Physiotherapy Board of Australia - December 2021

December 2021

Issue 29 - December 2021


From the Chair

Kim Gibson, Physiotherapy Board Chair

As 2021 nears its end, the Physiotherapy Board of Australia continues to work and meet virtually. With the high rate of COVID-19 vaccinations across the country we are looking forward to doing some face to face meetings and events in 2022.

We have been supporting the profession and the healthcare systems through workforce surge strategies for the testing and care of COVID-19 patients and the workforce required for the vaccination rollout. Read more about our projects and activities below.

Registration renewal closed on 30 November with a late renewal period up till 31 December 2021, after which your name will be removed from the register. If you have not yet renewed, we urge you to do so.

It’s important to reflect on the year with all its unpredictability and continued interruptions and we thank all physiotherapists for your ongoing professionalism, dedication and resilience. We also thank retiring Board members Lynette Green and Peter Kerr for their long and unstinting service; read more below.

The Board wishes everyone a wonderful holiday period and a successful start to 2022. 

Kim Gibson

Chair, Physiotherapy Board of Australia

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Board news

Interested in joining our Registration and Notifications Committee?

We are seeking applications from experienced registered physiotherapists and members of the community for appointment to the Registration and Notifications Committee of the Physiotherapy Board of Australia.

The functions of the committee include:

  • making decisions about registration and notification matters
  • providing professional and practitioner input to Ahpra about physiotherapy registration and notification matters, and
  • making recommendations and providing advice to the Board.

Applications close on Sunday 2 January 2022 at 5:00pm, Australian Eastern Daylight Time.

For more information and how to apply, see the Board’s news item.

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Advance copy of supervised practice framework published

Twelve National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) have published an advance copy of the Supervised practice framework. The Physiotherapy Board is among these.

The framework has been developed to reflect a responsive and risk-based approach to supervised practice across the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme). It outlines the National Boards’ expectations and supports supervisees, supervisors and employers to understand what is necessary to effectively carry out supervised practice. It supports consistency in processes and decision-making and is user-friendly.

The framework comes into effect on 1 February 2022 and will replace current supervision guidelines.

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Annual report: Registered health practitioner numbers grow

A continued growth in the registered health workforce is highlighted in the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards’ 2020/21 Annual report.

While it was another year dominated by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of regulation continued and adapted to the impacts of the pandemic. A particular aim was to ensure that students were able to graduate with sufficient clinical experience despite placement delays. National Boards also looked to greater flexibility in some regulatory requirements, while maintaining their focus on patient safety.

A physiotherapy-specific statistical summary and a report from the Chair that covers the work of the Board over the 12 months to 30 June 2021 is also now available on our Annual report page.

The summary draws on data from the annual report.

This information provides a snapshot of the pharmacy profession as at 30 June 2021, and includes the number of registered physiotherapists, a breakdown by gender and age and outcomes of practitioner notifications. Physiotherapy-specific data tables are also available for downloading.

Growth across the professions

As at 30 June 2021, there were 825,720 registered health practitioners across 16 regulated professions, 24,061 more than last year. This includes 26,595 health practitioners on the 2020 pandemic sub-register which offers a surge workforce for the health system response to COVID-19. Overall, 75% of registered practitioners are women.

Registered health practitioners have done exceptional work in very challenging times. It is very encouraging to see the continued growth in the number of health practitioners over the past year.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the registered health workforce

Only 8,311 (1.1%) of all health practitioners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This is well short of the 3.3% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the general population.

Ahpra and the National Boards are working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and organisations to increase the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples across all registered health professions and to promote cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare.

To view and download the 2021/21 annual report, visit the Annual report webpage.

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Snapshot of the physiotherapy workforce

Despite the ongoing complications created by the global pandemic, we’re continuing to make progress with our strategic projects of physiotherapy prescribing, workforce analysis and updating the competency thresholds.

As part of the Board’s activities this year we have analysed the workforce data to create a ‘snapshot’ of the physiotherapy workforce in Australia. This was made possible by Ahpra’s hardworking research and evaluation team who dedicated time and resources to this important project.

You can find the snapshot on our Workforce information page.

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Victorian physiotherapy regulation Q&A recording now available

Ahpra and the Board have published a recording of a live question and answer session on physiotherapy regulation.

In partnership with the Ahpra Victorian office, the Board recorded an update on regulation of physiotherapists under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme), along with information on our standards, codes, guidelines and COVID-19 response in August 2021.

A follow-up scheduled live question and answer session was held on Wednesday 29 September and the recording is now available. The Board recognises this information may be of interest to all physiotherapists and events are planned for other states and territories in the future.

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Farewell and thank you to long-term Board members

It’s that time of year when we say goodbye and thank some of our outgoing National Board members. Two of these, Lynette Green and Peter Kerr, have been Board members for three terms – nine years.

Community member Lynette Green

How did you become interested in the regulation of physiotherapy in Australia, and in the role of National Board member?

I believe that safe, high quality and inclusive healthcare is a right of all Australians and I was interested in the then-new national model of health regulation. I had recently retired from my position as a school principal and saw a link between risk-based management in schools and in healthcare. I have really enjoyed my nine years on the Board and have always been grateful for my chance to be part of the National Scheme.

Which Image of Lynn Greenachievements are you most proud of in your time as a member?

I am very proud of being a member of such a great team and our work is collegial.

For the past six years I have been involved in the work of the Continuous Improvement Committee. The role of this committee is to provide advice and recommendations to the Board on matters related to effective performance.

One of the pieces of work I was involved with was the development of the Board’s Communication Plan in consultation with Ahpra’s Comms team. My role has been to oversee this plan and monitor its progress. The plan has supported the Board in fulfilling its regulatory role.

I was very proud to have two abstracts selected to be presented at the International Network of Physiotherapy Regulatory Authorities (INPTRA) conferences. The topics I presented were The role of community members on boards and Continuing professional development. It was an honour to speak about our outstanding Australian health regulation to an international audience.

What will you remember about the people you engaged with while working in regulation?

Passionate, committed and professional are qualities I will remember about the people I have met during my time on the Board. I believe that the remit of keeping the public safe is very much in the heart of Ahpra and the National Boards. I have been fortunate to work not only with the Physiotherapy Board but with cross-board working committees and I have found Ahpra staff and Board members all have a shared commitment to making a difference. Having such a broad mix of people (community and practitioner members) with different life experiences and viewpoints all working as one has enriched the work of the Board.

Did you learn anything about yourself that surprised you in the past nine years?

I am better at technology than I thought!

What new challenges are you focused on now?

That’s the thing about challenges, you don’t know what they are going to be! Next year my husband John and I will again attempt to do an Australian travel loop from Queensland to Western Australia. I’m sure in our current climate just getting there will offer its own challenges.

Do you have a motto or saying that inspires you each day? What inspires you each day?

Treat everyone with respect, always have a go and live each day as if it is your last. My family inspires me each day.

Lyn Green and husband PhysioBA

Above: John and Lyn at Queen Mary Falls, September 2021

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Community member Peter Kerr

Peter Kerr has been a community member of the Board since 2012. An experienced non-executive director, he has also represented Australia in the National Men's Water Polo Team and went on to officiate and administer the sport.

How did you become interested in the regulation of  physiotherapy in Australia, and in the role of National Board member?

Peter Kerr PhysioBA

I have had a long-time interest and involvement with not for profit and regulatory organisations particularly in sport at community and elite level. This was driven by the old cliché of wanting to give back after I spent many years training and playing.

I had an early appreciation of the role of physiotherapists in sport and latterly in life when my aged father came to live with me and my family. His treatment by physiotherapists was so important to his wellbeing both physically and mentally.

Which achievements are you most proud of in your time as a member?

I now realise what a great achievement it was to pass the National Law and establish the National Scheme and Ahpra. I came to understand how a National Board worked towards the National Law's objectives and guiding principles, and its role in its farsighted way of regulating health professions. It’s very satisfying to see those objectives and guiding principles being tweaked by governments to be more finely attuned to the scheme and to articulate what the regulator means about cultural safety.

I witnessed the maturing of the scheme, including Ahpra and the National Boards, and the steady and sensible development of consistent processes and policies.

The Board achieved large efficiencies in its operations, driving consistency, when it consolidated the state/territory RNC committees to a single national committee under the leadership of chair Paul Shinkfield. Being a member of the RNC for eight years enabled me to help guide the review of important policies at board level. I was also there for the development of business-as-usual activities by Ahpra, and the development of the Health Profession Agreement as a more user-friendly and accurate reflection of the partnership between the National Boards and Ahpra.

As a member and attendee at INPTRA conferences - the international body of physiotherapy regulators - sharing regulatory knowledge and research among great friends, helping fledgling regulators as much as we could.

What will you remember about the people you engaged with while working in regulation?

The utterly committed professionalism and intelligence of Board members and Ahpra staff.

The three Chairs during my three terms and the Board EOs were the 'Dream Team', dedicated to enabling and enacting the principles of the scheme and making a cohesive board that brought a group of disparate people together to act as one without rancour in all decision-making, while encouraging and allowing informed debate.

Did you learn anything about yourself that surprised you in the past nine years?

Not surprisingly, that one never ceases to learn. There wasn't one board or committee meeting where I didn't learn something new. I started from a low base in my knowledge of health/medical regulation but over time I have become fascinated with it and now search out information about it.

What new challenges are you focused on now?

I am at an age where a lot of people retire, but not me. I will continue in a number of roles in sport/regulatory/tribunal work as well as a consultancy in a national legal firm. And coming from an aquatics background, I will hit the water with increasing frequency.

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Registration

Renew online by 31 December to avoid lapsed registration

Physiotherapists who did not apply to renew their registration by 30 November must renew in December to avoid lapsed registration. Those who apply during the December late period will incur an additional late fee.

Under the National Law, registered health practitioners are responsible for renewing their registration on time each year. If you do not renew online by 31 December 2021 you will have lapsed registration and will not be able to practise. You must make a new application for registration and can only practise once your general registration is confirmed.

For further information, visit the Board’s Registration page.

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Latest workforce data released

The Board released its latest quarterly data report in October. Data cover 1 July to 30 September 2021. It shows that at this date, there were 38,268 registered physiotherapists in Australia. Of these:

  • 36,004 had general registration,
  • 1,338 had non-practising registration, and
  • 926 physiotherapists had limited registration, including those doing postgraduate training or supervised practice, teaching or research.

The 483 physiotherapists on the short-term pandemic response sub-register are included in the number of physiotherapists holding general registration.

For more data, including registrant numbers by age, gender and principal place of practice, visit our Statistics page.

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Students and graduates

Graduating soon? Be ready to start work – apply now

Once you are registered, you can work as a physiotherapist anywhere in Australia.

Before you can start practising and using the protected title, ‘physiotherapist’, you must be registered with the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (the Board).

If you're set to complete your course within the next three months, apply for registration now. We'll start assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results.

How do I apply?

Create your account using the online services portal and complete your application

Upload your documents and pay the required fees. Check that you have provided all required documentation to prove you’ve met the registration standards, including certified copies of your photo ID.

Once we’ve received your graduate results from your education provider and we are satisfied that you have met all the requirements for registration, we will finalise your application.

When you are registered, we will publish your name to the Register of practitioners, and you can start working as a physiotherapist’!

Get your application right

Check out our graduate video to help you get your application right. You’ll find helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay and downloadable information flyers on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.

Photo ID

It's important that you provide correctly certified photo ID documents with your application – the wording is very specific.

‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original and the photograph is a true likeness of the person presenting the document as sighted by me.’

To get it right the first time download the guide Certifying documents and take it with you to the authorised officer.

Who can certify documents?

In addition to JPs, most registered health practitioners, public servants, teachers, lecturers and members of the legal profession can certify photographic ID documents. For the full list of authorised officers see the guide.

Meeting the Board’s registration requirements

When you apply for registration, your application is carefully assessed against the Board’s requirements for registration. You need to prove that you meet the following standards:

  • criminal history
  • English language skills, and
  • professional indemnity insurance.

You will also need to declare any health impairments that may affect your ability to practise.

We cannot register you until we are satisfied that you meet the requirements for registration and are suitably trained and qualified.

You can also check out the Board’s webinar and video for graduating students which introduces you to the Board, outlines the standards that must be met to become registered and the professional standards expected of the profession in order to stay registered.

For more information and links, see the news item.

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Alert

Services Australia notification: Upgrade to digital health and aged care channels

Services Australia is pleased to be working with Ahpra to prepare you for the upgrades the agency is making to its digital health and aged care channels.

Services Australia is upgrading its digital health and aged care channels. These upgrades will ensure that patient and provider information is secure, now and into the future.

To continue accessing the channels below, you’ll need to be using web service-compatible software by 13 March 2022:

  • Medicare Online
  • Australian Immunisation Register
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • ECLIPSE
  • PBS Online
  • Aged Care Online

Services Australia is also strengthening its authentication process by replacing Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) site certificates with Provider Digital Access (PRODA) for organisations. PRODA will help you do your electronic business with Services Australia securely.

If you use an alternative channel for your claims and don’t use software, you don’t need to do anything. These upgrades won’t affect you.

For more information about PRODA, visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/proda

What you need to do

Your software developer will have information on their transition and upgrade plans for your site. If you haven’t heard from them, contact them now and ask:

  • when will your web services-compatible software be available, and
  • if you will need to register your organisation in PRODA to authenticate to Medicare Online/ECLIPSE web services.*

*Users of PBS Online and Aged Care must register their organisation in PRODA to authenticate to their web services-enabled software.

If you use PBS Online, your software developer will contact you when more information is available.

It is important that you understand these changes, as they will affect your business if you use software to submit claims and data to Services Australia.

For more information, visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/hpwebservices

Australian Government Services Australia logo

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National Scheme news

Changes to notification management are coming in Queensland

Queensland will introduce joint consideration of all notifications about health practitioners between Ahpra, the National Boards and the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in December 2021.

The changes aim to speed up the initial assessment of notifications, which will benefit registered health practitioners and notifiers.

All notifications about physiotherapists in Queensland will continue to be received by the OHO. Currently, the OHO deals with the most serious matters it receives and refers most of the remaining notifications to Ahpra and the Physiotherapy Board of Australia.

From December, all notifications received by the OHO about physiotherapists will be shared with Ahpra and the Physiotherapy Board when they are received. Ahpra and the OHO will review each notification at the same time and agree on which agency should manage the matter. All notifications that raise a concern about a physiotherapist’s performance will be reviewed by a physiotherapist clinical advisor.

The changes provide greater opportunity for earlier closure of concerns that do not need a regulatory response.

Relevant changes to Queensland legislation take effect on 6 December 2021 and all notifications from this date will be subject to joint consideration. For more information on how notifications are managed, see Ahpra's website.

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COVID-19 and vaccines: joint statement helps sort fact from fiction

A joint statement has been released by Ahpra and the National Boards, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Office of the Health Ombudsman and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Its message is: You need reliable, evidence-based information to be able to make good choices about your healthcare. But in a climate thick with commentary about COVID-19 and vaccines, how do you sort fact from fiction?

The statement covers four main points:

  • Get advice from the experts (with a link to the public register of practitioners).
  • Be safe in the knowledge that registered health practitioners must meet national standards (with links to the National Boards’ websites).
  • Don’t get swayed by opinions.
  • Reach out to a trusted person, like your GP.

It also lists and links to reliable sources of information on COVID-19 and vaccinations in Australia to help people make sure they have the best, most accurate and evidence-based information for their specific needs when making decisions about their own or their loved ones’ health.

The statement has been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese. These versions are available on Ahpra’s Translations page.

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Thousands more health practitioners now able to join the pandemic response

From 22 September, thousands of extra health practitioners, including physiotherapists, can join the COVID-19 response through a new temporary sub-register established by Ahpra and the National Boards.

Key points

  • Ahpra and National Boards have established a new pandemic response sub-register for 2021 (the 2021 sub-register).
  • Nearly 29,000 practitioners who recently stopped practising are now eligible to practise for up to 12 months.
  • This surge workforce will make more practitioners available to help with the pandemic response if they choose to do so.
  • Practitioners can opt out of the 2021 sub-register at any time and don't need to explain why.

The 2021 pandemic response sub-register was established in response to the changing needs of Australia’s health system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes 12 regulated health professions whose members can work to the full scope of their registration: medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists along with dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, occupational therapists, optometrists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. Eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are being added to the 2021 sub-register if they choose to opt in.

Read more on Ahpra’s website.

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Updated regulatory principles – supporting trust and confidence in regulated health professions

We’ve updated our regulatory principles to foster a culturally safe, responsive and risk-based approach to regulation. The regulatory principles guide the National Boards and Ahpra when making regulatory decisions.

The changes reflect community expectations and new policy directions from the Health Council, as well as feedback from public consultation. They recognise that community confidence in the regulation of health practitioners is key to a safe and effective health system. Overall, the changes:

  • reinforce that public protection is the paramount objective of the National Scheme
  • recognise the role of the National Boards and Ahpra in developing a culturally safe and respectful health workforce
  • consider the risks to the public including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and members of the community who are vulnerable to harm
  • embed fairness and transparency, and
  • highlight the importance of maintaining community confidence in regulated health professions and working with consumer bodies to achieve this.

More information about the review of the regulatory principles is available on Ahpra’s website.

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New independent accreditation committee established

A new independent accreditation committee has been established by Ahpra in line with Health Ministers’ policy direction issued earlier this year and as a key element of Health Ministers’ response to the Independent review of accreditation systems final report.

The broad stakeholder membership of the committee will bring a wide range of perspectives to the new committee’s work, recognising the importance of professional and accreditation expertise as well as community, employer and education provider involvement.

Accreditation provides a framework for assuring that individuals seeking registration are suitably trained, qualified and competent to practise as health practitioners in Australia.

The new committee brings together expertise that will help inform health practitioner education to support future workforce needs and protects the public. The terms of reference are published on Ahpra’s website.

Read more in the news item.

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Research and evaluation framework to foster strong research culture

National Boards and Ahpra have published the Research and evaluation framework, the guiding document that outlines how we prioritise, carry out, manage and assess research and evaluation.

The framework, which builds on the inaugural framework released in 2017, aims to further embed an ethical, transparent and accountable best practice research and evaluation culture within the National Scheme.

The framework covers all National Scheme research and evaluation activities including those led by Ahpra staff and external researchers and consultants. It includes information on:

  • research and evaluation principles
  • priorities
  • governance and practice
  • engagement and communication.

The framework can be viewed on the Ahpra website.

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Want more information?

  • Visit the Board’s website for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Kim Gibson, Chair, Physiotherapy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 27/05/2022