Welcome to the first issue of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia newsletter. This newsletter, which you’ll receive twice a year, has been developed specifically to provide you with information on issues affecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health profession.
With this in mind, in this first issue we’ve included many useful articles which we recommend you take the time to read. We’ve also included some details on each Board member to allow you to get to know us a little better and learn about our respective experiences in this profession.
Since our appointment as a Board in July 2011 and the regulation of this new profession from July last year, a lot has been achieved. However, there is still a lot of work to do to establish the Board’s accreditation function. To this end, our new Accreditation Committee has been working hard on developing draft accreditation standards and processes for education providers to apply for accreditation. As part of our usual process, these draft standards will be open to public consultation to ensure we fully appreciate the likely impact of these proposals and any unintended consequences.
Throughout January and February the Board conducted a public consultation on the two questions: ‘Which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care worker roles should be regulated based on an assessment of risk to the public’, and ‘What qualifications should be regarded as the appropriate educational preparation for the registration of these practitioners?’.
The Board is very grateful to the many stakeholders who attended the consultation workshops, and the nine stakeholders who sent written submissions.
We hope you enjoy this first issue of our newsletter. Importantly, we hope to hear your views on the regulation of the profession. Please keep an eye on the public consultation section of the Board’s website for your opportunity to comment on proposed standards, guidelines and codes affecting the profession.
Chair, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
back to top
Left to right: front row - Clare Anderson, Peter Pangquee, Jane Schwager. Back row - Lisa O’Hara, Jenny Poelina, Renee Owen, Karrina DeMasi, Sharon Milera
Members of the inaugural Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia (the National Board) were appointed for three years by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council.
The functions of the National Board include:
The Board is one of the three boards that joined the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) in 2012 that decided to exercise accreditation functions through a committee of the Board. This is provided for under subsection 43(1)(b) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
The Accreditation Committee held its first meeting in November 2012 and met again on 27 February 2013. At this stage the committee has three members: Elaine Duffy (Chair), Sharon Wallace and Norma Lukies. There is a vacancy for a registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, which is being re-advertised.
AHPRA’s Accreditation Unit has been working on resources to help the committee develop accreditation standards and processes, as well as a new accreditation cycle, as quickly as possible. These resources include comparing accreditation standards and processes, including for the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector qualifications, and documents which the committee can use as a starting point for developing its own standards and processes.
The committee is also working on:
Once the accreditation standards have been drafted, they will be released for consultation and we will seek comment from practitioners, the community and other stakeholders.
Regular updates will be published online and in Board communiqués.
From July last year, Health Workforce Australia began funding the delivery and implementation of the Registration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners: Benchmarking and Risk Assessment Project. This project forms part of HWA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Program, details of which can be found on HWA’s website.
In the second phase of this two-phase project the Board conducted public consultation on the questions: ‘Which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care worker roles should be regulated based on an assessment of risk to the public’, and ‘What qualifications should be regarded as the appropriate educational preparation for the registration of these practitioners?’. This consultation ran from 15 January to 22 February this year.
The Board is very grateful to the 63 stakeholders who attended the consultation workshops in the eight state and territory capitals, and the nine stakeholders who sent written submissions. You can access the submissions on the Past consultations section of the Board’s website.
Future consultations on the Board’s standards, guidelines and codes will be published on the Consultations section of the website. We encourage you to comment on these proposals affecting the regulation of your profession.
Under the National Law, all registered Aboriginal and Torres Islander health practitioners must undertake continuing professional development (CPD) as a condition of registration. The Board has published guidelines to be used together with the Continuing professional development registration standard, which is available under the Registration standards tab on the website.
The standard applies to all registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners except students and those with non-practising registration. It lists seven requirements:
Please include these CPD requirements in your annual conversation with your employer to plan your activities and ensure you meet the requirements in time for the renewal of your registration. Remember, the declaration that you have met your annual CPD requirements may be audited.
By the end of February 2013 there were 276 registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners throughout Australia. This is a 0.7 per cent increase from the previous month.
Overwhelmingly, registrants practice out of the Northern Territory, with 222 practitioners nominating the NT as their principal place of practice (PPP). This represents 80.4 per cent of all registrants of this profession.
The number of registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners in other states and territories is illustrated in the graph below. Queensland hosts the second largest registrant base for this profession, with 10 per cent. This is followed by New South Wales (5 per cent), Western Australia (2 per cent), and Victoria (1 per cent).
AHPRA and the National Boards’ commitment to transparency and accountability continues with an expansion of the information published about legal issues and hearing decisions. AHPRA has published a table of panel hearing decisions dating back to July 2010. Summaries have been provided where there is educational and clinical value. Practitioners’ names are not published, consistent with the requirements of the National Law. Some summaries of tribunal decisions are also provided, to help share information and guide practitioners.
A Community Reference Group is being established by AHPRA and the National Boards. This group has been designed to advise AHPRA and National Boards on ways in which community understanding and involvement in our work can be strengthened. This might include:
AHPRA and the National Boards will work with the Community Reference Group to agree on a set of priorities. This will build on the feedback received at the recent community forums held across Australia in partnership with the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF). The forums provided an opportunity for AHPRA and members of national and state boards to meet members of the public to explain how health practitioner regulation works and what it offers the community, and to get feedback on issues of concern.
The Community Reference Group will complement the role of community members of the National Boards. The group will consist of members from the community who are not health practitioners or current/past members of a National Board or committee in the National Scheme.
Registration renewal for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners is due by 30 November 2013. We want to give you plenty of advance notice.
Most health practitioners across the National Scheme now renew online, which is convenient and saves time. Renewing online also has benefits for the National Board - it reduces the reliance on hardcopy letters and forms, saving on production, printing and postage costs.
Email reminders to renew will be sent later in the year, when online renewal is open. Letters will be sent to practitioners without email.
Please check your contact details and update them if necessary in order to receive regular reminders from the Board and AHPRA. Set your email account to receive communications from AHPRA and the Board to avoid misdirection to a ‘junk email’ box or account.
If you have not yet provided your email address to AHPRA or the Board, please do so as a matter of urgency.
To update your contact details, go to the AHPRA website, click ‘online services’, use your unique contact number (User ID) and follow the prompts. Your User ID is not your registration number. If you do not have a User ID complete an online enquiry form, selecting ‘User ID’ as the category of enquiry, or call 1300 419 495.