The bushfire season of 2019-20 was the most sustained and confronting in our history, with fires threatening communities in multiple States across unprecedented areas of land, taking lives and destroying property.

This prolonged emergency put stress on every aspect of our communities, and local pharmacies were no exception. In numerous Australian towns, community pharmacists were faced with distressed patients, power failures, broken medicine supply lines, fuel shortages, acrid smoke, appalling air quality – not to mention pharmacies and the homes of staff under direct threat from the relentless flames.

The pharmacy profession can be rightly proud of the efforts of pharmacists on the frontline during the crisis. At the 2020 Australian Pharmacy Professional Conference & Trade Exhibition (APP2020) two pharmacists from the Capital Chemists Group, Andrew Topp and Danielle Campbell, will share their accounts of the bushfires on the South Coast of NSW in December-January.

Andrew Topp was astounded and humbled by the actions of his colleagues and pharmacy staff beyond the call of duty when the bushfires hit. Mr Topp is Group Business Manager of the Capital Chemist Group which has a number of pharmacies along the NSW South Coast, with 10 pharmacies in the areas hit by the fires.

Mr Topp said pharmacists worked tirelessly in evacuation centres to help patients and in some cases set up makeshift depots, ferrying products to evacuation centres to provide essential medicines and help to those who had lost or left behind their medicines and prescriptions.

“In these centres pharmacists worked with patients, prescribers and emergency personnel, which  underscores the need to include community pharmacies in any future disaster planning,” he said.

“The efforts of our pharmacists in this emergency made me very proud of our group and our staff,” Mr Topp said.


Danielle Campbell, proprietor of Narooma Pharmacy, and her staff were caught up in the fires that surged along the coast around New Year’s Eve.

“We opened on New Year’s Eve and were flooded with customers because people were aware that the fires were coming and wanted to prepare for them,” she said.

“We soon lost power and were working by our phone torches which was very difficult, so we closed, threw supplies into the car and headed to the evacuation centre”.

Ms Campbell said the situation inside the evacuation centre was tense as many people didn’t know if they had lost their homes, where their families or loved ones were, or if they were safe.

“My staff were amazing. It was community spirit at its best and I am so proud of all the Narooma Pharmacy staff,” she said.

Mr Topp and Ms Campbell will feature in a session at APP on Thursday 19 March.

13 FEB 2020

Black Summer: Australia's 2019/2020 bushfire season - a community pharmacy perspective







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Important information: APP Postponed

Friday 13 March 2020

APP2020 Postponed
Organisers of the Australian Pharmacy Professional Conference (APP) today announced that the 2020 event, scheduled to commence on Wednesday 18 March, will be postponed.

APP Chairman Kos Sclavos AM said the difficult decision was made based on a number of health and safety concerns. With over 6000 people due at APP, our number one priority is the health and safety of our community pharmacy workforce given they continue to be on the front line of the Nation’s response to Coronavirus.

“The ongoing disruption caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in global company travel restriction policies which are impacting upon speakers and the trade exhibition. In addition, the recently announced cases of Coronavirus on the Gold Coast, and the need to preserve the health and wellbeing of our frontline pharmacy workforce has resulted in the postponement of APP2020.

“The APP organising committee, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Gold Coast Convention Centre have relied on expert health advice and information from state and federal health Departments and public health warnings. As recently as yesterday, the Committee received briefings from both the State and Commonwealth Governments and are acting in accordance with their general advice.

“APP has a large footprint, not only within the community pharmacy sector, but throughout the entire Gold Coast community. The health and safety of delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, conference centre staff, suppliers and the general public is of the utmost importance for us.

“We understand the impact this decision will have on the community pharmacy sector and the local Gold Coast economy. After hosting the event for the last 30 years, it saddens us deeply to take this action.

“The encouragement and dedication of our sponsors and exhibitors has delivered a proud history of APP and we thank all our supporters for their vision, commitment and dedication to the community pharmacy sector,” Kos said.

Kos added that a reduced program, called APP Online, is currently being developed for registered delegates to view streamed content and recorded sessions, online.

“While we work to confirm new dates for APP, ‘APP Online’ will offer as many of the APP face-to-face sessions, in a digital format, as possible.

“This means that delegates will still be able to hear the latest industry, business and clinical updates and record the CPD credits that they would have gained at APP.

“I would like to take the opportunity to apologise for any inconvenience caused to delegates, speakers sponsors, conference staff and exhibitors and welcome everyone to participate in ‘APP Online’,” Kos said.

A full program for ‘APP Online’ will be made available soon via

Given the significant costs incurred in preparing the event and the costs incurred by delegates, sponsors and exhibitors a partial rebate will be put in place and communicated to delegates, sponsors and exhibitors as soon as possible. While no obligation exists, the partial rebates are a clear sign of good faith by The Guild in Queensland and the APP Committee. We value our relationships and ongoing support before financial considerations. Given that COVID-19 is a communicable disease, no insurance claim is possible for the event.

Following public health notices and Governmental advice, conferences scheduled for later in the year are being actively reviewed. Once again, we thank all our supporters and apologises for the inconvenience.

Media enquiries: Caroline Wallace 0400 092 697