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“I’m a dermatologist at Royal North Shore Hospital, and I recently finished my two years as the NSW President of the Australian Medical Association. Originally I saw it as an opportunity to support my medical colleagues. As a junior doctor having made it through medical school I knew it can be a very difficult and exhausting job. But I soon realised that by being able to influence and shape public health discussions, I could potentially help so many more people, especially those who are too vulnerable to help themselves – like people with chronic medical conditions or those who are trying to keep their heads above water with the day-to-day. It was an honour being elected as President of the AMA, but it was also an all-consuming role as I had to be available 24/7 for two years to the media and government, etc. I couldn’t have done it without my wife’s amazing support, and I lost count of how many times the hedge outside our place in Willoughby, or the tree in our backyard, featured in a weekend news bulletin. One of the successes I’m really proud of during my term was a public awareness campaign ‘Avoid Sunscreen Burnout’ about sun protection that we developed from scratch. My team and I published research that showed many Australians don’t know how much sunscreen they need to apply when they go out in the sun, and they’re also unaware that heat can make sunscreens less effective (so don’t keep it in your car during summer!). We also discovered many people are unaware that sunscreens have expiry dates. If I were able to give the community an important health suggestion, especially heading into another hot summer, it would be don’t take your skin health for granted. Skin cancer is the most preventable cancer in Australia. Enjoy the wonderful Australian outdoors lifestyle and holiday season, but look after your skin!”

Photo: Paul Melham