Dr Rob Orr joined the Australian Army in 1989 as an infantry soldier before transferring to the Australian Defence Force Physical Training Instructor (PTI) stream. Serving for 10 years in this stream, Rob designed, developed, instructed and audited physical training programs and physical education and rehabilitation courses for military personnel and fellow PTIs from both Australian and foreign defence forces. Rob subsequently transferred to the physiotherapy stream where his role included the clinical rehabilitation of defence members and project management of physical conditioning optimisation reviews. Serving as the Human Performance Officer for Special Operations before joining the team at Bond University in 2012, Rob continues to serve in the Army Reserve as a Human Performance Officer and as a sessional lecturer and consultant.
Rob is the director of the Tactical Research Unit, a multidisciplinary, international team of researchers nested in Bond University providing research, consultancy, and education services to tactical professions around the globe. Rob’s fields of research, consultancy, and education provision spans physical conditioning, reconditioning, rehabilitation and injury prevention for military, law enforcement and protective services across their occupational lifespan (initial trainee to specialist). Generally focussing on the tactical population, Rob is actively involved in research with the Australian and foreign defence forces, an extensive list of law enforcement departments (both national and international), and firefighters / first responders.
Rob has served on the organising committee for the 4th and 5th International Congress on Soldiers' Physical Performance and on the scientific committees for the occupational branch of the Australian Physiotherapy Association Conference and World Physiotherapy Congress, and was the Chair of the organising committee for the 4th Physical Employment Standards Conference which was held at Bond University in 2023.
I have served in the Australian Army in a full-time capacity for 23 years as an infantry soldier and Defence Force Physical Training Instructor (PTI), a uniformed physiotherapist and Human Performance Officer. During this time my fields of research have included physical conditioning and injury prevention for military personnel, from the initial trainee to the elite warrior, with a key focus on combat load carriage. Serving as the Human Performance Officer for the Royal Military College and Special Operations units before joining the team at Bond University in 2012, I continue to serve in the Army Reserve as a Human Performance Officer and as a sessional presenter.
I serve as director of the Tactical Research Unit at Bond University, an international collaboration exclusively dedicated to research, education, and consultancy for tactical populations. With over 100 tactical publications in peer reviewed journals and 20 technical reports, I run training for military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue agencies across the globe, from Australian and the USA to Singapore and China. I lead the TRU team to provide consultancy and educational services that have aided tactical populations set fitness standards, reduce injuries, improve rehabilitation, optimise mobility and lethality, and inform equipment purchases (e.g. load bearing vests, thigh holsters etc). I currently serve on the International Physical Employment Standards Committee and as Chair of the organising committee for the 4th Physical Employment Standards Conference in 2021.
Having taught in Defence and the private sector for over 25 years, Rob's expertise lies in exercise prescription for injury prevention, rehabilitation and optimised function for athletes and special populations (military and protective services).
Statement for HDR students
Potential students interested in, or who are currently working with, tactical populations (military, police and firefighters) may find some of the projects on offer to their liking.
Projects include the training and rehabilitation of recruits and serving personnel, optimising selection processes for specialist streams, improving rehabilitation of injured members for return to work and investigating the impact of load carriage on occupational task performances (like mobility and lethality).