July 2021

Issue 31 - July 2021


Chair’s message

Nikole Grbin Osteopathy Board chair

The National Boards and Ahpra have released a joint statement reminding health practitioners, including osteopaths, that there is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. We strongly and explicitly condemn this behaviour by all registered health practitioners.

The osteopathy accreditation standards have been revised by the Australian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC) and approved by the Board and will soon be published. We also welcome changes that have been made recently by the AOAC to the Board’s Standard Pathway Assessment for overseas trained practitioners.

Congratulations to Anne Cooper who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours for services to osteopathy. Anne is a former member of the Osteopathy Board of Australia and past President of the Osteopathy Council of NSW. In May we farewelled Patricia Thomas and thanked her for her valuable contribution to the Board since 2018 and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

Dr Nikole Grbin
Osteopath
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia

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Board news

Accreditation standards approved

The revised Osteopathic accreditation standards (2021) were approved by the Board in June. Over the past ten months the Australian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC) consulted in three stages and received almost 30 submissions from individual practitioners and stakeholders. The AOAC also developed an Essential Evidence guide and presented the Osteopathic accreditation standards to the Board for approval.

The revised standards will soon be published. The major changes are:

  • adopting a five-domain framework
  • including English language proficiency as a requirement for entry to an education program, and
  • increasing emphasis on cultural safety which is integrated throughout the revised standards.

The AOAC is the accreditation authority responsible for developing accreditation standards, accrediting education providers and programs of study. Accreditation functions are defined in the National Law1 and include:

  • developing accreditation standards and recommending them to the relevant National Board for approval
  • accrediting and monitoring education providers and programs of study to ensure that graduates are provided with the knowledge, skills and professional attributes to safely practise the profession in Australia
  • giving advice to National Boards about issues relating to their accreditation functions
  • assessing overseas qualified practitioners, and
  • assessing overseas accrediting authorities.

The first three functions are core functions carried out by all accreditation authorities. Some accreditation authorities also carry out one or both of the other two functions.

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

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Assessments for overseas trained osteopaths reviewed

One of the above functions the AOAC carries out is assessing the qualifications of overseas-trained osteopaths who are seeking general registration as an osteopath in Australia and who don’t hold an approved qualification.

The AOAC recently reviewed the Standard Pathway Assessment for Registration in Australia (SPA) and the changes were approved by the Board. The revised Standard Pathway Assessment contains the following newly formatted assessments and examinations which have greater alignment to contemporary assessment practices and are more accessible for candidates to undertake.

  1. Desktop assessment
  2. Written examination
  3. Online practical assessment
  4. Face to face practical assessment
  5. Open-book examination

Further information about these assessments is on the AOAC website.

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We want to hear from you on the shared Code of conduct

Have your say on the shared Code of conduct (the code) which sets out the expected professional behaviour and conduct for pharmacists and promotes safe care to help protect the public.

The Osteopathy Board of Australia, along with 11 other National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra), is reviewing the shared code and wants to hear from people who use it or have an interest in it. Your feedback will help to make the updated code more relevant to practitioners and better able to protect the public.

The Board is reviewing the code to make sure it stays up to date and is a useful tool for practitioners.

While not making major changes, the updated code includes new guidance about:

  • bullying and harassment
  • vexatious complaints
  • clinical governance, and
  • setting performance targets that could affect patient safety.

There’s also new content on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety.

Public consultation is open until 6 July 2021. We invite health practitioners, anyone who sees a health practitioner, education providers and employers to have their say.

The review documents are available on Ahpra’s Consultations page.

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Your obligations to tell the Board about certain events

There are times when osteopaths are obliged to tell the Board about certain events. These are called ‘relevant events’ and are set out in section 130 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law). You must tell us within seven days if:

  • you have been charged or convicted of certain offences
  • you no longer have professional indemnity insurance
  • your right to practise at a facility, your Medicare billing rights or your prescribing rights are withdrawn or restricted
  • your registration in another country is restricted, suspended or cancelled, or
  • a complaint is made about you to certain organisations such as Medicare or a health department.

There are slightly different requirements for students, who must tell us within seven days if:

  • they have been charged or convicted of certain offences, or
  • their registration as a student in another country is restricted, suspended or cancelled.

A full list of the ‘relevant events’ that registered osteopaths and students are obliged to tell us about is included in the Notice of certain events form published on the Common forms page.

You must also tell us within 30 days about any changes to your:

  • principal place of practice
  • contact address, and/or
  • name.

To update your address and contact details log into your Ahpra account, or if the change of personal details includes a name change, use the Request for change of personal details form on the Common forms page.

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National Scheme news

No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards have published a joint statement, No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare to remind practitioners of their professional obligations and encourage speaking up about disrespectful behaviour and unprofessional conduct in healthcare.

Respect is a cornerstone of good, professional practice and it is fundamental to the Australian community’s trust in registered health practitioners.

‘Speaking up when we see or experience disrespectful behaviour and addressing it helps build a culture of respect that supports patient safety,’ Ahpra CEO, Martin Fletcher, said.

There is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. Ahpra and National Boards explicitly condemn this behaviour by registered health practitioners.
National Boards’ expectations of practitioner conduct and respectful, professional behaviour, including maintaining appropriate professional boundaries, are set out in National Board codes of conduct (or equivalent).

Practitioners must always treat patients, consumers, students, employees and colleagues with respect. They must always communicate professionally and respectfully with and about others, including when using social media.

You can read the full statement here.

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Promotion of COVID-19 vaccinations: further information

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Ahpra have released a joint statement about the promotion of COVID-19 vaccinations and responsibilities practitioners and others have under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law) when advertising a regulated health service.

On 7 June 2021, the TGA issued updated guidance regarding the promotion of approved COVID-19 vaccines to clarify the way health practitioners and others can communicate to the public about COVID-19 vaccines.

This updated guidance gives health practitioners greater flexibility to openly discuss vaccination and allows offers of reward to be made to those fully vaccinated under the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

More information

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Pandemic sub-register extended  

Ahpra and National Boards have extended the support available from retired nurses, doctors and other registered health practitioners on the pandemic response sub-register for a further 12 months from early April. This was done in response to a request by the Australian Government.

The decision for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses and pharmacists to remain on the sub-register was made to provide additional support for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

The sub-register will be extended for eligible practitioners until 5 April 2022. Practitioners on the extended sub-register will be limited to helping with the vaccination rollout.

For further details, read the news item.

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Improvements made to notifier confidentiality safeguards

All improvements recommended in the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman’s (NHPO) Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners have now been implemented or are underway.

The NHPO recommendations to strengthen Ahpra’s policies, guidance, communications and systems to further mitigate risk of harm to notifiers have now been implemented. These include:

  • updating relevant policies to reflect that possible confidentiality safeguards for the notifier will be considered when assessing each new notification
  • publishing an updated privacy policy and collection statement to clarify how personal information will be used and disclosed, and
  • providing new guidance to staff about how to safeguard confidentiality, including in relation to redacting a notifier’s information and sharing a notifier’s information with the relevant practitioner.

As part of this work, we also recognised the importance of procedural fairness for practitioners. Following consultation with professional associations and professional indemnity providers, we have published a new guide for staff to help them manage complaints which may have insufficient detail to allow practitioners to respond meaningfully.

We have also published a vexatious notifications framework and introduced new training for staff in how to identify and manage vexatious complaints.

For more information, read the news item.

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Guidance on reflective practice reports

New guidance is now available for practitioners who are subject to education or mentoring conditions as part of their registration.

The new guidance: Information sheet – Reflective reports (Education) and Information sheet – Reflective reports (Mentoring) is published under the Monitoring and Compliance section on the Ahpra website.

‘This new guidance will make it easier for practitioners to draft a reflective practice report to the satisfaction of the relevant Board,’ Ahpra’s National Director of Compliance, Jason McHeyzer, said.

The guidance on developing a reflective report is endorsed by the Osteopathy Board.

National Boards have also approved a new form for review of conditions of undertakings (form ARCD-00) which is published on the Registration Common Forms page. Ahpra is also developing guidance for practitioners on the information required by National Boards when considering applications to change or remove conditions or undertakings.

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Check out the latest podcasts

Ahpra hosts conversations and interviews with people in our community. We discuss current issues, address myths and common questions, and think about what we can do to best protect the public and support the safe provision of healthcare in Australia.

The Taking care podcast series offers professional and consumer perspectives on current issues and answers some frequently asked questions about public safety in healthcare. Ahpra releases a new Taking care episode fortnightly.

Download and listen to the latest Taking care episode today. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

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Alert

Information for practitioners on voluntary assisted dying law in Western Australia

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (WA) (the Act) will be proclaimed and come into full effect from 1 July 2021. Registered health practitioners need to be aware of the Act and its requirements. There are some provisions that are relevant to all registered health practitioners (and healthcare workers) and some provisions that are more specifically relevant to medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and paramedics.

Resources have been developed by the WA Department of Health and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Leadership Team in collaboration with stakeholders. These are available at:

https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/voluntaryassisteddying and include the WA Voluntary Assisted Dying Guidelines.

The following resource provides a starting point for health practitioners in understanding their obligations, responsibilities and protections under the Act:

For further information, visit the website.

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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 6/07/2021