Enhancing communications has been a focus for the Osteopathy Board of Australia this year, including social media, video and use of virtual platforms, to reach groups such as students and stakeholders, as well as our regular newsletters. Our newsletters continue to have a high open rate. This communications groundwork was important when registrants needed quick messaging about COVID-19.
From March, the Board has contacted registrants directly by newsletters and email with information about the impact of COVID-19 and the regulatory response for osteopaths. Osteopaths generally work in private clinics and have been able to work through the pandemic during the period covered by the annual report. Specific osteopathy questions relating to this type of practice, plus the common questions, are on a consolidated COVID-19 resources webpage.
For practitioners who have been unable to work during this time or do CPD, there have been some extensions of regulatory requirements.
International Osteopathic Health Week 2020 was scheduled to be celebrated in April, but due to the worldwide situation relating to COVID-19 the Board, in line with other osteopathy bodies and organisations, postponed the event until a later date.
The revised Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019) took effect on 1 December 2019. We have developed FAQs about the transition period to give information on the upcoming change to osteopaths, educators and supervisors/supervisees.
We also published a video, Getting to know your revised osteopathy capabilities, and a range of other supporting documents.
The Board carried out joint public consultation with other National Boards on the:
This year, the Board was involved in the release of the following guidelines with other Boards:
The Board jointly published a new guide to help registered health practitioners understand and meet their obligations when using social media.
Following the release of the Capabilities for osteopathic practice in 2019 the Board has asked the Australian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC) to conduct a project to review the Accreditation standards for osteopathic courses in Australia. Work is well underway and consultation is about to start.
The Board continued registrant forums in Perth in August and Hobart in November to engage with registrants and hear about the issues that are of most interest regarding regulation. As part of the forum, senior Ahpra staff from the state offices in those cities presented and were on hand to answer questions. Forums in 2020 in the other capital cities have been postponed due to COVID-19 and the inability to meet face to face.
As Chair, I presented information on regulation and Board requirements for registration to final-year students in the osteopathy programs, including an online presentation.
During the National Scheme’s Combined Meeting in February, the Board met with the Chair of the AOAC, President of the Osteopathy Council of NSW, and the Chair and Registrar of the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand to discuss issues of mutual interest.
The Executive Officer and I attended the annual Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, in October. The conference focused on osteopathy regulation, education, research and association leadership. The conference also focused on the three collaborative projects with the World Health Organization and their associated taskforces on benchmarks in practice, update on the global profession (global survey), and a glossary of osteopathic terms.
Dr Nikole Grbin, Chair