Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia - June 2022
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June 2022

Issue 21 – June 2022

Chair's message

Welcome to our newsletter, particularly to new graduates and practitioners who might be receiving this newsletter for the first time. As always, we welcome your feedback about the content – if you would like more information about certain topics, let us know.

Thank you all for your continued commitment to the health and safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People throughout the pandemic.

I encourage you to renew your registration by 30 November each year, even if the job you are doing doesn’t require you to be registered or doesn’t use the protected title of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner. Not all states and territories of Australia have mapped jobs for our registered health practitioners yet. The registration renewal process lets the public and your colleagues know that you’re still meeting the standards of your trusted profession.

Renee Owen

Chair, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia 

Board news

Code of conduct – advance copy available now

An advance copy of the revised Code of conduct (the code) is available now and we encourage you to read and be familiar with it before it comes into effect on 29 June 2022. The code sets out our expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners. You have a professional responsibility to apply this code in your practice, helping to keep the public safe.

We also encourage you to read the FAQs and a document covering the 11 principles of the code – you can find them at Resources to help health practitioners.

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data has been released. The report covers 1 January to 31 March 2022. At this date, there were 859 registered practitioners (including 30 on the pandemic response sub-register): 847 with general registration as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner, and 12 non-practising registrants.

For more details, including registration data by principal place of practice, age and gender, visit our Statistics page.

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National Scheme news

2021 pandemic response sub-register gets a boost

More than 20,000 health practitioners are now on the 2021 pandemic response sub-register after practitioners on the 2020 sub-register opted in to extend their temporary registration.

The 2020 sub-register was established in April 2020 to provide a surge health workforce to support the COVID-19 response. Inclusion was voluntary and practitioners could opt out at any time.

The temporary registration of practitioners on the 2020 sub-register expired on 5 April 2022. In September 2021, Ahpra and the National Boards established a new sub-register (the 2021 sub-register), enabling recently retired practitioners from 12 regulated health professions to return to practice for up to 12 months.

There are now 20,730 health practitioners with temporary registration to support the COVID-19 response. They are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners (all divisions), diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists.

All practitioners on the 2021 sub-register can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations). Their registration expires on 21 September 2022. However, if governments alert Ahpra and the National Boards to significant changes in need, the sub-register may stay open for longer. 

For more information, see pandemic response sub-register and FAQs for practitioners. There are also FAQs for employers.

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Facilitating access to care in a COVID-19 environment

Ahpra and the National Boards recognise that registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and commend them for their sustained efforts.

National Boards expect all health practitioners to facilitate access to care regardless of someone’s vaccination status. People cannot be denied care if steps can be taken to keep the person, health practitioners and their staff safe.

Good practice involves keeping health practitioners, staff and patients safe. Some practitioners may be considering how best to do this while also facilitating access to care in the current COVID-19 environment.

Ahpra and the National Boards have developed guidance to help support good practice in this context. The guidance reinforces existing codes and guidelines and other publicly available information and does not introduce new or different requirements for practitioners.

National Boards expect practitioners to first comply with public health orders in their state or territory. The principle of safely facilitating access to care should then guide decisions about treating people in a COVID-19 environment.

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Senate Committee tables its report

The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee has tabled its report on the inquiry into the Administration of registration and notifications by Ahpra and related entities under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

Ahpra actively engaged with the inquiry, with representatives of Ahpra, the Agency Management Committee and Community Advisory Council all appearing. There were public submissions and stakeholder appearances.

We will consider the recommendations directed to Ahpra and National Boards and contribute to the Australian Government response, as requested.

The report is available on the Inquiry web page.

Listen up! Taking care podcasts

Ahpra releases a new Taking care episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. Download and listen today. You can also listen and subscribe on SpotifyApple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

Recent episodes include:

  • safe and person-centred healthcare for refugee and asylum centre communities
  • openness and candour – a road to greater patient safety
  • two voices from LGBTIQA+ communities
  • practitioners providing safe healthcare for our LGBTIQA+ communities
  • health practitioners’ role in eliminating family violence.

Transcripts of podcasts are also available on the podcasts page.

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Keep in touch with the Board

Call Ahpra on 1300 419 495 or 08 7071 5647 if you:

  • have any questions
  • need help filling in forms, or
  • are having trouble explaining to your employer about requirements. You can ask your employer to call this number.

The Board’s website has information on registration forms, registration standards, codes and guidelines, and news. If you have already lodged your application, you may call the registration officer responsible for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner applications directly on 08 7071 5647.

To contact the Board, please call Jill Humphreys on 03 8708 9066 or send an email to [email protected].

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Page reviewed 27/06/2022