Physiotherapy Board of Australia - 2018/19 annual summary
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2018/19 annual summary

Physiotherapy in 2018/19

Snapshot of the profession

  • 33,792 physiotherapists
  • Up 5.6% from 2017/18
  • 4.5% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.7% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 66.2% female; 33.8% male


Under 25 years old: 5.9%, 25-34 years old: 40.4%, 35-44 years old: 24.4%, 45-54 years old: 15.2%, 55-64 years old: 10.9%, 65-74 years old: 2.8%, Over 75 years old: 0.4%

Audit outcomes

Audit outcomes pie chart

  • 98.5% compliant: fully compliant with the registration standards
  • 0.3% compliant (education): compliant through education in one or more standards
  • 0.3% non-compliant: non-compliant with one or more standards
  • 0.9% no audit action required: during the audit period, practitioners changed their registration type to non-practising, elected to surrender their registration or failed to renew their registration

Regulating the profession

  • 106 notifications lodged with AHPRA 1
  • Australia-wide, including Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) in NSW and Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland data, 161 registered physiotherapists – or 0.5% – had notifications made about them
  • 102 notifications closed
    • 15.7% had conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted
    • 15.7% received a caution or reprimand
    • 0.1% registration suspended or cancelled
    • 9.8% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity (HCE)
    • 58.8% no further action taken
  • Immediate action taken 4 times
  • 14 mandatory notifications received
    • 6 about professional standards
  • 40 physiotherapists monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 63 cases were being monitored at 30 June
    • 6 on grounds of conduct
    • 6 for health reasons
    • 10 for performance
    • 7 prohibited practitioner/student
    • 34 for suitability/eligibility for registration
  • 34 criminal offence complaints were made and 31 closed
    • 25 new matters related to title protection
    • 8 to advertising breaches
    • 1 to other offence
  • Matters decided by a tribunal: 0
  • Matters decided by a panel: 1
  • Decisions appealed: 1

1Unless stated otherwise, all notification data is AHPRA data.

Sources of notifications: 50.9% Patient, relative or member of the public, 17.0% Other practitioner, 11.3% HCE, 7.5% Employer, 4.7% Board’s own motion, 8.5% Other

Most common types of complaint: 38.7% Clinical care, 5.1% Boundary violation, 7.5% Offence against other law, 6.6% Breach of non-offence provision – National Law, 6.6% Behaviour, 25.5% Other

A report on the year from the Chair

Board changes

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia underwent a significant change when four members, including the Chair, completed their third and final terms as members.

We farewelled Charles Flynn, Chair and practitioner member from Victoria; Alison Bell, practitioner member from South Australia; Libby Kosmala, community member; and Pippa Tessmann, practitioner member from the Northern Territory.

Health Ministers appointed and the Board inducted new members: Emeritus Professor Sheila Lennon, practitioner member from South Australia; Ms Sally Adamson, practitioner member from the Northern Territory; Ms Kate Waterford, community member; and Dr Paula Harding PhD, practitioner member from Victoria.

I am a practitioner member from Western Australia and I was pleased to be appointed Chair of the Board for a three-year term. The Board is hard-working and cohesive as it regulates a growing profession in accordance with the National Law and in partnership with AHPRA.

Stakeholder engagement

As part of its strategic objectives, the Board strengthened its relationships with its key stakeholders, including the Australian Physiotherapy Association and its appointed accreditation authority, the Australian Physiotherapy Council.

It was able to clarify for the small number of practitioners who practise with animals what their professional obligations are, given that the National Law deals only with humans and has no jurisdiction over the treatment of animals nor any complaints which may arise.

Another successful stakeholder engagement breakfast was held, this time in Hobart, coinciding with the professional association’s annual conference.

These events help explain the role and work of the Board to physiotherapists and other stakeholders, and are being rolled out across the country. Stakeholder engagement events also provide the Board with an opportunity to promote its short video aimed at students about their professional obligations as they set out in their careers as physiotherapists.

Low level of notifications

The number of notifications made about physiotherapists is rising, along with complaints received about the other regulated health professions.

It is pleasing to note, however, that the notifications about physiotherapists remain very low, reflecting how well-trained physiotherapists are in Australia and how thoroughly they understand their professional obligations.

International liaison

Board members helped organise and presented at the International Network of Physical Therapy Regulatory Authorities conference in Geneva, taking the Board’s message and the Australian way of regulating to a broader, often fledgling audience. There is always positive interest in our national registration and accreditation system, particularly in a country with a federated system of government. The Board was also represented at the World Confederation of Physical Therapists, also in Geneva, this year.

Cross-professional work

The Board has contributed to cross-professional work on the review of the shared code of conduct and also the revision of the supervision framework. Wide-ranging consultation on these important documents is scheduled to start in the coming year. The Board will also participate in the review of its limited registration standards in the coming year.

Cultural safety

The Board looks forward to taking part in the scheme-wide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy and, in particular, the cultural safety training being rolled out. One of its strategic objectives is to increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the physiotherapy profession and we will collaborate with stakeholders to work towards this goal.

Ms Kim Gibson, Chair

Page reviewed 12/11/2020