Osteopathy Board of Australia - 2018/19 annual summary
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2018/19 annual summary

Osteopathy 2018/19

Snapshot of the profession

  • 2,546 osteopaths
  • Up 6.6% from 2017/18
  • 0.3% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.7% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 54.7% female; 45.3% male


Under 25 years old: 3.4%, 25-34 years old: 37.9%, 35-44 years old: 32.3%, 45-54 years old: 14.3%, 55-64 years old: 7.7%, 65-74 years old: 3.6%, Over 75 years old: 0.7%

Audit outcomes

Audit outcomes pie chart

  • 88.7% compliant: fully compliant with the registration standards
  • 5.2% compliant (education): compliant through education in one or more standards
  • 1.0% non-compliant: non-compliant with one or more standards
  • 5.2% no audit action required: during the audit period, practitioners changed their registration type to non-practising, elected to surrender their registration or failed to renew their registration

Regulating the profession

  • 19 notifications lodged with AHPRA1
  • Australia-wide, including Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) in NSW and Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland data, 30 registered osteopaths – or 1.2% – had notifications made about them
  • 17 notifications closed
    • 29.4% had conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted
    • 17.6% received a caution or reprimand
    • 52.9% no further action taken
  • No immediate action was taken
  • 5 mandatory notifications received
    • 1 about professional standards
  • 9 osteopaths monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 9 cases were being monitored at 30 June
    • 1 on the grounds of conduct
    • 1 for health reasons
    • 2 for performance
    • 2 prohibited practitioner/student
    • 3 for suitability/eligibility for registration
  • 11 criminal offence complaints were made and 2 closed
    • 6 new matters related to title protection
    • 5 to advertising breaches
  • Matters decided by a tribunal: 0
  • Matters decided by a panel: 0
  • Decisions appealed: 0

1Unless stated otherwise, all notification data is AHPRA data.

Sources of notifications: 42.1% Patient, relative or member of the public, 21.1% Other practitioner, 15.8% Board’s own motion, 10.5% Employer, 5.3% Government department, 5.3% Self

Most common types of complaint: 21.1% Clinical care, 15.8% Offence against other law, 15.8% Documentation, 15.8% Health impairment, 10.5% Boundary violation, 21.1% Other

A report on the year from the Chair

The work of the Osteopathy Board of Australia this year built on key initiatives from the previous year and a program of stakeholder engagement and communication.

Capabilities for practice

The Board published the revised Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019) with a six-month transition period until the date of commencement on 1 December 2019.

The Board wishes to thank the accreditation council, osteopathy stakeholders, the project team and many registrants who have been involved in the development of this important document for the profession.

Registrant information forums

The Board started a series of registrant forums with a breakfast forum in Canberra in May 2019 with the opportunity to engage with registrants and hear about the issues that are of most interest regarding regulation.


The Board produced four electronic newsletters sent to registrants through the year, and these provide updates to the profession on changes to the Board and AHPRA’s requirements, and the work of the Board. The newsletters continue to have a high level of readership. One article in December 2018 celebrated the 40th anniversary of regulation of osteopaths in Australia, and the article looked back at the significant changes in regulation from 1978 to the present day.

To recognise the contribution of registered osteopaths in healthcare during International Osteopathy Awareness Week from 14 to 20 April 2019, the Board communicated with registrants on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. The Board also used social media to promote the publication of revised Capabilities for osteopathic practice in June 2019.

Accreditation agreement

The Board, the Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC) and AHPRA signed a new five-year accreditation agreement starting 1 July 2019.

The new accreditation agreement will provide the public with greater transparency and accountability and will contribute to work across the National Scheme to improve public protection. The agreement also includes principles for funding and fee setting and new key performance indicators to track progress on priority issues.

Stakeholder engagement

The Board has carried out a range of engagements with stakeholders.

As Chair, I presented information on regulation and Board requirements for registration to final-year students in the osteopathy programs.

Following on from finalisation of a draft Capabilities for osteopathic practice, the Board conducted targeted consultation with stakeholders in a roundtable discussion in November 2018 in Melbourne and by email in early 2019. This represented the final stage of consultation and the Board appreciated the opportunity to talk directly with future users of the revised Capabilities for osteopathic practice.

During Research Summit 2019, the Board met with the Chair of the AOAC and the Chair and Registrar of the Osteopathic Council of New Zealand to discuss issues of mutual interest.

The Board’s Chair and Executive Officer attended the annual Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) meeting in Dubai, in September 2018. The conference focused on osteopathy regulation, education, research and association leadership. It was an opportunity to meet with regulators to discuss issues of mutual interest, including common regulatory functions, emerging issues, and to meet informally with attendees from osteopathic organisations and education institutions.

Board members

In November, the Board welcomed four new members who were appointed to the Board by the Ministerial Council in October: Ms Julia Duffy and Mr Joshua Hatten, community members, and Drs Kate Locke and Patricia Thomas, practitioner members. Induction and governance training was provided in the following months. My term as Chair was also extended by a further two years.

Dr Nikole Grbin (osteopath), Chair

Page reviewed 12/11/2020