September 2018

Issue 20 - September 2018


Message from the Chair

Photo of Nikole GrbinWelcome to the Spring 2018 issue of the Osteopathy Board of Australia’s newsletter. You’ll notice a new look to our newsletter and we hope the new format is easier to read during your busy day.

We’ll be keeping you up to date with changes to standards and guidelines, public consultations, regulation and registration matters, Board projects and events. As always we welcome your feedback.

As a new term is about to begin for Board members, we say farewell with deep gratitude to Philip Tehan and Natalie Rutsche who have both served nine years on the Board as practitioner members. Between them they brought decades of regulatory experience from state boards to the new National Board in 2009, and invaluable knowledge to our decision-making throughout their terms with the Board. We wish them well in their future endeavours. New members of the Board will be introduced in our next newsletter.

Dr Nikole Grbin
Osteopath
Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia

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Osteopathy Board news

Variation and exemptions to the registration standards

The Board often receives questions from practitioners and employers about the requirements to meet the Board’s registration standards if a practitioner is working part time; is on maternity, paternity, or adoption leave (parental leave); or is not registered for the full registration cycle. To help osteopaths and employers we are providing information about the application of the standards in these situations.

There are four registration standards that practitioners must make annual declarations about at the end of each registration cycle from 1 December to 30 November as part of renewal of registration. These standards are criminal history, professional indemnity insurance arrangements (PII), continuing professional development (CPD) and recency of practice (RoP).

Criminal history

The Board’s criminal history registration standard is published on the Registration standards page of our website.

There are no variations or exemptions to compliance with this standard, which requires practitioners to declare at renewal of registration any changes to their criminal history in Australia or overseas since their last declaration.

All registered osteopaths and students have obligations under the law to advise the Board of certain criminal history events within seven days if you are charged with or convicted of certain offences punishable by 12 months’ imprisonment or more. A Notice of certain events form is available on the AHPRA website. This topic is covered more fully in the May 2017 newsletter.

Professional indemnity insurance

The Board’s PII registration standard is published on the Registration standards page of our website.

The PII standard requires that a practitioner who is practising must have PII arrangements in place for all aspects of their practice. At initial registration and annual renewal of registration, a practitioner is required to declare that they will not practise unless they have appropriate PII arrangements.

There are no variations or exemptions to compliance with this standard.

The standard applies to all registered osteopaths. It does not apply to students or osteopaths with non-practising registration.

If you cease practice, you must take out run-off cover for matters that would otherwise be uncovered arising from your previous practice.

If you hold private insurance in your own name, you must retain documentary evidence of your insurance for at least five years.

Continuing professional development

The Board’s CPD registration standard, CPD registration guidelines and CPD fact sheet are published on the Registration standards page of our website.

The CPD standard and guidelines do not apply to students or osteopaths with non-practising registration.

The CPD registration standard requires you to:

  • complete a minimum of 25 hours of CPD per year, which includes four hours of mandatory topics approved by the Board
  • hold a current first aid certificate at the minimum standard of a Senior First Aid (level 2) certificate or equivalent, and
  • keep your records of meeting the registration standard for five years.

There are no variations or exemptions to the requirement to hold a current Senior First Aid certificate or to keep records for five years.

The CPD registration standard makes available variations to the requirement for 25 hours of CPD per year depending on the length of registration in a registration cycle and if exceptional circumstances apply to a practitioner (see below).

Pro rata requirements

Pro rata reduction of CPD requirements does not apply to practitioners who work part time. If you work part time and hold registration for the full registration period then you must still complete 25 hours of CPD.

A pro rata reduction of CPD will only apply to you if you are registered for less than nine months of the registration period.

If this is the case, then you must complete six hours of CPD for every three months of registration in the registration cycle. For example, if you have had non-practising registration and then move to general registration in July as you have started to work again, you would be required to complete 12 hours of CPD for the six months you had general registration from July to December.

Exemption requirements

Taking parental leave does not mean that you are exempt from the CPD requirements. It is expected that you keep in touch with the profession during a normal period of parental leave by doing CPD.

The Board may grant an exemption from CPD requirements if exceptional circumstances exist that mean you have had a substantial absence from practice as an osteopath. When considering an application for an exemption the Board will look for evidence that the exceptional circumstances have created a significant obstacle to your ability to complete CPD. Examples of what may be considered exceptional circumstances include bereavement and serious illness.

Requests for an exemption to the CPD requirements are considered by the Board on an individual case by case basis. The Board may allow a full or partial exemption to your CPD requirements. If you wish to apply for an exemption you should do so in writing before making your annual declaration as part of your renewal of registration. This allows time for the Board to consider the circumstances of your application.

Recency of practice

The Board’s CPD registration standard and fact sheet Satisfying recency of practice and returning to practice requirements are published on the Registration standards>FAQ page of our website.

The RoP standard and guidelines do not apply to students or osteopaths with non-practising registration.

The RoP standard requires that you must have practised as an osteopath in your current domain of practice for at least 450 hours in the previous three years.

There are no variations or exemptions to compliance with this standard.

Returning to practice after three years of absence or fewer than 450 hours of practice in the past three years

If you are returning to practice after a period of absence or have not practised for at least 450 hours in the previous three years in your current domain, the Board when considering an application for general registration or a renewal of registration application may require you to have a re-entry to practice plan to ensure you are competent for practice as set out in the Capabilities for osteopathic practice.

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Non-practising registration

Non-practising registration is granted to osteopaths who have previously held registration in the profession who do not wish to practise the profession but wish to remain registered.

You may choose to use non-practising registration rather than general registration if you are ill or intending to take a long absence from the profession, for example as part of your parental leave.

If you hold non-practising registration and would like to practise osteopathy again you must lodge an application for general registration and meet the Board’s registration standards as set out above.

That is, if you are returning to work after absence from the profession, you would have to meet the following requirements:

  • A declaration in relation to your criminal history since your last renewal of registration (either general registration or non-practising registration.
  • A declaration that you have PII arrangements in place.
  • A declaration in relation to RoP. If you do not meet this registration standard then the Board will consider the circumstances of non-compliance, such as length of absence, reason for absence, prior experience and may decide on a re-entry to profession plan for you. 

Audit has begun

This Board is currently auditing a number of osteopaths as part of our work to protect the public. At renewal each year you have to declare your compliance with mandatory registration standards. A random sample of practitioners is selected and will receive an audit notice in the mail from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). It includes a checklist that outlines what supporting documentation is required to demonstrate that you meet the three standards being audited: criminal history, CPD and PII.

Please refer to the information we provided in the April 2016 and May 2017 newsletters. Any osteopath who is found to have made a false declaration can expect the Board to take action against their registration.

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First aid requirements

The Board’s CPD registration standard states that all generally registered practitioners must hold a current first aid certificate at the minimum standard of a Senior First Aid (Level 2) certificate or equivalent. This is in addition to CPD requirements. First aid certificates are valid for three years.

You must ensure that you refresh your first aid training to ensure you comply with the CPD registration standard before your first aid certificate is due to expire. If returning to practice, a first aid certificate must be current before practice can resume.

The first aid requirement is a stand-alone requirement and does not count towards the 25 hours of mandatory CPD.

The Senior First Aid (Level 2) course has changed name and code from time to time, and there are many providers. For example, it has been called 'Apply First Aid' and 'Provide First Aid'. The Board does not specify unit name or code in its registration standard, but says ‘or equivalent’. It is usually a minimum of one full day training and you must refresh your training every three years to comply with the Board’s CPD registration standard. If you are selected for audit you will be required to submit evidence of your certification to cover the audit period.

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Scheduled review of accreditation assignments

National Boards and AHPRA have completed a scheduled review to consider accreditation arrangements from mid-2019, when the current term of assignment of accreditation functions ends.

After considering a range of factors, including the multi-profession analysis and responses to consultation, the Osteopathy Board decided to continue to assign the accreditation functions for the osteopathy profession to the current accreditation authority, the Australasian Osteopathic Accreditation Council (AOAC) for the period 1 July 2019 – 30 June 2024, subject to COAG Health Council’s decisions on the outcomes of the yet-to-be-released Accreditation Systems Review (ASR) final report.

The Board thanks the AOAC for their commitment and work to date, and looks forward to continuing work to make the accreditation arrangements in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme) as effective as possible. National Boards and AHPRA also thank stakeholders for their feedback about the current and future accreditation arrangements in the National Scheme.

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Board sets registration fee for 2018/19

The registration fee has again been frozen at $376. The fee for practitioners whose principal place of practice is New South Wales1 is $525. A full fee schedule is published on the Board’s website.

The National Scheme is funded by health practitioners’ registration fees. More detailed information about the Board’s financial operations is outlined in the health profession agreement between the Board and AHPRA for 2016/20, which is published on the Board’s website.


1 NSW is a co-regulatory jurisdiction.

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National Scheme news

Release of consultation paper on proposed legislative updates to national registration

AHPRA welcomes the release of a consultation paper by the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) on keeping the national legislation on the registration and accreditation of health practitioners across Australia up to date.

The consultation paper, Regulation of Australia’s health professions: keeping the National Law up to date and fit for purpose, outlines important potential changes to the National Law.2

National Boards and AHPRA will be looking at the paper carefully and providing considered responses on the proposals and we encourage others to provide considered feedback via the submissions process by the closing date on 31 October 2018.


2 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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Advertising update: selectively editing reviews or testimonials may break the law

AHPRA has issued more guidance for advertisers to make it clearer that selectively editing reviews is not acceptable.

Under the National Law, testimonials about clinical care are not permitted, but reviews about non-clinical aspects of care are allowed.

In a recent case, an advertiser removed all negative comments from patients’ reviews. This selective editing changed the meaning of the reviews and had the potential to mislead the public. AHPRA’s new guidance makes it clear this is not acceptable and outlines the rules about editing or moderating reviews. It is misleading to:

  • edit a review that is negative to make it positive, as this falsely presents the feedback
  • edit a review that has a mix of negative and positive comments so that the published review only has positive comments, as this falsely implies that the reviewer only had positive feedback, or
  • edit a review so that it no longer accurately reflects all the reviewer’s feedback and presents an inaccurate or false impression of the reviewer’s views.

Reviews influence consumers' healthcare choices so advertisers must make sure reviews are genuine and not misleading.

The way advertisers moderate and publish reviews must comply with the National Law and the Australian Consumer Law.

The updated testimonial tool is available in the Advertising resources section on the AHPRA website.

For more information, access the Advertising resources on the AHPRA website. 

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Closing the gap by 2031: a shared commitment

A landmark commitment was launched recently to help achieve equity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians to close the gap by 2031.

Launched on Thursday 5 July, the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Statement of Intent is signed by 37 health organisations, including leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations and entities working to implement Australia’s regulation scheme for health practitioners; AHPRA, all National Boards and all accreditation authorities.

The work to develop the Statement of Intent and its associated work is being led by the National Scheme Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group and coordinated by AHPRA on behalf of the National Scheme. It has been developed in close partnership with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and experts.

The group shares a commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have access to health services that are culturally safe and free from racism so that they can enjoy a healthy life, equal to that of other Australians, enriched by a strong living culture, dignity and justice.

To help achieve this, the group is focusing on:

  • a culturally safe health workforce supported by nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all professions in the National Scheme
  • using our leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals
  • increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ participation in the registered health workforce
  • greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services of health professions regulated under the National Scheme, and
  • increased participation across all levels of the National Scheme.

AHPRA and the National Boards also launched our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). The RAP is an important formal statement of our commitment to work in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to achieve patient safety for all Australians.

The National Scheme is uniquely placed in being able to directly contribute to, and significantly influence, real change to improve patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in Australia’s health system. This is also true for all of us working within the Scheme, including AHPRA, the 15 National Boards and accreditation authorities.

You can read more about the Statement of Intent and the RAP on the AHPRA website.

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Research finds truly vexatious complaints are very rare

New independent research commissioned by AHPRA has looked nationally and internationally at vexatious complaints, finding these are very rare; and that there is more risk from people not reporting concerns than from making complaints in bad faith.

There is a common misconception that a complaint must have been vexatious if it resulted in no regulatory action. However, a decision by a National Board not to take regulatory action does not mean that the complaint was unfounded or made in bad faith. For example, a risk to the public may have been adequately addressed between the time the complaint was made and when the investigation concluded.

The report will be used to inform best practice for reducing, identifying, and managing vexatious complaints and helps to identify opportunities to work with others to help reduce their frequency and adverse consequences.

The report is available on the AHPRA website under Published research.

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AHPRA designated a WHO Collaborating Centre for health workforce regulation across the Western Pacific

AHPRA’s commitment to best practice and learning from others has received a boost, with an official designation from the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Collaborating Centre for health workforce regulation. This designation means that AHPRA, in partnership with National Boards, will work with WHO and its Member States in the Western Pacific to strengthen regulatory practice across the region.

Crucial to the work of the Collaborating Centre is establishing a network of regulators across South East Asia and the Western Pacific. The network is expected to work on improving regulatory standards.

The designation as a Collaboration Centre is timely, with the Australian Government Department of Health and WHO recently beginning a four-year Cooperation Strategy. Strengthening regulation in health services, health workforce, radiation, food safety and health products is an identified priority for the joint work in this Cooperation Strategy. You can access the Cooperation Strategy on WHO’s information-sharing site. Queries about AHPRA’s work as a Collaboration Centre can be directed to WHO_CC_HWR@ahpra.gov.au.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Osteopathy Board website for mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ. Visiting the website regularly is the best way to stay in touch with news and updates from the Board.
  • Lodge an online 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 for important registration renewal emails and other Board updates, go to the online services section on the AHPRA website.
  • Address mail correspondence to: Dr Nikole Grbin, Chair, Osteopathy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001

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Page reviewed 13/09/2018