Faculty of Adult Psychiatry Virtual Conference 2020

About the event

Register now for the RANZCP Faculty of Adult Psychiatry’s inaugural conference. With a theme of ‘United focus – clinically relevant to practice’, this conference will be held virtually and will commence online at 2pm AEDT on Friday 23 October, continuing on Saturday 24 October. 

The diverse conference program features outstanding presentations in the field of adult psychiatry on emerging treatments, adult ADHD, developmental disorders, the impact of COVID-19 on the public and private health sectors, and a live clinical workshop on psychological therapies with an emphasis on improving practical skills. 

Call for abstracts 

You can also be part of the conference. Abstracts will be accepted until Monday 21 September 2020 for poster presentations as well as short 15–20-minute pre-recorded oral presentations. 

Download the abstract template [MS Word; 20 KB], follow the instructions in the template, then submit your abstract or any queries via email to events@ranzcp.org 

This is an excellent opportunity to engage with colleagues and update your professional knowledge, with an emphasis on practical skills to use in your work. 

We look forward to welcoming you online. 

Dr Agnew Alexander
Conference Co-convenor 

Dr Michelle Atchison
Conference Co-convenor 

Dr Georgina Weir
Scientific Program Chair

Friday 23 October–Saturday 24 October 2020

Virtual conference

Register now


Friday 23 October 2020

2:00pm Conference opens
  • Delegate online registration
  • Access to pre-recorded presentations and posters 
4:00pm – 4:15pm

LIVE: Welcome and Opening

Dr Agnew Alexander
Conference Co-convenor

Dr Michelle Atchison
Conference Co-convenor

Dr Georgina Weir
Scientific Program Chair

4:15pm – 5:45pm LIVE SYMPOSIUM: Emerging treatments 

Medicinal cannabis in the treatment of psychiatric disorders 

Professor David Castle

Medicinal cannabis is big news across much of the world, with numerous countries, including Australia, legislating to allow the use of cannabis for a range of maladies. The psychiatric field has been relatively slow to embrace its use, in part due to concerns about adverse psychiatric effects – notably the precipitation of psychosis in vulnerable – as well as a lack of clarity about exactly what combinations of cannabinoids might be helpful for what particular disorders or symptoms. This talk will provide an overview of the evidence for efficacy of cannabis as medicine for the mind, detailing limitations of the current literature and suggesting directions for the future.


Ketamine in the treatment of psychiatric disorders

Professor Colleen Loo

Ketamine is a new treatment for depression. Clinical trials have shown large and rapid effects in the treatment of depression and suicidality. It is effective in treatment resistant depression. Early trials suggest it may have similar efficacy to electroconvulsive therapy. It is entering mainstream clinical services in Australia and worldwide. While efficacy data support its clinical use, there are important gaps in knowledge that psychiatrists should be aware of, before embarking on its use. These include the relative efficacy and safety of different formulations and routes of drug administration, and longer-term safety of repeated dosing. There are also important regulatory controls over its use. This talk will present the promise and complexities of ketamine as a treatment.

5:45pm – 6:15pm LIVE: Happy half-hour networking session

Saturday 24 October 2020

9:30am - 11:00am LIVE SYMPOSIUM: Adult ADHD and developmental disorders

The blind men and the elephant. Challenges in diagnosis and management of ADHD in Adult Psychiatry.

Dr Peter Heffernan

This presentation will address the curious fact that in Australasian adult psychiatry, this common, serious, readily identifiable and eminently treatable mental disorder has been systematically neglected and even denied over many years, in spite of international recognition, systematic research, provision of education and training and service provision throughout North America and Europe. The fact that undiagnosed and untreated ADHD costs the Australian economy about $20 billion per year highlights the reality that this is more than just a curious fact. It is also a very costly oversight. 

The presentation will also highlight the key challenge in ADHD diagnosis and management of assisting those who voice the “I don’t believe in ADHD” position…Once addressed, the further challenge is to further basic ADHD education and training of psychiatrists, registrars and others in the wider medical and mental health fields. 

The presentation will explore the challenge of delineating the “ADHD Elephant in The Room”, when the features of ADHD so often blend with so many other diagnostic categories, and masquerade as other mental disorders. It will also aim to address the challenges of managing ADHD in adult psychiatry, which often reside in the complexities of the frequently associated comorbidities.


Managing developmental disorders – spectrum disorders

Professor Julian Trollor 

Autistic people experience very high rates of anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation and are over seven times more likely to die prematurely by suicide compared to the general population. Mental health issues contribute significantly to poor quality of life. This talk will discuss the latest research regarding the mental health and wellbeing of people on the autism spectrum, and the role of mental health professionals and services in addressing these needs.

1:30pm - 3:00pm LIVE DISCUSSION: The impact of the coronavirus pandemic to public and private practice

The good, the bad and the ugly... private practice psychiatry and COVID-19

Dr Balaji Motamarri and Dr Michelle Atchison

The way that many psychiatrists delivered clinical services changed almost overnight in March 2020. The way that we ran as small businesses changed.

Dr Atchison will talk about the changes in her own private practice in Adelaide, the business implications and the effects it had on her patients and her own mental health. She will discuss the behind-the-scenes advocacy the RANZCP put into Telehealth item numbers. To lighten the mood, she will talk about some of the ‘interesting’ aspects of Telehealth. Let’s just say it’s best not to be fast asleep when you are booked for a Telehealth consultation!

4:00pm – 5:30pm

LIVE CLINICAL WORKSHOP: Enhancing sessions with transdiagnostic CBT strategies

Dr Sue Waite 

This workshop will give a practical overview of techniques like behavioural experiments, behavioural activation, functional analysis of unwanted behaviours and thought challenging which could be applied across diagnoses to augment medication.

Despite robust pharmacotherapy, many patients remain symptomatic and functionally impaired. They are often unable to access evidenced based psychotherapy to augment their psychiatric treatment. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is applicable across a wide range of psychopathology, due to the shared underlying psychopathological mechanisms of emotional disorders. When CBT is added to medication, there can be improved outcomes in terms of symptoms and functional recovery. Psychiatrists are in a unique position to augment their standard care with CBT for common clinical presentations.

This is a practical session about how to work collaboratively with patients to integrate CBT strategies into sessions. Methods for motivational enhancement will be reviewed, as well as the development of a CBT model unique to the patient’s presenting problem. Cognitive and behavioural strategies will be demonstrated using case material, video recordings and opportunities for self-practice. This session aims to equip participants with tools that they can apply in their practices, as well as resources that they can use to further deepen their knowledge and skills.


LIVE: Conference close

Dr Agnew Alexander
Conference Co-convenor

Dr Michelle Atchison
Conference Co-convenor

Dr Georgina Weir
Scientific Program Chair



The Faculty of Adult Psychiatry Organising Committee is delighted to present the above program, presenting high calibre speakers.

View the speaker biographies [PDF; 320 KB]


Registration type Cost
RANZCP Fellow/Affiliate, other medical practitioner $185 AUD
RANZCP Trainee/nurse/allied health $95 AUD


Abstracts will be accepted until Monday, 21 September 2020 for poster presentations, as well as short, 15-20 minute, oral pre-recorded presentations.

Download the abstract template [MS Word; 20 KB], follow the instructions in the template, then submit your abstract or any queries via email to events@ranzcp.org


Please submit your queries via email to events@ranzcp.org

RANZCP virtual events cancellation policy

RANZCP virtual events are accessible live, from the event start date and at the published program times, and available ‘on demand’, five business days following the event finish date, for a period of up to two months.

Delegates are required to register online to attend a RANZCP virtual event, with a registration fee payable at the time of registration. A registration confirmation email will be received immediately following registration completion, with details on how to access the live and on demand content to be provided to all registered delegates at least two weeks prior to the event start date.

A full refund and cancellation of a registration will be available, excluding an administration fee of $45, 14 days prior to the virtual event. No refunds or cancellation can be made within two weeks (fourteen days) of the virtual event, however a delegate substitution will be permitted. All refunds, cancellations and substitutions must be made in writing to events@ranzcp.org, with the date and time of the email sent/received evidence of the notice period given.