AFRM eBulletin – 28 May 2021

A message from your President

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

AFRM Annual Members Meeting

This is confirmed for Tuesday, 20 July 2021 from 6pm to 7pm AEST (8pm to 9pm NZST) via a Zoom webinar. I encourage all members to attend. Those of you who attended last year's webinar will recall it is a useful way to communicate with one another. All members will receive a formal invitation by email in due course.

We've settled on a standalone meeting this year because the Rehabilitation Medicine Society of Australia and New Zealand (RMSANZ) could not accommodate us in their shorter Snapshots meeting which is replacing the Annual Scientific Meeting this year. 

RACP Congress update

Thank you to all our AFRM speakers for delivering thought-provoking presentations. I hope you've had a chance to see the presentations. The George Burniston orator for this year was Professor John Olver. The AFRM session within the RACP Congress included presentations from Professor Olver, Professor Steven Faux, Dr Elissa Farrow and Dr David Murphy who presented a range of talks documenting the different ways that COVID-19 has affected rehabilitation medicine services. 

Professor Tim Geraghty at the Convocation Ceremony in Brisbane with New Fellows. Professor Tim Geraghty (third from right) at the Convocation Ceremony in Brisbane with New Fellows.

My special thanks to Professor Tim Geraghty who was the AFRM Congress lead for this year and also represented us at the Convocation Ceremony in Brisbane, welcoming a number of new Fellows to the Faculty. My congratulations to Dr Sarah Anderson, Dr Sasaka Bandaranayake, Dr Tim Butson, Dr Kylie Ferguson, Dr Jose Mari Jiao, Dr Jacinta Lewis and Dr Binita Shrestha and all those who achieved Fellowship this year.

AFRM examinations

As you know our COVID-19 modified examinations have proceeded quite successfully so far. Congratulations to all the candidates who sat exams so far this year. The Fellowship Written Exam and the Fellowship Clinical Exam have now both been successfully completed. The Fellowship Clinical Exam (Paediatric Rehabilitation) will have occurred by the time you read this eBulletin. The AFRM Module 1 Exam, the first by Computer Based Testing (CBT) was held on Tuesday, 18 May 2021 across 11 different venues across our two nations. Special thanks to the CBT Working Group which included Faculty Fellows and College staff members, particularly the CBT Project Manager, Cherry Pennycuick who worked tirelessly to ensure the platform was solid and endured our endless questioning and sceptical discussions about what could go wrong and how they would manage it if it did.

Curriculum Renewal update

We have a highly skilled and diverse membership of our Curriculum Renewal Committee chaired by Dr John Ho Chan. The first meeting was held on Friday, 14 May 2021. Thank you to all those Fellows who volunteered to be part of the group. This is a very important undertaking and will take a great deal of effort on their part and that of many other College staff before this project is complete. Further information can be found on the RACP website.

Aotearoa New Zealand matters

Please see below in this eBulletin an article from Dr Richard Seemann and Sally Marret (RACP Aotearoa New Zealand) on the changes to rehabilitation data collection which is occurring there. I'll briefly mention it here. A number of the Aotearoa New Zealand Health Boards have decided to adopt a comprehensive data collection system known as InterRAI. This directly threatens our existing benchmarking, the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC)/Functional Independence Measure (FIM) data collection system. This is clearly of great concern to us as the benchmarking information is something we value highly. Dr Richard Seeman and I recently met with representatives of the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) who are a long term significant financial supporter of AROC to discuss our concerns about this change and hopefully to persuade them to continue with use of the FIM data system and their contribution to the AROC benchmarking system into the future. I plan to attend the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association (NZRA) meeting in September 2021 to have further talks with representatives of the Health Ministry and others hoping to persuade them of the importance of this issue as well. 

We've long been concerned about the profile of rehabilitation medicine in Aotearoa New Zealand and have received concerning reports from our Fellows and the AoNZ Committee for a number of years. The Faculty continues its commitment to assisting the Aotearoa New Zealand office to represent this issue to Government and others to try and ensure a healthy future for rehabilitation medicine in Aotearoa New Zealand.

AROC/Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) matters

Dr Ross Clifton has now been appointed as AROC Director, replacing previous long-term incumbent Frances Simmonds. His addition in combination with recently appointed Clinical Director Professor Maria Crotty will allow AROC to undertake a strategic planning process reassessing their direction and strategies for the future. AROC remains something which the Faculty can be very proud of, with the largest dataset and benchmarking system of any medical specialty in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. There may however, be greater uses of the data in terms of wider research and impact on government policy, something which we look forward to exploring further with the new Directors.

The ACHS Australasian Clinical Indicator Report 2020 is now available for download on the ACHS website. My thanks to Dr Jenny Mann, AFRM President-elect, who reviewed the document on our behalf.

Upcoming meetings

A meeting is planned between the Faculty Regional Training Coordinators which will have taken place by the time you read this eBulletin. This is being organised to develop and support direct communication between our Regional Training Coordinators who operate fairly autonomously at the regional level. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted training, both in the workplace and in teaching sessions, quite adversely and quite unevenly because of the way that the pandemic has affected different areas in different ways. These interruptions and shutdowns have forced some regions to be more innovative in their teaching methods. I think we can learn from one another particularly those regions that have successfully rolled out new technology or managed to continue with education efforts in spite of quite restrictive circumstances. We hope to establish an ongoing communication system between the Regional Training Coordinators into the future. 

The Faculty Policy & Advocacy Committee will be meeting on Friday, 28 May 2021 to discuss the many ongoing projects which are underway. The AFRM Council meets on Friday, 25 June 2021. The AFRM Trainee Committee meets on Wednesday, 9 June 2021.


We continue to be concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on rehabilitation services. Those of you who ‘attended’ our session at the RACP Congress will have heard in detail some of these adverse effects which include closure of wards, reduction of services and a change in delivery caused by reduction of available resources. We continue to be concerned about this while being aware that COVID-19 is such a large and unusual event that it's very difficult to stand against such changes at local health facilities. We are, however, continuing to keep an eye on the changes and will be looking to survey our membership to get a better sense of the extent of these restrictions nationwide. Our COVID-19 Rehabilitation Group is leading the collection of data and information of relevance for us here.

Future of the Faculties

I continue to meet regularly with the President of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, the President of the Faculty of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Philip Munro, RACP Peak Bodies Manager, to consider the College’s response to the Future of the Faculties review. At this stage, our focus has been to obtain support to improve our entry to training pathway, i.e. modules 1 and 2, which needs resources to review curriculum, learning resources and assessments. Our other goals are an increase in Faculty representation on College Committees and greater financial and advocatory autonomy.


The AFRM Executive Committee continues to meet regularly with Dr Michael Chou, President of RMSANZ, to discuss matters of mutual interest. 

Their upcoming Annual Scientific Meeting for 2021 has had to be postponed to 2022 because of COVID-19. This has been replaced with an online Snapshots meeting from Saturday, 31 July to Sunday, 1 August 2021.

Other upcoming events

The ISPRM 2021 World Congress will be held from Saturday, 12 June to Tuesday, 15 June 2021 in an online format.

I look forward to seeing you at the AFRM Annual Members Meeting on Tuesday, 20 July 2021. 

By the time you read this eBulletin the Giro d’Italia will be complete but never mind, the Tour de France will be underway so you can continue to stay up late at night watching sport like yours truly.


Dr Greg Bowring
AFRM President

Rehabilitation data collection changes for Aotearoa New Zealand

For the past 20 years, Aotearoa New Zealand based rehabilitation medicine physicians have been benchmarking their services against Aotearoa New Zealand and Australian rehabilitation services, using the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC) based in Wollongong, NSW. AROC also supplies rehabilitation outcomes data for research purposes. 

In the last two years the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) have introduced a new online disability assessment tool called interRAI, and this is being phased in throughout Aotearoa New Zealand over the next year. With that phasing in, the AFRM has realised that use of interRAI compromises data collection for AROC, as AROC relies on a different data system, the Functional Independence Measure (FIM). 

We have therefore started a campaign to raise awareness about that potential data loss for benchmarking and research, and to gather the various parties together to discuss how that issue can be mitigated. We plan to meet with ACC and MOH.

If members have information to input or would like to be involved in this work contact the office by emailing

Please also note the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association (NZRA) Annual Scientific Meeting is being held from Friday, 17 September to Sunday, 19 September 2021 in Rotorua and will include representatives from AROC. A workshop will be run relating to this issue. 

Dr Richard Seemann
Chair, AFRM Aotearoa New Zealand Committee

RACP AFRM scholarships and grants

Applications for the 2022 RACP Foundation Research Awards are now open. Upwards of 50 awards up to a total value of $2.5M are available across the different categories: Career Development Fellowships, Research Establishment Fellowships and Research Entry Scholarships

Applications for other award categories including Research Development Grants, Travel Grants and Education Development Grants are opening Tuesday, 1 June 2021.

The following scholarships and grants are available to AFRM members:

Most other awards are open to Fellows and trainees of the RACP across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. 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.

Conversations with the Board

The Board held its first virtual Conversation with the Board event with members from the Hunter New England (HNE)/Newcastle area on Wednesday, 24 February.

The communique for this Conversation with the Board is available on the RACP website where you will also find previous Conversations

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.

The Australian Society for Medical Research Gala Dinner

Date: Monday, 7 June 2021
Location: UNSW, Kensington, Sydney

The annual Australian Society for Medical Research (ASMR) Gala Dinner (part of the ASMR Medical Research Week® events in NSW) is to be held at UNSW on Monday, 7 June 2021 from 5.30pm AEST.

This year’s Gala Dinner is a great opportunity to reflect on the unique challenges COVID-19 has presented to Australia and start a dialogue that further advances the resilience of our health and medical research sector. The Gala Dinner will feature a presentation from the 2021 ASMR Medallist, Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, an ENT surgeon based in the Hunter region of NSW. His brilliant work regularly sees him travel to remote Australia to provide specialised ENT services to Indigenous patients. His clinical practice is complemented by his ongoing research into the causes and treatment of ear disease, together with his involvement in community outreach programs designed to improve access to healthcare and break cycles of disadvantage for Indigenous Australians.

For further details please contact Luke Gordon at or see the Gala Dinner Flyer.

RACP Congress 2021 Watch

All recorded sessions from RACP Congress 2021 are now online for viewing

RACP Congress 2021 concluded with the last of the virtual sessions on Thursday, 20 May. With a total program featuring over 85 sessions, this ambitious event covered a broad range of topics and insightful panel discussions. If you missed a session such as the Noble Oak sponsored ‘In for the long (COVID) haul: Disruption and adaptation for rehabilitation patients and services’ or would like to watch a session again, all recorded sessions will be available for viewing until 29 October 2021. 

For those who didn’t attend but still wish to view the RACP Congress material, you are able to register for a virtual ticket until Friday, 25 June. You can register at

COVID-19 vaccines   

On 20 May 2021, Australia recorded the largest single day of 101,146 COVID-19 vaccine doses with a total of over 3.47 million administered. As of 19 May 2021, Aotearoa New Zealand has administered a total of 474,436 COVID-19 vaccine doses.  

We have been concerned about the slow rollout and hesitancy of COVID-19 vaccines and are keen to support the momentum of increasing the uptake of vaccinations.

The RACP urges members to encourage eligible patients to get their COVID-19 vaccinations. To assist you please see below a suite of available resources and information on COVID-19 vaccines:


Aotearoa New Zealand

We regularly share updates and resources including from the Australian Government Department of Health and the Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Health on the RACP COVID-19 webpage.

Australian Government Department of Health update to Medicare billing in public hospitals

The Australian Government Department of Health (the Department) has updated its Medicare billing in public hospitals webpage in response to feedback received from peak bodies, including the College. The webpage contains guidance material to strengthen provider education on appropriate Medicare billing in public hospitals. This includes case studies to clarify appropriate referrals following episodes of hospital care and the hospital’s responsibility to undertake any testing required for public patients. The feedback has also informed a new set of FAQs, which provide additional clarity on key points raised in the case studies.

The Department thanks peak bodies and clinicians involved in the revision process. If you have further comments or feedback, please contact the department at

Virtual screening event for ‘The Advocate’s Journey’ documentary

Thursday, 24 June 2021, 6pm to 8pm (AEST)

Join Dr Robert Lethbridge as he hosts a virtual live screening of ‘The Advocate’s Journey’ mini-documentary series on Thursday, 24 June 2021, 6pm to 8pm (AEST).

In the documentary, Dr Lethbridge sets out to interview well-known physicians who have taken the leap into advocacy and achieved remarkable outcomes from their work. The five short episodes see Dr Lethbridge conduct engaging interviews with Dr Helen Young, Professor Fiona Stanley, Dr Graeme Edwards and other respected advocates and experts. Throughout the screening you’ll gain valuable insights into becoming a physician advocate, engaging key stakeholders, getting issues on the public agenda, and the results of advocacy.

Register now to watch ‘The Advocate’s Journey’ and hear first-hand from Dr Lethbridge about his experiences working on the documentary.

Expressions of Interest: Australian Department of Health seeking RACP representatives on Biotoxin-related Illness Advisory Committee

The Australian Department of Health (DoH) are currently seeking one College representative for the Biotoxin Related Illness Advisory Committee (the Committee), with the DoH determining the final membership.

The DoH is seeking physicians with expertise and experience in the following:

  • general medicine
  • infectious diseases
  • occupational and environmental medicine
  • clinical allergy
  • clinical immunology
  • endocrinology.

The Committee will comprise of representatives from a broad range of allied health and specialist medical fields, as well as consumer representation. Deadline for applications is close of business Wednesday, 9 June 2021.

Learn more

Aged care: RACP recommendations and Federal Budget response to Royal Commission

A feature of the Federal Budget 2021-22 was its response to the 148 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (the Commission). The Budget reflected the Government’s acceptance or acceptance-in-principle of 126 of the Commission’s recommendations and its rejection of six. The remaining recommendations are either under consideration or have been supported in other ways.

College members made strong contributions to the Commission through the College’s 2019 submission and the later 2020 submission impact of COVID-19 on aged care.

Of our 56 recommendations in the 2019 submission, only five were not addressed by the Commission, and five were taken up in less direct ways. With the government’s positive response to the Commission’s recommendations, we anticipate seeing the majority of our recommendations implemented either directly or less directly, which we will monitor.

Some examples of where the Federal Budget has responded to Royal Commission recommendations, consistent with the College’s recommendations, include:

  • improved assessment provisions such as the single assessment process
  • more home care packages
  • improved access to specialists and other health practitioners through multidisciplinary outreach services
  • support to increase the cultural competency of service provider staff, and to address some of the barriers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander older people experience in relation to aged care services
  • funding for Primary Health Networks to provide end-user support for the use of telehealth in residential aged care facilities.

Over the next four years of the Budget’s provisions for aged care, the College will continue to advocate for improvements in aged care services as recommended by our contributing College members.

Centre for Disability Research and Policy newsletter

The Centre for Disability Research and Policy (CDRP) produces collaborative research that actively influences policy and practice to improve the lives of people with disability in Australia and the Asia-Pacific. The CDRP aims to reduce the disadvantage that occurs for people with disability. Their research works to improve the social and economic participation, health and wellbeing of people with disability.

Read the May 2021 CDRP newsletter

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 May 2021 edition.

RMSANZ Virtual Snapshots 2021: Frontiers of Rehabilitation Medicine

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

As we enter the second year of the pandemic and vaccines start to roll out, a glimmer of light seems to appear from afar, though normality remains stubbornly and frustratingly just out of reach. At the same time, quietly but perhaps irrevocably, the pandemic is also altering the way medicine is practised in Australia.

Whilst we will have to wait until 2022 to meet one another in person at the Annual Scientific Meeting, RMSANZ is keen to continue supporting the members’ thirst for learning and knowledge-sharing through Snapshots 2021 held virtually from Saturday, 31 July to Sunday, 1 August 2021.

The detailed program for Snapshots 2021 will be released in the coming weeks. 

Registrations are open and early bird registration fees are available before 11.59pm AEST on Friday, 25 June 2021. Standard rates after this date are also available, please visit the website for further information. Registration fees include three months access, post-meeting, to all session recordings.

Please contact the RMSANZ Conference Secretariat for further information.

We can’t wait to connect with you – virtually – later this year. For more information, visit the RMSANZ Snapshots website.

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


Watch this short showreel for a sneak preview of what you’ll find on Medflix, home to our extensive collection of powerful and engaging educational videos. The videos are designed to support members with their lifelong learning and professional development needs and cover a range of clinical and professional topics.

Tune in to Medflix to view more and share.

Evolve ‘Top-5’ recommendations on low-value practices in thoracic medicine

We are pleased to announce that in Lung Health Awareness Month, the latest Evolve ‘Top-5’ recommendations on low-value practices in thoracic medicine were launched.

The new Evolve thoracic recommendations span a range of conditions, ranging from common, such as COPD, to rare, such as sarcoidosis.

These recommendations were developed to reduce key low-value tests and interventions in the practice of thoracic medicine but will be of interest and applicable to care provided by clinicians beyond the specialty. The new recommendations say:

  • Do not perform a D-Dimer in patients at high risk of pulmonary embolism.
  • Do not use long term systemic corticosteroids for management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Do not initiate maintenance inhalers in minimally symptomatic COPD patients with a low risk of exacerbation.
  • Do not routinely follow-up solid pulmonary nodules smaller than 6mm detected in low-risk patients.
  • Do not perform a serum ACE for the diagnosis or monitoring of sarcoidosis.

We ask clinicians to think about how these recommendations are relevant to them. Consider:

  • making the recommendations a routine part of clinical handovers
  • including recommendations in education sessions like grand rounds, workshops, clinical case reviews, team meetings and more
  • undertaking a clinical audit and feedback project on a recommendation
  • discussing the recommendations with referring doctors and your multidisciplinary care team
  • undertaking research on the recommendations.

Read and download the recommendations

If RACP Fellows and trainees want to be more involved in shaping Evolve, consider joining the Evolve Policy Reference Group. The RACP regularly consults, collaborates and partners with Fellows and trainees in the Evolve Policy Reference Group. The group plays an important role in leading and shaping Evolve to make it more relevant and fit-for-purpose. Email to find out more.

Career opportunities 

NSW, Australia

Advanced Trainee Rehabilitation Medicine, Petersham.

Aotearoa New Zealand

Adult Rehabilitation Service – Senior Medical Officer, Christchurch.  

View all positions vacant.

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.

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

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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