AFRM eBulletin – 15 December 2020

A message from your President

AFRM Annual Members Meeting

In another first for the COVID-19 pandemic year we conducted the Annual Members Meeting for the first time in virtual format on Thursday, 3 December 2020. The meeting is generally held in conjunction with the Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ) Annual Scientific Meeting which was cancelled this year. The virtual meeting allowed us to present the executive reports direct to members and take questions. Members who were unable to attend can view the webinar video and the meeting papers.

Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) updates

Frances Simmonds, the Director of AROC since 2006, will soon retire. Needless to say, these are very large shoes to fill and we will be seeking a suitable replacement as soon as possible. Our heartfelt thanks go to Frances who helped established AROC, maintaining its high-quality output, placing us at the forefront of benchmarking in Australasia.

Thanks are also due to Professor John Olver who is retiring as Clinical Director of AROC, a position he has held with distinction for the past six years. 

Updates from recent meetings

AFRM Council Meeting: AFRM Council met on 13 November 2020. A communique will be published shortly.

Future of the Faculties meetings: I continue to meet with the Faculty Presidents to discuss matters of mutual interest. I am hopeful that an AFRM request for additional resources to support the work required to update syllabus, curriculum and resources for our modules one and two assessments will be successful.

Disability Royal Commission: Dr Caitlin Anderson represented AFRM at a recent College meeting concerning the Disability Royal Commission on training and education. The College is finalising its submission to the Disability Royal Commission and was interested in our specific training regarding disability management.

RMSANZ: The AFRM Executive Committee continues to meet regularly with Dr Michael Chou, President of RMSANZ, to discuss matters of mutual interest. The International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) Congress 2022 has now been postponed to 2024.


As you will be aware, AFRM examinations have been rescheduled for 2021. Trainees and Supervisors should be working towards preparing for these exams now. Videos from the recent Trainee Webinar Series are available on the RACP website. The third webinar in the ATM series held on 5 December specifically dealt with exam preparations.

COVID-19 issues

Dr Susan Graham is the Convenor of the COVID-19 Rehabilitation Group which we hope to be formalised as a Special Interest Group. Dr Graham is the AFRM representative on the RACP COVID-19 Expert Reference Group (ERG). Should you wish to join the COVID-19 Rehabilitation Group, please contact the Faculty Office via

We remain concerned about the widespread reduction and/or curtailment of rehabilitation services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rehabilitation Group continues to gather information from abroad and locally about the need for rehabilitation services. Hopefully, the RACP ERG will be in a good position to promote these claims in due course.

Long Case Assessor

The important Long Case Assessor position on the Faculty Assessment Committee remains vacant despite previous calls for Expressions of Interest. Anyone willing to take on the position or requiring further information is asked to please contact the Faculty Assessment Committee by email at

This will be our final eBulletin for 2020. Best wishes to all for the festive season.

Dr Greg Bowring
AFRM President 

Apply to become the new Director of AROC 

An exciting opportunity exists for a talented health professional to be at the forefront of an Australasian program in rehabilitation care outcomes. The Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) has been driving quality and outcome improvements in rehabilitation since 2002.

AROC is an initiative which aims to improve services and outcomes for patients receiving medical rehabilitation care through benchmarking of care and treatment. AROC involves the collection of a standard set of data items and assessment tools by rehabilitation services throughout Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand to measure outcomes for their patients as a result of treatment.

If successful, you will be the primary contact for AROC. You will have high level interpersonal skills consistent with managing a team of professional staff from multiple backgrounds. You will have the ability to credibly represent AROC at national forums. You will also take the initiative to achieve work plan milestones and have a strong capacity for team leadership and project management. You will manage the governance mechanisms of AROC and contribute to the strategic direction. The ability to undertake interstate travel is essential to this position.

Closing Date: 10 January 2021 11.59pm AEDT
For more information visit the University of Wollongong website.

Preparations for AFRM Module 1 Assessment

We have begun working on preparations for the 2021 AFRM Module 1 Assessment on Tuesday, 18 May 2021. 

The exam will only be held using computer-based testing (CBT) and we will provide you with resources and more information about how the exam will work in the coming months.

The College Education Committee (CEC) has decided that the 2021 AFRM Module 1 exam will not count as an attempt. This decision is in response to the change of format as well as the postponement of the 2020 exam. 

Applications for the exam will open on Monday, 1 February 2021.

We will continue to keep you updated on preparations for the CBT exam. More information is also available on our website.

Update on the 2021 AFRM Fellowship Written Exams

The 2021 AFRM Fellowship Written Examination (General) and the 2021 AFRM Fellowship Written Examination (Paediatric) will be held on Tuesday, 23 February 2021.

Candidates will receive their exam allocation with their venue in mid-January 2021.

We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand and have developed a number of contingency plans for both exams in response to the pandemic including reserve exams in case there’s an outbreak. 

All contracted exam venues have COVID management plans that comply with the regulations for their state, territory or region.

Most of the exam venues we’ve used in the past are large venues which allow social distancing measures. Where we’ve previously used a smaller venue, we’re organising a larger room to ensure social distancing.

We continue to prepare for the Fellowship Clinical Examinations (general and paediatrics) in May 2021. We will provide an update on contingency planning in the new year.

RACP Congress 2021

Olver - Portrait PhotoRACP Congress 2021 continues to take shape with a growing number of speakers now confirmed for the six-day event. We are pleased to announce Professor John Olver AM, MB, BS, M.D(Melb), FAFRM will deliver the AFRM George Burniston Oration.

Professor Olver is a Consultant Physician in Rehabilitation Medicine and a Professor in Rehabilitation Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Monash University. He is Medical Director of Rehabilitation at Epworth Healthcare, Melbourne, Australia. Professor Olver is a past-President of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine (AFRM) and of the Asia-Oceanian Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (AOSPRM). He served as treasurer of the President’s Cabinet of the International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) for six years. 

Professor Olver's main research interests and a focus of publications includes traumatic brain injury, concussion, spasticity management and stroke rehabilitation. 

About the George Burniston Oration

The George Burniston Oration was created by the College as part of their efforts to showcase their history and pay homage to their founders. George Garrett Burniston was a Foundation Diplomate in Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine of the Australian Post-Graduate Federation in Medicine in 1970. Elected a member of the Royal Society of Medicine (1972) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Health in 1973 and was a member, later vice-president of the Council of the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled until 1973. 

The overarching theme for the RACP Congress in 2021 is Transformation: Adapting for the future. We will explore how we bring transformation in our practice and in our thinking. As medical practitioners, scientists and educators we need to prepare for what comes next; for ourselves, our patients and for each other.

Find out more about the sessions and speakers in your local city on the RACP Congress 2021 website

Submission deadline for RACP Congress 2021 abstracts extended

The deadline for abstracts to be submitted for consideration for RACP Congress 2021 has been extended to 12 January 2021. Those of you wishing to submit in any of the categories available should visit the RACP Congress 2021 website for more details. 

Aotearoa New Zealand Rehabilitation Medicine Symposium 2021

Date: Saturday, 27 February 2021 from 10am to 4pm (NZDT)
Location: The Arts Centre, Christchurch
Host: RACP 

Our RACP annual event is a chance for Aotearoa New Zealand AFRM members to engage as a collective body and will be held on Saturday, 27 February 2021 from 10am to 4pm at The Arts Centre in Christchurch, Aotearoa New Zealand. 

The symposium includes development opportunities for AFRM trainees, who are invited to present at the Dr Boris Mak Rehabilitation Medicine Trainee Award for Best Presentation; a forum to present research, education and case presentations; a members meeting to discuss any issues with the broader membership and networking opportunities.

AFRM trainees and Fellows are invited to register via the event website to be part of this exciting event.

We look forward to seeing everyone there.

RACP Quarterly Issue Three 2020

RACP Quarterly is our member magazine featuring healthcare and medical news.

In our last issue for 2020 we feature the incredibly worthy inaugural recipient of the new College Medal, Professor Douglas Bridge. We also feature Dr Matthew Wheeler, an Indigenous Health Scholarship recipient. 

COVID-19 related articles include: ‘Will the COVID-19 pandemic encourage a reflection on what is low-value clinical care?’ and ‘Telehealth transforming access to healthcare during COVID-19 and beyond’.   

Other highlights in this issue are ‘New recommendations to help stop early heart attacks for Indigenous Australians’, ‘Introducing effective pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products’ and ‘Natural killer’ cells may be the answer to treating Hepatitis B’.

Read RACP Quarterly Issue Three 2020 online now.

Access previous issues of RACP Quarterly on the RACP website.

ANZCA FPM Procedures in Pain Medicine Clinical Care Standard

The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) Faculty of Pain Medicine (FPM) has developed a Clinical Care Standard, which articulates what is the appropriate and safe use of procedures in the practice of pain medicine.

Read the Standard

Bi National Training Program – 2021 timetable 

The Bi National Training Program (BNTP) lectures will proceed – attendance in person is no longer available but trainees can continue to join via teleconference/videoconference.

If trainees cannot join the live teleconference/videoconference, a recording of the session is uploaded to the event listings webpage to watch at a convenient time.

Please visit the event listings webpage for further details of the lecture.

Date Time Topic
Wednesday, 24 February 2021
3pm to 5pm AEDT Chronic Pain
• Pathophysiology
• Assessment
• Interdisciplinary management

Wednesday, 31 March 2021 3pm to 5pm AEDT
Chronic Pain
• Non-Pharmacological Management
• Outcomes
• Paediatric Pain
Wednesday, 28 April 2021 3pm to 5pm AEST Cardiac
• Pharmacological Management Congestive Cardiac Failure, Ischemic Heart Disease
• Cardiac Rehabilitation
Wednesday, 26 May 2021 3pm to 5pm AEST
Acquired Brain Injury
• Acute Issues: neurosurgical
• Medical complications & long-term outcome post Traumatic Brain Injury
Wednesday, 30 June 2021 3pm to 5pm AEST  Acquired Brain Injury
• PTA Assessment & Management
• Assessment & Management of Behavioural Disturbance Post Traumatic Brain Injury
Wednesday, 28 July 2021 3pm to 5pm AEST 
Acquired Brain Injury
• Assessment of Traumatic Brain Injury Patient
• Paediatric Acquired Brain Injury
Wednesday, 25 August 2021 3pm to 5pm AEST 
Occupational & Vocational Rehabilitation
• Principals return to work of the injured worker
• Return to work in the setting of Acquired Disability
• Expectation of Medical Assessment
Occupational Therapist
• Practical aspects of work capacity and workplace assessment
• Principals of return to work programs
Wednesday, 22 September 2021 3pm to 5pm AEST 
Cancer Lymphoedema
Wednesday, 27 October 2021 3pm to 5pm AEDT
Upper Limb Amputation
• Paediatric Amputation/Congenital Limb Deficiency/Limb Loss
• Brachial Plexus Injuries
Wednesday, 24 November 2021 3pm to 5pm AEDT Lower Limb Amputation

A message from Dr Ben McConchie: The 2020 RACP Physician Training Survey is closing soon

Add your perspective to training settings

Thank you to everyone who has participated in the 2020 Physician Training Survey. Highly valuable feedback has been received so far. We are keeping the survey open a little longer to allow more trainees and educators time to share their perspective during this busy period. The survey closes Wednesday, 16 December 2020.

We use trainee and educator feedback to guide improvements to training environments. To protect respondent anonymity, we only communicate results when we meet response volume thresholds. The more responses we get, the more data we can use to promote positive change.

The anonymous survey can be completed via the personalised link in the email eligible participants received on Monday, 30 November 2020. If you didn’t receive this link or would like it resent, please contact Engine. For information about the survey, including confidentiality and how you could win an iPad, please visit the Physician Training Survey webpage.

The survey has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC) – Concord Repatriation General Hospital of the Sydney Local Health District 2019/ETH12472. If you have any concerns or complaints about the conduct of the research study, please email the Executive Officer of the Ethics Committee or call +61 2 9767 5622.

RACP Congress 2020 online learning series

RACP Congress 2020 has been the first entirely digital RACP Congress, free for members. This year’s Congress has provided members with learning opportunities while earning CPD credits and connecting in new ways, through webinars, livestreams and podcasts. The RACP Congress 2020 Online Series has been made available with all sessions available via the Congress Online Learning platform until Friday, 18 December 2020.

Access now

Introducing our new online Heritage Centre

To celebrate our College’s rich history, we have developed a Heritage Centre on the website. The ‘Our heritage’ webpage brings together the revamped College Roll, the first release of a College timeline and the History of Medicine Library.

College Roll

The College Roll celebrates the stories and achievements of our inspiring Fellows. We encourage retired and Life Fellows, aged 70 years or older, to share your story. We also accept biography or obituary submissions on behalf of deceased Fellows.

We encourage everyone to visit the College Roll and read about the achievements of our esteemed physicians, their stories and their impact on medicine, communities and patients.

College timeline

Discover the history of the College through the new College timeline. Vision, dedication and passion — explore the College’s history over the years, the evolution of medicine and the role of our physicians.

Can you add to our timeline? We encourage members to submit a timeline entry that you think is of significance.

History of Medicine Library

Our History of Medicine Library, located at our head office in Sydney, has a leading collection of medical history items from Australasia and around the world.

The College established the Library in 1938 as a clinical library. The focus of the library changed to medical history in the mid-1950s. The Library continues to grow through the contributions of our College members. The Library holds over 30,000 medical history items.

While the library is currently closed due to COVID-19 you can browse the Library’s catalogue online.

Visit the Heritage Centre

New online course: Chronic breathlessness in advanced illness

Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to better identify, assess and manage chronic breathlessness in advanced illness through our new online course. Watch this video from the online course which explores something many of us find challenging: answering sensitively and truthfully when a patient wants to know how they’re going to die.

AI for healthcare webinar now on Medflix

Watch this engaging webinar where Dr Olivier Salvado, Head of Imaging and Computer Vision at CSIRO, presents on the opportunities and challenges for the medical application of artificial intelligence (AI) and reviews the main AI methods in the medical context. Hosted by Associate Professor Clair Sullivan FRACP, the webinar explores why the deployment of AI technologies in healthcare is lagging and highlights the current challenges that hinder AI deployment into clinics.

Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has released the revised Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard, which has been endorsed by the RACP.

The Standard was first published in 2014 and revised in 2020 and has eight quality statements and a set of indicators. It is used by health service organisations as part of their antimicrobial stewardship programs, as required by the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards.

Australian Institute of Health Innovation – COVID-19 and future crisis preparedness in healthcare

The Australian Institute of Health Innovation (AIHI), Macquarie University, is pleased to announce the release of five new domestic PhD scholarships, focusing on research into COVID-19 and health system crisis planning.

With a track record of delivering internationally significant research, AIHI leads in understanding responses to the pandemic along with preparing for future health crises. The AIHI Directors, Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, Professor Johanna Westbrook and Professor Enrico Coiera, are seeking suitably qualified candidates with pioneering ideas for research in this field. 

Find out more

Pomegranate Podcast: A new script for global public health

In episode 65, we present some provocative solutions to problems presented in the previous two stories. We heard about pharmaceutical patents and how embedded intellectual property law is in global trade relations. There’s a fundamental assumption that innovation occurs thanks to the vigour of the private sector and the plucky entrepreneur. It’s even been said that financialised capitalism is "the greatest engine of progress ever seen".

But the reality is that shiny smartphones and targeted drugs wouldn’t exist without massive government spending on research. It’s public money that funds the riskiest stages of development, before private enterprise takes these products to market with the benefit of monopoly pricing. Dr Owain Williams and Associate Professor Peter Hill argue that states can demand more control over the outputs and pricing of drug and vaccine research and that the current intellectual property regime is not the only way to stimulate innovation.

In the second part of this episode, Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott talks about the lessons learned and not learned from pandemic modelling in past years. He also makes the case for establishing an Australian Centre for Disease Control with standalone jurisdiction, to cut through some of the conflict we’ve seen in recent months between state and federal leaders.


Dr Owain Williams (University of Leeds)
Associate Professor Peter Hill AFPHM (University of Queensland)
Associate Professor Adam Kamradt-Scott (University of Sydney, United States Studies Centre)

Claim CPD credits

RACP Fellows can claim CPD credits via MyCPD for listening to this episode and reading the resources available on the webpage. To be the first to find out about the latest Pomegranate Health episodes, subscribe today in Apple PodcastsSpotify, any Android podcasting app. You can also join our email alerts list to remain updated with future podcasts.

Listen now

Share your views on climate change and health

We invite members to participate in two surveys on climate change and health. The first survey is aimed at members practising with adult patients and the second survey at members practising with paediatric patients. See further details below.

Climate and Health Alliance survey

This survey is run by the Climate and Health Alliance in collaboration with Monash University and open to all RACP Adult Medicine Division and Chapter members and members of the Faculties of Public Health Medicine, Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Rehabilitation Medicine based in Australia. 

The survey is being sent to health professionals across Australia and is assessing their:

  • views on climate change as a human health issue
  • willingness and ability to communicate the health impacts of climate change.

We encourage you to participate in the survey – regardless of the focus of your work – because your participation will help us understand our members' needs and interests in this area.

The survey is confidential, administered online, and open until Thursday, 17 December 2020, 12pm (AEDT). The survey should take approximately 25 minutes to complete. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Climate and Health Alliance at

Go to survey 

George Mason University and World Health Organization survey

This survey is run by George Mason University in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Global Climate and Health Alliance and open to all RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division and Chapter members and paediatric members of the Australasian Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine based in Australia.

The survey is being sent to health professionals in numerous countries to assess their:

  • views on climate change as a human health issue
  • awareness of and support for the international #HealthyRecovery initiative.

The survey is confidential, administered online, and open until Thursday, 17 December 2020, 12pm (AEDT). The survey is short and should take approximately 10 minutes to complete.

If you have any questions, please contact the RACP Policy & Advocacy team at

Go to survey

Update on telehealth in Australia

On 27 November 2020, the Commonwealth Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt announced that telehealth will become a permanent part of the Medicare system in Australia. While this announcement is welcome news, it does not necessarily resolve the issue of what the final form of the new permanent telehealth items in the MBS will be. This is why the College has been proactively engaging with the Department of Health, and will continue to do so, to ensure that the final form of these items is properly aligned to the clinical needs of our members and their patients.

Inviting nominees for potential vacancies on the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Council and Principal Committees 2021-2024 triennium

Nominations are being sought from people with appropriate expertise to participate on the NHMRC Council and Principal Committees for the 2021-2024 triennium. Nominees should be exceptional leaders who can advise the government on health and medical research (HMR). Nominees should have demonstrated knowledge and experience of the breadth of HMR in Australia and be recognised as a leader in their field.

Please note that successful candidates would be appointed by the NHMRC in an individual capacity and not as a representative of the College.

Nominations should be provided directly to the NHMRC by Sunday, 31 January 2021. Details on how to do this can be found on the NHMRC website.

National Obesity Strategy – consultation report

Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Obesity Strategy working group has recently released a report from an extensive national public consultation. The report summarises the main themes and ideas arising from the consultation and discusses key areas of the consultation paper that were supported by 1,380 survey responses, 35 stand-alone submissions and 604 Australians who participated in community events.

The findings of the consultation on the forthcoming strategy show strong public and stakeholder support for a range of measures to promote the health and wellbeing of Australians. These include implementing protections against the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks and using price levers to increase affordability of healthy food and increase prices of processed foods.

The results of the consultation clearly indicate that Australians want significant, specific and well-resourced government action on obesity. Such action needs to be guided by a comprehensive strategy to tackle the commercial drivers of obesity and ill-health. This and other findings, such as a clear focus on population-level systemic intervention, the demands for tailored efforts for priority groups and the need to avoid stigma, are closely aligned with the RACP submission to the consultation.

The full report and the summary report from the consultation are available. The final draft of the strategy is expected to be considered by Health Ministers in early 2021. 

Trainee events

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians publishes notices of events and courses as a service to members. Such publication does not constitute endorsement or mandating of any such events or courses. 

Go to the events list at any time to see what events are coming up.

Bi-National Training Program (BNTP)

NSW Lecture Series – Wednesday and Saturday sessions

St Vincent’s Hospital Exam Preparation Course

An online course covering 38 key areas for the rehabilitation examinations. Practice
exams including MCQ’s, short answer questions and OSCE practice will assist you in your

Visit the course website for more information.

Conferences and events

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians publishes notices of events and courses as a service to members. Such publication does not constitute endorsement or mandating of any such events or courses. 

Go to the events list at any time to see what events are coming up.

Career opportunities 

View all positions vacant.

Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ)

RMSANZ is the professional body for Rehabilitation Physicians and trainees in Australia & New Zealand.

Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre

The Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) is the national rehabilitation medicine clinical registry of Australia and New Zealand.

AFRM contact details 

Member enquiries
Phone: (AUS) 1300 69 7227
Phone: (NZ) 0508 69 7227

AFRM Faculty enquiries (including Council and committees):
Jane Henderson, Executive Officer, AFRM
Phone: +61 2 8076 6315

AFRM Aotearoa New Zealand Committee
Ethan Aupapa
Executive Officer DFAC’s AoNZ
AFRM Education and Training enquiries:
Education Officer
Phone: +61 2 8076 6350

AFRM oral examination enquiries:
Examination Coordinator 
Phone: +61 2 9256 5422

AFRM training site accreditation enquiries:
Education Officer
Phone: +61 8247 6233

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