Highlights from the biggest weekend on the PSA calendar


With pharmacist prescribing, aged care and scope of practice the top topics of the conference, a record 1,065 pharmacists converged on the Hyatt Regency in Sydney for PSA’s annual conference.

There were 3 days of clinical and practice updates, networking and exclusive events, including the sold-out Saturday morning member breakfast Q&A hosted by PSA National President Dr Fei Sim FPS and PSA General Manager of Policy and Program Delivery Chis Campbell. 

Opening the conference, Dr Sim acknowledged the challenges the profession faced after emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘This time last year, I stood on this stage and delivered my first plenary as the newly elected National President, brimming with excitement for our profession,’ she said. ‘Fast forward 12 months, I stand here today, feeling solemn, but proud of our profession’s resilience, agility and reliability.’

At the same time, pharmacy scope of practice and new roles have emerged faster than ever before, with pharmacists’ requiring new guidance to live up to their ‘accountability to deliver care with standard, quality, safety and effectiveness’. 

To shape how pharmacists navigate this new frontier, Dr Sim launched the dramatic rebuild of the Professional Practice Standards (PPS) in front of pharmacists, organisation leaders, and government officials, including the Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler.

Each clinical activity performed by pharmacists falls into one or more of 17 standards, based on the medicine management cycle. 

‘The standards support us to be more flexible, to confidently expand our scope when our practice evolves,’ she said. ‘It offers clear and actionable direction, and importantly, it ensures the quality and standard, and increases the safety and effectiveness of the services we provide.’

Health Minister addresses pharmacists

In her opening address, Dr Sim spoke directly to Minister Butler, making clear that pharmacists are ‘one of [the] irreplaceable pieces of the puzzle to improve access to care and achieve medicine safety in this country’.

Statting the changes brought about by the 60-day dispensing policy may be ‘difficult’, Minister Butler told attendees the Government would undertake a National Scope of Practice Review, to be delivered by mid-2024.

With regional and remote pharmacies serving as the ‘only health setting’ in some towns, Minister Butler also announced a new Regional Pharmacy Transition Allowance.

‘On September 1, the same day the first tranche of the 60-day prescriptions comes into effect, this $148.2 million measure will provide a new allowance for eligible pharmacies in regional, rural and remote Australia,’ he said.

With the impending movement away from dispensing revenue, Minister Butler flagged a possible early negotiation of the 8th Community Pharmacy Agreement, which could focus more on professional standards and development, and the integration of pharmacy in primary care.

‘The PSA will be absolutely essential to the task of working through the issues like the scope of practice review,’ he said. ‘I look forward to the PSA’s involvement in the development of the 8CPA, as the steward of professional standards.’

Key sessions and events

Another highlight from the conference was the keynote speech by the inspirational Sam Bloom, two-time World Para Surfing champion. Sam shared her story of resilience and determination after a devastating accident left her paralysed from the waist down. ‘Be there for each other and support each other through uncertainty,’ she advised the captive audience.

Aged care, pharmacist prescribing, and scope of practice were hot topics that took centre stage at many sessions and workshops throughout the conference. 

In one session, Professor Lisa Nissen FPS highlighted how prescribing was a cognitive process rather than a ‘model’. “If you’re going to be a model, be a supermodel!” she chimed.

Dr Sarah Dineen-Griffin from the University of Newcastle, spoke about Scotland’s Pharmacy First Minor Ailments Service and how pharmacists could provide primary care in a funded and structured way. 

At the APSA Research session, attendees were privy to the latest research on the role of pharmacists in aged care. Topics of discussion included simplifying medicines for patients discharged from hospital to residential aged care facilities, uptake of pharmacist recommendations by patients after discharge, and pharmacists bridging the osteoporosis treatment gap in aged care.

Meanwhile, Fiona Claus, a consultant pharmacist based in rural NSW was the beneficiary of the lion’s share of the PSA23 Shark Tank prize money, taking home a massive $9,000 for her Medicine Safety YouTube channel. Since she started the channel in early 2022, Ms Claus has uploaded 70 videos and received over 70,000 views – allowing the public to learn more about medicine safety at their leisure.

‘I want to introduce the general public to the idea that medicines may not always make us feel 100% . . .  which is why we need to know more about medicine safety,’ she said in her pitch.

At the culminating event of the conference, the PSA23 Gala Dinner, pharmacists donned their best flapper and dapper gear, more than living up to the roaring 20s theme as the Grand Ballroom was transformed into a speakeasy where ACT Branch Committee member Erin Cooper MPS again wowed the audience with her dancing prowess.

Pharmacist excellence honoured

The 2023 PSA Symbion Pharmacist of the Year was awarded to Elise Apolloni MPS (right) from the ACT, while Dee-Anne Hull MPS (left) was awarded the PSA Symbion Early Career Pharmacist of the Year, and Warwick Plunkett FPS (centre) was acknowledged with the PSA Symbion Lifetime Achievement Award.PSA23If you were unable to attend this PSA23 year, or you simply want to relive memories –  watch PSA’s conference wrap-up video. See you next year at PSA24, to be held at Sydney’ International Convention Centre – the new home of PSA conferences.