Chair’s Report by the Australasian Brachytherapy Group

Dear Members
I hope you have all been well during this difficult time. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned on its head the way we work and the way we play, and many are doing it tough. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t stop for pandemics, and our patients continue to need us and our support, often even more so as they may also be struggling through job losses and impacted livelihoods. Brachytherapy has been harder hit than other subspecialties in radiation oncology as many departments have scaled back their services. Now as the SARS-CoV-2 caseload is falling, and as Australia and New Zealand head toward effective containment, it is imperative that we respond appropriately by restoring our brachytherapy capacity as soon as possible.

For our community, this year has impacted major educational and networking events. Our flagship international event, the World Congress of Brachytherapy, has been postponed. There may be a small brachy program included in ESTRO2020 in late November, with the full WCB meeting to most likely occur next year. An official announcement will be made in the coming weeks. The ABG is monitoring the situation closely but it is likely that our Brachytherapy Workshop will be similarly affected. We are being forced to explore new ways of conducting meetings and courses, and given the present uncertainty, the ABG Executive has made the decision to plan for a completely virtual ASM in 2021. This was felt to be preferable to postponing or cancelling the event altogether. This will be an exciting opportunity for our community to embrace the challenge that COVID-19 poses. I would like to congratulate the organising committee of ABG ASM 2021 from Sydney on agreeing to take on this task.

In the background, the ABG Executive continues to work to improve our organisation. As you all know, our website has had some technical difficulties in the last 18 months, and we have recently agreed to a tender to improve our web presence and overhaul the backend to improve our members’ experience. Key to this change will be easier membership renewal and better communication with our members. The updated website will also bring special member-only benefits, such as the Applicators and Consumables Imprest, designed to facilitate sharing of less-commonly used applicators. These changes will help us to retain our dedicated members and attract new members to the ABG.

On behalf of the Executive Committee, I wish you and your families’ good health, hope you stay safe, and urge you to stay connected with one another virtually and through social media.

Make @AusBrachy and #brachytherapy part of your morning ritual.

Dr Andrej Bece,
Chair – Australasian Brachytherapy Group
June 2020

Collaboration and Membership

International collaboration has been established through a number of projects. This year we offered two scholarships to brachytherapy professionals in Papua New Guinea to attend the ABG workshop. The European BRAPHYQS Group provides a guest invitation to the ABG executive at its annual meetings at ESTRO and welcomes participation in many of its projects. The American Association of Physicists in Medicine also includes ABG representatives in its brachytherapy Task Groups, in particular, Task Group 186 that is developing recommendations for commissioning advanced planning algorithms in brachytherapy.

Membership to the ABG allows significant discounts at our Annual Scientific Meeting as well as an electronic newsletter which provides an opportunity to keep our members in touch with latest developments in brachytherapy, news of upcoming events and results of research projects conducted by our members. Members also have access to the “members only” section of the website providing quick access to contact details of all members. We welcome all those who wish to become a member and actively participate in this group.

A/Prof Annette Haworth
Chair – Australasian Brachytherapy Group
May 2014

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