AFRM eBulletin – 25 June 2021

A message from your President

I'm pleased to provide you with another update on our activity in this June edition of the eBulletin. 


The AFRM Exams Working Group continues to meet regularly. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact upon our exams particularly the remaining oral exams to complete our cycle for 2021. 

The AFRM Module 2 Clinical Exam was impacted by the recent outbreak in Melbourne and resulted in the splitting of the exam into two separate dates. The first group underwent the exam on Sunday, 20 June 2021. The Victorian candidates will undertake the exam in October 2021. This continues to highlight the difficulties we face conducting exams in the current environment. Even at the 20 June exam, the necessity to run three separate venues made it particularly difficult to ensure adequate numbers of Faculty Fellow examiners at all sites. We are indebted to the outside examiners who joined us on the day. It is also a reminder of how important it is that Faculty Fellows make themselves available to be examiners in the future.

The AFRM Module 1 Computer Based Test (CBT) was carried out successfully, the first such exam completed successfully by the College. The Fellowship Clinical Examination has now been completed. I'll speak about this in the next eBulletin once our exam results have been formally announced and analysed. 

Curriculum Renewal

The curriculum renewal group, chaired by Dr Jon Ho Chan, had its first meeting recently. We are very pleased to have such a strong and diverse group involved in the curriculum renewal project. Their first task is to analyse and finalise the scoping paper to guide the renewal project.

Queen's Birthday Honours

Congratulations to Associate Professor Hyam (Barry) Rawicki who was recognised in the recent Queen's Birthday Honours list for service to medicine as a Rehabilitation Specialist. Congratulations Barry from all the Faculty.

Past meetings 

  • Meeting of the AFRM Regional Training Coordinators
    I was pleased to join Dr Louisa Ng, Chair of the Faculty Training Committee, the Regional Committee Chairs and Training Coordinators in a video conference on Wednesday, 26 May 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted training quite significantly over the last 18 months, particularly by limiting face-to-face training opportunities which previously were conducted regularly at a regional level and in local hospitals. This meeting was to talk about these issues and to open direct dialogue between the Regional Training Coordinators, all of whom have tried to respond to these restrictions in their own environments. Resources differ between the regions, some of which is related to previous specific resources funded at state level. But generally there was a good sense of camaraderie and a desire to learn from one another so that opportunities for using new technology can be optimised for the benefit of the trainees. We cannot assume that the current restrictions in face-to-face training will end in the short-term. I was pleased that the Regional Training Coordinators have recognised that we need to continue to look at opportunities presented by new technology as well as reassess the way the training is delivered on hospital sites to ensure that our trainees receive the training required to develop into competent rehabilitation medicine physicians and pass their examinations.

  • Meeting with the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC)
    The latest meeting between the AFRM Executive Committee and AROC leadership occurred on Thursday, 20 May 2021. Professor Maria Crotty has taken up her role as Clinical Director and Dr Ross Clifton has been appointed as the AROC Director. We met with Professor Crotty and Kathy Eager, Director Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong and had a wide-ranging discussion regarding AROC, which is currently undergoing a strategic planning process. The change of Director and Clinical Director has given them the opportunity to review current and past performance and consider future directions. Professor Crotty raised the issue of frailty, one which is very topical currently, and one which impacts upon our work although not specifically incorporated into Functional Independence Measure (FIM) data. There was concern about the lack of Faculty impact on the Royal Commission into Aged Care, despite submissions about the need for rehabilitation for nursing home residents. 

    There's been a worrying change to Aotearoa New Zealand collection of health data with the introduction of interRAI by the district health boards which threatens to impact on AROC with the possible loss of much of the data coming from Aotearoa New Zealand rehabilitation units. I met with Dr Richard Seeman, Chair of the AFRM Aotearoa New Zealand Committee, and with representatives of the Accident and Compensation Commission recently to discuss our concerns and we'll meet again at the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association (NZRA) meeting in September 2021 in Rotorua.

  • COVID-19 and rehabilitation
    Dr Susan Graham represented us at the College COVID-19 Expert Reference Group (ERG) on Tuesday, 22 June 2021. We are very pleased that Susan is a member of this important group. Much of the focus is on current responses to COVID-19 and we are ensuring that important issues, such as the unmet rehabilitation needs of Long COVID-19 sufferers and the concomitant reduction in rehabilitation services which has occurred, do not go unnoticed. 

Upcoming meetings

  • AFRM Council Meeting
    The Council will meet on Friday, 25 June 2021 by video conference.

  • AFRM Annual Members Meeting 2021
    The AFRM Annual Members Meeting will be a standalone Zoom webinar on Tuesday, 20 July 2021 at 6pm AEST/8pm NZST. As we were unable to place the meeting into the RMSANZ meeting this year, we decided to hold it as a standalone Zoom webinar. Please see details on how to join the meeting on the RACP website.

  • RMSANZ Snapshots Meeting 2021
    The upcoming RMSANZ Snapshots Meeting is being held from Saturday, 31 July to Sunday, 1 August 2021. Further information can be found on the RMSANZ Snapshots website.

  • NZRA Meeting 2021
    The NZRA meeting is being held from Friday, 17 September to Sunday, 19 September 2021 in Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand. Further information can be found on the conference website.

Future of the Faculties

I continue to meet regularly with the President of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health, the President of the Australasian Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and with Philip Munro, Peak Bodies Manager. We continue to meet to discuss our desired changes: additional autonomy for the faculties, increased capacity to advocate when necessary, delegated annual budget, additional dedicated College staff support, and improved recognition of the unique aspects of the Faculty training programs. Thus far, we’ve seen greater support for our planned review of ‘entry to training’ pathway (AFRM module 1 and module 2 exams) which needs significant work to improve curricula and training resources.

Vacancies and succession planning

We continue to be concerned about vacancies on the AFRM Committees, particularly at Regional Committee level. Please see the Expressions of Interest list for a list of vacancies which exist and please consider what you can do to help in these important areas. The success of the Faculty depends on new people entering into AFRM Committees and experienced people staying on and moving further upwards in the organisation over time.

Novel aspects of rehabilitation medicine practice

I recently returned from Lord Howe Island where the local physiotherapy practice doubles as a bar after 3pm when it transforms into a social hub for the community. Not sure whether such multi-purposing of therapy areas in our units would pass muster?


Dr Greg Bowring
AFRM President

Module 2 Clinical Assessment

Congratulations to all trainees who undertook the Module 2 Clinical Assessment on Sunday, 20 June 2021. We salute you for your efforts and look forward to the results.

Register for the AFRM Annual Members' Meeting 2021

Date: Tuesday, 20 July 2021
Time: 6pm AEST/8pm NZST
Location: Online

All AFRM members are encouraged to attend. The meeting will be an opportunity to hear about the achievements of the Faculty since the last Annual Members' Meeting held in December 2020. This will be an interactive event giving you the opportunity to ask questions. Pre-registration is required for all attendees.

For more information and to register, please visit the RACP website.

RACP Constitution Review

As part of the RACP Constitution Review project, the College is undertaking a review of its constitution and governance.

Extensive consultation with the membership is crucial to this process so please complete this survey, which gives you the opportunity to provide feedback on some key questions.

It should take no more than five minutes to complete, and your answers will help guide the direction the College takes with this work.

The survey will remain open until 9am Monday, 28 June 2021 so there is still time for you to have your say.

The 2023-24 PREP program requirements survey is open

Please provide feedback on proposed changes to the 2023-24 PREP program requirements by completing an anonymous 5-10 minute survey.  

The survey closes on Wednesday, 21 July 2021.

RACP Training Programs are evaluated biennially by the responsible Training Committee (TC) to ensure they are in line with educational best practice and enable physician professional development. 

Your feedback will be considered by your TC to decide whether:

  • the proposed changes for 2023-24 are beneficial, equitable and achievable
  • a sufficient notice period has been provided before the proposed changes are implemented.

The proposed 2023-24 PREP program requirements will be reviewed by the College Education Committee later this year. 

Approved requirements will be published on the RACP website in early 2022.

Complete the survey

Participants needed: research study into burnout in rehabilitation medicine trainees

Current research has reported an increasing prevalence of burnout, in both Fellows and trainees.

Amongst the medical specialties, physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) physicians are ranked the third highest in burnout prevalence. Despite this finding, there is limited evidence on both the prevalence of burnout in rehabilitation trainees and contributing factors to the development of burnout in this group, and a dearth of studies conducted outside the United States of America.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne are inviting rehabilitation registrars throughout Australia, at all levels of training, to complete a short survey (less than 15 minutes). It consists of 11 questions, including a single-item burnout measure and an optional open-ended question. This Australian-first research study aims to investigate the prevalence of burnout and some contributing factors to its development. It is hoped that the results of this study will highlight this issue and the need for programs promoting wellness in rehabilitation registrars. 

This study has been reviewed and approved by the University of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number 1851315.1).

If you are interested in participating, visit the University of Melbourne website to find out more.

Rehabilitation related COVID-19 updates

Below are some COVID-19 related resources which may be useful.

The Australian Department of Health has provided information about vaccination for people with disability, and disability care workers, including easy read resources and Auslan interpreted videos.

View the transcript of the press conference with the Minister for Health and Aged Care including commentary on provision of in-home COVID-19 vaccination by GPs from Monday, 14 June 2021.

View COVID-19 resources from the WHO including an online course on post-COVID rehabilitation.

Listen to a recording of a webinar hosted by the Murray Primary Health Network on Long COVID available to view online until Friday, 16 July 2021.

View the National COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce flowchart for Care of People with Post-Acute Covid-19.

Dr Susan Graham
AFRM representative
RACP COVID-19 Expert Reference Group

Spinal Masterclass 

Dates: 8.30am (AEST) Thursday, 7 October 2021 to 1.30pm (AEST) Saturday, 9 October 2021
Location: Online

The Prince of Wales Spinal Injuries Unit returns with its sell-out Spinal Masterclass in a virtual format. The masterclass aims to provide an overview of the whole journey of spinal cord injury management in the acute and early rehabilitative setting. This will benefit any clinician (medical, nursing or allied health) who is involved in managing spinal patients at any stage. We will present a practically structured approach towards optimising multi-disciplinary team care and management of patients with spinal cord injury with key evidence-based concepts.

For further information view the Spinal Masterclass brochure 2021.

AFRM Aotearoa New Zealand members: Save the date for the AFRM Symposium

Date: Saturday, 26 February 2022 
Time: 10am to 3pm (NZST)
Location: Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, venue TBC

The symposium provides Aotearoa New Zealand AFRM Fellows and trainees with a forum for: 

  • all Aotearoa New Zealand AFRM trainees, who are invited to present at the Dr Boris Mak Rehabilitation Medicine Trainee Award for Best Presentation
  • opportunities for Fellows to present: research, education and case presentations
  • networking with colleagues and to discuss updates in rehabilitation medicine.

The Dr Boris Mak award is made possible through the generosity of the late Dr Boris Mak FAFRM and offers a first-place prize of $1,000 for the best trainee presentation and a second prize of $500.

For more information about the event, contact

NeuroRehabilitation Anatomy and Ultrasound Workshops

Dates: Friday, 10 September to Saturday, 11 September 2021 and Friday, 15 October to Saturday, 16 October 2021.
Location: Sunshine Coast, QLD.

Applications are open to attend a one and a half day Anatomy and Ultrasound Workshop on the Sunshine Coast from Friday, 10 September to Saturday, 11 September 2021 and Friday, 15 October to Saturday, 16 October 2021.

The workshop is open to accredited registrars and consultants in rehabilitation medicine, neurology, orthopaedic surgery, plastic surgery and geriatric medicine. The main objective of the workshop is to learn advanced ultrasound skills to identify anatomical structures to perform safe and effective intramuscular injections of botulinum toxin to treat upper and lower limb spasticity.

The workshops will be restricted to a maximum of four participants to enable a detailed and first-hand learning experience.

The cost is $770 including GST per person.

For more information, visit the Neurorehabilitation website.

Applications closing soon – RACP Foundation Research Awards

Don’t miss your chance to apply for the following scholarships and grants available to the members of AFRM:

Most other awards are open to Fellows and trainees of the RACP across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand under the following award categories:

Please refer to the RACP Foundation website for information on specific eligibility requirements for each award.

Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal

Nominations for the Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal for 2022 are now open. This medal is awarded by the RACP every five years to recognise an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of medicine. The medal was last awarded to Professor Roger Reddel in 2017.

This award is open to both RACP Fellows as well as individuals outside the College. However the nominee must be nominated by a Fellow of RACP to be considered.

Details on the application process and selection criteria are available on the website. Nominations close on Tuesday, 31 August 2021.

College Medals and Awards

Nominations are now open for the following College and Fellowship Awards. They acknowledge outstanding contributions and achievements made by Fellows and trainees in their respective fields.

We encourage you to nominate for the following medals:

  • The John Sands Medal recognises a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to the welfare of RACP and its members.
  • The College Medal is aligned to the College motto hominum servire saluti. It is awarded to a Fellow who makes a significant contribution to medical specialist practice, healthcare and/or health of community through physician activities.
  • The International Medal recognises a member who has provided outstanding service in developing countries.
  • The Medal for Clinical Service in Rural and Remote Areas recognises a Fellow who has provided outstanding clinical service in rural and remote areas of Australia or Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • The Mentor of the Year Award recognises a Fellow who has made an outstanding contribution to mentoring or provided a high level of support and guidance throughout training.
  • The Trainee of the Year Award recognises a trainee who has made an outstanding contribution to College, community and trainee activities.
  • The Eric Susman Prize is awarded by the College to a Fellow for best contribution to the knowledge of internal medicine.

Successful nominees are presented a medal at the RACP Congress and receive full Congress registration, travel and accommodation.

Full details are available on the RACP Foundation webpage.

Trainee Research Awards 2021

Applications for the Trainee Research Awards are open from Thursday, 1 July to Tuesday, 31 August 2021. Trainees and New Fellows undertaking post-Fellowship training are encouraged to apply.

The Trainee Research Awards provide a valuable opportunity for trainees to present their research at an Australian regional or Aotearoa New Zealand event. The best presenters from each local event are invited to present their work alongside recognised researchers at RACP Congress 2022 and will receive complimentary Congress registration, travel and accommodation.

Please see the website for further details.

Pomegranate Health podcast

Ep70: Zeroing in on ‘the renal troponin’

Acute Kidney Injury (AKI) makes a greater contribution to early mortality than acute myocardial infarction and it's been argued we should consider the concept of ’kidney attack’ to give it the weight that it deserves. However, the presentation of kidney injury isn’t as overt or timely as a heart attack often is. While serum creatinine is a pretty good reporter of chronic impairment in kidney function, it’s very insensitive to acute injury, so for two decades there’s been a concerted search for more proximal biomarkers of AKI.

The three most promising candidates are neutrophil gelatinase‐associated lipocalin (NGAL), tissue inhibitor of metallo-proteinase 2 (TIMP-2) and insulin-like growth factor binding protein-7 (IGBFP-7). Commercial assays for these exist that can predict moderate to severe AKI with a lead time of many hours. Many questions remain as to whether these are specific enough to be useful at point of care, whether we have the interventions to respond to the information they provide, and what 'false positives' might indicate.


  • Professor Rinaldo Bellomo AO, FRACP, FCICM, FAHMS (Director of Research Intensive Care, Austin Hospital; University of Melbourne; Monash University).

Subscribe to email alerts or search for ‘Pomegranate Health’ in Apple PodcastsSpotifyCastbox, or any podcasting appFellows of the RACP can claim CPD credits for listening and learning via MyCPD. For a transcript and further references please visit our website. 

RMSANZ Virtual Snapshots 2021: Frontiers of Rehabilitation Medicine

Dates: Saturday, 31 July to Sunday, 1 August 2021
Location: online

Register today and save on your registration fees. The early bird deadline is 11.59pm AEST on Friday, 25 June 2021. Entitlements for all registrants include:

  • secure online access to all sessions via live streaming portal
  • access to the virtual exhibition – visit the virtual exhibition pods, talk with sponsors and exhibitors in real time or schedule meetings
  • access to a live Q&A during live streamed sessions
  • access to on demand recordings for three months post-meeting – join live or watch in your own time
  • virtual networking with other delegates – create new connections and stay in touch with colleagues.

Keynote Speaker – Professor Pablo Celnik

Professor Celnik is the Lawrence Cardinal Shehan Professor and Director of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the physiatrist-in-chief at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is co-director of the Sheikh Khalifa Stroke Institute, Director of the Human Brain Physiology and Stimulation Laboratory, and leads the Noninvasive Brain Stimulation Program at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Celnik also holds secondary appointments in the departments of neurology and neuroscience. Get to know more about the speakers and the program by visiting the event website.

Please contact the RMSANZ Conference Secretariat for further information.

For more information, visit the RMSANZ Snapshots website.

New online course: Physician wellbeing in challenging times

Physicians often fail to put on their own oxygen masks when dealing with the challenges and stresses that come with practising during a pandemic. This new online course explores in-depth how to better support your own wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of your staff and colleagues through compassionate leadership. The course covers concepts, strategies and tools to help you mitigate the impact, set healthy boundaries, prevent burnout and build support networks during a crisis.

Positions open on the Ethics Committee

The Ethics Committee welcomes expressions of interest from members (Fellows or trainees) with relevant skills and expertise in ethics, continuing professional development, education and the Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand health systems to fill two vacant positions.

The Committee is responsible for providing the Board with advice on areas that raise ethical considerations in the context of policy and advocacy, education, clinical practice and the health of our communities, research and financial investment.

For further information and to apply, please visit the Expression of Interest webpage.

Applications close on Wednesday, 30 June 2021.

Rehab in Review journal

Rehab in Review is a surveillance journal whose editors scan 70 rehabilitation related journals for the best, most current literature important to the practice of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Rehab in Review is produced by physicians specialising in physical medicine and rehabilitation, with the cooperation and assistance of Emory University School of Medicine (Georgia, USA), Department of Rehabilitation Medicine.

The Editors of this publication generously provide this publication to the Faculty and all its members at no cost.

View the Rehab in Review June 2021 edition.

Bi National Training Program (BNTP) – 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, 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 and Vocational Rehabilitation

  • Principles of 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
  • Principles 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

Refugee and asylum seeker advocacy

The RACP was involved in significant advocacy recently calling on the Australian Government to urgently release the Tamil family from Biloela, Queensland from being held in detention. The family has been held in immigration detention since March 2018 – first on the mainland and then on Christmas Island since August 2019. This represents most of the children’s lives. Even though the family has not been legally classified as refugees, the College has a long standing Position Statement (2015) opposing children being held in detention, which was the focus of our advocacy.

The advocacy efforts involved publishing a media release, promoting it on social media, securing an interview for RACP President-elect Dr Jacqueline Small, who was Acting President, on SBS, writing multiple emails to MPs, and publicly releasing an open letter to Minister Karen Andrews signed by nine medical organisations, including the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and others.

The open letter received broad media coverage, including 685 online media mentions, 26 radio mentions, 14 print media mentions and three TV mentions. Notable media mentions include:

This successful advocacy by the College, including from RACP Fellow MPs Dr Katie Allen and Dr Mike Freelander, and other supporters, resulted in an announcement on 15 June 2021 that the Murugappan family would be reunited in Perth and allowed to live in community detention while their legal claims are determined in the Federal Court.

The release of the family into community detention represents a significant win that demonstrates the power of the College’s voice in providing support and medical leadership on important public policy issues. On 16 June 2021, the RACP issued a media release welcoming the Government’s decision.

The RACP continues to advocate for the Australian Government to end the detention of children.

Telehealth online learning resource

Access all the information and tools you need to prepare for and conduct culturally competent and patient-centred telehealth consultations in this new telehealth online course. We understand you’re busy, so we’ve made sure RACP Online Learning Resources are accessible anywhere and optimised for mobile on-the-go learning. Our courses are designed to enable you to dip in and out, or just do the parts relevant to you.

Evolve Webinar Series – Addiction medicine: First, do no harm

The July session of the Evolve Webinar Series on ‘Addiction medicine: First, do no harm’ will be held on Tuesday, 20 July 2021 from 6pm to 7pm (AEST)/8pm to 9pm (NZST).

There are concerns in addiction medicine regarding inappropriate forms of treatment, and forms of treatment that are unsupported by evidence. In this virtual forum, Professor Nicholas Lintzeris and Professor John Saunders discuss why the new Evolve recommendations on addiction medicine are relevant and important for all physicians to understand.

Register now

Bionics Challenge 2021

Bionics Challenge 2021 is a unique medtech competition enabling new or early stage bionic innovation projects to win Australia's first-ever National Bionics Innovation Prize – $25,000 cash plus a share in $25,000 expert insights from Morgans Financial. With $300,000+ in prizes and support for winners, the challenge, which closes for entries on Friday, 2 July 2021, aims to create a Human Bionics LivingLab to ignite collaboration across borders. 

Visit the Bionics Queensland website for further information on the four categories of medical bionic innovations.

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.

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

Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ)

RMSANZ is the professional body for rehabilitation physicians and trainees in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre

The Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) is the national rehabilitation medicine clinical registry of Australia and Aotearoa 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 DFACs AoNZ
Phone: +64 4 460 8142
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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