fellows have a quick overview of matters relevant to them. We welcome your feedback.

Elsewhere in our policy work, you may have seen that the report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into long COVID was recently published. We were delighted to see that the report addressed many of the issues raised in our written submission and the evidence session we organised for the Parliamentary Committee jointly with the Australian Academy of Science. Read more on our website.
Yours sincerely,
Professor Steve Wesselingh PresAHMS


Parliamentary report on long COVID 


We welcome the recent findings of the House of Representatives’ Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport’s inquiry into long COVID and repeated infections.

The report highlights the need for research and evidence to address the challenge of long COVID in Australia, which was recommended in our joint submission with the Australian Academy of Science and subsequent expert roundtable.

We strongly welcome the announcement of $50 million from the Medical Research Future Fund for research into long COVID, as well as the report’s recommendations for an updated definition of long COVID, enhanced data collection and linkage, a nationally coordinated research program, and the development of co-designed evidence-based living guidelines. Read the joint statement from the Academy of Science and AAHMS on our website.

Sector news and opportunities

ATSE Traditional Knowledge Innovation Award
The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) has announced a national award to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander innovators who solve modern problems through the application of Traditional Knowledge. Nominations close 29 May. Find more information on the ATSE website.

Ukraine-Australia Research Fund
The Australian Academy of Science has partnered with the Breakthrough Prize Foundation to deliver a program to support Ukrainian researchers in eligible fields who have been impacted by the war with Russia. Applications are open to support Ukrainian researchers to participate short-term visits to Australia to engage in project research at a host institution, or to participate in a conference and site visit program (Activity 1); or provide practical support to research being undertaken in Ukraine that has been impacted by the current war (Activity 2). Applications for Activity 1 close on 7 June and on 31 May for Activity 2. Find out more on the Australian Academy of Science website.

Brisbane Transplant Infectious Diseases Meeting 2023
Registration is now open for the Brisbane Transplant Infectious Diseases Meeting on 2 June, bringing together local clinicians, scientists and other healthcare professionals working in the field of infectious diseases, immunology, and transplant medicine. The meeting aims to shine a light on the clinical challenges facing transplant patients in Queensland related to infectious diseases and brings together healthcare specialty groups and basic science researchers. The meeting will be held from 8am to 5pm on 2 June at the RBWH Education Centre at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. Register online.


Professor Sharon Lewin received the 2023 Distinguished Leadership Award at the BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards.

Professor Richard Scolyer has received The American Society of Dermatopathology 2023 Founders’ Award recognising outstanding original and significant contributions to dermatopathology.

Fellows in the News

Professor Stephen Duckett wrote for The Conversation on the issues of Medicare, bulkbilling and GP shortages. He also contributed to pieces on Radio National and AFR.

Professor Ian Hickie discussed an increase in antidepressant prescriptions for children on Radio National Breakfast and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse co-authored an article on waiting times for autism and ADHD assessments for The Conversation.

Professor Kaarin Anstey discussed a new risk tool designed to assess an individual’s risk of dementia in The Australian.

Professor Peter Ebeling discussed bone density research and osteoporosis in The West Australian and Australian Seniors News.

Professor Pat Dudgeon co-authored an article on Indigenous psychology for Nature Reviews Psychology which was reprinted in Croakey Health Media.

Professor Sharon Lewin was quoted in an ABC article on long COVID, following the release of the Parliamentary Committee’s report on this issue.

Professor Anne Kavanagh co-authored an article on NDIS cost scrutiny for The Conversation.

Associate Member, Associate Professor Lauren Ball, co-authored an article on what to eat when you have COVID-19 for The Conversation.

Professor Ian Davis wrote about the benefits and pitfalls of working with a medical journal for Sage Perspectives.

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