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

March 2022

Issue 20 – March 2022


Chair's message

Welcome to our first newsletter for 2022. We can celebrate that there are now over 900 registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners around Australia. While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create challenges in our work and personal lives, it is a great reflection on your passion, enthusiasm and dedication that the profession continues to grow despite these.

The Board’s work has continued during the COVID pandemic, and we have – in conjunction with some other National Boards – finalised a revised Code of conduct and published a framework for supervision (see more below). The Board remains keen to spread the word about the roles of our profession across all facets of the health system in Australia, and to highlight the great work that is done for our communities by our practitioners.

We acknowledge the efforts of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who have contributed to the health of our people across Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Renee Owen

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

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Board news

Vacancies on the National Board for WA and Qld practitioner members

Are you a registered Aboriginal Health Practitioner from Western Australia or Queensland? Would you like to know more about the role of Board members in the National Scheme regulating registered health practitioners from this and the other 15 professions?

National Board appointments are made by the Ministerial Council, under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law), as in force in each state and territory.

Vacancies on National Boards are published on the Board appointments page. We invite registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners who live and work in Queensland and Western Australia to apply.

You can watch a video compilation from two recent Q&A webinar sessions, featuring Board members discussing what is involved and what life is like as a board member.

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Vacancies on our accreditation committee – express your interest!

We invite applications from registered Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners for appointment to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee.

The role of the committee is to exercise accreditation functions under the National Law, which are assigned by the Board. The functions are to:

  • develop accreditation standards
  • assess programs of study
  • monitor approved programs of study and education providers to ensure they continue to meet the accreditation standards, and
  • advise the Board of issues in education and practice which may impact on Aboriginal and Torres Islander health practice and the conduct of programs of study.

Applicants must have current or recent experience in:

Education – preferably with experience working in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector and in delivering training in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care (Practice).

Accreditation – preferably within the health sector.

To view the vacancy and submit an application, visit the Committee member recruitment page.

For general enquiries, please email statutoryappointments@ahpra.gov.au.

Applications close on Sunday 21 August 2022 at 5:00pm, AEST.

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Supervised practice framework now in effect

The Supervised practice framework, developed by 13 National Boards and Ahpra, is in effect. It applies to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners (but not students studying to become Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners).

The framework outlines the National Boards’ expectations when a registered practitioner is required by the Board to be supervised, and supports supervisees, supervisors and employers to understand what is necessary to effectively carry out supervised practice. The framework also includes the principles that underpin supervised practice and the levels of supervised practice.

To support supervisees, supervisors and employers to understand and apply the framework, the National Boards and Ahpra have developed a set of frequently asked questions and two key-steps diagrams. The diagrams outline the key steps of supervised practice for registration requirements or suitability and eligibility requirements and for supervised practice following a complaint (notification).

The framework and additional information can be found on the Supervised practice page.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice regulation at work: protecting the public in 2020/21

A profession-specific annual report summary that looks into the work of the National Board over the 12 months to 30 June 2021 is published on our Annual report page.

The report draws on data from the Annual report 2020/21 by Ahpra and the National Boards and includes the number of applications for registration, outcomes of practitioner audits and segmentation of the registrant base by gender, age and principal place of practice.

Notifications information includes the number of complaints or concerns received, matters opened and closed during the year, types of complaint, monitoring and compliance and matters involving immediate action.

Insights into the profession include:

Registration

  • 829 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, up 2.1% from 2019/20
  • 0.1% of all registered health practitioners
  • 77.3% female; 22.7% male.

Notifications

  • 9 registered Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners Australia-wide had notifications made about them
  • 1.1% of the profession
  • 44.4% of notifications were made by an employer, 22.2% were made by a patient, relative or member of the public, and 11.1% by another practitioner
  • the most common types of complaints were about offence against other law (44.4%), confidentiality (22.2%), health impairment (11.1%), documentation (11.1%), and boundary violation (11.1%).

For more details, visit our Annual report page.

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Registration

On the 2020 sub-register? You can extend your registration to keep supporting the pandemic response

Practitioners on the 2020 pandemic response sub-register can now opt in to extend their temporary registration before it expires to keep supporting the pandemic response.

Key points

  • 23,000 practitioners are registered on the 2020 pandemic response sub-register until 5 April 2022.
  • Medical practitioners, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register can now opt in to extend their registration to 21 September 2022 or apply to transition to the main register for ongoing registration.
  • Practitioners who do not contact Ahpra before their registration expires will no longer hold registration from 6 April 2022 that enables them to practise.

Ahpra and National Boards are acutely aware that our health system still needs help as it continues to deal with increased healthcare demands and workforce challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Practitioners on the 2020 sub-register are being contacted by Ahpra before their temporary registration expires on 5 April 2022 about the options available to stay registered, which would take effect from 6 April 2022. There is no obligation involved.

For more information and how to opt in or apply, see the news item on Ahpra’s website.

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Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data has been released. The report covers 1 October to 31 December 2021. At this date, there were 916 registered practitioners (including 31 on the pandemic response sub-register): 905 with general registration as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner, and 11 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

What’s the point of protected titles?

Recently, there’s been some debate about protected titles and how they work to protect the public. Ahpra and the National Boards provide the following guidance to help inform the discussion.

What is a protected title?

In Australia, the titles of registered health professions are 'protected' by law. This is important because they can act as a sort of shorthand for patients and consumers. When someone uses a protected title (for example, ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner'), you can expect that person is appropriately trained and qualified in that profession, registered, and that they are expected to meet safe and professional standards of practice.

The protected titles under the National Law can be accessed on the Ahpra FAQs page.

What are protected specialist titles?

Medicine, dentistry and podiatry also have approved specialist titles for their professions. This means that a practitioner who uses these titles to describe themselves has additional training and qualifications in a specialty field. For example, a podiatrist who has additional training and qualifications in podiatric surgery and meets the requirements for specialist registration can use the protected title ‘podiatric surgeon’.

What about cosmetic surgery?

Cosmetic surgery is different because the title ‘cosmetic surgeon’ is not a protected title and cosmetic surgery is not a recognised medical speciality. This may be confusing for patients and people may reasonably expect anyone who uses the title ‘surgeon’ to have had additional training and qualifications and hold specialist registration.

Health Ministers are currently consulting on whether ‘surgeon’ should be a protected title under the National Law, and in what specialties it should apply, or if other changes should be made to help the public better understand the qualifications of medical practitioners. For more information on the consultation, visit: https://engage.vic.gov.au/medical-practitioners-use-title-surgeon-under-national-law.

Read the news item for more details on this topic.

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Have your say: consultation opens for cosmetic surgery review

The public consultation for the Independent review of the regulation of health practitioners in cosmetic surgery is now open.

The review, commissioned by Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia, is being led by former Queensland Health Ombudsman Andrew Brown, supported by an expert panel.

The review is particularly interested in understanding whether there are any barriers to consumers, practitioners or their employees raising concerns about unsafe practice or unsatisfactory outcomes. It is also examining how best Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia should manage concerns when they are raised, and what information consumers should be given that may influence informed decision-making.

The consultation paper, including consultation questions, is available on the Independent review page on the Ahpra website. Practitioners can contribute by emailing their submission, marked 'Submission to the independent review on cosmetic surgery,' to CSReview@ahpra.gov.au.

There is a survey for consumers to easily share their experiences. For further information, including FAQs, see the review website.

The consultation ends on 14 April 2022.

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Latest podcasts tackle big subjects

Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series has released new episodes.

Health practitioners’ role in eliminating family violence – a survivor’s story

The first episode of Taking care for 2022 is a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors. Read more about the podcast and follow the link to listen.

Tackling the blame culture to improve patient safety – is it possible?

What is the best approach to support a practitioner’s professional practice to ensure patient safety? How do we regulate when honest errors occur in a workplace environment? Read more about the podcast and follow the link to listen.

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 Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

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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 jill.humphreys@ahpra.gov.au.

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Page reviewed 29/03/2022