AMWA Conference 2021


Saturday 04 December at 9 am AEDT/11 am NZDT

Join us to hear experts discuss challenging medical topics; challenging the status quo in medical communication; and tips for managing difficult conversations with clients and colleagues. 

Due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, this will be a virtual half-day event with local networking events on Friday December 3 where permitted. Further details to follow.

Registration is $10 for AMWA members and $40 for non-members.


Programme Synopsis

Welcome Emma Henshall, AMWA President
Keynote Address (20 minutes)

Sophie Scott (Award-winning journalist, broadcaster, author, and Adjunct Associate Professor)

Session One (20 minutes) Dr Penelope Robinson (University of Sydney) presents guidance for medical writers on how to communicate effectively and ethically about vaccination based on the research conducted by Prof Julie Leask and colleagues and contributed to by you, our AMWA members.
Session Two (1.5 hours) Hear from Dr Fiona MacKinnon (TGA), Dr Justin Coleman (GP, Editor), Dr Blair Hesp (Kainic Medical Communications owner) and Lesley Cunliffe (Freelance medical writer and creative) as they share their journeys to medical writing and their greatest communication challenges.
AMWA AGM (30 minutes)
Session Three (1.5 hours)

Hear from three experts on three very different types of challenging communication.

Prof Bruce Arroll discusses the therapeutic evidence surrounding medicinal cannabis and other controversial substances; Dr Adrienne Gordon discusses the challenges around stillbirth prevention, and we conclude with a workshop on managing conflicts with clients and colleagues.

Close  Dr Jocelyne Basseal, AMWA Vice President 

Meet the Speakers

Sophie Scott

Sophie Scott is a highly respected and sought-after health presenter. She has written two critically acclaimed books and received numerous awards including the Australian Museum Eureka prize for medical journalism. She is the national medical reporter for the ABC, with her stories appearing on ABC news7.30, ABC radio and online.

Sophie writes and speaks about the science of positive psychology and has been a leading journalist on COVID-19. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Notre Dame Medical School lecturing in health communication. She has hosted and spoken at numerous events including Research Australia awards dinner, World Congress on Positive Psychology, the Mayo Clinic social media conference, Royal Australian College of Physicians conference and many mental health and patient-centred events.

Dr Penelope Robinson

Penelope Robinson is a Senior Research Officer in the Sydney Nursing School, Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney. She has worked on a broad range of research projects in the social sciences, humanities, and public health. She holds a PhD in sociology and is currently studying graphic design.

Dr Fiona MacKinnon

Fiona currently works at the Therapeutic Goods Administration writing the weekly safety report for the COVID-19 vaccines. She was formerly the Deputy Editor of Australian Prescriber and started a special interest group within AMWA for health and medical journal editors called AHMEN (Australasian Health and Medical journal Editors’ Network). 

She got her first break as a medical writer almost 20 years ago in Berlin and hasn’t looked back since. This initial experience opened the door to a more flexible family-friendly career which has spanned academic research, medical publishing, big pharma, government and freelance work. Along the way, Fiona has been able to combine her professional interests with her love of travel, working in UK, US, Germany and Australia. 

Fiona has much to share about the challenges of balancing career decisions with personal priorities and looks forward to taking part in the career session of this AMWA conference.

Dr Justin Coleman

Dr Justin Coleman is a GP and medical writer, with a strong background in public health. He has been a senior lecturer at the medical schools of four Universities. Justin has been a freelance medical writer since 1996, and was the President of AMWA from 2010-2015. He has authored around 1500 articles and edited a few million words for medical publications; he is immediate past editor of Diabetes Management Journal and current editor of Murtagh's General Practice, and Murtagh's Practice Tips. Justin works in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health on the Tiwi Islands, north of Darwin.

Dr Blair Hesp

Blair is an international leader in scientific publication ethics who has contributed to communications for many of the world’s top-selling drugs. Blair was the lead author of the Asia-Pacific adaptation of the Good Publication Practice 3 guidelines and has grown his company, Kainic Medical Communications, from being a sole proprietor to a team of seven, while being awarded the regional Otago Business Award for Business Integrity and a New Zealand Innovators Award for marketing and innovation along the way.

Dr Lesley Cunliffe

Dr Lesley Cunliffe (PhD) is a freelance Medical Copywriter and healthcare Creative Director. After completing her PhD, she spent time working for Nature Reviews Journals as a Copy Editor, and later an Associate Editor. From there, she took the leap into healthcare advertising and worked at several leading agencies in London and Sydney as a Senior Medical Writer, and ultimately a Creative Director, before deciding to work for herself. Now she is dividing her time between working remotely for her clients and replanting a small corner of native forest in New Zealand. 

Prof Bruce Arroll

Bruce is a Professor of General Practice and Primary Health Care at the University of Auckland New Zealand and a practising GP at Greenstone Family Clinic in Manurewa in South Auckland. He does regular general practice at that clinic and also does special consultations using Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (FACT) for people who are feeling stuck in their lives by stress, pain or low energy. He does this work with his patients and those referred from his clinic colleagues as well as for people outside of the clinic.He has many patients with diabetes who get improvements in their HBA1c results by attending to their psychosocial issues. He is also director of the Goodfellow Unit, writes the two weekly GEMs and does research on non-drug treatments for mental health issues. In addition to this, he is the Head of the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care.

Dr Adrienne Gordon

Clinical Professor Adrienne Gordon is a senior staff specialist Neonatologist in the RPA Newborn Care unit at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and Clinical Professor in Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Neonatology at the University of Sydney. She trained in paediatrics prior to specialising in neonatal/perinatal medicine and is passionate about the public health impact of a healthy start to life and preventing adverse pregnancy outcome, especially stillbirth.  She completed a Master of Public Health and a PhD on risk factors for stillbirth and is a Chief Investigator on the NHMRC Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence. Adrienne currently leads the Public Awareness work within the Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence, which includes campaign design and evaluation and customisation of a mobile health application for an Australian setting. She is a key member of the Safer Baby Bundle initiative which aims to reduce late pregnancy stillbirth in Australia by 20 per cent.

AMWA Conference 2021: Challenging Communication

Join us for the 38th Annual Conference of the Australasian Medical Writers' Association on Saturday December 4, 2021

Registration now open!

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