Osteopathy Board of Australia - October 2021
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October 2021

Issue 32 - October 2021

Chair’s message

Nikole Grbin Osteopathy Board chair

In Victoria, NSW and the ACT where most osteopaths live and work, there are ongoing and unprecedented effects of COVID-19. You, your patients and community have been more stressed than ever before. Your role in healthcare is extremely valuable even if it is not visible in the media each day. Please stay safe and keep up to date with government requirements.

Welcome to our new graduates! We know that you have had a very tough couple of years with your training because COVID-19 has affected face to face learning and clinical training as well as your normal range of social activities, or you may have had to isolate or quarantine due to community exposure to the virus. Hats off to you for enduring these challenges and best wishes in your new career in osteopathy. Thank you to your educators who have also had to work harder than ever to bring you flexible and safe learning.

We will soon farewell two community members: Judith Dikstein, who is finishing an eight-year term and Josh Hatten, who will be finishing as he is out of the country for the foreseeable future. Their important and insightful contributions and hard work are appreciated by the Board and we wish them well in their future endeavours. Plus, we feature an article on one of our other long-serving members, Pam Dennis who is an osteopath in Tasmania.

Dr Nikole Grbin
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia

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Board news

Online renewal for osteopaths is now open

Osteopaths have until 30 November 2021 to renew their general or non-practising registration. Look out for an email from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) providing access to online renewal.

You’re encouraged to renew early to avoid delays – it might save you a call to Ahpra during the busy renewal period!

Ready to renew?

Read the renewal FAQs on the Ahpra website for helpful tips and more information on what you need to do. We cover common questions on professional indemnity insurance, recency of practice, continuing professional development, and what to do if you have a change in your criminal history or any health impairments you need to tell us about.

What’s different this year?

Embedding cultural safety in the ways we work
The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy aims to make patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples the norm. We strive to embed cultural safety in the ways we work within the National Scheme too. From 2021, you’ll be asked if you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander when you renew your registration. This will help us continue to develop culturally safe ways of working.

Advertising declaration and audit
Proactive advertising audits have now started. If you’re renewing your general registration, you’ll be asked to declare that – if you are advertising health services – your advertising complies with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) advertising requirements.

This is part of a risk-based approach to enforcing the National Law’s advertising requirements and compliance by registered health practitioners who advertise their services. This approach includes auditing health practitioners to check advertising compliance.

Continuing to support health practitioners during COVID-19

What if I can’t meet the CPD requirements because of COVID-19?
The Board expects you to make reasonable efforts to complete your required continuing professional development (CPD). However, we understand that some practitioners may have had trouble fully meeting these, particularly any face to face requirements, due to the effects of COVID-19. CPD is important as it helps maintain competence and supports safe and effective care.

The Board will not take action if you have not been able to complete your CPD for the 2020–21 registration period due to the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 and you declare this on your renewal application.

It’s important that you answer all questions honestly and accurately and declare that you have not met the CPD requirements if that is the case. The Board may request evidence in future of what you have done to address any identified gaps in your CPD learning needs. You should update your CPD plan to explain how you will address these in the next registration period.

Given the importance of CPD and the increasing availability of flexible and COVID-safe CPD options, you will be expected to fully meet CPD requirements when renewing in 2022. There are many flexible-delivery and COVID-safe options for CPD and interactive CPD can be completed virtually. COVID-related learning activities can be counted towards CPD.

Check your registration
The online, public register of practitioners is updated every day, making it the safest way for practitioners, employers and the public to check registration status.

For more information and links, read the news item.

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Audit – be ready

All registered osteopaths are required to comply with the Board’s registration standards and declare whether they were compliant when renewing their registration. The Board conducts regular audits to assess registrants’ compliance with the standards to provide assurance to the public and practitioners that the requirements of the National Law are understood and that practitioners are compliant. Registrants are selected at random for audit.

We are currently auditing the criminal history and professional indemnity insurance (PII) registration standards.

Further information on the practitioner audit is available on the Board’s website, including the contact details of Ahpra’s audit team and customer service line.

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Case studies – PII

The legislation that covers all registered practitioners, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, says that registered health practitioners must not practise unless they have appropriate PII arrangements in place.

The purpose of PII cover is to ensure that patients have an avenue of redress for injuries or economic losses that arise from damage caused by health practitioners in the course of practice. Patients are at serious risk of harm (e.g. serious injuries that prevent earning an income) when a health practitioner does not have appropriate PII arrangements in place.

Registered practitioners from other health professions have been referred to tribunals for failing to have PII arrangements in place.

In one example a pharmacist failed to hold PII for a period for four months while continuing to practise. The tribunal hearing the matter found that while the practitioner described the error as an oversight, they accepted that they ‘failed to maintain adequate and appropriate professional indemnity insurance cover’ while practising. The tribunal reprimanded the pharmacist and imposed conditions requiring the practitioner to provide the Board and Ahpra with copies of insurance certificates for a period of five years.

Another case involving a chiropractor also resulted in a reprimand.

False declarations and PII

When you renew your registration, you are asked to make a declaration that you have been practising with appropriate PII. Making a false declaration and deliberately misleading the Board is a serious matter. Courts and tribunals have characterised false declarations that affect decisions about professional registration as conduct that is substantially below that which is reasonably expected of a health practitioner. A finding of professional misconduct makes a registered practitioner liable to suspension or cancellation of registration.

In another example, a dentist failed to maintain PII for over four years but continued to practise. The dentist also declared at renewal of registration that he held PII throughout the same period. The tribunal hearing the matter characterised the wilful behaviour as professional misconduct, issued a reprimand and suspended the practitioner for four months.

It is important that you are aware of your obligations when it comes to PII. If it’s been a while, now is a good time to read over the PII registration standard and the PII guidelines. The Code of conduct also identifies professional obligation that you have with respect to PII. And remember, the declarations you make at renewal form the basis of your audit, so respond to the declarations honestly and accurately.

Please check today that your PII is current and adequate for all aspects of your practice. Graduates, organise PII before you start work as an osteopath.

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Get to know your Board – Pam Dennis

Image of womanDr Pamela Dennis, osteopath, was first appointed to the Osteopathy Board of Australia in 2013. We asked Pam to tell us about her background, role as a practitioner member and vision for the profession.

What is your experience and background?

We osteopaths are forever learning! I have drawn knowledge to support me in this regulation role from working in multi-practitioner settings in clinical practice, rehabilitation consultancy, aged care pain management and prior board experience on the Sports Medicine Board of Australia.

As a student of osteopathy at Victoria University (Melbourne) I was nominated by the Student Union as Women’s Officer in the early 90s and have stood strong for equality for women in the workforce, ensuring that sexism and harassment has no place in universities or the workplace and that our policies reflect this for future generations.

I extended my clinical role as a Pain Management Osteopath, with further studies at Otago University (NZ) in pain management, completed in 2018. This enabled me to reflect on international and other stakeholder policies and regulation. I particularly noticed how embedding cultural safety into all aspects of healthcare is needed in Australia to fully represent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and work towards a culturally safe health workforce.

What attracted you to the role of practitioner member on the Board?

My interest in professional regulation was sparked by reading the Osteopathy Board newsletters. Being on the Board is a world away from clinical practice, continuing professional development or the associations. I’ve learned the Board aims to ensure that our graduates and registered osteopaths are fully prepared for clinical and other roles and that osteopaths are not putting the public at risk.

The safety of the public must have foundations of good governance, regulation, standards, codes and guidelines; and through national regulation we can achieve public trust in our profession. I’ve been involved in many areas of our profession for several years which has helped me develop working relationships with those on the Board and other stakeholders, working together with them for our slice of safe health workforce.

What do you bring to the Board?

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I bring humour, sass and my personality to the Board, along with a well-prepared business and economic view. I speak to the rural, remote, female, academic and empathic views that need to be considered in policy direction or decisions. Having lived almost half a century in two countries and two states of Australia I bring diversity from different jurisdictions to board discussion.

What is the main focus of the Board for 2022?

To ensure our registrants are continuing to provide the best evidence-informed practice in all areas of their growing osteopath roles in the health workforce. We focus on protecting the public through policy, frameworks and good governance and entrusting the councils, ombudsmen and universities to do due diligence for our registered osteopaths and the students of osteopathy.

What are you passionate about?

Osteopathy as a profession, and its significant role in providing essential neuro-musculoskeletal care that is evidence based and encompasses cultural, social and psychological benefits to the public in this time of a pandemic. Osteopaths are leaders in providing hands-on care, we listen and have empathy and get people participating in life again.

My strength during this unusual COVID time has come from having good systems in place, flexibility to adapt to the moving, ever-changing goalposts and getting everyone vaccinated so that we can see a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel.

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Accreditation news

Osteopathy accreditation standards published

In late July the Board approved and published the revised Osteopathic accreditation standards (2021) after they were received from the Australian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC).

The revised standards came into effect on 30 July 2021 with a transition period published on the AOAC’s website. They outline the requirements that education providers must meet to ensure they are equipping graduates with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to safely and competently practise as osteopaths in Australia.

The AOAC is the accreditation authority responsible for developing accreditation standards, accrediting education providers and programs of study for the osteopathy profession.

As part of the review process the AOAC spent ten months consulting over three stages and received almost 30 submissions from stakeholders, including individual practitioners. This feedback was considered and reported on, and as a result the standards are relevant, contemporary and culturally safe.

As well as the revised accreditation standards, the AOAC has also published the Transition policy for new accreditation standards and an Essential evidence guide. You can view these on the AOAC’s Program accreditation webpage.

Read more in the news item.

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Registration news

Registration fees for 2021-22

The Board has announced the national registration fee for osteopaths for 2021-22:

  • We have increased the registration fee to $387, limiting the increase to indexation at 3 per cent.
  • The fee for practitioners whose principal place of practice is New South Wales (a co-regulated jurisdiction) is $456.

The decision to increase the fee by indexation for the 2021-22 period ensures the Board has sufficient income to allow it to carry out its duties and protect the public.

The Board is committed to keeping the fees as low as possible, while meeting our regulatory obligations to protect the public. We acknowledge that this continues to be a challenging time for health practitioners and sincerely thank you for your important role in keeping the community safe and healthy.

A full fee schedule is published on the Board’s website.

For general information about fees please visit the Ahpra website.

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Latest registration data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period 1 July to 30 September 2021. At that date, there were 3,042 registered osteopaths nationally. Of these, 2,915 had general registration, three had provisional registration and 124 had non-practising registration. 

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

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Students and graduates

Graduating soon? Be ready to start work – apply now

Before you can start practising and using the protected title ‘osteopath’, you must be registered with the Osteopathy Board of Australia (the Board).

Once you are registered, you can work as an osteopath anywhere in Australia.

If you're set to complete your course within the next three months, apply for registration now. We'll start assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results.

What are the requirements?

Requirements for registration include proving that you have met the Board’s registration standards for:

  • criminal history
  • English language skills, and
  • professional indemnity insurance.

You will also need to declare any health impairments that may affect your ability to practise.

Getting your application right

See the Board’s news item for information about the process and the steps you need to complete, including creating your account on Ahpra’s online services portal and getting the photo ID requirements right. The news item links to a handy guide to certifying documents that you can download and take with you to the authorised officer.

Check out our graduate video, and you’ll also find helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay and downloadable information flyers on the graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.

Once you are registered

When you are registered, we will publish your name to the Register of practitioners (the public register) and you can start working as an osteopath.

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National Scheme news

COVID-19 and vaccines: new joint statement helps sort fact from fiction

A joint statement has been released by Ahpra and the National Boards, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Office of the Health Ombudsman and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Its message is: You need reliable, evidence-based information to be able to make good choices about your healthcare. But in a climate thick with commentary about COVID-19 and vaccines, how do you sort fact from fiction?

The statement covers four main points:

  • Get advice from the experts (with a link to the national online register of practitioners).
  • Be safe in the knowledge that registered health practitioners must meet national standards (with links to the National Boards’ websites).
  • Don’t get swayed by opinions.
  • Reach out to a trusted person, like your GP.

It also lists and links to reliable sources of information on COVID-19 and vaccinations in Australia to help people make sure they have the best, most accurate and evidence-based information for their specific needs when making decisions about their own or their loved ones’ health.

The statement has been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese. These versions are available on Ahpra’s Translations page.

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Thousands more health practitioners now able to join the pandemic response

From 22 September, thousands of extra health practitioners can join the COVID-19 response through a new, 2021 temporary sub-register established by Ahpra and the National Boards:

  • Nearly 29,000 practitioners who recently stopped practising are now eligible to practise for up to 12 months.
  • This surge workforce will make more practitioners available to help with the pandemic response if they choose to do so.
  • Practitioners can opt out of the 2021 sub-register at any time and don't need to explain why.

The 2021 pandemic response sub-register was established in response to the changing needs of Australia’s health system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes 12 regulated health professions whose members can work to the full scope of their registration.

Read more on Ahpra’s website.

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You may notice that the public register looks a little different

Ahpra has launched a new-look public register with enhanced search capabilities. The aim of the enhancements is to make the online register easier to use, especially for those in our communities who may have barriers to access.

What’s different?

Some of the changes you’ll see include:

  • increased prominence of the register on the Ahpra homepage so it’s easier to find
  • simplified language with pop-up information boxes, and
  • improved search functionality, including:
    • predictive text
    • phonetic searching capability
    • search by location, and
    • refined search filters (including being able to search by the 15 most common community languages)

To help users navigate the new-look register, we’ve developed a ‘how to search’ video which is available on our Help and tips page.

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New independent accreditation committee established

A new independent accreditation committee has been established by Ahpra in line with Health Ministers’ policy direction issued earlier this year and as a key element of Health Ministers’ response to the Independent review of accreditation systems final report.

The broad stakeholder membership of the committee will bring a wide range of perspectives to the new committee’s work, recognising the importance of professional and accreditation expertise as well as community, employer and education provider involvement.

Accreditation provides a framework for assuring that individuals seeking registration are suitably trained, qualified and competent to practise as health practitioners in Australia.

The new committee brings together a broad range of expertise that will help inform health practitioner education to support future workforce needs and protects the public. The committee’s terms of reference have been published on the Ahpra website.

Members have been appointed for a three-year term and have been drawn from categories identified by the Health Council, with the addition of a member who identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Read more in the news item.

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Research and evaluation framework to embed strong research culture

National Boards and Ahpra have published the Research and evaluation framework, the guiding document that outlines how we prioritise, carry out, manage and assess research and evaluation

The framework, which builds on the inaugural framework released in 2017, aims to further embed an ethical, transparent and accountable best practice research and evaluation culture within the National Scheme.

The framework covers all National Scheme research and evaluation activities including those led by Ahpra staff and external researchers and consultants. It includes information on:

  • research and evaluation principles
  • priorities
  • governance and practice
  • engagement and communication.

The framework can be viewed on the Ahpra website.

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Information for practitioners on changes to Queensland Criminal Code: Child Sexual Offences

As of 5 July 2021, Queensland’s Criminal Code Act 1899 is amended under the Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 to include two new offences (Criminal Code, Chapter 22 – Offences against morality):

  • ss. 229BB – Failure to protect a child from a sexual offence: will make it an offence to fail to protect a child from a sexual offence in an institutional setting. The offence will be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment for an ‘accountable person’ who fails to protect a child from a sexual offence.
  • ss. 229BC – Failure to report sexual offending against a child to police: will make it an offence for any adult not to report sexual offending against a child by another adult to police. This obligation extends outside of the workplace to our responsibility as members of the Queensland community to protect children. The offence will be punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment for any adult who fails to report child sexual abuse to police.

These new offences recognise the difficulties victims have in disclosing or reporting abuse, the vulnerability of children, and the risk that perpetrators of child sexual abuse may have multiple victims and may continue to reoffend against particular victims over lengthy periods of time.

The Criminal Code amendment does not replace the mandatory reporting obligations of doctors and registered nurses under the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (the CP Act).

This advice applies to all registered health practitioners; for further information please visit: www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/types-of-crime/sexual-offences-against-children.

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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 9285 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: Dr Nikole Grbin, Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 26/09/2022