Osteopathy Board of Australia - April 2021
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April 2021

Issue 30 - April 2021

Chair’s message

Nikole Grbin Osteopathy Board chair

Welcome to our new osteopathy graduates who have applied for registration since November. We continue to be one of the fastest growing professions. By April 2021 there are over 2,900 registrants, and we have doubled our numbers in the past decade. For those interested in the changes, we have published growth and attrition data for the last 10 years.

We are pleased to announce that Paul Orrock and Andrew Yaksich have been reappointed by Health Ministers to the Board for a further three years. The communique announcing National Board appointments following the February 2020 recruitment campaign has been published on the Ahpra website.

Dr Nikole Grbin
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia

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Board news

International Osteopathic Healthcare Week

The 2021 International Osteopathic Healthcare Week will be held from 2 to 8 May 2021. The message this year will be: ’Osteopathy moving you forward’.

Please look out next month for our promotional social media messages, video and news items. Other stakeholders in Australia will also be reaching out to osteopaths to celebrate this important week. We encourage you to publicise it in your own way at work and you have a few weeks to prepare.

The health week is organised by the international organisation, the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) and they have developed resources and have a website to share the celebrations worldwide. Due to COVID-19 the International Osteopathic Healthcare Week was cancelled last year.

The Board is a member of the OIA. A number of Australians have contributed to the work of the OIA over the years by holding Board of Director positions, working on projects, being members of committees, and contributing papers and presentations to the annual conference.

The OIA Global Report: Global review of osteopathic medicine and osteopathy 2020 is a recent important project which builds on the 2013 Global Report. We urge you to read and recommend it to others within and outside of osteopathy. It can be used to explain osteopathy and osteopathic medicine to those unfamiliar with them, including health and governmental authorities, patients, students and other health professionals.

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Registration renewal wrap-up: CPD, ROP, and impairment declarations

Another successful registration renewal period has passed, marking 10 years of annual renewal under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme). Online renewal is the easiest way to renew and since 2011 the number of practitioners who renew online has risen from 82 per cent to 97 per cent. Thanks to everyone who renewed their application on time, and especially to those of you who got in early. Responding to the early email reminders to renew ensures plenty of time for your application to be assessed and for you to be contacted if follow-up is needed.

CPD and ROP requirements during COVID-19

The Board understands that some practitioners had trouble meeting the continuing professional development (CPD) and recency of practice (ROP) requirements in 2020 because of the national COVID-19 emergency.

If you declared in your 2020 renewal that you didn’t meet the CPD and/or ROP requirements because of COVID-19, there is no further action you need to take.

Return to normal for continuing professional development (CPD)

The Board is aware that there are many CPD activities that are COVID-safe options and many CPD programs and providers have now adapted their programs to be COVID-safe.

In 2021 we expect osteopaths to meet the requirements set out in the Board’s CPD registration standard, including the first aid requirement. If you were unable to meet this requirement in 2020, we encourage you to ensure your first aid training is current as soon as possible now that training organisations are offering first aid programs.

The CPD guidelines include a range of activities that you can do to maintain competence, develop professionally and improve the quality of care you provide within your scope of practice and within a COVID-safe environment.

Some examples of the types of CPD activities include:

  • online learning and internet research
  • written reflections on experience in day-to-day clinical practice
  • reading books, publications and journals relevant to your practice
  • quality assurance activities, such as accreditation, clinical audits or review of records, and
  • online professional or interprofessional interactions such as meetings, case reviews and clinical forums.

Impairment – when to declare

When renewing their registration, some practitioners are making declarations about impairments that we don’t need to know about. It’s only impairments that may detrimentally affect your ability to practise that you must declare.

Impairment means any physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence), that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect your ability to safely practise the profession.

You don’t need to include such things as wearing glasses or temporary injuries like a sprained wrist or ankle. If you’re unsure about whether your impairment should be declared, do let us know when you renew.

If you do have an impairment that either detrimentally affects or you think is likely to detrimentally affect your ability to practise, you must tell us about it and about what you’re doing to manage it. You should provide documents outlining your current diagnosis and/or treatment plan and a statement from your treating health practitioner confirming your current fitness to practise.

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Graduating mid-year? Apply online!

Osteopathy students who graduate mid-year can apply online up to three months before they’re due to complete their course (including any placements). If that applies to you, check out the very helpful video and information on the Ahpra website Graduate applications page. Applying early helps ensure there are no delays and allows time for follow-up if anything is missing from your application.

Growth and attrition workforce data published

An in-depth view of Australian osteopathy workforce information extracted from registration data held by Ahpra is now published on both the Board’s website (on the Statistics page) and on Ahpra’s website under previous data requests. If using the information in a publication you must cite Ahpra as the source and provide an advance copy to the Osteopathy Board’s Executive Officer at Ahpra to review. Contact details are provided on our website and at the end of this newsletter.

The Board Chair and Executive Officer have participated in regular Osteopathy Think Tank meetings in 2020 with stakeholders. All participants have shared a range of information on updates and projects related to education, clinical supervision, accreditation, profession development, COVID-19 responses and data. Participants have shown renewed interest in our registration data and we are pleased to share it more widely.

Latest registration data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period 31 October to 31 December 2020. At that date, there were 2,921 registered osteopaths nationally. Of these, 2,784 had general registration, five had provisional registration and 132 had non-practising registration.

For further data breakdowns by age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page.

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Consultation by AOAC – feedback welcome

The Australian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC) is reviewing the Accreditation standards for osteopathic courses in Australia and welcomes consultation submissions from osteopaths. These accreditation standards are used to assess and accredit programs of study leading to registration as an osteopath in Australia.

Further information on the review is available on the AOAC website. The consultation will close on Monday 10 May 2021.

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National Scheme news

Reminder to check your advertising: auditing has started

Responsible advertising about regulated health services helps to keep the public safe from false or misleading claims and supports the public to make informed choices about their healthcare.

Make sure you check your advertising to ensure it complies with advertising requirements of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law).

When applying to renew their registration in 2020, health practitioners were asked to declare that, if they advertise, their advertising meets the advertising requirements of the National Law. Ahpra is now auditing compliance.

We recently began this proactive audit to supplement our complaints-driven approach. Non-compliant advertising will be addressed under the Advertising Compliance and Enforcement Strategy.

The updated Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service are available to help practitioners and other advertisers understand their obligations when advertising a regulated health service.

A range of other resources are also available at the Advertising hub on the Ahpra website to help the public, practitioners and other advertisers understand the advertising requirements of the National Law. These include examples, frequently asked questions and additional information about acceptable evidence and testimonials.

We know health practitioners want to do the right thing and advertise responsibly. We encourage you to use the resources and information available to help ensure your advertising complies with the National Law.

Need more advice?

If you need advice about whether your advertising complies with the National Law, you may wish to seek this from your professional association, an independent legal adviser or indemnity insurer.

Ahpra and the National Boards cannot give advice or an opinion about advertising and cannot check or pre-approve advertising to see if it complies with the National Law and the advertising guidelines. This is because as statutory regulators our role is to enforce the law, not to provide legal advice to advertisers about how to advertise.

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Consultation on revised regulatory principles: have your say

The National Boards and Ahpra are seeking feedback on revised regulatory principles for the National Scheme.

The regulatory principles encourage a responsive, risk-based approach to regulation across all professions within the National Scheme. They also acknowledge the importance of community confidence and working with the professions to achieve good outcomes.

The draft revised regulatory principles reflect two recent policy directions issued by the COAG Health Council which provide a clear mandate to the National Boards and Ahpra to prioritise public protection in the work of the National Scheme.

We want the public to have trust and confidence in regulated health practitioners and to know that their safety is at the heart of everything we do in the National Scheme. The revised principles reinforce that public protection is the paramount objective.

The consultation is open until 18 May 2021. Feedback is invited from practitioners, stakeholders and the community.

Find out more about how to make a submission on the Consultations page on the Ahpra website.

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Registered practitioners and students: What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccination

The National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) have published a joint statement to help registered health practitioners and students understand what’s expected of them in giving, receiving and advising on and sharing information about COVID-19 vaccination.

Key points

Registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, and we commend them for this sustained public health response. As the national vaccination program gets underway, registered health practitioners and students remain critical to this success by:

  • being vaccinated against COVID-19 unless medically contraindicated
  • being appropriately qualified and trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines if authorised, and
  • providing accurate information and advice about COVID-19 vaccination including in social media and advertising.

The statement should be read in conjunction with the standards, codes, guidelines, position statements and other guidance. The Code of conduct explains the public health obligations of registered health practitioners, including participating in efforts to promote the health of the community and meeting obligations on disease prevention.

There is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional health practice, and any promotion of anti-vaccination claims, including on social media and in advertising, may result in regulatory action. See the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service for further advice.

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Podcast: Chief Health Officers Brett Sutton and Jeannette Young in the spotlight

Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series has a new episode. Talking to host Susan Biggar, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Adjunct Professor Brett Sutton, and Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, speak openly about their experience of leading during a pandemic, how they coped, and the impact on them and their families.

Brett Sutton speaks about the heavy burden of decision-making with such far-reaching consequences and the importance of his own family and other support mechanisms he relied on to handle the huge pressures. Jeannette Young discusses the fact that there was no rule book, the importance of her husband’s early retirement to support her and how she managed death threats. 

Despite the intensity and seriousness of their work, both could see the lighter side of their unexpected celebrity status, a consequence of the unavoidable media spotlight.

Ahpra releases a new Taking care episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on SpotifyApple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

Victorian CHO Prof Brett Sutton

Dr Jeanette Young, CHO Qld



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Ahpra rolls out cultural safety training for staff and boards

A key objective of the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 is to embed cultural safety in the National Scheme and the health system. A new, online and face-to-face education and training program for all Ahpra staff, board and committee members has begun state by state, starting in our Tasmanian office in Hobart.

The Moong-moong-gak Cultural Safety Training program is designed to provide members of the National Scheme with the knowledge, skills and abilities to develop and apply culturally safe work practices as these relate to their role as part of the National Scheme.

The program gives participants an opportunity to hear and learn from the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and to reflect on their own behaviours, and their conscious and unconscious beliefs. Upon completion of the program, participants will be better prepared to engage in culturally safe practices, communication and behaviour, in order to contribute to more effective service delivery and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The cultural safety training will contribute to Ahpra employees’, Board members’ and practitioners’ ongoing critical reflection on their knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in providing safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism.

We want all our people to embrace the training with an open mind and the ability to learn and unlearn!

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New accreditation committee to be established

Ahpra will establish a new, independently chaired committee to consider key accreditation issues, in response to a new policy direction from the Health Council.

The new committee will have broad stakeholder membership to give independent and expert advice on accreditation reform issues to Ahpra’s Agency Management Committee. The new committee will replace Ahpra’s Accreditation Advisory Committee set up in 2020.

The Independent Review of Accreditation Systems (ASR) Final Report, Australia’s health workforce: strengthening the education foundation, recommended that Health Ministers issue the policy direction.

Ahpra and the National Boards welcomed the policy direction, which requires Ahpra, the National Boards and accreditation authorities to consider the new committee’s advice when exercising their functions under the National Law.

Under the policy direction, Ahpra, National Boards and accreditation authorities must document the outcome of their consideration of the new committee’s advice in meeting minutes, communiqués or other relevant formats.

Ahpra and National Boards will continue to work collaboratively with accreditation authorities through the Accreditation Liaison Group and the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum.

The policy direction can be viewed on the Ahpra website.

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Ahpra’s new framework for dealing with vexatious notifications

What is known about vexatious complaints?

In 2017 Ahpra commissioned independent research that took the first international look at vexatious (unfounded) complaints. The report, Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints, found that vexatious complaints account for less than one per cent of notifications received, and that there is greater risk of people not reporting concerns than of people making truly vexatious complaints.

The report also noted that being on the receiving end of any notification is a distressing experience for any health practitioner. Regulators need to have good processes for dealing with unfounded complaints quickly and fairly.

Ahpra’s vexatious complaints framework

Following recommendations made in the report, Ahpra developed A framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications for staff and regulatory decision-makers. This will help us identify and manage potentially vexatious notifications. The framework outlines:

  • the principles and features, significant impacts and potential indicators of vexatious notifications
  • how to identify vexatious notifications, and
  • what to do where there is a concern that a notification is vexatious.

We understand that practitioners who feel that they may be the subject of a vexatious notification are more likely to experience stress and anxiety. Our staff are equipped to identify and support these practitioners and to implement management strategies set out in our framework when a concern about vexatiousness is raised with us.

Need more help or information?

Our staff are here to help you before, during or after the notifications process. We encourage you to visit our General support services page where you can find the contact details for additional support services. You can also listen to Episode 1: Vexatious notifications, Taking care, Ahpra’s podcast and visit our Concerns about practitioners page for more information about notifications and links to the report and framework.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit www.osteopathyboard.gov.au for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs. Visiting the website regularly is the best way to stay in touch with news and updates from the Board.
  • Lodge an enquiry form via the website by following the Enquiries link on every web page under Contact us.
  • For registration enquiries, call Ahpra on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 8708 9010 (for overseas callers).
  • To update your contact details, see important emails about registration renewal and get other Board updates, log in to the Ahpra portal using your User ID and password.
  • Address mail correspondence to: Dr Nikole Grbin, Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 26/09/2022