Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia - November 2023
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November 2023

Chair’s message

Wow, hasn’t 2023 gone by in the blink of an eye.

It’s registration renewal time again. Everyone has to renew their registration by 30 November to remain registered. It is much easier and simpler to renew your registration now than to let it lapse and reapply for registration down the track. Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team, staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is here to help First Nations applicants through the registration and renewal process – read more below.

Although it’s not always a convenient time to register, especially when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner jobs can be hard to find, it’s vital that we renew our registration and continue to provide culturally safe healthcare to our communities.

Did you know that the National Association of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners (NAATSIHWP) offers a free service to store your continuing professional development records? This means if you are audited, you can simply get a printout and provide it as proof, without having to search around for attendance forms. NAATSIHWP works to promote the profession, and membership is free.

Remember, we are professional health practitioners, regulated in the same way as nurses, doctors, podiatrists and others. We provide welcome and vital services across a very broad scope of practice to our communities.

Best wishes for the festive season and for a fantastic 2024.

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

Priority news

Got registration or renewal questions? The Engagement and Support team can help

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team (the support team), staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, is here to help First Nations applicants through the registration and renewal process.

If you’re a graduate applying for the first time, or if you’re renewing your registration, you can contact the team for help. The support team provides a one-on-one service, ranging from helpful tips through to regular phone contact. They can also provide advice on disclosures, meaning they can help with questions about impairments or previous criminal history that may require consideration by the Board.

The support team is committed to helping you get registered and renewed promptly, so if you would like help with your application for registration, please email the team at [email protected].

Board news

Online renewal is now open – renew on time to avoid losing your registration

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, you have until 30 November 2023 to renew your general or non-practising registration on time. Renewing on time also means you’ll avoid late fees.

The registration fee for 2023/24 has not increased.

Ready to renew?

Head to the Registration renewal webpage to renew. Renewal is now online-only.

If you submit your application on time, or during the following one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is assessed.

If you don’t renew by the end of the late period, 31 December 2023, your registration will lapse, you’ll be removed from the Register of practitioners, and you won’t be able to use the protected title ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner’.

Read more in the news item.

Recent Board activities

The Board and NAATSIHWP have started working together on Strategic Direction Project 1.1 of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021–2031. They are revising, expanding and nationally standardising the professional scope of practice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

Practitioners who attended the NAATSIHWP Symposium in Adelaide might have noticed some Board members joining them at the event. This was an excellent opportunity for Board members to meet and chat with practitioners, and a great opportunity for continuing professional development. Thank you to everyone who took the time to chat with us, and congratulations to NAATSIHWP for hosting a really great symposium.

Accreditation committee member changes

Following Mr David Copley’s resignation as Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee earlier this year, Ms Pillar Cubillo has been appointed the Presiding Member for the committee. Our congratulations to Pillar, and our thanks to David for all his hard work and commitment. The Board wishes him all the best.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 30 September 2023. At this date there were 920 registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, including 14 with non-practising registration.

For further data broken down by age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.

Students and graduates

Finishing your study this year? Apply for registration now!

Graduates set to complete their course this year can take the first step in their new health career by applying for registration now.

Applying before you finish studying means we can start assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results.

Registration with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia is required before you can call yourself an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner – and means you can work anywhere in Australia.

Watch our video to get your application right

Be sure to view the video on Applying for graduate registration. You’ll also find helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay, and downloadable information flyers on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.

What’s new?

Work to eliminate racism from Australian healthcare recognised internationally

The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) serves and supports the international regulatory community. Its global membership promotes regulatory excellence to improve the quality and understanding of regulation to enhance public protection. At its annual educational conference in the United States, CLEAR presented an award to Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU), highlighting its critical role in dismantling racist behaviours and systems in healthcare.

Established in 2021, the HSU ensures that Indigenous experts lead reforms to make regulatory processes culturally safe and free from racism, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are represented in decision making. The HSU draws on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, practitioners, peak bodies and race scholars to shape its transformative work.

Led by Gomeroi woman Jayde Fuller, the HSU drives Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020–2025 and its goal of eliminating racism from the health system by 2032. Ms Fuller told the conference: ‘Culturally safe healthcare for Indigenous people has been a commitment in our organisation for six years – but we've been protecting our communities for 65,000 years and regulators can learn a lot from our survival and ways of knowing, being and doing.’

‘Healthcare should not be harmful. We are taking a strategic approach to dismantling all forms of racism – systemic, institutional and interpersonal. This includes ownership and accountability by providers, practitioners and regulators for creating safe healthcare,’ Ms Fuller said.

The CLEAR award recognises the HSU’s role in driving world-first reform to embed cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare into Australian legislation. The law reforms mean that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive care that is racist and unsafe and their complaint enters the regulatory system, cultural safety must be considered. As well, registered health practitioners are required to take steps to educate themselves on cultural safety in relation to the accessibility of their services.

The award also highlights the HSU’s work to:

  • include an agreed definition of cultural safety in the codes of conduct for more than 850,000 registered health practitioners
  • create a culturally safe notification process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making a complaint
  • implement cultural safety continual professional development (CPD) for all registered health practitioners.

For more information, read the news item.

Cosmetic procedures in the spotlight one year on from surgery review

Cosmetic procedures, including Botox and other anti-wrinkle injections and fillers, will be under the spotlight in an expansion of Ahpra’s year-long crackdown on Australia’s cosmetic surgery industry. Stronger public safeguards are needed because of escalating consumer demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures and more health practitioners seeking a career in the cosmetics industry.

One year on from the cosmetic surgery review, work is complete on most reforms, with higher practice standards and new advertising rules for medical practitioners now in place. Further reforms will focus on the non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry with new guidelines coming for all health practitioners providing these services.

The planned overhauls are likely to place a stronger emphasis on informed consent and pre-procedure consultation, including a patient suitability assessment. There will also be a focus on prescribing and administering prescription-only cosmetic injectables.

Proposed new advertising guidelines are likely to focus on the use of ‘before and after’ images, and claims about expertise and qualifications of practitioners, and affirm the ban on the use of testimonials. There will also be clear rules on the use of influencers and social media figures.

Public consultation on the proposed guidelines will open in coming months ahead of their release in the first half of 2024.

Read more in the news item.

New checklist launched to help practitioners manage complaints

A new Checklist for practitioners has been developed to help resolve feedback or complaints made directly to practitioners or the health service where you are working.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and stressful and as well as this resource we have published a list of general support services.

You might find this checklist helpful when a complaint is first raised with you by a patient or client, and it may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes at a health service.

When feedback or complaints are managed well, they can result in improvements that increase patient, client and community confidence in you as a practitioner. It can also help prevent a concern being escalated to an external complaint body or regulator.

The checklist was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Ahpra and the 15 National Boards as part of a joint project. Work is also underway on resources to help consumers navigate the various complaints options available.

The checklist, along with other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice, is available on Ahpra’s Resources page.

Read more in the news item.

Check out the latest podcasts

Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. Listen and subscribe by searching for Taking care in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify), or listen on our website.

The latest episode is ‘Coming to a land down under: Australia as a destination for health practitioners’. This episode examines the path overseas health workers must tread when wanting to work in Australia.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter. Our next issue comes out soon, and you can subscribe on the newsletter webpage.

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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.

Page reviewed 20/12/2023