When the general public think of the origins of occupational medicine, their thoughts might turn to excluding small boys from going up chimneys, children rummaging around the floors of cotton mills, or industrial nurses stemming the blood from lost limbs in dangerous machinery. In the past 50 years occupational and environmental medicine has become a very distinctive practice and now involves a highly specialised team. Why did this specialty emerge when it did? What has been achieved? What do current practitioners see as the path for the future?
In 2023 we will be celebrating the 30th year of recognition of the specialty of occupational medicine in Australia and 2024 will be the 30th year since the foundation of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (AFOEM) in the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). It would seem that now is an opportune time to draw together and build on existing efforts to describe our professional history, especially as the second generation of occupational physicians in Australia and New Zealand are in the process of transitioning to retirement. In this project an archive will be established in the RACP Library.
A joint initiative of the RACP and ANZSOM, the archive will feature a timeline listing key events in our heritage and linking to information including documents, images and audio/video histories.
History of Occupational Medicine Witness Seminar
Sunday 20th March 2022
Over the past 50 years, occupational and environmental medicine has evolved to become a distinctive practice involving a highly specialised team of professionals. Why did this specialty emerge when it did? What has been achieved? What do current practitioners see as the path for the future? Are we there yet?
The Witness Seminar, held as part of the ANZSOM ASM, provided an opportunity to ponder these and other questions as we invited members of our professions to recall their place in historical events and the developments in workplace health over the past 50 years.
WITNESS SEMINAR PROUDLY SPONSORED BY
Conveners of the Witness Seminar
Professor Niki Ellis
Professor Niki Ellis has worked in the Commonwealth and State public services, the private sector and most recently in academia. She was the last President of ACOM and the Inaugural President of AFOM. The daughter of a museum director/archeologist and a historical biographer, and brought up in a museum, it is perhaps not surprising that she has a long standing interest in history. A highlight of her career was an appointment as an honorary research fellow at the Welcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine in London from 2002 – 2005. She is now writing an historical novel set on Lord Howe Island.
Associate Professor Cate Storey
A/Professor Cate Storey is a retired neurologist, who developed a passion for history while working as a registrar at Queen Square, London, the birthplace of British neurology. She has a post-graduate degree in the History and Philosophy of Science which led to an academic career in the history of the neurosciences. Currently her aim is to demonstrate that there is a place for the integration of the history of medicine into modern medical practice, by supervising medical students in related history projects, as Chair of the Library committee of the RACP promoting the Colleges’ historical resources and bringing to life the Rare Books Collection at Sydney University.