2020 Members' Annual Report

    By doctors, for doctors

    Ever since a small group of doctors met in the Australia Hotel over a century ago, Avant has been there to defend, support, advise and protect its members.

    Doctors sit on our Board and chair it, voted for by members, to represent your interests.

    We’ve got your back

    As a mutual, we are run only to benefit members.

    Our legacy of steadfastly protecting members when their reputation is on the line is why you can trust that we’ve got your back.

    You’re at the heart of everything we do

    Our culture is all about seeking to provide excellent, trustworthy service through products specifically designed to protect doctors and their families.

    Dr Beverly Rowbotham cover

    Chair's message

    The last year has been an incredibly challenging one for doctors. Avant has been able to adapt and assist members in response.

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    Managing Directors' report - cover

    Managing Directors' report

    Avant is committed to strongly standing by our members, whatever the situation. Despite the challenging environment, we have worked to deliver the protection, advice and support our members need.

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    Avant timeline 2020
    Developments in healthcare cover

    Developments in healthcare

    Doctors have faced significant disruption and change over the last year. In addition to COVID-19, there were notable changes in legislation and regulation. These require doctors to make changes to their practices and can create extra burdens.

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    Supporting you - cover

    Supporting you through difficult times

    Medicine is constantly evolving and throwing up challenges as we strive to deliver better patient outcomes and improvements in healthcare. It can be hard to keep up with developments at the best of times, and COVID-19 added a dimension which was dynamic and brought uncertainty.

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    Remaining strong - cover

    Remaining strong and secure through adversity

    Our financial strength and discipline enable us to continue supporting members through the toughest of times.

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    Valued practical advice

    The general guidance that I’ve received over the years from Avant, in terms of how to handle certain situations, has been very handy. The Avant guidelines that are on the website, essentially on how doctors should practise if you want to stay out of trouble, are useful in that it gives you parameters so you can assess, is what I’m doing reasonable practice?

    The general advice in industrial law is unhelpful because much of it can’t be applied in how we work. The advantage of having advice from Avant is Avant understands, because their customer base is medicine and they understand the peculiar way that this industry works.

    Dr Derek Glenn
    New South Wales


    Recommended by colleagues

    As a cardiologist and electrophysiologist, I read Avant’s newsletters regularly and find the resources useful, especially with regards to the case studies and advice on preventing legal issues.

    When I was a fellow, I was required to have insurance for the purpose of assisting procedures in the private hospital. Avant was recommended by my colleagues. It has been affordable and I have stayed with them when transitioning to a consultant position. Even though most of my work is in the public sector, there is a sense of security knowing that I can fall back on Avant in case of any issues that may arise.

    Dr Jonathan Lipton
    Cardiologist Electrophysiologist

    Mutual rewards header

    Mutual rewards

    As a mutual, when we make profits we share those with you, our members, and invest back into the medical profession.

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    Protecting your reputation - header

    Protecting your reputation

    Our reputations and careers are built over many years but can be shattered in an instant. As a director at Avant, I’ve seen colleagues face the most challenging of situations, which is why I’m passionate about Avant being able to provide a rock-solid defence for members.

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    Doctors' Health Fund - header

    Doctors' Health Fund

    Being a mutual, Avant looks at different ways to add value to members. Offering a wider range of personal insurances for members has been a tremendous success. The diversification strategy started with Doctors’ Health Fund, which has grown to almost double its size from when Avant acquired it in 2012.

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    Avant Difference feature
    Multi-disciplinary expertise

    Avant understands doctors

    During my internship, I saw budding surgeons break arms, colleagues in emergency have more than one near miss with dangerous patients and friends who were obviously burnt out,” explained Dr Annabelle Franklin, GP registrar and Avant member.

    I did a lot of research about income protection insurance and received quotes from many different providers. At the end of the day, Avant covered more. I read a lot of fine print to discover that not every insurer offers occupation-specific cover.

    Avant’s Income Protection insurance supports you, when instances of illness, injury or litigation prevent you from practising, and covers you up to 75% of your regular salary plus an additional 10% to cover superannuation contributions made while on claim.

    I felt comfortable knowing that Avant understands doctors and their needs, which is why I also have health insurance and indemnity insurance with them. This process could not have been easier. Knowing that I am financially secure while I take the necessary time to recover has taken away so much stress.

    Dr Annabelle Franklin
    GP registrar and Avant member

    Financial services header

    Financial services for doctors

    The pandemic has demonstrated how lives can be affected by illness, injury and loss of income. This is where insurance steps in to ease the financial impact.

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    Travel cover header

    Avant Travel Cover

    Trusted protection you can count on, when you need it.

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    Protect your business header

    Protecting your business

    Owning and managing a practice brings a new tranche of opportunities and challenges to doctors. The activities and actions of staff play a significant role in providing good healthcare to patients, while also providing some new risks in a variety of forms.

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    Support is second to none

    I’m a huge advocate for PracticeHub. I honestly don’t know how a practice can run efficiently without it or why they would attempt to do so! PracticeHub houses all the policies, procedures and online training modules we need to run a compliant clinic. From a practice manager’s perspective, it’s like having an assistant. I get reminders when a policy, procedure or cheat sheet is due for update, so our staff are always working with up-to-date information. I note compliments, complaints and incidents on a log within PracticeHub and utilise the equipment and contracts register. This is a great tool to keep information together about key pieces of equipment, such as your autoclave or vaccine fridge.

    The support from PracticeHub is second to none. It is important that there is a support team at the end of an email or telephone that can assist me in a timely manner. The team will push out new or amended policies when there are changes to legislation, or if I need a new policy written, they are always happy to assist. Working with Avant ensures that everything I receive is compliant. This gives us peace of mind and allows us to focus on what we do best – improving the lives of others and providing exceptional care to our community.

    Gemma Gough
    Senior Operations Manager
    Australia Health Alliance (AHA) Clinics
    South Australia

    PracticeHub header

    Technology to aid practice efficiency

    Having good systems and processes helps everyone maintain the practice’s efficiency and safety. This became more apparent during the disruption resulting from COVID-19.

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    Avant Foundation header

    Avant Foundation

    Research underpins the advancement of medicine, which is why funding members’ projects is such an important matter for Avant. This started with the Doctor in Training Research Scholarships in 2012 and has grown to include grants, a bursary and international development programs in conjunction with Interplast.

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    National advocacy stakeholders

    Members informing your mutual

    Our goal as a mutual is to reflect the expertise of our membership base – this ensures your interests are represented in how Avant is run.

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    Avant helps young doctors close the gap

    To improve Indigenous health, the Avant Foundation introduced a First Year Indigenous Medical Student Bursary. The bursary provides $15,000 to support an Indigenous medical student through the first years of study, and this year was awarded to Lucy Variakojis.

    Lucy’s application included specific examples of why she wanted to study medicine and stood out among 42 applications.

    “I want to help improve Indigenous health outcomes, which are currently among the worst in the world,” explained Lucy.

    “After completing my undergraduate degree in Sports Science, I developed a passion for the human body. I realised that medicine was something I wanted and needed to do.”

    There was consistent feedback across all the assessors on the scholarship panel as her commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health was clearly demonstrated.

    “We know that cultural safety is an integral part of addressing disparities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, and we recognise that First Nations doctors hold a unique and important role within the medical workforce,” says Raegina Taylor, Senior Adviser at the Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association.

    The Avant Foundation has provided an additional $30,000 in funding to the bursary for 2021 and 2022.

    Lucy Variakojis
    Western Australia

  • Members elected to the Avant Mutual Board

  • Dr Beverley Rowbotham

    Dr Beverley Rowbotham AO


    It has been an honour to have served as Chair of the Avant Mutual Group since July 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic presented a great challenge to Australia and I was proud of the medical profession’s response, and particularly proud of the role Avant played in supporting our members to adapt to the new environment. Our efforts over many years to build a strong Avant have paid dividends in this period of acute uncertainty. The stability of our medical indemnity and other insurance products is vital to securing the careers and peace of mind of our members in times like these and I am committed to continue to deliver this and to use Avant’s strong voice to speak up for members.

    Special responsibilities: Chair of the Nominations Committee, Director of Doctors’ Health Fund and Avant Insurance Limited, Member of the Remuneration Committee

    Dr Jan Dudley

    Dr Jan Dudley


    The past year has been challenging for Avant and its members, but I am proud of the way Avant has responded and provided support and guidance for its members and the wider medical community. Avant remains in a strong financial position and is well placed to continue to succeed and lead in medical indemnity in Australia. We continue to diversify product offerings to assist doctors in practice, while maintaining a strong core business. Avant has an important advocacy role and supports research and development through the Foundation and scholarship program. I am proud that Avant maintains its ‘doctors for doctors’ ethos, and continues to be the essential strong partner for members to practise confidently.

    Special responsibilities: Director of Avant Insurance Limited, Member of the Group Investment Committee.

    Dr Gillian Farrell

    Dr Gillian Farrell


    I am very proud to have been elected to the Board of Avant at the end of 2019 and I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year with the Board. This has been an incredibly challenging year which has required a high degree of adaptation and flexibility from all of us. Avant’s management has been outstanding in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has set a high benchmark for other companies to follow. The members of Avant have recognised that the mutual has been sensitive to their needs in a rapidly evolving and unpredictable situation. We all hope that 2021 will allow a return to normal medical practice for our doctors and we know that Avant will be there to support the members as they recover from the effects of the pandemic.

    Special responsibilities: Member of the Audit Committee and Risk Committee.

    Dr William Glasson

    Dr William Glasson AO


    As a Board member and also a member of Avant, I can only congratulate our Managing Director, Andrew Boldeman and his excellent team for the way they managed the organisation during the COVID-19 crisis. Their focus, and that of the Board, has been on our members as they endeavoured to adapt to the changing circumstances, both financial and personal, that they found themselves in. This softened the financial impact on many of our members and made the COVID-19 transition less stressful and more supported.

    Special responsibilities: Member of the Audit Committee, Risk Committee, Remuneration Committee and Nominations Committee.

    Dr Steven Hambleton

    Dr Steven Hambleton


    Avant, owned and run for members, proved its worth early in the COVID-19 pandemic and is still doing so. We rapidly stood up and provided accurate and timely information to support our members. We offered indemnity premium support and made sure there were no gaps in cover including for public patients treated in private hospitals. We provided free indemnity cover for recently retired members to return to practice to assist. We passed on premium rate reductions in the Doctors’ Health Fund of 15% for hospital cover from May to June for all members. We continue to make good on our promise to help keep you, your practice, your finances and your health safe.

    Special responsibilities: Member of the Group Investment Committee.

    Dr Douglas Travis

    Dr Douglas Travis


    The achievement that I am most proud of is keeping members and staff safe and financially secure through the pandemic.
    It has been a challenging start to 2020. Despite the COVID-19 distraction, we have continued to roll out the Avant strategy of a suite of financial and medical business-related services to make our lives easier. I look forward to next year, to see the further strengthening of these services and products for doctors.
    My desire is for our financial services for doctors to remain at a reasonable price while keeping Avant financially secure.

    Special responsibilities: Director of Doctors’ Health Fund, Member of the Audit Committee and Risk Committee.

  • Business experts appointed to the Board

  • Peter Polson

    Mr Peter Polson

    BCom, MBL, PMD

    Mr Polson is a Director of AMGL and AGHL and is the Chair of AIL. He has an extensive background in banking, insurance and financial services. He was formerly Managing Director of Colonial First State Investments, and with the Commonwealth Bank Group as Group Executive responsible for all investment and insurance services. Mr Polson is the current Chairman of the Board of Challenger Financial Services Group Limited, Challenger Life Limited, IDP Education Pty Limited and the Chairman of Very Special Kids.

    Special responsibilities: Chair of the Group Investment Committee, member of the Remuneration Committee and Nominations Committee

    Peter Beck

    Mr Peter Beck


    Mr Beck is a Director of AMGL, AGHL and AIL. Mr Beck is an actuary by profession and has over 40 years’ experience in banking, insurance, superannuation and investments working in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, South Africa and the United Kingdom. He was formerly CEO of Pillar Administration, CEO of CommInsure, and Group General Manager, Strategic Development and Group Appointed Actuary at Colonial.

    Special responsibilities: Chair of the Risk Committee and Audit Committee, member of the Investment Committee

    Tony Bofinger

    Mr Tony Bofinger


    Mr Bofinger is a Director of AIL, AGHL and Doctors’ Health Fund. Mr Bofinger is an actuary with over 30 years’ experience in life insurance, superannuation and investment, and he has expertise in risk management, capital management and finance. He is currently Chief Risk Officer of Challenger Limited, and was previously Appointed Actuary and Chief Financial Officer of Challenger Life Company Limited. Prior to that he held a range of executive positions in direct insurance, reinsurance and consulting.

    Special responsibilities: Member of the Audit Committee and Risk Committee

    Lynda O'Grady

    Ms Lynda O’Grady

    BCom (Hons), FAICD

    Ms Lynda O’Grady is a Director of AGHL and AIL. She has an extensive background in IT, telecommunications, media and health and aged care industries. She was formerly Executive Director and Chief of Product at Telstra Corporation and Commercial Director of the publishing division of PBL Ltd. She served as the inaugural chairman of the Aged Care Financing Authority for six years. Ms O’Grady is a non-executive director of Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd, Wagners Holdings Company Limited and serves on the Advisory Board of Jamieson Coote Bonds.

    Special responsibilities: Member of the Audit Committee and Risk Committee.

    Bruce Foy

    Mr Bruce Foy

    BCom, LLB, FAICD

    Mr Foy is a Director of AGHL, AIL and Chairman of Doctors’ Health Fund. He was admitted as a Barrister of the Supreme Court of NSW in 1989 and is a fellow of the Institute of Company Directors. Mr Foy is a professional non-executive director and is on a number of public and private boards.

    Special responsibilities: Member of the Investment Committee

    Duncan West

    Mr Duncan West

    ANZIIF (Snr Assoc.), CIP, FCII, BSc (Econ), GAICD

    Mr West is a Director of AMGL, AGHL and AIL. He has over 30 years’ experience in general and life insurance, including as CEO of Vero Insurance and CGU Insurance. Most recently he was Executive General Manager of Retail Wealth for NAB. Mr West is Chair of Hollard Insurance, Lawcover Insurance and Habitat for Humanity Australia and a Director of Challenger Group Limited and Genworth Mortgage Insurance Limited. He is a senior associate of the Australia and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance and an honorary life member.

    Special responsibilities: Chair of the Remuneration Committee and member of the Risk Committee, Audit Committee and Nominations Committee.

  • Executive Leadership Team

  • Andrew Boldeman

    Andrew Boldeman BEc, FIAA

    Managing Director, Avant Mutual

    It has been a privilege leading the management team at Avant for the past seven years and serving Avant’s members, as well as the broader medical community. My role is to ensure Avant does its absolute best for its membership – providing high quality service and advice, at a good price, and enabling long-term sustainability.

    I can assure you that Avant’s staff are committed to supporting members.

    Natasha Fenech

    Natasha Fenech BEc, BSc, AIAA, MBA, GAICD

    CEO, Medical Indemnity & Deputy Group CEO

    As CEO of the medical indemnity business, I’m responsible for ensuring we deliver member-centric services and products. Our aim is to make interacting with Avant easier and to ensure we are there in the time of need for our members. My focus is on delivering the best possible value and balancing affordable premiums with quality services to give members confidence in the support they receive from us.

    Peter Aroney

    Peter Aroney BComm, ACA

    CEO, Doctors’ Health Fund

    My role is to ensure members are supported through quality health insurance, tailored to their requirements and professionally delivered. We are proud to continue to be one of the fastest growing health funds in Australia, with more doctors trusting us to protect their personal health needs. Our ongoing investment in leading technologies makes it easier for members to access simple information in an increasingly complex industry.

    Pally Bargri

    Pally Bargri MPAF, MBA (Exec), Dip.FS, MAICD

    Chief Risk Officer

    Organisations face many risks, and I am accountable for providing the necessary governance, risk and compliance systems for Avant to balance the risks of today with the opportunities of tomorrow. This year, we invested further in the risk and compliance capability, introducing frameworks, policies and systems. These provide the necessary insight to respond to new and emerging threats to enable high-reliability across our operations.

    Penny Browne

    Penny Browne MBBS, FRACGP, MHL

    Chief Medical Officer

    As a practising doctor, I bring the member voice to the executive team and lead the Advocacy, Education and Research unit. We advocate for effective medical indemnity and regulatory environments, doctor wellbeing and safer patient outcomes. I am proud that our team has been able to provide support and advocate for our members through the COVID-19 crisis.

    Martin Edwards

    Martin Edwards BSc, FIAA, GAICD

    CEO, Technology in Practice

    My team is responsible for identifying and developing new technology solutions which support our members in the practice of medicine. PracticeHub continued its strong growth, with more than 850 practices and 8,000 practice employees relying on our online platform to manage their practices more efficiently. This coming year we look to deliver greater value for members through expanding the services available on our platform.

    Patrick Esplin

    Patrick Esplin BSc, LLB

    General Counsel & Head of the Office of the Managing Director

    As General Counsel and Company Secretary, I am responsible for providing legal and strategic advice across the Avant Group. I also have responsibility for overseeing governance at Avant, including the annual general meeting and member elections. I am a senior legal and governance professional with 20 years’ experience.

    Tanya Freeman

    Tanya Freeman BBus, Grad Dip IT Project Mgmt, MBA

    Chief Information Officer

    As CIO, I am responsible for the technology components enabling Avant to optimally service its members’ needs. This ranges from the tools our staff use to the systems that manage our insurance businesses. Technology is improving the efficiency in how we operate, which directly impacts members. A key focus for Avant is cyber security and ensuring the safety of members’ information.

    Mitchell Stubbs

    Mitchell Stubbs BBus, MBA, MAHRI

    Chief People and Culture Officer

    I’m responsible for delivering a people and culture strategy that attracts and retains highly engaged, high performing people to do their best work for our members. We’ve seen 2020 usher in new ways of working, and our People and Culture team are at the forefront of ensuring our people have the skills, tools and resilience to support our membership in these uncertain times.

    Daniel Tess

    Daniel Tess BSc, MA, FCAS, FIAA

    Group Chief Financial Officer

    I am responsible for the finance and governance functions. We ensure the business is commercially disciplined, oversee good corporate governance and a strong investment portfolio. Avant maintains a high level of regulatory and excess capital. Going forward, we will continue to manage sustainable financial results while keeping prices stable for members.

    Julie Webster

    Julie Webster BCom, MBus, GAICD

    CEO, Financial Services

    I am responsible for the strategy and deployment of financial services to meet members’ needs. In 2019-20 we offered tailored life insurance to doctors while developing financial advice and wealth management offerings. Members tell us they are looking for someone they can trust whose interests align with theirs – I believe there is no one better placed than Avant to provide that.

  • For more, download the complete publications

    Annual Report 2020
    2020 Financial Report
    Avant constitution cover