01 Sep 2017
As a registered physiotherapist you renew your registration with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (the Board) every year.
One of the functions the Board is to foster an innovative and flexible physiotherapy workforce, while maintaining and improving the high standards of practice enjoyed in Australia.
Another important role for the Board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is ensuring that only those people who are suitably qualified and competent are registered and therefore legally able to use the titles of ‘physiotherapist’ or ‘physical therapist’. Only those who continue to meet ongoing registration requirements, including a prescribed amount of recent practice, can maintain registration.
When it comes to registered physiotherapists who practice on animals and people, practice on animals is not within the scope of the Board’s regulatory role in protecting the public. The National Law1 which determines the role and powers of the Board and AHPRA does not extend to practice on animals, only on members of the public or people.
If your practice is 100% animal-based, you cannot maintain general registration unless you complete150 hours of practice in the previous registration year, or 450 hours over the previous three years in practice involving humans. The definition of practice set by the Board is defined as:
If you wish to remain registered and practise on animals, whether as part of the normal course of your practice, on weekends, or without payment, you must:
If you do choose to become unregistered then you are not able to use the protected title of ‘physiotherapist’ or ‘physical therapist’ in any way that it could appear you are registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia as a registered physiotherapist or you risk breaching the law.
The title ‘animal physiotherapist’ may lead members of the public to assume that the Board also has jurisdiction over the treatment of animals. That is not the case.
It’s important to note that animal owners are not able to notify the Board about issues they may have about the treatment of an animal, as they would if the treatment had been provided to a human.
There are many other state and territory laws, including those relating the provision of services to animals that you must adhere to, as well.
For more information on your obligations and registration requirements go to the registration standards page or contact the APA.
1Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).