Osteopathy Board of Australia - December 2019
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December 2019

Issue 25 - December 2019

Chair’s message

Nikole Grbin Osteopathy Board chair

As of 1 December, the revised Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019) are in effect. The Australian Osteopathic Accreditation Council is going to revise the accreditation standards for osteopathy programs of study in Australia to incorporate the revised capabilities.

The Board has developed an FAQ to remind osteopaths that practising on animals is not within the scope of the Board’s regulatory role in protecting the public; and working in this area does not count for recency of practice hours. We explain what to do if you wish to remain registered and part of your work and continuing professional development (CPD) involves practising on animals.

This year the Board met registrants in Canberra, Perth and Hobart to discuss a range of regulation topics. This has given Board members and state and territory Ahpra staff an appreciation of the effect of regulation on osteopaths, and equally, we hope that you have been able to learn more about who we are and what we do in regulation.

Some complaints that Ahpra receives can be classed as vexatious, and Ahpra and the National Boards have released a new podcast to explain what these are and how Ahpra deals with these types of notifications. From time to time, the Board receives notifications which relate to disputes between practitioners or are more appropriately dealt with by another entity. If you are unsure about notification we encourage you to speak with Ahpra first or to look at the resources available.

The annual report of 2018/19 shows osteopathy is one of the fastest growing professions in Australia with a 6.6 per cent increase in registrant numbers. Welcome to all the new graduates who have registered and started their career.

At the end of another busy year, I wish everyone a safe and relaxing festive season and holiday period.

Dr Nikole Grbin
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia

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Board news

Capabilities for osteopathic practice

The Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019) (the capabilities) are in effect as of 1 December. They set out the attributes, knowledge and skills required for osteopathic practice in Australia.

Replacing the original 2009 version, the capabilities are the result of an extensive review process and describe the threshold competence for initial and continuing registration as an osteopath in Australia.

The capabilities outline the attributes, knowledge and skills that all osteopaths should be equipped with to practise safely and ethically, and that they should continue to develop throughout their careers. Some significant additions include cultural competence and cultural safety, safe and quality use of medicine, and leadership in educating students, graduates and the public.

The 2019 capabilities specifically acknowledge the need for osteopaths to enhance their individual and institutional knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies to provide optimal healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as determined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, families and communities.

The Board has published a video, Getting to know your revised osteopathy capabilities, and a range of other supporting documents.

These resources can be found on the Capabilities for osteopathic practice page of the Board’s website.

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Animal-based practice and compliance with the National Law

The Board is aware that some osteopaths are including animal-based practice in their chosen scope of practice or attending animal practice-related CPD courses. It is important to understand that the National Law1 relates to humans and not animals, and that you would not meet the requirements of the National Law (e.g. recent practice requirements) if your practice was 100 per cent animal-based. If you do carry out animal practice it is important to make sure that:

  • your insurer knows about all of your practice
  • you adhere to all state and territory laws about the treatment of animals
  • you adhere to the National Law, including that you
    • maintain enough hours of practice on humans
    • meet your professional obligations under the National Law – including the professional indemnity insurance (PII) arrangements and recency of practice registration standards, and
    • complete CPD that is relevant to practice on people.

We have produced an FAQ to explain animal-based practice in further detail and to help you plan your compliance for 2020. If audited on past CPD, you will need to provide information on how the animal-based CPD relates to treating people; and have also done four hours of mandatory topics which relate to the public. All audits are looked at on a case by case basis.

1 The Health Practitioner National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

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Information forums for registrants

The Board started a series of registrant forums with breakfast forums in Canberra, Perth and Hobart this year. These forums were wonderful opportunities to engage directly with registrants and hear about the issues in regulation that are of most interest. As part of the forum, senior Ahpra staff from each of the state offices in those cities presented and were on hand to answer questions.

There was a high turn-out at each event: 16 to 22 osteopaths attended, a significant percentage of the total number of osteopaths registered in each jurisdiction (41 to 66).

We surveyed the participants and will continue to refine our presentation and make sure it is relevant to topical issues. We look forward to meeting many more osteopaths in 2020, so please keep an eye out for the forum announcements and invitations.

Here are photos from the Canberra and Hobart events.

Canberra registrant information forum on 31 May.

Canberra registrant information forum on 31 May.


Hobart forum on 22 November Hobart forum on 22 November.

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Osteopathic International Alliance annual meeting

The Board’s Chair, Dr Nikole Grbin, attended the annual Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) meeting in Bad Nauheim near Frankfurt, from 4 to 6 October 2019, joining attendees from osteopathic organisations and education institutions from around the world.

Osteopathy regulation, education, research and association leadership were the main themes of this year’s conference, which also gave regulators the chance to discuss areas of mutual interest including common regulatory functions and emerging issues.

The conference also focused on the strategic objectives of the World Health Organisation Traditional Medicine Strategy (2014-2023), which are supported by the OIA. These three collaborative projects and their associated task forces are: benchmarks in practice; update on the global profession (global survey); and glossary of osteopathic terms. You can read more about them on the OIA website.

 Board Chair Nikole Grbin and Tim Friedlander at the OIA conference

Board Chair Nikole Grbin and Tim Friedlander, Chair of the  Osteopathic Council of New Zealand, at the OIA conference.

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Osteopathy regulation at work: Protecting the public in 2018/19

A profession-specific statistical summary and a report from the Chair that covers the work of the Osteopathy Board of Australia over the 12 months to 30 June 2019 is now available online.

The summary draws on data from the 2018/19 annual report of Ahpra and the National Boards, which you can read in full.

The osteopathy summary provides a snapshot of the profession as at 30 June 2019, and includes the number of applications for registration, outcomes of practitioner audits and segmentation of the registrant base by gender and age.

The summary also includes extensive notifications information, including numbers, types and sources of complaints, mandatory notifications, criminal offence complaints and more.

Profession-specific data tables are also available for downloading.

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Renew your registration before the late period ends

Have you renewed your registration yet? The late period for registration renewal is available until 31 December. The quickest and easiest way to renew is online.

If your application for renewal is received during the one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is processed.

If you do not apply to renew your registration by 31 December 2019 your registration will lapse. You will be removed from the Register of Osteopaths and will not be able to practise your profession in Australia.

Renewal applications received in December will incur a late payment fee in addition to the annual renewal fee. See the fees schedule on the Board’s website.

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National Scheme news

Podcast on vexatious notifications/complaints

Ahpra’s first podcast is about vexatious notifications. The podcast explains what vexatious claims are and how Ahpra identifies and responds to them. It also looks at the impact they have on practitioners and what Ahpra is doing to manage these types of notifications.

Guests featured on the podcast include:

  • Associate Professor Marie Bismark from the University of Melbourne
  • Kate Griggs, a health consumer advocate and member of the Consumer Reference Group
  • Dr Sara Bird, manager of medico-legal and advisory services at MDA National, and
  • Matthew Hardy, Ahpra’s National Director of Notifications.

This is the first podcast in a new series for the ‘Taking care’ channel, Ahpra’s new podcast channel that will be launched in February 2020. Future episodes will discuss current issues, address regulation myths and answer important questions about what Ahpra and the National Boards are doing to protect the public and support the safe delivery of healthcare in Australia.

You can listen to the podcast on Ahpra’s Podcasts page.

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Health practitioners encouraged to seek advice about their own health

An important part of being a health professional is getting the healthcare you need, without fearing a mandatory notification.

Mandatory notifications are a part of the National Law and set out obligations for registered health practitioners, employers and education providers. These obligations aim to protect the public by ensuring that Ahpra and the National Boards are made aware of practitioners who may be placing the public at serious risk of harm.

Currently, registered health practitioners, including treating practitioners, and employers need to notify Ahpra if they reasonably believe another registered health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes ‘notifiable conduct’. Notifiable concerns have a specific meaning under the National Law.

There are four concerns that may trigger a mandatory notification, depending on the risk of harm to the public:

  • impairment
  • intoxication while practising
  • significant departure from accepted professional standards, and
  • sexual misconduct.

A health practitioner’s physical or mental health issue rarely needs a mandatory notification.

Having a health issue is not in itself a reason to make a mandatory notification. If a practitioner has taken steps to deal with it, such as taking time away from work, or is engaged in an effective treatment plan, we don’t need to know about it. Ahpra and National Boards recognise that there may be times when health practitioners need professional advice about their own health, and we encourage them to get that support. Practitioners should seek advice without worrying about a mandatory notification being made about them.

Changes to mandatory notifications

Early this year, Health Ministers agreed to make changes to mandatory notifications requirements in the National Law and the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (Qld) (the Bill) was passed by the Queensland Parliament in February 2019.

The changes only apply to treating practitioners and intend to support practitioners to seek advice for a health issue (including mental health issues), while continuing to protect the public. This is because the circumstances for treating practitioners to make mandatory notifications are more limited than they are for other groups.

Under these National Law amendments, three of the four types of conduct (impairment, intoxication and practice outside of professional standards), which may lead to a mandatory notification, will have the same threshold for mandatory notifications by treating practitioners. It is: substantial risk of harm. A substantial risk of harm is a very high threshold for reporting risk of harm to the public.

When the amendments take effect in early 2020, they will apply in all states and territories except Western Australia, where mandatory notification requirements will not change.

Find out more, download resources and access the current guidelines for mandatory notifications by going to www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications/mandatorynotifications

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Social media guide for health practitioners

Ahpra and National Boards have published a new guide to help registered health practitioners understand and meet their obligations when using social media.

The guide reminds practitioners that when interacting online, they should maintain professional standards and be aware of the implications of their actions, just as when they interact in person.

The guide does not stop practitioners from engaging online or via social media; instead, it encourages practitioners to act ethically and professionally in any setting.

To help practitioners meet their obligations, the guide also outlines some common pitfalls practitioners may encounter when using social media.

Community trust in registered health practitioners is essential. Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health practitioners have a responsibility to behave ethically and to maintain professional standards, as in all professional circumstances.

In using social media, health practitioners should be aware of their obligations under the National Law, their Board’s Code of conduct, the Advertising guidelines and other relevant legislation, such as privacy legislation.

This guide replaces the Social media policy on Boards’ codes, guidelines and policies pages and is available in the Advertising resources section of Ahpra’s website. The guide will be updated as needed.

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Social research results: understanding perceptions about the National Scheme’s work

Ahpra and National Boards have released results from a social research project aimed at helping Ahpra and National Boards understand perceptions about their work.

The aim of the social research project to better understand what the community, regulated health professions and our stakeholders think and feel about Ahpra and the Boards particularly in areas of understanding, confidence and trust.

Ahpra and National Boards are using insights gained from the project to better understand how registered health practitioners view what they do and to inform how they can improve our engagement with both the professions and the community.

Ahpra has released a report of results from the project which included a short, anonymous survey of a random sample of registered practitioners from across regulated health professions.

The anonymous survey of practitioners was done simultaneously with an anonymous survey sent to a random sample of members of the public across communities in Australia. Both surveys were managed by an independent consultant. We invite you to take a look at the results. The social research results, including a report specific to the Osteopathy Board of Australia, are published on the Board’s website.

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Updated logos for Ahpra and National Boards

Ahpra and the 15 National Boards are in the tenth year of implementing the National Scheme.

The National Scheme started in July 2010, initially regulating 10 health professions. Since 2012, five more health professions have joined the scheme, the latest being paramedics in December 2018. (Nursing and midwifery were officially recognised as separate professions under amendments to the National Law last year.) We now regulate over 744,000 practitioners across 16 health professions.

This growth in the number of regulated health professions was pivotal to refreshing the Ahpra logo, which also lists the National Boards and is used to represent the National Scheme.

The bold but simple design of the new Ahpra logo aims to serve us well into the future. It still has a key element of the old logo, namely the map of Australia, but is better suited to digital platforms (websites, social media) and for use across a variety of other materials.

Most importantly, it will not need updating as the old logo would if Health Ministers decide public safety would benefit from other health professions becoming regulated.

The National Board logos reflect the ongoing partnership between the National Boards and Ahpra in our shared role of protecting the public.

Both logo designs also include ‘AHPRA’, now with just an initial capital: ‘Ahpra’. This helps people to pronounce our name correctly and distinguishes us from other regulators with similar acronyms.

The new logos will be rolled out over coming months.

As we say goodbye to the old logos and welcome the new, thanks for your patience while we complete this transition.

Osteopathy Board and Ahpra logo.



Ahpra & National boards logo

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit www.osteopathyboard.gov.au for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ. 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 the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 8708 9001 (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