This is my first newsletter as Chair of the Osteopathy Board of Australia (the Board) since Ministerial Council appointments were announced; my term began in October. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a practitioner in Byron Bay and an academic at Southern Cross University, and there was a profile piece in the September 2022 newsletter.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Nikole Grbin for her tireless work as the practitioner member from South Australia for 11 years, especially for her leadership as Chair of the Board for the past nine years, and wish her all the best for the future.
In August we farewelled Pam Dennis, practitioner member from Tasmania with 10 years of service to the Board, and her insight and experience will be missed. We also said goodbye to Julia Duffy, community member from Queensland, who has also held other roles on a state board and a multi-profession immediate action committee.
This month we welcomed a new practitioner member from South Australia, Casey Beaumont, and a practitioner member from Tasmania, Zoe Wood. We met the new members at the National Scheme’s Combined Meeting and Conference on 9 to 11 October where we also had formal meetings with the osteopathy accreditation council and osteopathy regulators from New Zealand and NSW. A great experience for our new-look Board.
Associate Professor Paul Orrock
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia
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The Board Chair and Executive Officer attended the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA) Annual General Meeting and Conference in London from 19 to 21 October 2023. The conference was an opportunity to meet regulators from more than 30 countries and to focus on current issues, trends and ideas in osteopathic regulation, education and research. The Institute of Osteopathy and General Osteopathic Council in the UK hosted the conference.
The other countries are in various stages on the spectrum of full regulation of osteopaths and osteopathic physicians. Each year there are one or two more countries that have achieved regulation. Australia is fortunate to have been the first country to regulate osteopaths 45 years ago, and to also have more recently achieved national registration and accreditation which is not possible in countries such as the US and Canada.
There were several Australian presenters at the conference, including Paul Orrock. Meetings with the UK and NZ regulators were held to discuss issues of mutual interest including each country’s osteopathy workforce situation. The next OIA conference will be held in Sydney on 24 to 26 October 2024.
Image: Paul Orrock, Osteopathy Board Chair and Matiu Taingahue, OCNZ Chair at the OIA conference.
After nine busy years, it’s time to farewell the long-serving Chair of the Osteopathy Board of Australia, Dr Nikole Grbin.
Nikole was appointed to the Board in 2012 as the South Australian practitioner member and took up the role of Chair in October 2014. During her time as Chair, the maximum nine years allowed, Nikole has seen many changes to the osteopathy profession and to regulation more widely.
‘When I joined the Board there were about 1,700 registered osteopaths in Australia. Now, as I hand over the reins, we will have nearly 3,400 registrants!
‘Along with this substantial growth, we’ve noticeably matured in our regulatory approach. In the early days the profession was pleased to be “in the tent” of regulation with Ahpra, and during my time as Chair I’ve seen greater collaboration and work carried out to better support interprofessional collaborative practice. This collaborative approach has significantly contributed to the high esteem Ahpra and the Boards are held in internationally and is something we should all be very proud of,’ said Nikole.
Reflecting on her time as Chair, Nikole speaks fondly of the people she’s worked with and relationships she’s fostered.
‘So much of the success in regulation hinges on the people and organisations we work with, and I’m very lucky to have worked with wonderful people. The Board works with a wide range of stakeholders to do what we do, and I’m delighted to be leaving these relationships in good health, knowing that they’re in the safe hands of the Board.
‘The National Scheme is full of good people who work hard, including the members of the Board. Their patience, commitment, diligence and kindness will stay with me for a lifetime, and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved together. And a big thank you needs to go to Cathy Woodward, the Board’s Executive Officer and her team, I’ll greatly miss working with you!’
Nikole’s term finished on 1 October 2023, and Nikole’s future looks to have some more international work and happy huskies in it.
‘I’ve been with the Board for so long that I can’t remember life before it! I’ll be having a little break before I turn my mind to what’s next, but I’d like to continue my involvement with the Osteopathic International Alliance – the leading organisation that champions the advancement of the profession globally.
‘I’m also hoping to spend some more time in my garden, and I know my four huskies are going to be thrilled to get more walks!'
Image: Nikole Grbin receives a certificate of recognition for her service from Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher at the August Board meeting.
Osteopaths have until 30 November 2023 to renew their general or non-practising registration on time.
We encourage you to renew early to avoid delays during the busy renewal period. Renewing on time also means you’ll avoid late fees which apply after 30 November.
Look out for an email from Ahpra providing access to online renewal.
The registration fee for osteopaths increased below indexation by 3 per cent to $411 from 20 September. This will cover the registration period from 1 December 2023 to 30 November 2024. The NSW fee is $526 which is set by the NSW Council.
Osteopaths are not immune to the current economic challenges. The Board recognises this and has worked to keep fees as low as possible while ensuring we can perform our vital role to keep the public safe.
Head to the registration renewal webpage to start an online application.
If you submit your application on time, or during the following one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is assessed.
If you don’t renew by the end of the late period, 31 December 2023, your registration will lapse, you’ll be removed from the Register of practitioners and you won’t be able to use the protected title for the profession.
The Board highlights that osteopaths must hold appropriate PII to practise, it’s a requirement of the National Law and registration renewal is the perfect time of year to check your PII. Our strong message this year is do not assume that your PII is current and paid up without looking up your administration files, bank account or emails.
When you renew, you’ll need to declare that you won’t practise until you meet the PII registration standard.
Read the renewal FAQs on the Ahpra website for helpful tips and information on what you need to do to renew.
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 health impairments you need to tell us about.
The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 30 June 2023. At that date, there were 3,325 registered osteopaths nationally. Of these, 3,161 had general registration, 11 had provisional registration and 153 had non-practising registration.
The gender percentages are 54.1% female (1,799) and 45.9% male (1,526).
For further data breakdowns by age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.
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.
A new 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 start making vital contributions to safe healthcare and to your communities. If, after reading our helpful tips, you would still like help with your application for registration, please email the support team at email@example.com.
In addition to a Justice of the Peace (JP), most registered health practitioners, public servants, teachers, lecturers and members of the legal profession can certify photographic ID documents.
For the full list of authorised officers see the Certifying documents guide.
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 get it right the first time, download the Certifying documents guide and take it with you to the authorised officer.
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.
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.
Cosmetic procedures, including Botox and other anti-wrinkle injections and fillers, will be under the spotlight in an expansion of Ahpra’s year-long crackdown on Australia’s cosmetic surgery industry. Stronger public safeguards are needed because of escalating consumer demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures and more health practitioners seeking a career in the cosmetics industry.
One year on from the cosmetic surgery review, work is complete on most reforms with higher practice standards and new advertising rules for medical practitioners now in place. Further reforms will focus on the non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry with new guidelines coming for all health practitioners providing these services.
The planned overhauls are likely to place a stronger emphasis on informed consent and pre-procedure consultation, including a patient suitability assessment. There will also be a focus on prescribing and administering prescription-only cosmetic injectables.
Proposed new advertising guidelines are likely to focus on the use of ‘before and after’ images, claims about expertise and qualifications of practitioners, and affirm the ban on the use of testimonials. There will also be clear rules on the use of influencers and social media figures.
Public consultation on the proposed guidelines will open in coming months ahead of their release in the first half of 2024.
Read more in the news item.
Only specialist surgeons will be able to call themselves ‘surgeon’ under new legislation to restrict the use of the title by registered medical practitioners. The change means that a medical practitioner will only be able to use the title ‘surgeon’ if they are registered in one of the recognised specialties of surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, or ophthalmology.
The amendment to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law legally protects the title ‘surgeon' from being used by any doctor without the necessary qualifications and training. Before this, any registered medical practitioner could call themselves a surgeon, even if they were not registered in a surgical specialty or had not completed specialist training in surgery.
The move supports the work of Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia to clean up the cosmetic surgery industry, with only specialist doctors now able to call themselves a cosmetic surgeon, and complements the Medical Board’s introduction of an endorsement for cosmetic surgery. Both will help patients understand who is qualified and equip them to make informed choices.
Doctors who continue to use the title illegally may face criminal and/or regulatory action.
The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) serves and supports the international regulatory community. Its global membership promotes regulatory excellence to improve the quality and understanding of regulation to enhance public protection. At its annual educational conference in the United States, CLEAR presented an award to Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU), highlighting its critical role in dismantling racist behaviours and systems in healthcare.
Established in 2021, the HSU ensures that Indigenous experts lead reforms to make regulatory processes culturally safe and free from racism, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are represented in decision making. The HSU draws on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, practitioners, peak bodies, and race scholars to shape its transformative work.
Led by Gomeroi woman Jayde Fuller, the HSU drives Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 and its goal of eliminating racism from the health system by 2032. Ms Fuller told the conference that: ‘Culturally safe healthcare for Indigenous people has been a commitment in our organisation for six years – but we've been protecting our communities for 65,000 years and regulators can learn a lot from our survival and ways of knowing, being and doing.’
‘Healthcare should not be harmful. We are taking a strategic approach to dismantling all forms of racism – systemic, institutional and interpersonal. This includes ownership and accountability by providers, practitioners and regulators for creating safe healthcare,’ Ms Fuller said.
The CLEAR award recognises the HSU’s role in driving world-first reform to embed cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare into Australian legislation. The law reforms mean that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive care that is racist and unsafe and their complaint enters the regulatory system, cultural safety must be considered. As well, registered health practitioners are required to take steps to educate themselves on cultural safety in relation to the accessibility of their services.
The award also highlights the HSU’s work to:
The latest episode in Ahpra's Taking care podcast is ‘Coming to a land down under: Australia as a destination for health practitioners’. This ep. examines the path overseas health workers must tread when wanting to work in Australia.
Listen and subscribe by searching for 'Taking care' in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify), or listen on our website.
Click on the graphic below to visit the National Scheme's newsletter page. The next issue comes out in November.