Osteopathy Board of Australia - 2019/20 annual summary
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2019/20 annual summary

Snapshot of the profession

  • 2,753 osteopaths
    • Up 8.1% from 2018/19
    • 0.3% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.7% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 54.3% female; 45.7% male


Age: 3.6% < 25, 39.3% 25-34, 30.6% 35-44, 14.8% 45-54, 7.1% 55-64, 3.9% 65-74, 0.6% > 75

Audit outcomes

Audit: 87.0% fully compliant, 10.0% compliant (through education), 1.0% non-compliant, 2.0% no audit action required

Regulating the profession


  • 21 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 29 registered osteopaths Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them 
    • 1.1% of the profession 

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: 47.6% patient, relative or member of the public, 14.3% other practitioner, 4.8% employer, 4.8% HCE, 4.8% Board’s own motion, 23.8% other

  • 2 immediate actions taken
  • 2 mandatory notifications received 
    • both about professional standards

Most common types of complaint

Most common types of complaint: 28.6% clinical care, 19.0% boundary violation, 14.3% breach of non-offence provision National Law, 9.5% offence against other law, 4.8% behaviour, 23.8% other

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 15 notifications closed (6.7% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 6.7% received a caution or reprimand, 20.0% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 66.7% no further action)


  • 9 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year 
  • 8 cases being monitored at 30 June: 
    • 1 for conduct
    • 3 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 4 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 7 criminal offence complaints made 
    • 5 about title protection
    • 2 about advertising breaches
  • 13 were closed

Referrals to an adjudication body

  • No matters decided by a tribunal
  • No matters decided by a panel
  • No appeals

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

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. 

Regulatory response to 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.

Policy updates

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.

Standards and guidelines

The Board carried out joint public consultation with other National Boards on the:

  • proposed Supervised practice framework
  • review of the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service
  • review of the Guidelines for mandatory notifications.

This year, the Board was involved in the release of the following guidelines with other Boards:

  • Mandatory notifications about registered health practitioners
  • Mandatory notifications about registered students.

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.

Stakeholder engagement


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

Page reviewed 22/11/2021