Osteopathy Board of Australia - June 2024
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June 2024

Issue 39 – June 2024

From the Chair

Image of Paul Orrock OsteoBA

Welcome to the latest edition of the Osteopathy Board newsletter. We share an exciting Board appointment, and the reappointment of a face you might recognise.

We also share an important reminder on dry needling, and on your obligations when it comes to declaring criminal history – as a student, graduate, or registered osteopath.

Graduates, learn about the recent change which means you can now have your registration documents certified by an Australian registered osteopath, including by your prospective employer.

Finally, the Board has implemented parity of three community members and three practitioner members on its Registration and Notifications Committee after the announcement of the Blueprint approach to strengthening community membership in decision making. This committee deals with six to 10 cases a month covering notifications (complaints), registration and compliance.

Associate Professor Paul Orrock
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia

Priority news

Health ministers make appointments to National Board

Recently, health ministers communicated their decision on appointments and reappointments to National Boards, including the Osteopathy Board of Australia.

I am pleased to welcome and congratulate Dr Kate Locke, who has been appointed for three-year term as practitioner member for Western Australia, and she brings experience, having previously been a member of the Board from 2018 to 2020.

I am also proud to have been reappointed and will continue in my role as Chair, and as practitioner member for New South Wales.

Read the health ministers’ communiqué for more details.

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Board news

Dry needling risks

A pneumothorax or collapsed lung may occur from the use of dry needling or acupuncture needles around the thoracic and cervicothoracic areas. While the incidence of such events is still rare, osteopaths who are using such needle-based therapies should be:

  • aware of this risk and take appropriate steps to prevent its occurrence in the first instance
  • able to identify and refer patients with this adverse event for urgent medical care
  • trained, educated, and competent to perform needle-based therapies, and
  • covered by adequate insurance (as required for all aspects of a registered practitioner’s practice).

The professional association has resources on needling practices, and information on courses and insurance for practitioners.

You must tell us about your criminal history – when and how to report

National Boards develop registration standards that set out the requirements that registered health practitioners must meet when applying for or renewing their registration. Criminal history checks ensure to the public that only those suitable and safe to practise are registered practitioners in Australia. All registered practitioners must meet this standard to practise in Australia.

There may be a time that you, a colleague or an employee need to declare criminal history, and so we remind you of the rules of engagement for this registration standard. Take some time to familiarise yourself as we step through the different requirements through the life cycle of registration below.


Under the National Law, criminal history checks are not carried out when you are registered as a student.

However, if you are:

  • charged with an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more, or
  • convicted of or the subject of a finding of guilt for an offence punishable by imprisonment,

you must notify the Board within seven days and these events may be considered as a notification to the Board.

You must complete the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's (Ahpra) form Notice of Certain Events - NOCE-00 and follow the instructions on that form.

You must attach a separate sheet to the notice, giving information about the relevant event. The information should include details of the offence, and the circumstances around it, including the date, and details of any condition of bail (if relevant) and similar information.


Ahpra conducts an Australian criminal history check the first time a graduate applies for registration as a health practitioner.

If you declared you have criminal history in an overseas country or have lived overseas for a period of six consecutive months or more as an adult, you will also need to complete and pay for an international criminal history check.

Criminal history is defined within the National Law and the definition includes:

  • every conviction of the person for an offence
  • every plea of guilty or finding of guilt by a court of the person for an offence, regardless of whether or not a conviction is recorded for the offence, and
  • every charge made against the person for an offence.

This definition means that criminal penalties such as good behaviour bonds or diversion orders will appear on criminal history records obtained under the National Law.

Registered osteopaths

You must advise us of any changes to your criminal history within seven days if you are:

  • charged with an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more, or
  • convicted or found guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment in Australia and/or overseas.

Use the Ahpra form Notice of Certain Events - NOCE-00.

Also, at renewal you are asked if since your last declaration to Ahpra, has there been any change to your criminal history in Australia or another country that you have not already declared.

Under the National Law, a National Board may obtain a report about your criminal history at any time. This includes at random audit. It is a requirement to be proactive in advising us about criminal history.


Criminal history registration standard: consultation now open

Ahpra and the National Boards invite you to have your say on the draft Criminal history registration standard (the criminal history standard) and supporting documents.

In late 2023, as part of our work to improve public safety in health regulation we consulted widely on a range of reforms, including a series of questions about the current version of the criminal history standard.

After consideration of all feedback, we have developed a draft criminal history registration standard and new supporting materials. The major changes to the criminal history standard are:

  • Making it clear a practitioner cannot have a criminal history incompatible with registration.
  • More information on the purpose and the requirements of the criminal history registration standard and providing examples of how the standard works.
  • Separating the consideration of nature and gravity, or seriousness, of a criminal offence. This change reflects feedback received that while the nature of some offences may be seen as ‘minor’ within the criminal justice system, these offences have a greater impact when considered in the context of regulated health practice.
  • Adding a new consideration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of inequity and racism, and the disproportionate impact these experiences may have on an individual’s criminal history.

We want to hear from you about how we have responded to feedback, the draft changes we have made to the criminal history standard, and the other material we have developed to explain how the standard is applied.

The consultation will be open until 30 July 2024. Find out more about this consultation and provide feedback on the Current consultations page.

Students and graduates

Registration information for mid-year graduates and their employers

Are you a mid-year graduate from Victoria University? It’s time to register with the Osteopathy Board to be able to practise after graduation.

Check out our graduate video to help you get your application right.

You’ll find helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay and downloadable information flyers on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team (the support team) is also available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates who might need help with or have questions about their application for registration.

The support team is committed to helping graduates get registered promptly so you can provide safe healthcare in your communities. If you would like help with your application for registration, email the support team at [email protected].

Meeting the registration standards

You may need to provide supporting documents with your application to prove that you meet the Osteopathy Board’s registration standards, including meeting the English language skills requirements. Make sure you provide all the documents we need with your application so we can assess it quicker.

Who can certify documents?

When you first apply for registration as a graduate or from overseas, you may be required to provide certified copies of original documents in support of an application.

You can now have your photographic identity documents certified by a registered Australian osteopath, including by your prospective employer.

And remember, it's important that you provide correctly certified photo ID documents with your application as the wording required is specific:

I certify that this is a true copy of the original and the photograph is a true likeness of the person presenting the document as sighted by me.’

To see the full list of authorised officers, and get it right the first time, download the Certifying documents guide and take it with you to the authorised officer.

How long does it take to assess my application?

We can’t finalise your application until we receive your graduation results from your education provider.

If you’ve submitted everything needed to prove you’ve met the requirements for registration, we aim to finalise your application within two weeks of receiving your graduation results.

For more information, read the news item.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 31 March 2024. There were 3,508 registered osteopaths nationally at this date, with 3,317 having general registration, nine osteopaths with provisional registration and 181 with non-practising registration.

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

What’s new?

Myths and misconceptions about notifications – getting the help you need

Too often, practitioners struggle in silence when they are dealing with a health, mental health or drug and alcohol issue – or even just the day-to-day challenges of being a health practitioner.

The best thing you can do – for yourself, for your family, and for your clients – is to seek help early and to actively engage in recommended treatments. This might be from your own GP, another health practitioner or via the Employee Assistance Program available at Osteopathy Australia.

There is a common misconception that if you seek help, your treating practitioner will automatically be required to report you to Ahpra and your registration may be affected.

The threshold for when treating practitioners need to make a mandatory notification about health is only met when the public is at substantial risk of harm. The need for a mandatory notification to be made is not often met.

If you are managing your health and getting the help you need, you can usually continue to practise. The Board wants you to be healthy and safe to practise and encourages you to seek help early when you need support.

New checklist to help practitioners manage complaints

A Checklist for practitioners has been developed to help resolve feedback or complaints made directly to practitioners or the health service where you are working.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and stressful and as well as this resource we have published a list of general support services.

You might find this checklist helpful when a complaint is first raised with you by a patient or client, and it may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes at a health service.

When feedback or complaints are managed well, they can result in improvements that increase patient, client, and community confidence in you as a practitioner. It can also help prevent a concern escalating to an external complaint body or regulator.

The checklist was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Ahpra and the 15 National Boards as part of a joint project with the Commission, with work also underway on resources to help consumers navigate the various complaints options available.

The checklist, along with other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice, is available on Ahpra’s Resources page.

Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent

The Ahpra Accreditation Committee has published its Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent. The statement of intent aims to embed interprofessional collaborative practice across the continuum of healthcare settings.

The statement is a fundamental step towards achieving effective team-based and coordinated care across Australia. It is a commitment to improving the outcomes for patients and consumers by reducing the risk of fragmented and uncoordinated care.

Interprofessional collaborative practice is healthcare practice where multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together and with clients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care that is free of racism and other forms of discrimination.

The statement represents a joint commitment from 53 stakeholders across the health and education sectors to take action.

Read more in the news item.

Partnership with Weenthunga Health Network guiding critical reform work to eliminate racism in healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to access and work in healthcare that is culturally safe and free from racism. Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit is supporting the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Working Group and Weenthunga Health Network, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultancy, to co-design and develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines on cultural safety for registered practitioners.

The Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Framework and Strategy is a multi-year project, grounded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing. By embedding cultural safety in accreditation and continuing professional development requirements for all 16 regulated health professions in the National Scheme, we will ensure consistency and accountability to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health workers.

Cultural safety is patient safety. Racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will not be tolerated, as seen in the landmark ruling of a doctor banned for discriminatory and offensive behaviour.

Read more in the media release.

Regulators come together as one million Australians turn to medicinal cannabis treatments

Maintaining a balance between access to medicinal cannabis and its safety is a priority for health regulators across Australia amid a growing number of prescriptions and the emergence of telehealth, online prescribing and direct-to-consumer health services. Australia’s medicine regulation system is complex, with different agencies responsible for overseeing the medicines themselves, the health professionals who prescribe and provide them, and the premises where they are stored and dispensed.

In February, Ahpra and several of the National Boards convened a forum in Melbourne that brought together health regulators to share information and regulatory intelligence, discuss any current risks to the public, and determine how all regulators can best work together.

The use of unapproved medicinal cannabis products has spiralled in recent years, from around 18,000 Australians in 2019 to more than one million in January 2024. The number of prescribers accessing the Authorised Prescriber and the Special Access Scheme has also risen sharply to more than 5,700 medical and nurse practitioners prescribing and dispensing medicinal cannabis products that have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for safety, quality, or efficacy.

The forum attendees agreed to continue discussions with the aim to monitor issues and identify any gaps in the regulatory and wider health response to this rapidly growing industry. In particular:

  • improving data and information sharing among Australia’s regulatory agencies
  • gaining a better understanding of the drivers of the recent rapid rise in access to these products
  • enhancing communication to prescribers, including clinical guidance, on the safe and effective use of medical cannabis products
  • examining ways of better educating consumers about medicinal cannabis medications, and
  • encouraging more research to drive the production of clinical guidelines for medicinal cannabis

Read more in the communiqué on Ahpra’s website.

Greater protections for patients in Western Australia as National Law changes are enacted

Health practitioner regulation and public protection were further strengthened in Western Australia recently, following the passage and enactment of changes to the National Law as it applies in that state. 

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Application Act was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia on 9 May and is now an Act of Parliament.

It contains a suite of changes, including protecting the title ‘surgeon’ when used by medical practitioners. It also allows Ahpra and the National Boards to issue a statement warning the public about individual practitioners, when there is a serious, unmanaged risk to public health and safety.

The Act brings WA into greater alignment with the other states and territories. The Act also establishes a mechanism for WA to adopt any future changes to the National Law, while retaining the ability to make modifications and disallow amendments as necessary.

Most of these changes have started, with some to start later this year on a date to be agreed by governments. For more information about these changes, please visit the Ahpra National Law amendments page. 

Mandatory reporting obligations for all WA registered health practitioners have not changed.

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 webpage under Contact us.
  • For registration enquiries, call Ahpra on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9125 3010 (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: Assoc Prof Paul Orrock, Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.
Page reviewed 24/06/2024