As a binational community in Australia and New Zealand, travelling to an event is geographically and often financially challenging, particularly for students. In an effort to make surgical opportunities more accessible, as well as our commitment to eco-sustainability and limiting carbon footprinting, we established ViVA – Value in Virtual Approaches – and have been working towards this project since late 2019. Appropriately, admission to ViVA is free of charge and themes covered by ViVA will address that of equity, in the surgical context and otherwise. 

ViVA will be held weekly over July 2020, with each session featuring 2-3 speakers (national and international!) addressing a different theme – opening with Pioneers in Surgery, followed by  Global Surgery, Gender Equity and Culture & Wellness. These sessions will be hosted virtually but the programme run like a physical event – complete with a moderator, sponsors, Q&As and more!

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In our final ViVA session of this series, we examine Culture & Wellness. It is well-established that across the medical profession poor mental health remains a lived reality, with surgery being no exception. Not only does this impact the lives of our surgeons and their loved ones, it inevitably affects quality of care delivered and ultimately the wellbeing of our patients. In times like these, more than ever is a positive workplace culture of utmost importance, fostering wellness for all parties. 

 We are lucky to be joined by Dr Carrie Kollias, a Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. She is author of the award-winning children’s book ‘Maria’s Marvelous Bones’ (2018) and as a founding member of the International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance, has been involved in many advocacy efforts over the years. We are also excited to welcome Dr Eric Levi, an ENT Head & Neck Surgeon in Melbourne passionate about the intangibles in surgery, such as the role of leadership, burnout and social media.


Saturday 25th July 6:45pm-9pm AEST 

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ASSA is proud to support the charity Black Dog Institute for this ViVA session for its extensive work in advocating and providing information for Australians struggling with mental health, in particular, the recent development of Shift, and the advocacy for junior medical officer wellbeing. Find out more at

Past Events


Saturday 4th July 3.15 – 6.30pm AEST

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Setting the tone for our novel ViVA series, our opening session – Pioneers – aspires to galvanise us into thinking out-of-the-box for issues addressed in the ensuing sessions as well as in our personal and professional life going forward. 

ASSA is thrilled to present Dr Fiona Wood, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Western Australia and pioneer in burns medicine research and technology development, including spray-on skin so widely used today. Dr Ruth Mitchell, Australian neurosurgeon and recipient of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy in abolishing nuclear weapons, will also be featured in this session. Finally, Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram, a plastic surgeon from London who co-founded Proximie, an augmented reality platform allowing doctors to virtually transport themselves into any operating room to visually and practically interact in an operation.

We are proud to support The Foundation of Surgery charity for this ViVA session for its commitment to international aid, innovative research and culture. As part of registration, the option of donating to The Foundation of Surgery will be offered. Find out more about The Foundation of Surgery here: 

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Access to safe surgery and anaesthesia remain a significant issue in many parts of the world. In an era of medicine that is increasingly interconnected and global, it is paramount that we recognise this inequity and take measures to improve surgical care beyond our own borders. 

We are excited to feature Professor Sudha Jayaraman, Director of the Center of Global Surgery at The University of Utah, USA. Professor Jayaraman has worked on several projects on trauma epidemiology and trauma systems development in Rwanda and Uganda, is an examiner for students and graduating surgery cheif residents at teaching hospitals in Rwanda and Ecuador and has authored numerous publications on low and middle income countries (LMIC). In addition to her busy surgical schedule and humanitarian work, she finds the time to encourage medical students to give back globally and advocates for students to learn and understand the complexities of health care globally.

Joining her is Associate Professor Salome Maswime, Head of Global Surgery at The University of Cape Town, South Africa. In addition to working with women with high risk pregnancies as an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Maswime’s research interests are in global surgery, related to caesarean sections and placental causes of stillbirths. She is an advocate for women’s health rights and equity in maternal healthcare. In 2020, she was announced as one of the World Economic Forum’s Class of 2020 Young Scientists, a group of 25 notable researchers who are “at the forefront of scientific discovery”.


Saturday 11th July 12:45pm – 4pm AEST

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For this session ASSA is delighted to support Lifebox ANZ, dedicated to the delivery of training to local personnel in the use and maintenance of the pulse oximeters in the Asia-Pacific region, including Papua New Guinea, Myanmar, Bhutan, Timor Leste and Mongolia. Find out more at


Saturday 18th July 9.45am – 12pm AEST

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While surgery and medicine have taken significant steps towards diversity and inclusivity, it is clear that more work needs to be done to make this space truly equitable. Individuals who identify as women, non-binary and/or LGBTQI+ continue to experience disproportionately more discrimination, bullying and harrassment compared to their peers, or are not represented fairly in the medical workforce. This has far-reaching ramifications not only for healthcare providers but for our diverse community. 

This session, Gender Equity, addresses this. We are thrilled to welcome Jessica Halem, the LGBTQ Outreach and Engagement Director at Harvard Medical School and staunch advocate for transgender equity. Prior to joining Harvard she also ran the Lesbian Community Cancer Project in Chicago and served on then-candidate Obama’s first LGBT Advisory Committee. Joining Jessica is Dr Frances Grimstad, Gynaecologist based in Boston Children’s Hospital and Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School. She has been involved in clinical and research work surrounding transgender and intersex reproductive health. Her interests center around optimizing reproductive health outcomes for both populations including hormonal and menstrual management, surgical care and family planning.

We are pleased to support Transgender Victoria for this ViVA session in its commitment to equitable health and communitys services for transgender people and their loved ones. In 2014, Transgender Victoria received the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Community Award. Find out more at

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