Physiotherapy Board of Australia - 2020/21 annual summary

2020/21 annual summary


  • 37,650 physiotherapists
    • Up 1.4% from 2019/20
    • 4.6% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.7% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 65.1% female; 34.9% male


Age: <25 = 6.9%, 25 to 34 = 41.0%, 35 to 44 = 24.5%, 45 to 54 = 14.4%, 55 to 64 = 10.0%, 65 to 74 = 2.9%, >75 = 0.3%



  • 140 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 201 registered physiotherapists Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 0.5% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Patient, relative or member of the public 50.0%, HCE 14.3%, Other practitioner 11.4%, Employer 7.9%, Board’s own motion 2.9%, Other 13.6%

  • 8 immediate actions taken

  • 18 mandatory notifications received
    • 7 about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Clinical care 27.1%, Boundary violation 14.3%, Communication 7.9%, Breach of non-offence provision - National Law 6.4%, Documentation 5.7%, Health impairment 5.0%, Offence against other law 4.3%, Other 29.3%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 130 notifications closed, 9.2% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 9.2% received a caution or reprimand, 0.8% registration cancelled, 9.2% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 71.5% no further action


  • 48 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 61 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 11 for conduct
    • 4 for health reasons
    • 7 for performance
    • 7 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 32 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 25 criminal offence complaints made
    • 19 about title protection
    • 6 about advertising breaches
  • 31 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

  • 2 matters decided by a tribunal
  • 1 matter decided by a panel
  • No appeals

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia continued to build on last year’s work, as COVID-19 interrupted progress of our strategic projects, and particularly their intended timeline. An extensive program of stakeholder engagement was a high priority due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic and its impact on healthcare services. The Board met online each month for the entire year due to the pandemic.

Regulatory response to COVID-19

The Board continued to respond to the needs of the profession, healthcare services and the public by modifying our regulatory approach to support the profession through the pandemic and contribute to the national response. A series of modifications were made to procedures such as introducing a financial hardship policy, a fully online registration process and a flexible approach to continuing professional development and recency of practice requirements.

Pandemic response sub-register

On 20 April, approximately 2,051 physiotherapists who were added to the pandemic sub-register in April 2020 were removed from the sub-register. All of those on the sub-register were given the opportunity to reinstate their registration; however, only a small proportion (approximately 6.3%) decided to retain their registration.

Policy updates

The Board participated in several multi-profession policy reviews, including a revised supervised practice framework and code of conduct, as well as the revised advertising guidelines. The Board has also supported several position statements such as the Registered health practitioners and students and COVID-19 vaccination and the joint statement with the Therapeutic Goods Administration Promotion of COVID-19 vaccinations: further information for healthcare practitioners and other advertisers.

Stakeholder engagement

Given the ongoing and fluctuating travel restrictions, the Board moved to online engagement. It held several webinars for practitioners, including one focused on new graduates and another on recency of practice, as well as engaging with state and territory jurisdictions.

The Board valued increased engagement and partnership with its stakeholders, including the Australian Physiotherapy Association, the Australian Physiotherapy Council, the NSW Physiotherapy Council and the Council of Physiotherapy Deans of Australia and New Zealand (CPDANZ). These partnerships have been critical to our pandemic response and remain pertinent to progressing the Board’s strategic projects.

Strategic projects

The Board developed a background paper, building on the literature review and exploration report previously completed, on whether to endorse prescribing for physiotherapists. The next step will be to engage with stakeholders. To improve its understanding of the characteristics of physiotherapy registrants and the workforce, the Board produced a workforce analysis report and snapshot of the physiotherapy profession in Australia. It will share this information with stakeholders.

The Board has been working with the New Zealand Physiotherapy Board on a first review of the bi-national practice thresholds, with a focus on cultural safety and digital competence. As the thresholds have only been in place for a short time, this will be a minor review with a more comprehensive review to come.

Ms Kim Gibson

Page reviewed 11/09/2022