The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board has made steady progress on its strategic objectives during 2019/20. Those objectives include telling the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner story to governments and the wider community so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners can be understood and used to their full capabilities as registered health practitioners.
By making sure a registered health practitioner is qualified and competent to carry out the work they do in their everyday practice, whether that is through individually sought or employer-led training and education, there is much we can do to promote a better understanding of the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners in the broader health workforce.
In keeping with the objectives of the National Law, the Board does not define what a registered practitioner can or cannot do in their everyday practice (their chosen scope of practice) but rather, leaves that up to the individual and/or employer.
Our profession was highlighted by governments as a priority workforce to be ready to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in the communities where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work. We established a sub-register of eligible practitioners who were no longer registered but had been recently. Those practitioners who opted in to the sub-register were re-registered for up to 12 months.
The Board published five revised registration standards on 1 December 2019:
Several supporting documents have also been published to help explain the registration standards, codes and guidelines.
The Board is contributing to the work to revise its Code of conduct, which is shared with 11 other health professions regulated in the National Scheme.
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee (ATSIHPAC) is a committee of the Board. ATSIHPAC continues to do a fine job monitoring and reporting to the Board on the accredited programs of study. Its job is made more challenging by the geographic spread of our approved programs of study and the Board is very appreciative of ATSIHPAC's diligent work in this vital area.
The Board looks forward to the implementation of the revised accreditation standards from 1 July 2020. The revised standards expand the eligibility criteria for programs of study to seek accreditation for courses leading to registration for practitioners.
The Board conducts extensive visits and engagements when it meets four times a year. It is always good to visit services and to see the very broad ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work, helping to provide culturally safe care across the breadth of the health system. We hope to return to our normal visiting schedule when safe to do so after the COVID-19 pandemic eases.
Ms Renee Owen, Chair