Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia - May 2019
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May 2019

Issue 13 – May 2019

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the first of our newsletters for 2019. We have had a busy start to the year with our first National Board meeting held alongside the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme 2019 Combined Meeting in Melbourne, which included updates on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy – read about this below.

At its February meeting, the Board completed its strategic planning for the 2019-20 year. One of the main things we want to prioritise is telling other regulated health practitioners as well as the broader community, including ours, about the value and role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

We’ll be conducting interviews and reaching out to employers of our Health Practitioners who already know how our practitioners make health services more culturally safe and appropriate. This includes the value of employing staff in your service who reflect the people they serve. To contact the Board, please call Jill Humphreys on 03 8708 9066 or send an email to [email protected].

Renee Owen

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

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Board news

National Scheme Combined Meeting illustrates our growing maturity

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme 2019 Combined Meeting included all 15 National Boards and their stakeholders. For us, the profession-specific stakeholders were the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA) and the Board’s Accreditation Committee.

Apart from the opportunities for networking and cross-professional discussions, the plenary sessions and workshops illustrated the growing maturity of the National Scheme as we strive to be world leaders in health practitioner regulation. For instance, a series of videos has been released to support the public and registered health practitioners through the notifications (complaints) process. You can read more about the videos in this newsletter.

We’ve listened to people who have had a complaint made against them, and people who make complaints, so we can make the system easier to navigate and understand.

The National Board can only deal with complaints about conduct and health of practitioners, but we can also play a role in directing complainants to the right doorway.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy progress includes a dedicated staff member

Jayde FullerAt the Combined Meeting, the Board was pleased to meet Jayde Fuller, appointed by AHPRA as Program Manager for the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy. She is a Gamilaraay/Kamilaroi woman living on Turrbal, Jagera and Quandamooka country (Brisbane, Queensland). Jayde is a welcome addition to the AHPRA team and will help implement the strategy. She is based in AHPRA’s Queensland office but her role is a national one. 

During the meeting we also heard an update from the strategy’s Co-chairs, Julie Brayshaw and Gregory Phillips, about progress and next steps, and good reminders of what we’re achieving, including cultural safety training for staff, board and committee members and others associated with the National Scheme, such as the accreditation authorities.

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Registration news

Changes for practitioners with medications notations 

Recently, AHPRA, on behalf of the Board, sent letters to some registered Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and many of the major employers, about a Board decision in December to change some conditions that appear on some registered Health Practitioners’ registration to notations.

During the grandparenting period (which finished in 2015), there were some practitioners who became registered Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners due to their vast experience and previous qualifications. Some of those qualifications did not always include some units of study related to medications that are now included in all training programs (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Care Practice from the various RTOs around the country). So, these people had either a ‘condition’ or a ‘notation’ included on their registration.

The Board decided in December to change all ‘conditions’ (which implies that the Board will monitor and expect a practitioner to have a condition removed) to ‘notations’ (which is a statement that provides information for anyone looking up a person on the online national register). The people with notations on their registration about medications do not need to do anything about it if they don’t want to. Nothing has changed for them or for the other registered Health Practitioners who do not have a notation on their registration.

If someone would like to remove the notation, they need to contact an approved program of study and ask to complete those units. Once these are successfully completed, the person would provide that evidence to the Board and ask to have the notation removed.

It is no longer possible to apply for registration with the Board without having completed an approved program of study.

What has changed?

Nothing has changed other than the way the information is displayed on the register. All registered Health Practitioners (whether they have a notation about medications on their registration or not) can continue to do what they are doing in their jobs. The Board considers those who have a notation about medicines removed from their registration to be qualified the same as someone who has graduated and become registered using an approved program of study.

Clinical work – it’s up to you and your employer

Not all registered Health Practitioners work in clinical areas and even those who do, do not necessarily handle or administer medications. For this profession, it is up to the employer whether clinical work, including working with medications, is included in someone’s scope of practice – not the Board. The Board does not say what someone can or cannot do in their job. All the Board says is that if you want to carry out a particular task or practice (such as giving immunisations), you must be qualified and competent to do this. This might mean extra study or experience, or working ‘under orders’ from someone who has prescribing rights (such as a nurse practitioner or medical practitioner). It also depends on the drugs and poisons legislation in the state or territory in which you work.

The Board cannot influence or determine what work can or cannot be done by Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners. However, the Board does say that someone registered with the Board is qualified to work in a broad range of types of practice, including clinical work.

Need more information?

If anyone has any questions about the change from ‘conditions’ to ‘notations’, do ring the Board’s Executive Officer, Paul Fisher, on 03 8708 9047 or send an email to [email protected].

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Review of registration standards is complete

As we’ve previously highlighted in our communiqués and newsletters, the Board has been busy reviewing its core registration standards. The review process is complete and the revised draft registration standards are now at the approval stage. The scheduled review means the new registration standards will reflect that the grandparenting provisions of the National Law1 have expired.

The registration standards reviewed are:

  • professional indemnity insurance arrangements (PII)
  • continuing professional development (CPD)
  • recency of practice (RoP)
  • English language skills, and
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander registration standard.

The Board was very grateful to have received so much thoughtful and considered feedback from a wide variety of individuals and entities. The public consultation period has now closed.

Defining interactive CPD

Issues of particular interest to stakeholders included the changes to the CPD registration standard, where it is proposed to simplify requirements to 20 hours of CPD per year which includes five hours of ‘interactive’ CPD.

As explained in the draft revised registration standard, ‘interactive’ does not necessarily mean leaving home to attend a course (some of those providing feedback thought there might be an impact on service delivery if staff had to leave for periods of time to attend formal CPD events). Interactive CPD may be completed online or it may be conducted with other practitioners (not necessarily from the same profession) at work.

The main thing is that practitioners choose CPD that relates directly to the jobs they are employed to do – whether clinical, administrative or something different. The Board does not define your scope of practice. What you do as a registered practitioner is generally determined by what role you are employed in.

First aid certificates are no longer required

Other feedback focused on concerns about the removal of the (currently required) first aid certificate in the Recency of practice registration standard. As the Board does not define scope of practice for registrants, it knows that not everyone works in a job where the first aid certificate is needed – if it is, the training is generally provided by the workplace/employer.

While it’s good for everyone to have a current first aid certificate, the Board must be careful not to put an unintended barrier in place by establishing requirements that are not necessary for all.

Next steps for the review

The next step in the process is for Australia’s Health Ministers, through the Ministerial Council, to consider approving the draft revised registration standards.

We’ll keep you up to date on the timing of the changes. In the meantime, the currently published registration standards remain in force.

[1] The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).

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National Scheme news

National Boards and AHPRA host research summit

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme 2019 Research Summit took place on 27 February 2019 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The summit asked how research can be harnessed to strengthen regulation and improve patient safety to contribute to improved health outcomes.

Led by AHPRA and the National Boards, the all-day Research Summit hosted 17 speakers and drew more than 300 participants from national, state and territory board and committee members, AHPRA staff, co-regulatory bodies, representatives from accreditation authorities and key partners.

With the theme ‘Optimising research for regulatory effectiveness’, the Research Summit explored the National Scheme’s evolving approaches to risk assessment, lessons from research into notifications, and future opportunities to use smart data. At the heart of discussions was asking how we can use data and research to improve regulatory processes and, ultimately, contribute to safer care for patients.

Professor Zubin Austin from the University of Toronto, Canada, was a keynote speaker. His stirring address highlighted that competency assessment has emerged as a dominant issue for regulators, educators and employers worldwide. Professor Austin called for more attention to be focused on notions of teamwork, emotional intelligence, and genuine practitioner engagement as important concepts in defining and evaluating competency.

Read more in the media release about the summit.

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‘Let’s talk about it’ videos launched

AHPRA has launched a series of new videos to support the public and registered health practitioners as they go through the notification process.

The video series, called ‘Let’s talk about it’, explains what happens when concerns are raised with the regulator, gives easy-to-follow information about the notifications process and addresses common questions, so consumers and health practitioners know what to expect when they interact with AHPRA and National Boards.

There are three videos:

The videos sit alongside other written resources available on our website, see: www.ahpra.gov.au/Notifications.

You can view the videos on the AHPRA and National Board websites or from our YouTube and Vimeo channel, and join the conversation by following AHPRA on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn: use the hashtag #letstalkaboutit and tag @AHPRA.

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Legislative amendments on mandatory reporting and fake practitioners

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) (the Act) has been passed by the Queensland Parliament. The amendments include revisions to the mandatory reporting requirements for treating practitioners and an extension of sanctions for statutory offences.

The changes to the National Law intend to support registered practitioners to seek help for a health issue (including mental health issues). They will also increase the penalties (and the introduction of custodial sentences) for some offences under the National Law, including where a person holds themselves out to be a registered health practitioner when they are not.

AHPRA and National Boards will now work to implement these amendments. This will require working closely with professional bodies, employers and state and territory health departments to spread the message that practitioners should be supported to seek help about their health issues.

The passing of the Act in Queensland marks the second set of legislative amendments to the National Law since the start of the National Scheme in 2010.

When they take effect, the amendments will apply in all states and territories except Western Australia, where the mandatory reporting requirements will not change. 

Read a news item about the amendments on the AHPRA website or the Act on the Queensland Legislation website.

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Health Ministers announce review of the practice of spinal manipulation

An independent expert review of the practice of spinal manipulation for infants and young children was announced by Health Ministers following the COAG Health Council’s March meeting.

The review will be carried out by Safer Care Victoria. It will focus on the risk of harm and adverse events, and the current best evidence for the efficacy of spinal manipulation to treat childhood illnesses or health concerns in infants and young children.

National Boards do not define the types of treatments in which a registered health practitioner may choose to be qualified and competent to carry out in their chosen scope of practice.

Under the National Law, only registered chiropractors, medical practitioners, osteopaths and physiotherapists are permitted to manipulate the cervical spine when treating patients.

The National Law says that manipulation of the cervical spine means ‘moving the joints of the cervical spine beyond a person’s usual physiological range of motion using a high velocity, low amplitude thrust’.

AHPRA and the National Boards regulating the professions able to carry out cervical spinal manipulation support the independent review and await its outcome and recommendations with keen interest.

Read more in the COAG Health Council March communique.

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Titles in health advertising – how to get it right

AHPRA has published a new resource to help you understand your legal obligations when using the titles that are protected under the National Law. While most Aboriginal Health Practitioners do not advertise their services, it remains against the law to use protected titles if you are not registered with the Board. ‘Aboriginal Health Worker’ is not a protected title. Aboriginal Health Practitioner, Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner are all protected titles and cannot be used by people who are not registered with the Board.

Some registered Aboriginal Health Practitioners are employed in positions that are called a different name than the ‘health practitioner’ title (such as Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Aboriginal Health Worker). How a Health Practitioner is employed and under which award or level is not something that the Board regulates or can have a say about. What the Board does is ensure that only those people who are qualified and competent can be registered (and can therefore use the protected titles of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner).

Misuse of a protected title, specialist title or endorsements is an offence under sections 113-119 of the National Law or may constitute behaviour for which health, conduct or performance action may be taken against a registered health practitioner under Part 8 of the National Law.

However, advertisers should also be aware that while use of some titles may not necessarily breach title protections under sections 113-119, they may be considered false, misleading or deceptive under the advertising provisions in the National Law (section 133).

The titles tool will help practitioners understand how titles can be used in advertising. It also outlines some of the common pitfalls that can result in titles being considered misleading under the National Law.

The titles tool is the latest in a series of resources and support materials developed by AHPRA and National Boards to help health practitioners, healthcare providers and other advertisers of regulated health services check and correct their advertising so it complies with the National Law.

The titles tool is available in the Advertising resources section of the AHPRA website.

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Keep in touch with the Board

Call AHPRA on 1300 419 495 or 08 8901 8527 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 8901 8527.

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 27/02/2024