Following on from the success of the 2019 Perth Conference theme, the 2020 AIOH Council has adopted a theme of Setting up for Success.

As you read this report, the 2020 AIOH Planning Day will have been completed. The 2020 Council and chairs / representatives of all committees will have identified a range of issues, challenges and projects that need to be considered and prioritized.
Key topics of focus at the planning day included;

  • Communication between Council, Committees and Members (particularly younger members),
  • Member Service Charter and AIOH Code of Conduct, and
  • Council/ committee project review process.

I will discuss these items in more detail in future issues of OH Matters.

The information generated at the Planning Day will be used to draft a detailed two-year strategy/plan that continues the great work undertaken by the 2019 Council and that is consistent with our current 5-year strategic plan.

This draft will be provided to Council to finalise and ratify. The 2020/2021 final Strategic Plan will then be communicated to all stakeholders, and in collaboration with our committee chairs develop a 2020 plan that includes timelines for all committees and internal staff members to deliver on the 2020/2021 Strategic Plan.

The Chair of the External Affairs Committee, Martin Jennings and his team of Sharann Johnson, Barry Chesson and Julia Norris have been in overdrive delivering on our Institute’s key objective of influencing government and industry to create healthier workplaces.

We have released a media statement around the institute’s concerns around the long-term health of the thousands of first responders dealing with the horrific bushfires that have ravaged much of our country. In our media statement we raised comparisons to the 9/11 tragedy, not to be alarmist, but to raise awareness of what has happened in the past, and to take these learnings and ensure that comprehensive health surveillance systems are effectively implemented to monitor the ongoing health of our first responders. Although we can’t foresee what the long-term impact will be or the numbers that will be affected, as health professionals we are aware of the potential long term health consequences from significant exposure to bushfire smoke over a period of weeks/months. It is our role to raise this awareness within our leaders and the general public.  As such, our letter that was sent to the Hon Greg Hunt, Commonwealth Minister for Health, and all State and Territory Ministers requested that they give serious consideration to raising the health of fire fighters and first responders and the issue of a National Institute for Occupational Health at the next COAG Health Council.

Our media release and letter to the Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers for Health had the desired effect with the ABC picking up on our media release and raising our concerns on the ABC News Channel.

Using all of the positive feedback that the Institute received regarding this media release, Martin and the EA committee will be working on developing a program that identifies the strategies and platforms that the Institute can utilise to provide professional support, advice and guidance relating to the short and long-term health effects associated with exposure to bushfire smoke.

To find out more about what the External Affairs committee is currently doing, including our recent submission to the ACCC please read Martin’s External Affairs Committee Report. 

The Breathe Freely Program continues to grow and build partnerships, thanks to the work by Sharann Johnson and our members to make it happen. As I write this report SafeWork SA has just come on board as a BFA Partner. To find out more about the great work Sharann has been doing with BFA and how you can become a BFA Partner please read her BFA update.

As you may be aware, following discussions in meetings during and subsequent to the Perth conference, the special general meeting (SGM) that was requested late last year will now not take place. The majority of members who requested the meeting were satisfied that sufficient progress was made towards resolving the issue and withdrew their request. Ongoing discussions and meetings are continuing to take place with the goal of achieving a suitable resolution. We will continue to keep members informed as we progress towards a satisfactory outcome.

Last but not least I would like to thank the outgoing President, Julia Norris and outgoing Council Member Gillian Felton for all of their hard work and contribution to the Institute. A big thank you to Julia for her efforts in getting both BFA to where it is today and initiating the momentum to make Resp-Fit a real work in progress. Her hard work, vision and enthusiasm in making these two key projects a reality allows the 2020 Council, the current custodians of the Institute, a solid platform to continue to deliver on our 5-year Strategy and these two important initiatives.

Andrew Orfanos


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