It feels like we have been living under the impact and restrictions of the SARS-CoV-02 Pandemic for eternity yet here we are, already in the final quarter of 2020!

To say that my tenure as President wasn’t quite what I anticipated would most certainly be an understatement, however, I am deeply grateful that I have been able to represent the AIOH during this incredibly challenging time. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, and to that effect, 2020 has been a deeply rewarding and productive year for both myself and the AIOH.

As we speak, metropolitan Melbourne is finally coming out of lockdown, with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Throughout this period the AIOH has been working very hard to advocate for and support our frontline health care workers.

On behalf of the AIOH I wrote to both the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly and the Minister for Health, Hon Greg Hunt raising our concerns around the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-02 and the impact it is having in our front line health care workers. A further letter to the ACMO was also sent outlining our concerns around the composition of ICEG and their refusal to take a precautionary approach to managing the risk of this transmission pathway in our Health Care workers.

As a result, the AIOH was invited to nominate a representative to join the National Clinical Taskforce to help review the National Safety and Quality Health Service Preventing and Controlling Healthcare-Associated Infection Standard. As such I am happy to announce that Kate Cole will be our representative on this working group. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the incredible amount of time and effort that both Kate and Jane Whitelaw have spent advocating and providing expert advice on this issue to many stakeholders.

After helping develop and endorsing a Poster and Guidance Document around respiratory protection that was distributed across hospitals Nationally, we continued our support of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) by hosting an AIOH Virtual Chapter Meeting Titled Respiratory Protection for Health Care Workers: Meet the Experts, which was successfully run in late October, with over 511 people registering for this event, including 203 members of ASA!

I am also happy to inform you that the AIOH now sit on the Asbestos Eradication Agency’s Management and Removal Committee. This committee is currently working on a number of common projects that the AIOH can provide professional advice and support on. Projects include, exploring regulatory issues around the 10m2 rule, unlicensed asbestos removal, and the development & promotion of revised guidance material for homeowners and tradespeople (electricians and plumbers).  This forum will allow the AIOH to further promote Breathe Freely Australia and RESP-FIT to those stakeholders contributing to this committee and their network of stakeholders.

ASEA are also interested in improving the competency of asbestos consultants and ensuring greater consistency around information contained within asbestos registers and clearance certificates. To this end, I am happy to say that Julia Collins, the Director of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency has accepted to be part of a working group formed by the AIOH that will look at the competency of individuals working as consultants in the management of Asbestos and Hazardous Materials in the demolition industry. This new working group will also have representatives from AHCA ((Nigel Johnson, AHCA President) and the various State Regulators. The engagement of these key stakeholders will be crucial in ensuring that any training courses or competency programs we develop meet the needs of all stakeholders involved and most importantly, valued, supported and endorsed.

Thank you all to those that provided feedback to our annual membership survey. We had a great response rate. If you would like to look at the results of this annual member survey in more detail please take a look at Ross Di Corleto’s summary.

I would also like to take this opportunity to let our membership know that Martin Jennings has chosen to step down as Chair of the External Affairs Committee.  On behalf of the AIOH Council and all of our members I would like thank Martin for the important role that he has played in turning our Institute into a more outwardly facing organisation, getting this committee up and running and the work he has personally spent on advocating on behalf of the AIOH on a range of topical issues such as the recent bushfires, and the emergence of accelerated silicosis in the manufactured stone industry.

I would also like to welcome Katie Page, our new Membership Coordinator, welcome aboard! Katie has already shown her value with the work she has been doing with the M&Q Committee, particularly with the new online process for processing both new and existing membership upgrades.

Please reach out to Katie and have a friendly chat should you have any questions or issues with respect to membership.

I cannot begin to thank enough the incredible work and personal sacrifice that Mark Reggers, his Board and team of volunteers have undertaken to develop the first class RESP-FIT accreditation program. RESP-FIT will be proudly launched at our 40th Anniversary Virtual Symposium later this year.

Finally, I would like to thank Kelly Johnstone, along with her organising Committee of Linda Apthorpe, Dino Pisaniello, Peter Aspinall, Daniel Cronje and Samira Wadhavkar for their incredible effort, enthusiasm and professionalism in putting together what will be an incredible 40th Year Virtual Symposium.


Andrew Orfanos
President, AIOH


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