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Press Release: Australian medical students rally against Border Force Act 2015

Media Release | 01 July 2015

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is vehemently opposed to the Federal Government’s Border Force Act 2015, which will see doctors face imprisonment for speaking out about the reprehensible conditions in Australia’s detention centres.

Medical students today marched from the Australian National University to Parliament House, before heading to their university tutorials and hospital rotations. They called on the Federal Government to amend this Act, which effectively gags doctors and other health professionals working in detention centres.

President of Australian National University Medical Society, Chris Wilder, said that medical students across the country feel strongly about the impact of the Act, with many walking to Federal Parliament today to protest the draconian legislation

“Medical students know that today’s detainees will be tomorrow’s patients. As Australia’s future health practitioners, we have a duty to speak out on their behalf,” Chris said.

Medical students Australia-wide will also be calling Members of Parliament throughout the day to convey their outrage regarding the Border Force Act 2015 and its implications.

AMSA President, James Lawler, said that to silence those committed to the preservation and protection of human life is abhorrent, and contradicts the very nature of the medical profession.

“AMSA encourages all concerned Australians, whether a medical professional or not, to contact their Member of Parliament and tell them that this Bill is unacceptable, James said.

“Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers is an utter disgrace, and stands in direct opposition to both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and basic human decency.

“The Border Force Act 2015 goes a step further, pushing doctors to compromise their ethics and contravene the Declaration of Geneva.

“Our Government is institutionalising cruelty against an already vulnerable population, and censoring those who would criticise them for it. It is both cruel and unfair to ask doctors to choose between imprisonment and the safety of their patients.

“It is disgraceful how far the Government has gone in its quest to treat asylum seekers inhumanely, and unfortunately the Opposition is cowardly complying.

“The Federal Government is attempting to blackmail doctors into silence by leveraging their personal freedom against their desire to ensure the wellbeing of their patients.

“AMSA calls upon the Federal Government to amend the offensive regulations from the Border Force Act 2015 immediately.”


Media Contact

Maria Bilal

PRESS RELEASE: Government report shows Curtin Medical School makes no sense

Media Release | 19 June 2015

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) has stepped up calls for the Federal Government to reconsider a new medical school at Curtin University following the release of a Council of Australian Governments (COAG) report showing there are already too many medical graduates.

The COAG’s Report on the National Audit of Applications and Acceptances and the Late Vacancy Management Process for Medical Intern Recruitment for the 2015 Clinical Year found 3676 graduates applied for internships last year, but only 3229 were offered by the states and territories. Even with an extra 81 places provided through Commonwealth Medical Internship Initiative, 366 aspiring doctors were left stranded without an internship.

AMSA President, James Lawler, said the results were a damning indictment of the Federal Government’s decision to fund the new Curtin Medical School, which will eventually produce 110 graduates a year.

“It is obvious Australia can’t train the number of medical students that it currently has,” Mr Lawler said. “There is simply no justification to train more medical students when we can’t find jobs for those who are already graduating.

“The decision to fund a Curtin University medical school is a terrible waste of taxpayer money and should be reversed.”

Mr Lawler said that, instead of committing $20 million a year to the project, the Abbott Government should instead direct the funds to help meet the urgent need for more medical training places.

“It is clearly a political stunt aiming to secure Federal seats in Western Australia, and to assist the State Coalition Government in their upcoming election,” the AMSA President said.

“The money should be re-directed to fund training positions for the many aspiring doctors who are unable to find work now, rather than simply adding to ranks of those who will struggle to find an internship down the track.

“The Government should start by increasing the number of general practice training positions available, given there were 800 unsuccessful applications across Australia last year, including 84 in Western Australia alone.”

The internship year is a mandatory requirement in order for medical graduates to attain general registration, and there has been a well-documented shortage of these internship positions for a number of years.

COAG has also released an Options Paper from its National Medical Internship Review. After extensive consultation, the review found, amongst other things, that:

  • “catering for an increase in [domestic medical graduates]… is limited within current settings”, and
  • “…while the rapid increase in medical graduates has been absorbed, this does not mean that capacity has not been put under strain. It is evident that there is variability in quality of experience. It also does not necessarily mean we have deployed this new workforce in ways best aligned to meet societal needs.”

Last month, the Australian Medical Association’s National Conference unanimously backed a an urgency motion moved by AMSA President James Lawler condemning the new medical school and calling on the Federal Government to reconsider its decision.

The Report on the National Audit of Applications and Acceptances and the Late Vacancy Management Process for Medical Intern Recruitment for the 2015 Clinical Year can be viewed at: http://www.coaghealthcouncil.gov.au/Publications/Reports


Media Contact:

Maria Bilal


AMSA President James Lawler’s Speech at the AMA National Conference


AMSA’s President, James Lawler, today delivered a speech at the AMA National Conference on bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and mental health. You can read a full transcript below and see the video here.


I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Turrbal Aboriginal Nation. I pay respect to elders, both past and present.

I’d like to thank the AMA for having me here today, especially to speak to you for such an extended period about the perspective of medical students, and the future of our profession.

My name is James Lawler, and I am a medical student from the University of Newcastle. I was born in Maitland, a regional city about 45 minutes from Newcastle. My parents were both nurses, and from a young age, my mother wanted to see me fulfil my potential. Her and my father scrimped and scraped, so that myself and my two younger sisters could get the best education. I started university as the first person from my family to ever get a tertiary education.

Unfortunately, I’d taken the advice of the careers advisor at school who told me that the mining industry in the Hunter Valley would last forever, and that I’d really enjoy engineering. I did not enjoy engineering. Three weeks after I started, I disappointed my family by quitting, working as a waiter in a restaurant, then leaving to travel the world, like so many of my generation do now, to find my soul.

I came back with a renewed passion for people. I’d seen remote villages in Ecuador, and I’d seen the disparity between the rich and the poor in Africa, and decided that I’d love to go back one day with a real skill, a real profession, and help those less fortunate. I was lucky enough to start medicine at the University of Newcastle. Through trying to offset my learning about the nitty gritty of biochemistry and anatomy, with some of the broader public and global health issues which interested me, I became involved in AMSA.

AMSA is an exciting but scary entity. We run the world’s largest student run conference – some of you may remember our National Convention, or not remember it, depending on the week you had as a medical student. This year there will be over 1500 delegates in Melbourne. We also have over 700 students in Perth in August for our 11th Global Health Conference. And yet despite these enormous multimillion dollar operations, we are 100% volunteer run by medical students who complete their medical school studies concurrently, to whom I’m incredibly grateful.

As the President of AMSA, this is all empowering, but also all-consuming and challenges every day. But one of the great aspects of my role is the support I get from the AMA. From the moment I was elected, Brian, Steve and all of the AMA’s leaders made themselves available to provide me with guidance. Anne and all of her staff at the AMA give me advice when I require it, and also Fiona Davies and her fantastic team at AMA (NSW). I’m extremely grateful for all of the support I get from the AMA, and on behalf of AMSA I would like to say thanks.

Earlier this year, I was driving down to Canberra for a couple of meetings with the AMA (to meet Brian Owler and Anne Trimmer), and to my shock and horror, I was running late. Believe it or not, as a one-hundred zone became an eighty zone, I was pulled over by an unmarked police car for speeding. As the officer lectured me, the irony of the situation dawned on me – the AMSA president had just been caught speeding on my way to meet with Brian Owler, the face of road safety in Australia. I kid you not, as I looked up, Brian’s face was on a billboard on a hill, with the message “DON’T RUSH”. Brian, I’m sorry I was late that day, and I’m sorry I’ve been late ever since, I’m sure you’ll understand.

I’m indulging myself in this anecdote because whilst I appreciate the irony and probably the humour, it’s actually not that funny. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, road accidents account for about a quarter of all the deaths of young people like myself, and as a supposed leader of youth public health, I’d decided that I was above the rules of common sense and road safety. I thought I was better than other drivers, and that I could undertake “safe speeding”. I thought to Brian’s well-publicised question:

Would I rather:

a)      Be late to a meeting with the AMA President and Secretary General
b)      Rush, lose control and kill myself and a family of four?

I’m raising this today because I want to offer a bit of hubris to begin with. I’ve seen many people in medical-student politics, and the ones who go furthest are always able to offer some humility, those who don’t get stuck trying to do everything themselves and thus make poor decisions. And I’ll ask the same of you today. Because whilst medical training and a new medical school are top of my agenda, today I have a captive audience of Australia’s doctors.

As medical students, we often don’t have your full attention. When I’m not head of a national institution, I’m also just another medical student, joining teams of doctors on their ward rounds. I’ve had busy doctors, who don’t remember my name even after several weeks of my presence. I’ve also met great doctors, who are interested in me and my colleagues, and take the time to teach me. As a future doctor, it amazes me how much teaching can be taken for granted as part of the role of the doctor. It is expected of me as a “senior” medical student to teach my juniors, and it will continue to be an expectation as an intern, a registrar and a staff specialist. And yet it is simply assumed that I will somehow inherently know how to teach, and how to manage and assess the performance of those whom I am supervising. I hope that this can change.

But with a captive audience of Australia’s doctors, I’d like to speak to the biggest issue affecting my peers – bullying, harassment, sexual harassment and their mental health.

I had a journalist ask me at the start of this year, “What do you think of the current environment of bullying in hospitals?” At the time, it wasn’t a question I am normally asked. I thought about my own experiences. I’m a white male, I’m able to speak confidently, and I have thick skin. I was chatting with some of AMSA Past Presidents last night, and unfortunately, we all seem to fit this carbon copy of the tall, white, male leader which the Honorary Ms Julia Gillard questioned last night.

However, my experiences in hospitals is probably fairly unique. It wasn’t until a vascular surgeon from Melbourne made the off-hand comment that one of her colleagues would have been better off providing a blow job to her superior in order to progress her career, rather than standing up against sexual harassment, that I suddenly began to get a flood of reports of sexual harassment in our hospitals.

I spoke to a female medical student colleague, and asked her what she thought. She told me about one of her previous surgical supervisors – she described him as a young surgeon, a nice guy, and a good teacher. However, whilst walking between wards to see patients once, she’d dropped her pen, and bent down to pick it up. As she bent down, he jovially made the comment “Oh, well while you’re down there”. This doctor wasn’t a serial creep – he was a joker, who meant to just push the boundaries to get a laugh. But little did he know of the offence he’d caused. He also seemed to like to make jokes about gay people during his surgeries. And little did he know that the other student under his supervision was gay, and stood in silence, wishing he’d stop.

I asked her – did she raise these issues with her supervisor? Her answer was that of course she didn’t – she had wanted to, but her marks for that rotation rely entirely on the report from that supervisor, so why would she do anything except stay silent and inflate his ego?

The issue of bullying, harassment and sexual harassment is an important piece of the puzzle for the mental health of my peers. A Beyond Blue survey from two years ago showed that medical students and doctors experienced higher rates of psychological distress, and also had higher rates of suicidal thoughts. It showed that the typical “at risk” doctor is the female junior doctor, although couldn’t explain the disparity between males and females.

The issues for my peers don’t only end in offence or mental illness. All of you would have heard about the tragic suicides of 3 psychiatric registrars and an intern earlier this year. I never knew these people, so can’t tell you their story – but I promise you that they had one. They had a story just like mine. They had a proud mother, just like mine. They made mistakes, just like mine. And now they are gone, they are lost to this world, because whilst they had hopes, dreams and aspirations, just like mine, they could not see a way out of the “black hole” of medical training, and took their own lives. We have wasted some of Australia’s best and brightest.

Like I said, I’ve had forgettable teachers, and I’ve had great ones, and as such I don’t at all mean to paint the profession with broad brushstrokes. I’ve been welcomed here to the AMA and have found some great mentors – I am sure that there are great teachers in this room who take the wellbeing of their juniors very seriously. But as President of AMSA, I’m a big fish in a small pond. Once I graduate and become an intern, I will become a small fish in a big pond. I move to the bottom of a hierarchy which will take me many years to scale, if at all. It can’t be my job, or the job of my peers at the bottom of the food chain, because the hierarchy is too high and too strong.

Lieutenant General David Morrison has recently taken leadership on this issue in the army, where an even greater hierarchy exists, responding to allegations of system sexual harassment in the defence force. In a Youtube video which has now gone viral, he says:

“Every one of us is responsible for the culture and reputation of our army and the environment in which we work. If you become aware of any individual degrading another, then show moral courage and take a stand against it. No one has EVER explained to me how the exploitation or degradation of others, enhances capability, or honours the traditions of the Australian Army.

I will be ruthless in ridding the army of people who cannot live up to its values. And I need every one of you to support me in achieving this. The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept. That goes for all of us, but especially those, who by their rank, have a leadership role.”

Ladies and gentlemen, as I said, I am not blaming each and every one of you of bullying, or disregarding our mental health. Nor am I saying that the AMA or any one college needs to be the sole actor in this space, and recognise that many of the gains need to be made in policies and procedures within hospitals who employ doctors in this setting. But I need your help to change the culture in medicine. “The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept”. I cannot tell my peers to take a stand against perpetrators of bullying and harassment, because the hierarchy is too high and too strong. I need your help – it needs to come from you.

I appreciate that there is work being done in this space to improve the situation for my colleagues. I’m glad that the Royal Australiasian College of Surgeons has set up an Independent Expert Advisory Committee to give recommendations to the college, and I’m appreciative of Brian and the AMA in its swift response in setting up a roundtable on sexual harassment and their work since. I’m well aware that the profession has been put on notice by reports in the media. But forgive my pessimism at the moment, for the day after a Four Corners report this week on bullying and sexual harassment, I had reports from medical students at a University (which will remained unnamed) that their Head of Paediatrics told a lecture-room full of students that they were ‘arrogant’, ‘stupid’ and that students who experience anxiety are ‘weak’. We can do better than this.

Believe it or not, doctors once upon a time used to prescribe cigarettes for some ailments, and many of them smoked themselves. I’ve had many doctors tell me proudly though that as the rate of doctors who smoke in Australia declined, the population followed them. That is, it required leadership from the medical profession in order for Australia to get to where it is today – one of the world leaders in tobacco control.

I wonder if one day, we will be able to tell the same story in regards to mental health, which is arguably the greatest health challenge facing Australia today. When will this profession take its own mental health seriously? I hope one day I see a study that shows that the declining rates of suicide, psychological distress and mental illness in the medical profession which was closely followed by a similar decline in the Australian Community. I hope you can help me.


Medical students call for $20m investment to be redirected from Curtin medical school to medical training positions

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is calling on the Federal Government to scrap plans for the new Curtin medical school and redirect the funding into relieving the bottleneck in training positions for junior doctors.

AMSA President, James Lawler said Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision is short sighted and lacks understanding of the complexities of medical training.

“The number of medical students from Western Australia has tripled over the past decade.”

“Last year, the applications for General Practice training positions in Western Australia were oversubscribed by 84 places.

“This means that junior doctors are waiting to begin their training as GP’s but can’t due to the lack of training places available.

“AMSA recognises the doctor shortage affects Western Australia disproportionately, however the best way to address this issue is to ensure every individual that enters medical school is able to come out the other end and work as a fully-licensed doctor.

“In order to produce more doctors, an increase in the number of medical students must be coupled with a proportionate increase in vocational training positions for medical graduates.

“Medical students are a significant investment  – it costs the government over $100,000 to train each medical student. In order to get the best return on this investment, there must be enough training places for graduates to complete their training and serve the community effectively.

“Come Monday morning, medical students and doctors Australia-wide will be ringing up their local MPs to express their discontent.

“AMSA calls on government to redirect funding towards increasing positions in vocational training programs.”

Media Contact:

Maria Bilal



Call your MP: Fix the Training Pipeline, Don’t Flood It.

AMSA Training Pipeline InfographicHow to contact your Federal MP

  1. Find your local MP here: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senators_and_Members/Members
  2. Look up their contact details for their local office (the lower house isn’t sitting this week, so Members of Parliament will be at home in their electorates)
  3. Call their office, and ask to speak to someone about the announcement of a new medical school in Western Australia, using the speaking points provided below.
  4. Add a summary of your phone call to the spreadsheet: http://amsa.co/AMSACallYourMP

Speaking Point 1 – Too many students, not enough education

  • I am disappointed/appalled/outraged/alarmed by the announcement of a new medical school in Perth.
  • Over the past decade, the number of students commencing medical studies in WA has more than tripled (107 in 2004 to 325 in 2015)
  • This has grossly stretched capacity in our training hospitals, diluting the learning experience for medical students.
  • How can this be safe? I want our future doctors to be well educated and competent. I also want the doctors teaching our students not to be overworked between teaching more students and treating more patients.
  • I implore you to reconsider this rash decision, review what is actually happening and ensure that our future doctors are receiving a quality education.

Speaking Point 2 – I’m worried there won’t be enough internships.

  • I am disappointed/appalled/outraged/alarmed by the announcement of a new medical school in Perth.
  • Over the past decade, the number of students commencing medical studies in WA has more than tripled from 107 in 2004 to 338 in 2015.
  • Last year I heard from my medical student friends that they’re concerned they wouldn’t get a job. Fortunately they managed to, but I hear on the East coast this is not the case.
  • In the east, they have too many medical students but not enough first year jobs for them to go to.
  • This is important; a medical degree without the accompanying first year of internship supervision is useless. It means they legally can’t work.
  • That’s our tax-payer’s dollars going into their university education that’s then wasted when there is no job for them.
  • We should learn from the mistakes of our East coast colleagues and stop this situation before it happens in WA. The new medical school should not open.


Speaking Point 3 – Bottleneck in the training pipeline

  • I am disappointed/appalled/outraged/alarmed by the announcement of a new medical school in Perth.
  • In the 2006, Tony Abbott as Health Minister increased medical student numbers. At no stage did progressive governments plan for the implications of this increase in the medical training pipeline.
  • Currently we’re in a training bottleneck. Last year in Western Australia, 84 Junior doctors missed out on a GP training position and 800 missed out nationally.
  • The Australia Future Health Workforce report predicts that we need another 1000 specialty positions to be funded and accredited to fill the training deficit that we’ll have by 2030.
  • The government should be investing in the training our medical students to become the doctors our community needs.


Speaking Point 4 – Solving our rural doctor shortage

  • I am disappointed/appalled/outraged/alarmed by the announcement of a new medical school in Perth.
  • Curtin medical school has argued there is a mandate for a new medical school to supply Australian trained doctors for rural Australia. However they have not fulfilled this mandate with their proposal.
  • There are two proven methods of improving the likelihood doctors will work in the country. Those are recruiting medical students from rural areas and supplying ample rural exposure during medical school. There is Australian research demonstrating this.
  • The proposed Curtin Medical School fails both methods. Their 20% rural intake target falls short of the 25% general medical school intake quotas already in place, and is well short of population parity, which would be around 1/3rd of medical students.
  • The Curtin medical school campus will be based in metropolitan Perth and has no solid plans for for rural experience in the curriculum – unlike the successful and oversubscribed Rural Clinical School program of UWA and Notre Dame.
  • The Curtin Medical School does nothing in terms of solving the shortage of doctors in rural and regional areas. Instead we should look to increasing training places for graduates to work in rural and remote areas in the hope that they will be the solution to our rural doctor shortage.

Medical students strongly oppose new medical school in WA

Media Release:

16 May 2015

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) expresses grave concern regarding the announcement of Curtin Medical School in Western Australia.

AMSA President James Lawler stated “The well-documented shortage of intern and speciality training places means increases in medical student numbers will not translate into an increase in the number of fully qualified doctors in the Australian health workforce.

“Regulating the total number of medical students is essential to avoid overwhelming Western Australia’s capacity to train doctors, or risk compromising the quality of teaching they receive.

“Australian medical schools must provide students with suitable exposure to an extensive range of medical specialties and clinical settings including public hospitals, rural clinics, community health care facilities, and general practice.

“Medical student numbers are at an all time high. As of 2014 there are 16,837 medical students – a 56% increase from 2006 numbers.

“Of note, medical graduates in WA have tripled from 107 domestic and international graduates in 2004, to a total of 337 graduates projected to graduate at the end of this year.

“There needs to be substantial evidence showing there is capacity to appropriately train any new students – as yet the WA Government has offered no supporting data.

“This announcement by the government suggests a serious lack of workforce planning, and appears to be driven by politics rather than public health.” said Mr Lawler.

“Ultimately, this is an issue of patient safety – increasing numbers of junior doctors, while compromising the quality of their education and training, poses a significant risk to public health.

“Opening up more medical schools without increasing clinical training sites is a short-sighted move and will create more problems than it solves.”

Media Contact:

Maria Bilal

0416 668 091


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Press Release: Medical students critical of fee deregulation stubbornness


Media Release | 13 May 2015


The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is strongly opposed to the Federal Government’s efforts to push fee deregulation, without compromise, in the 2015-2016 Budget.

From January 2016, the Government hopes to fully deregulate higher education fees, as well as decrease base funding for Commonwealth Supported Places by 20%.

AMSA President, James Lawler, stated, “These Higher Education reforms were proposed 12 months ago and, despite being blocked in the Senate since, the Government persists with them.

“Fee deregulation perpetuates inequitable access to medical tertiary education and it will ultimately mean less doctors for rural areas.

“In a deregulated system, medical degrees will leave students with debts of up to $250,000, as opposed to of $60,000.

“High student debt will deter students from pursuing careers in general practice and remote locations, two of the greatest areas of need in the Australian health workforce.

Mr. Lawler said, “The Budget’s focus on rural health is big step in the right direction.”

“It is unfortunate that fee deregulation will undermine any benefits that may come from financial incentives for doctors through the General Practice Rural Incentives Programme or the $20million funding over two years for the Royal Flying Doctors Service.

“Rural health was only able to become a focus in health funding when the co-payment proposal was abandoned – it’s time that the Government did the same with higher education.

“AMSA reiterates calls for the Federal Government to scrap fee deregulation, or significantly modify it to mandate a cap on student contribution to medical education. “


Media Contact:

Maria Bilal



2015 Federal Budget – What you need to know

Higher Education

Deregulation – The Government is still planning to deregulate University fees by 1 January 2016. This is despite the fact that the relevant legislation has failed twice in the Senate over the past 12 months.


Commonwealth Supported Places contribution cut – Likewise, the Government is still planning to cut the Federal contribution to CSP places by 20%.


People with HELP debts working overseas – The government will be looking to recover money from people with HELP debts who are working overseas, who previously have not been required to repay HELP debts. Like all other Australians compulsory repayments will only occur when their income rises above $53,000,.



Medicare Review – the Government will spend $34 million on a clinician led review of Medicare items. It is expecting to save $145 million on this review over the next four years.


Rural Scholarships for Medical Students – As per the Mason Review, the government will cease the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship Program, and convert those places in future years to Bonded Medical Places.


General Practice Rural Incentives Program – New incentives for General Practitioners working in rural areas.


Immunizations – The “no jab, no pay” policy will ensure that those who refuse vaccinations do not receive welfare payments from government. This is expected to save $508 million over the next 4 years. The government will be re-investing $26 million into incentives for GPs to vaccinate children who are “late”, amongst other schemes to increase vaccination rates.


Medical Research Future Fund – This proposal entails a $20 billion fund which will provide dividends for medical research. This was originally funded by the co-payment proposal from last year’s budget (the latter has now been scrapped). The Government is still budgeting to contribute the same amount to this fund, although where this money will come from remains unclear. The fund will pay a dividend of $10 million in the next financial year.


Commonwealth Medical Internships – The Government is continuing their commitment to federal funding for internships for graduating medical students, with a particular focus on private hospitals and rural and regional settings. This funding only exists until 2016 for internships in 2017, however AMSA expects that the program will be reviewed before further investments can be made in this area.


Organ and Tissue Donation – There will be $10.2 million over the next two years for organ and tissue donation, with a focus on clinical education to hospitals, a new organ matching system and allowing the online registration of legal consent.


National Drug Campaign – The previously announced revival of the National Drug Campaign, with a particular focus on “ice”, has been funded – $20 million over the next two years.


E-health – The Government is reforming the current e-health system, and will focus on an “opt-out” system. This is going to cost $485 million.


National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations – This has been a long term project of the Australian Government to develop culturally appropriate and relevant health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations. 1.4 billion dollars of funding have been provided fro the 2014/2015 budget year.



Salary Packaging cap – Some salaried professionals from the public and not-for-profit sectors were previously able to sacrifice some of the salary pre-tax for ‘meal entertainment’ benefits, including holidays, cruises, weddings and meals and alcohol in restaurants. This includes junior doctors. These benefits will now be capped at $5,000 per year.

AMSA welcomes new measure to protect health of doctors

Media Release:

06 May 2015


The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) welcomes the news of a national Doctors Health Service (DHS), to be jointly established by the Medical Board of Australia and the Australian Medical Association.


“The Doctors Health Service will be a national health program for both doctors and medical students in Australia, and is a huge step forward in improving the health of medical professionals nationwide”, said AMSA President, James Lawler.


“Previously services have not been consistently delivered and promoted, which has meant the health of doctors and medical students has often deteriorated unnoticed.


“This initiative will see nationally standardised services delivered to medical students and doctors in every State and Territory, ensuring accessibility and equitable delivery.


“The DHS will combine face-to-face health-related triage, advice and referral with telephone help-lines, online tools and appropriate resources to most effectively meet the needs of health professionals.


Mr Lawler noted “Investing in the health and wellbeing of doctors and medical students will have many positive follow-on effects for the community as healthy doctors are more effective carers for their patients. ”


“AMSA looks forward to playing an active role on the Doctors Health Service Expert Advisory Committee.


“This is an opportunity to ensure that available services match the specific needs of medical students, which will allow a particular focus on pressing mental health issues.


Prior to commencement of their degrees, the mental health of medical students is on par with general student population, however, studies show that as medical school progresses students begin to exhibit lower psychological well being than age-matched peers and the general population.


“Ultimately we, as future doctors, should always take of our personal well being, as it underpins the success of our careers. If we are to look after our patients’ health, we must look after our own health as well.”



Media Contact:

Maria Bilal




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