Keeping the public safe involves a number of entities such as other regulators and stakeholders. We know there can be confusion about who does what, so we have produced a diagram that sets out our roles. We often meet with our national and international stakeholders, with virtual meetings becoming a regular occurrence. We share our concerns about emerging trends (see below) and learn from each other’s work.
Cases before the Board of osteopaths practising while not holding public indemnity insurance (PII) are growing at an alarming rate. Please check your insurance status now and make sure you’re appropriately covered. Graduates, please be aware that you must be covered when you start practising.
We have our first demographic snapshot to share. It includes lots of facts about where we work in Australia and how our workforce has changed in the last five years. I hope it is useful for your work and to show others the picture of our profession.
We invite you to learn more about Robyn Davis, our newest community member.
Dr Nikole Grbin
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia
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A reminder to check your PII coverage! There has been a significant increase in PII cases where there is a period of no coverage and we’d like to make sure this trend doesn’t continue. These cases have either been discovered at audit or after declarations to Ahpra by osteopaths. A number of these osteopaths may end up in lengthy and costly tribunal cases with very serious consequences (see case studies in our October 2021 newsletter).
You must have appropriate PII to practise. Please check now that your PII policy is current and paid because PII lapses can easily occur without your vigilance.
Some recent cases where a practitioner’s PII has lapsed include the following scenarios:
It is a registration requirement that you are covered by PII – this can either be your own arrangement or a third party’s, such as an employer. See the Professional indemnity insurance arrangements registration standard.
Do not base your annual declarations about PII on a guess – always check.
If you fail to notify the Board of a gap in PII at the time but instead declare this several months later, you have failed to comply with your obligations under the National Law. This is a serious matter that can become a ground for a notification about the practitioner as it is considered professional misconduct.
An advance copy of the revised Code of conduct (the code) is available now and we encourage you to read and be familiar with it before it comes into effect on 29 June 2022. The code sets out our expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for osteopaths. You have a professional responsibility to apply this code in your practice, helping to keep the public safe.
We also encourage you to read the FAQs and a document covering the 11 principles of the code – you can find them at Resources to help health practitioners.
The Supervised practice framework (the framework), developed by the Osteopathy Board of Australia along with 12 other National Boards and Ahpra, is in effect.
The framework outlines the National Boards’ expectations and supports supervisees, supervisors and employers to understand what is necessary to effectively carry out supervised practice. The framework also includes the principles that underpin supervised practice and the levels of supervised practice.
Supervised practice reassures the community that a registered health practitioner whose practice is being supervised is safe and competent.
The framework has been developed to support a responsive and risk-based approach to supervised practice and to promote consistency in processes and decision-making across professions.
Read more in the news item.
The framework and supporting FAQs, key steps diagrams and a fact sheet on transition arrangements can be found on Ahpra’s Supervised practice page.
The Board works with a range of regulators and stakeholders in Australia who are all relevant to registered osteopaths and students. Occasionally we see confusion about who is who and who does what, so we’ve developed a diagram that gives an overview of the roles and responsibilities of each entity.
The diagram describes the Board’s role in regulating osteopaths and students under the National Scheme. It also shows several other regulators and stakeholder organisations and how they relate to osteopaths and students.
You can read the overview and view the diagram below on the Board’s Osteopathy stakeholders – Roles and responsibilities page.
Regulates the osteopathy profession in order to protect the public:
Is assigned the accreditation functions for the osteopathy profession by the National Board:
Supports the National Board and 14 other National Boards in administering the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme:
Is the peak body representing osteopathy:
1 Nationally, except in New South Wales and Queensland where this is managed by the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) and the 15 health professional councils: see Osteopathy Council of NSW and the Queensland Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO), respectively.
A snapshot of the osteopathy profession is published at Health profession demographic snapshot. The snapshot provides information in a quick infographic reference format, including:
The snapshot uses a combination of National Scheme data and relevant publicly available data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Commonwealth Department of Health Workforce Data resource. It provides key demographic summaries in an infographic format. This web page will be updated from time to time.
The 31 March 2022 data shows 3,119 osteopaths registered in Australia.
If you’re considering a break from practising as an osteopath, you have several registration options.
If you are planning to return to the profession, for example after maternity leave or a sabbatical, it may be beneficial to keep your general registration with the Osteopathy Board. This will make it straightforward to return to practice. You will need to continue to meet the registration standards while you take leave, for example by completing the minimum number of hours of CPD each registration period and ensuring you meet the recency of practice requirement for 450 hours of practice over the previous three years.
Another option is to apply for non-practising registration. You cannot practise in any context if you hold non-practising registration. Non-practising registration is generally only suitable for osteopaths who are likely to be permanently retiring from the profession but would like to continue to use the title ‘osteopath’.
While non-practising registration has a lower annual registration fee than general registration, it’s important to note that if you wish to return to practice later you will be required to show you meet all the registration standards, including recency of practice. The process to reapply for general registration will be more involved than simply renewing your registration.
You can also choose to let your registration lapse during the registration renewal period or surrender your registration prior to renewal (there is no refund available).
It’s important to note as above, if you reapply for general registration later and can’t meet the Recency of practice registration standard, you may need to meet the Osteopathy Board’s re-entry to practice requirements which can include:
Robyn Davis was first appointed to the Osteopathy Board of Australia as a community member in 2022. We asked Robyn to tell us about her background, role as a community member and vision for the profession.
I’ve dedicated my career to protecting and promoting human rights. I have a strong interest in gender equity and have often found myself standing up for people whose voices aren’t always heard by the legal profession. I spent many years working in the Northern Territory representing First Nations women and their families, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, vulnerable families (including those experiencing family violence), as well as older people.
I’ve worked in various legal positions throughout my career, have lectured on family law and served on several boards and committees, mostly in Geelong. I’m currently General Counsel for the Institute of Sisters of Mercy in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
I’m driven by purposeful and meaningful work that makes a real difference in the world. A friend was a community member of the Board for several years and found the work rewarding, so when a community member position became available it felt like the right next step and a good way to apply my regulatory experience.
I have enjoyed learning about osteopathy and about the work of the Board generally and look forward to being part of its future work.
As well as extensive, people-focused experience, I have a love of governance and an interest in regulation and the law. I hope to bring a different perspective to the Board, based upon my work and life experiences.
The Board has a busy schedule and lots to achieve this year, but at the heart of its work is a focus on keeping the public safe, good governance and fairness.
Equality, human rights, all things governance, reading, Barney and Julia my dogs, Toby and Rosie my ponies, and the Bellarine Peninsula.
Ahpra and the National Boards recognise that registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and commend them for their sustained efforts.
National Boards expect all health practitioners to facilitate access to care regardless of someone’s vaccination status. People cannot be denied care if steps can be taken to keep the person, health practitioners and their staff safe.
Good practice involves keeping health practitioners, staff and patients safe. Some practitioners may be considering how best to do this while also facilitating access to care in the current COVID-19 environment.
Ahpra and the National Boards have developed guidance to help support good practice in this context. The guidance reinforces existing codes and guidelines and other publicly available information and does not introduce new or different requirements for practitioners.
National Boards expect practitioners to first comply with public health orders in their state or territory. The principle of safely facilitating access to care should then guide decisions about treating people in a COVID-19 environment.
Recently, there’s been some discussion about protected titles and how they work to protect the public. Ahpra and the National Boards provide the following guidance to help inform the discussion.
In Australia, the titles of registered health professions are 'protected' by law. This is important because they can act as a sort of shorthand for patients and consumers. When someone uses a protected title – for example, ‘osteopath' – you can expect that person is appropriately trained and qualified in that profession, registered, and that they are expected to meet safe and professional standards of practice.
The protected titles under the National Law can be accessed on the bottom of Ahpra’s FAQs page. Examples of when a protected title has been unlawfully used and the outcomes can be found on the Court and tribunal decisions page.
Health Ministers have recently consulted on whether ‘surgeon’ should be a protected title under the National Law, and in what specialties it should apply, or if other changes should be made to help the public better understand the qualifications of medical practitioners. For more information on the consultation, visit the Engage Victoria website.
Read the news item for more details on this topic.
The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee has tabled its report on the inquiry into the Administration of registration and notifications by Ahpra and related entities under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.
Ahpra actively engaged with the inquiry, with representatives of Ahpra, the Agency Management Committee and Community Advisory Council all appearing. There were public submissions and stakeholder appearances.
We will consider the recommendations directed to Ahpra and National Boards and contribute to the Australian Government response, as requested.
The report is available on the Inquiry web page.
Ahpra releases fortnightly episodes of the Taking care podcast, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can access these on the Ahpra website or listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player. Recent episodes include:
A powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.
What is the best approach to support a practitioner’s professional practice to ensure patient safety? How do we regulate when honest errors occur in a workplace environment?
In this episode, we hear stories of people in LGBTIQA+ communities and their experiences and challenges accessing healthcare. They offer their advice for others experiencing the same and about what practitioners can do to better support these communities.
Dr Judy Tang, clinical neuropsychologist, and Dr Lee Cubis, clinical psychologist, speak about the changes, small and big, that health practitioners can make to provide safe care to LGBTIQA+ patients.