Osteopathy Board of Australia - March 2020
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March 2020


Issue 26 - March 2020

Chair’s message

Nikole Grbin Osteopathy Board chair

Please take care of yourselves during this unprecedented public health emergency. The National Boards are working with Ahpra to provide helpful information on the COVID-19 virus, including answers to common questions, which is being regularly updated on the website. Please check this information, and if you still have questions you can send them directly to Ahpra by email:  [email protected].

Registered osteopaths provide healthcare services, and as of 24 March 2020 osteopathy is not considered a prohibited activity by the Commonwealth government. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, there will be new and regular updates from many important sources, including governments, local health departments and professional organisations, with advice about the emerging needs of the public and how to best meet them.

On another note, scheduled vacancies for Osteopathy Board member positions for practitioners who live and work in WA and NSW are currently advertised by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council. Applications close at the end of this month. Please visit the Ahpra statutory appointments site and consider these rewarding roles with the Board.

We look forward to keeping in touch with you throughout the year via newsletters and social media, or at one of our information forums, which we hope can go ahead later in the year.

Dr Nikole Grbin
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia


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Board news

Vacancies on the Board – express your interest

Vacancies are currently advertised for practitioner members from New South Wales and Western Australia.

All National Board appointments are made by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council. If you are interested, please visit the Ahpra National Boards recruitment page to download the information guide and application form. More information is provided about eligibility requirements specific to these advertised vacancies, National Board member roles, and the application process.

For enquiries, please contact statutory appointments.

The closing date is Monday 30 March 2020, 5pm AEST.

CPD webpage launched

We have revamped our CPD information so that the Board’s CPD resources are now found on the one webpage. Mandatory CPD topics have links to information elsewhere on the Board’s website; you may wish to read this information as part of your CPD. The Board does not accredit or endorse courses, and there are many providers.

It is important to spend some time identifying your own aims and objectives for CPD. You may wish to address areas of relative weakness in your professional work as an osteopath, or enhance existing skills, pursue career goals or professional interests. The revised Capabilities for osteopathic practice (2019) have additions including cultural competence and cultural safety, safe and quality use of medicine, and leadership; and CPD is an excellent way to upskill and learn if you self-assess that you have a gap in knowledge in the context of your practice.

There are many leadership training opportunities depending on your own needs and area of practice, such as business or academic. Safe and quality use of medicines recognises that osteopaths do not prescribe medication, but you do need a knowledge of medicines in order to:

  • consider the patient/client’s use of medicines in your history-taking
  • explain the role of common medications to patients and their families, and
  • safely and effectively collaborate (including with prescribers) in providing care for that patient.

Again, self-assess to see if you need to update your knowledge through CPD.

Cultural safety is a priority of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) and initiatives will be rolled out in the next couple of years. In the meantime, National Boards encourage practitioners to do CPD on cultural safety, then record how what you learned has built on your knowledge and will improve patient outcomes in your practice.

Note that we have a new webpage explaining that animal-based CPD is limited to courses which can relate to practice on humans.

Finally, we encourage all graduates to have a current senior first aid certificate at the time you first apply for registration. This will be current for three years and must be renewed every three years for CPD purposes.

Sydney information forum postponed

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak we have cancelled the information forum in Sydney. This event will be rescheduled, and we are sending a cancellation email to all who have registered for the event. We will be in touch with a new date when we have further details.

At this stage we do not know if the later forums will also be affected.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and please check the Board’s website for updates.

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Victorian practitioners: information on the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act

On 1 July 2019, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) began operation in Victoria. The Board draws specific attention to section 8 of the Act, which states that a registered health practitioner who provides health services or professional care services to a person must not, in the course of providing those services to the person:

  • initiate a discussion that is, in substance, about voluntary assisted dying (s 8(1)(a))
  • in substance, suggest voluntary assisted dying to that person (s 8(1)(b)).

A breach of this requirement is deemed to be unprofessional conduct for the purposes of the National Law (s 8(3)). It is noted, however, that section 8 does not prevent a health practitioner providing information about voluntary assisted dying to a person at that person’s request (s 8(2)) (emphasis added).

We encourage Victorian health practitioners who have not already done so, to review the Act and familiarise themselves with its requirements.

If you need further information, we encourage you to contact your professional association or professional indemnity insurer. Information about the Act, published by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, is available on the DHHS website

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National Scheme news

A strategy for embedding cultural safety into the health system

An ambitious strategy from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health experts, regulators and health organisations committed to embedding cultural safety into the health system has been released by 43 entities including Ahpra and the National Boards.

The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025 is endorsed by organisations, academics and individuals, including the entities who set the education standards for the 183,000 students who are studying to become registered health practitioners and the regulators of Australia’s 750,000 registered practitioners.

The strategy focuses on achieving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples as the norm and the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety. Development of the strategy was led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and individuals via the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, which represents all signatories to the strategy.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025

The vision

Patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is the norm. We recognise that patient safety includes the inextricably linked elements of clinical and cultural safety, and that this link must be defined by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The objectives

Cultural safety: A culturally safe health workforce through nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all registered health practitioners in Australia.
Increased participation: Increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the registered health workforce and across all levels of the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally.
Greater access: Greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services from registered health practitioners.
Influence: Using the Strategy Group’s leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals. This includes developing a nationally consistent baseline definition to be used across the scheme regulating registered practitioners nationally, which has already been achieved in partnership with the National Health Leadership Forum.

As part of the strategy, we have already reached some goals:

  • partnering with the National Health Leadership Forum (the forum for national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health peak organisations) to develop, consult and finalise a baseline definition of cultural safety for the scheme for regulating health practitioners
  • commissioning high-quality cultural safety training to ensure that the regulation of health practitioners, including the development of standards practitioners must meet and the handling of notifications (concerns about registered health practitioners), is culturally safe
  • recommending and advocating for changes to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to ensure consistency in cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

For more information, read the media release.

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Changes to mandatory notifications requirements are now in effect

The revised mandatory notifications guidelines  came into effect on 1 March 2020.

The guidelines were revised by National Boards and Ahpra as part of a scheduled review and following amendments to the National Law.

The guidelines are relevant to all registered health practitioners and registered students in Australia. They aim to explain the mandatory notifications requirements in the National Law clearly so that practitioners, employers and education providers understand who must make a mandatory notification about a practitioner or student and when they must be made. They also aim to make it clearer when a notification does not need to be made.

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
  • sexual misconduct.

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 notification being made about them.

Changes to the guidelines include:

  • a new higher reporting threshold for when treating practitioners must make a notification. This is to give a practitioner-patient the confidence to seek help if they need it without undue concern about a mandatory notification
  • separate guidelines for notifications about students, as there are only limited circumstances when a mandatory notification must be made about a student
  • restructuring of the guidelines for practitioners according to notifier type (treating practitioner, non-treating practitioner, employer) so that relevant information for each notifier group is easier to find
  • updated flowcharts to help potential notifiers assess whether they need to make a mandatory notification, and
  • new risk charts that highlight risk and mitigating factors that may be relevant to deciding if a mandatory notification is required.

Read the revised guidelines for practitioners and for students and the additional resources developed to help explain mandatory notifications. These include:

  • case studies
  • expanded FAQs
  • new videos including Mandatory notifications – a video for students
  • a podcast, A new look at mandatory notifications
  • a myth-busting guide.

See the Board’s Guidelines for mandatory notifications webpage, and follow the Mandatory notifications link on our home page for more resources to help understand when to make a mandatory notification and when not to.

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Ahpra and National Boards welcome policy directions

Ahpra and the National Boards have welcomed two new policy directions from the COAG Health Council which reinforce that Ahpra and National Boards are to prioritise public protection in the work of the National Scheme.

The two directions state that public protection is paramount and require consultation with patient safety and health care consumer bodies on any new and revised registration standards, codes and guidelines, as well as other considerations.

The first policy direction outlines the consideration that National Boards and Ahpra must give to the public (including vulnerable people in the community) when determining whether to take regulatory action about a health practitioner. It also authorises limited sharing of information with employers and state/territory health departments about serious matters involving the conduct of a registered health practitioner.

As the national regulators, it is Ahpra and the National Boards’ responsibility to protect the public and prevent harm. However, most health practitioners practise safely and well. In 2018/19 around 98 per cent of all registered practitioners did not have any concerns reported about their conduct, health or performance.

The second policy direction requires National Boards to consult with patient safety bodies and consumer bodies on registration standards, codes and guidelines when these are being developed or revised. It also provides that National Boards and Ahpra must:

  • consider the impacts of the new or revised registration standard on vulnerable members of the community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and
  • prepare and publish a ‘patient health and safety impact statement’ with each new or revised registration standard, code or guideline.

In implementing these policy directions, Ahpra and National Boards will continue to ensure fairness for health practitioners in regulatory processes. The policy directions can be viewed on the Ahpra and National Board websites.

Taking care: a podcast of conversations about public safety and healthcare

Ahpra launched its podcast channel in 2019. ‘Taking care’ is a series of podcasts that highlight Ahpra and the National Boards’ commitment to public safety and the ongoing conversation about the work of health practitioner regulation in Australia.

‘Taking care’ features a broad range of conversations and interviews with experts from the community, health professions people from health, regulation and the broader community. Ahpra hosts an intentionally diverse list of guests to address myths and common questions about public safety in healthcare, to offer professional and consumer perspectives on current issues.

The podcast channel and the video series it follows provide opportunities for significant discussions about health, and the essential role of regulation in protecting the public and supporting the safe delivery of healthcare in Australia.

These conversations highlight what’s important in healthcare. People want to feel like they are being seen and heard when they consult with a health practitioner, and that they’re in safe hands. Practitioners are telling us how it feels from their perspective, including difficulties associated with self-care and what makes it harder for them to do their job.

Ahpra and the Boards are listening and committed to doing whatever they can improve the experience of regulation for the public and registered health practitioners, with public safety at the forefront.

Find out more

Find out more about safe healthcare in Australia by downloading the podcasts:

  • Dr Gerald Hickson on patient safety and high-risk practitioners
  • Launching the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020-2025
  • A new look at mandatory notifications
  • Ahpra’s role in the health system
  • A view of mental health from both sides
  • The practitioner experience of a notification
  • Safe, competent and ethical health practitioners
  • Vexatious notifications.

Subscribe to Ahpra’s ‘Taking care’ podcast channel for access to interesting conversations about the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. New episodes released fortnightly. Available on SpotifyApple Podcasts, and the ‘Taking care’ show page on Whooshka.

Feedback and comments about the podcast channel, or any of the downloadable episodes, are welcome via email at [email protected]. Email the team if you are interested in hosting the podcast on your website or social media.

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The role of accreditation in improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

A new report, The role of accreditation in improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes, was recently published by the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum, which is made up of the accreditation authorities for the health professions regulated in the National Scheme. The forum wanted to better understand and address the role accreditation plays in improving the health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Achieving equity in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians is a shared commitment led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group and outlined in the Statement of Intent.

The project collected and analysed data from accredited health practitioner programs across Australia, to inform a collective strategy. This will involve accreditation authorities promoting quality education of health practitioners to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes and produce a culturally safe workforce.

To access the report, please visit the Accreditation publications webpage.

For more information on the forum, please visit the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum website.

An accreditation snapshot for 2017/18: new report in infographics

Ahpra, National Boards and the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum have developed, for the first time, a snapshot of accreditation activities across the National Scheme for 2017/18.

The Accreditation snapshot 2017/18 gives an overview of accreditation activities and includes information about the organisations and bodies involved in accreditation, assessment of overseas-qualified practitioners and student registration numbers.

The accreditation activity across the National Scheme is considerable and this report, with its infographic layout, gives readers an accessible and comprehensive understanding of the accreditation function, the team’s role and the work they do.

The Accreditation Liaison Group (ALG), which brings together representatives of National Boards, accreditation authorities and Ahpra, was instrumental in creating the report.

Please visit the Accreditation publications webpage to view the snapshot.

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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 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