Osteopathy Board of Australia - June 2019
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June 2019

Issue 23 - June 2019

Chair’s message

Nikole Grbin Osteopathy Board chairWe are pleased to announce the publication of the Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019), which has been a significant project for the Board. There will be a period of transition and the date of effect is 1 December 2019. Capabilities apply to us all, so it’s important that you know what they mean for you and your practice. A range of resources are available on the Board’s website under Codes and guidelines and we encourage you to review and reflect on this material.

AHPRA will audit a random sample of practitioners in the next couple of months. There are plenty of resources available on our audit webpage to help you to prepare and comply. I urge you all to keep up the good rate of compliance.

Our program of registrant forums during 2019 kicked off in Canberra in May with ACT registered osteopaths joining us for a light breakfast and to learn about the Board’s work. The Board will be travelling to Perth in August and Hobart in November to meet with registrants to discuss issues relating to regulation.

Dr Nikole Grbin
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia

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Board news

Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019)

Capabilities for osteopathic practice

Capabilities for osteopathic practice 2019 The Board has published the new Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019) (the capabilities) which will take effect from 1 December 2019. In the meantime, the current Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2009) apply. We have developed an FAQ about the transition period for osteopaths, educators and supervisors/supervisees to provide time to familiarise yourselves with the upcoming change.

The capabilities outline the professional behaviours that all osteopaths should demonstrate to practise safely and ethically. These capabilities apply to all osteopaths whether you are working in research, education, management or a role that may not involve direct care.

The capabilities describe the minimum threshold level of professional competence required for initial and continuing registration as an osteopath in Australia. They provide the framework for assessing student and practitioner competence.

Education providers develop work ready practitioners and in doing so, assure Australia’s health workforce of a continuing supply of qualified and capable osteopaths. Their role is to ensure graduates from an approved program have the knowledge, skills and professional attributes necessary for safe and competent practice in Australia.

In some cases, a registered osteopath will be required to do supervised practice as part of the requirements for general registration. Supervised practice provides a structured framework in which a registered practitioner can show they demonstrate all enabling components for all key capabilities and are capable of safe and independent practice. The reasons for supervised practice may vary, but the purpose is the same.

The Board appreciates the feedback from many stakeholders received through our wide-ranging consultation process, and collaborative work by the Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council.

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Audit: be prepared

The Board’s next practitioner audit will soon begin. Students who have recently graduated are not audited in their first year of registration but should start keeping records in preparation for an audit. We have devoted previous newsletters to this topic in April 2015 and April 2016, including the perspective of a practitioner who had been audited. Owing to the low numbers in the profession, some osteopaths have already been audited a couple of times. Their experience is that they were better prepared when audited again, so the experience was more routine

If you are selected for audit, you will receive an audit notice in the mail from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). It includes information and a checklist that outlines what supporting documentation is required to demonstrate that you meet the standard(s) being audited.

The Board has also developed a webpage with audit materials, tip sheets, templates and a webinar. When you are audited, AHPRA will send a letter and forms in the mail so it is important that you maintain a correct and up to date address with AHPRA. Any delay will leave you less time to respond. Please call AHPRA if you have an unavoidable reason for needing more time to comply with the audit. When AHPRA is considering your audit documentation, they will contact you if you need to provide additional documentation and will write to you and/or let you know when the audit is complete.

During the last audit, 85% of osteopaths audited were found to be in full compliance; and of the remainder, 11% were found to be compliant through education in one or more standards and 4% were closed with no action, as practitioners changed their registration to non-practising or surrendered their registration.

The Board has adopted an educational approach to conducting audits, seeking to balance the protection of the public with the use of appropriate regulatory force to manage those practitioners found less than fully compliant with the audited standards. Practitioners who have not quite met, but are very close to meeting the registration standard requirements are given a chance to achieve full compliance by addressing the shortfall.

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Osteopaths working with children and vulnerable people

From time to time we receive queries about checks for working with children or vulnerable people. There is no requirement in the Board’s registration standards or the National Law1 to provide a ‘working with children’ check to AHPRA at initial or subsequent renewal of registration. The requirements for working with children or vulnerable people vary across the states and territories, and are administered at that level of government. Nevertheless, a working with children card may be used as part of proof of identity on the Board’s forms.

As set out in section 1.1 in the Code of conduct, all osteopaths are required to act in accordance with the local legal obligations that apply to practitioners, which include working with children:

The code does not address in detail the range of general legal obligations that apply to practitioners, such as those under privacy, child protection and anti-discrimination legislation; responsibilities to employees and other individuals present at a practice under workplace health and safety legislation; and vicarious liability for employees under the general law. Practitioners should ensure that they are aware of their legal obligations and act in accordance with them.

We recommend checking the requirements in your home state or territory regarding a working with children and vulnerable persons check.

The Board released a Statement on paediatric care on 27 March 2017.

A newsletter released on 28 March 2017 also explains the Board’s position statement to registrants, and focuses on advertising services and treating babies and children.

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

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National Board thanks osteopaths for their contribution to healthcare

The Osteopathy Board congratulated osteopaths nationally for their contribution to healthcare during this year’s Osteopathy Awareness Week.

Taking place on 14-20 April 2019, International Osteopathy Awareness Week brought to light the important work registered osteopaths do to improve the health and wellbeing of the community.

Board Chair Dr Nikole Grbin says osteopathy is a fast growing and emerging profession in Australia, helping to improve the mobility and quality of life of patients.

‘We have seen a 7.1 per cent increase in the number of registered osteopaths2 in Australia over the past year, which bodes well for the future of the profession and its ability to meet growing patient needs, particularly as Australians are living longer,’ Dr Grbin said.

‘Our work to set revised professional capabilities for registered osteopaths supports our promise to protect the public and ensures an osteopath’s practice reflects modern standards of care.

‘The Board thanks osteopaths for the important role they play in the day-to-day health of many within our community,’ Dr Grbin said.

The Board is also celebrating the anniversary of 40 years of osteopathy regulation in Australia and would like to thank and acknowledge the work of everyone who has been involved in osteopathy regulation during this time for their guidance and support.

Want to find out more about osteopathy regulation? Read our profession-specific annual report. Check out the stories in our February Board newsletter from former Board members and osteopaths who tell of their personal experiences in the osteopathy profession in Australia.

2 Based on the number of registered osteopaths as at 30 June 2018. See AHPRA Annual Report 2017/18.

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New accreditation agreement signed: Contemporary framework for public protection

The Osteopathy Board and AHPRA have announced this month (June 2019) the signing of a new five-year accreditation agreement with the Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC) starting 1 July 2019.

The accreditation agreement provides a contemporary framework for the delivery of accreditation functions by the AOAC. It is designed to address key accreditation issues including cultural safety, safety and quality, reducing regulatory burden, multi-profession collaboration to meet evolving healthcare needs, and strengthen accountability and transparency. 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.

This accreditation agreement is one of 10 new accreditation agreements being established between AHPRA and each of the external accreditation authorities. For further information read the media release on AHPRA’s website.


Latest registration update released

There are 2, 535 registered osteopaths in Australia as at 31 March 2019, an increase of 23 since the last report in December. Of the registered workforce, 2,435 have general registration, six have provisional registration and 94 have non-practising registration. By gender percentages, 54.7% of practitoners are female, 45% are male.

For more data about the profession, visit our Statistics page.

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National Scheme news

Practitioners’ responsibility to support public health programs

Australia’s health regulators have reminded health practitioners about their responsibility to support public health programs, including vaccination.

Regulators have spoken out to support public safety, given mounting concerns about a five-year high in measles cases and an early spike in flu cases this year.

AHPRA and the National Boards for 16 professions have urged more than 740,000 registered health practitioners to take seriously their responsibilities for public health, including by helping patients to be protected from preventable illnesses.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher reminded practitioners that supporting public health programs, including vaccination and immunisation, and not promoting anti-vaccination views were regulatory responsibilities.

‘Registered health practitioners have a regulatory responsibility to support patients to understand the evidence-based information available,’ Mr Fletcher said.

National Boards set codes, standards and guidelines, including about protecting and promoting the health of individuals and the community, which they expect registered health practitioners to meet.

‘Practitioners are of course entitled to hold personal beliefs, but they must ensure that they do not contradict or counter public health campaigns, including about the efficacy or safety of public health initiatives,’ he said.

If practitioners do not comply and meet the professional standards set by their National Board, regulators can and do take action.

National Boards and AHPRA have taken action to manage risk to the public in response to a number of concerns raised about practitioners (including medical practitioners, nurses and chiropractors) who have advocated against evidence-based vaccination programs. This has included restricting practitioners’ practice pending further investigation, when there was a serious risk to the public.

Read the media release on the AHPRA website.

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Health Ministers announce a review of the practice of spinal manipulation

Health Ministers announced an independent expert review of the practice of spinal manipulation for infants and young children following the COAG Health Council’s March meeting.

 The review is being carried out by Safer Care Victoria and will focus on the risk of harm and adverse events, and the current best evidence for the efficacy of spinal manipulation to treat childhood illnesses or health concerns in infants and young children.

National Boards do not define the types of treatments in which registered health practitioners may choose to qualify and become competent to carry out within their scope of practice.

Under the National Law, only registered chiropractors, medical practitioners, osteopaths and physiotherapists are permitted to manipulate the cervical spine when treating patients.

The National Law says that manipulation of the cervical spine means ‘moving the joints of the cervical spine beyond a person’s usual physiological range of motion using a high velocity, low amplitude thrust’.

AHPRA and the National Boards regulating the professions able to carry out cervical spinal manipulation support the independent review and await its outcome and recommendations with keen interest.

Read more in the COAG Health Council’s March communiqué.

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Legislative amendments on mandatory reporting and fake practitioners

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) (the Act) has been passed by the Queensland Parliament. The amendments include revisions to the mandatory reporting requirements for treating practitioners and an extension of sanctions for statutory offences.

The changes to the National Law intend to support registered practitioners to seek help for a health issue (including mental health issues). They will also increase the penalties (including the introduction of custodial sentences) for some offences under the National Law, including where a person holds themselves out to be a registered health practitioner when they are not.

AHPRA and National Boards will now work to implement these amendments. This will require working closely with professional bodies, employers and state and territory health departments to help spread the message that practitioners should be supported to seek help about their health issues.

The passing of the Act in Queensland marks the second set of legislative amendments to the National Law since the start of the National Scheme in 2010. When they take effect, the amendments will apply in all states and territories except Western Australia, where mandatory reporting requirements will not change.

Read a news item about the amendments on the AHPRA website or the Act on the Queensland Legislation website.

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‘Let’s talk about it’ videos launched

Earlier this year, AHPRA launched a series of new videos to support the public and registered health practitioners as they go through the notification process.

The video series, called ‘Let’s talk about it’, explains what happens when concerns are raised with the regulator, gives easy-to-follow information about the notifications process and addresses common questions, so consumers and health practitioners know what to expect when they interact with AHPRA and National Boards.

A new video has just been added the series, to help tackle the fear of notifications: A notification was made about me: A practitioner’s experience. This unscripted video is an honest, first-hand account of a health practitioner’s experience of what it is like to be the subject of a notification to AHPRA. The medical practitioner featured agreed to participate to share her experience and reflections with other practitioners in her situation. In particular, she reflects that she wishes she had reached out for help sooner.

Getting support early is important for any practitioner going through the notifications process, as many practitioners tell us that the notification process is very stressful. A good support network is essential.

There are now four videos:

The videos sit alongside other written resources available on our website, including information about understanding the notifications experience. See: www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications.

You can view the videos on the AHPRA and National Board websites or from our YouTube and Vimeo channel, and join the conversation by following AHPRA on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, use the hashtag #letstalkaboutit and tag @AHPRA.

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AHPRA launches WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Regulation

In April, AHPRA officially launched as a designated World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Health Workforce Regulation in the Western Pacific Region.

AHPRA, working in partnership with the National Boards, joins a list of over 800 institutions in more than 80 countries supporting WHO programs in areas such as nursing development, communicable diseases, mental health, chronic diseases and health technologies.

Strengthening the regulation of the health workforce is an important part of the WHO’s global strategy to build the human resources needed for access to safe and quality healthcare across the world.

AHPRA and National Boards are excited by the opportunity to share expertise and promote dialogue that collectively improves the standard of regulatory practice within the WHO Western Pacific Region. The global health workforce crosses country borders and is mobile, including in Australia where thousands of overseas-qualified practitioners are registered and take up practice here. It’s important that regulators from different countries work together to set the standards for practitioner education, competence and conduct necessary for the global health workforce to deliver safe and reliable healthcare.

As a WHO collaborating centre AHPRA will:

  • help the WHO in providing technical support to strengthen health workforce regulatory systems in member states
  • support the WHO in promoting the adoption of contemporary regulatory approaches to health workforce regulation, and
  • strengthen the capacity, skills and knowledge of regulators in member states under the WHO’s guidance.

Read more on the AHPRA website.

Information Publications Scheme – promoting accessibility of our information

From 1 June 2019, AHPRA and National Boards are required to comply with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) established under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth). The IPS promotes openness and transparency and aims to reduce the number of Freedom of Information applications through the proactive publication of information. This requires that certain information and documents be made publicly available.

AHPRA and National Boards have worked together to implement the IPS and information has been recently published about it on the AHPRA website.

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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