Physiotherapy Board of Australia - June 2022
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June 2022

Issue 30 - June 2022 

From the Chair

Kim Gibson, Physiotherapy Board ChairWe are happy to have had our past two Board meetings in person after two-plus years of virtual interactions. The Board also held its annual planning session for the year in April.

We have had a busy start to 2022 that included hosting a series of webinars on non-medical prescribing and how this relates to physiotherapy: read more below. We will continue this work by hosting a forum with a group of stakeholders later in the year.

We welcomed new members of the Registration and Notifications Committee (RNC) and a new Chair. The RNC makes decisions about individual registration and notification matters, based on the national policies and standards set by the Board. Our new members are settling in well and are very dedicated and passionate about the regulation of physiotherapy.

Kim Gibson

Chair, Physiotherapy Board of Australia 

Board news

Recording of first prescribing webinar

The Physiotherapy Board of Australia held the first of its webinar miniseries on physiotherapist prescribing in March.

The Board is exploring the topic of physiotherapist prescribing in Australia and any need for regulatory action or guidance.

The recording of this first session is now available to watch on our website.

Code of conduct – advance copy available now

An advance copy of the revised Code of conduct is available now and we encourage you to read and be familiar with it before it comes into effect on 29 June 2022. The code sets out our expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for physiotherapists. You have a professional responsibility to apply this code in your practice, helping to keep the public safe.

There will be specific supporting materials developed for physiotherapists and we will update you when these are released.

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Latest workforce data released

The Board released its latest quarterly data report covering 1 January to 31 March 2022. It shows that at this date, there were 39,692 registered physiotherapists in Australia. Of these:

  • 37,168 had general registration,
  • 1,068 had non-practising registration, and
  • 1,456 physiotherapists had limited registration, including those doing postgraduate training or supervised practice, teaching or research.

The 318 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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National Scheme news

2021 pandemic response sub-register gets a boost

More than 20,000 health practitioners are now on the 2021 pandemic response sub-register after practitioners on the 2020 sub-register opted in to extend their temporary registration.

The 2020 sub-register was established in April 2020 to provide a surge health workforce to support the COVID-19 response. Inclusion was voluntary and practitioners could opt out at any time.

The temporary registration of practitioners on the 2020 sub-register expired on 5 April 2022. In September 2021, Ahpra and the National Boards established a new sub-register (the 2021 sub-register), enabling recently retired practitioners from 12 regulated health professions to return to practice for up to 12 months.

There are now 20,730 health practitioners with temporary registration to support the COVID-19 response. They are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, dental practitioners (all divisions), diagnostic radiographers, medical practitioners, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists.

All practitioners on the 2021 sub-register can work to the full scope of their registration (subject to any notations). Their registration expires on 21 September 2022. However, if governments alert Ahpra and the National Boards to significant changes in need, the sub-register may stay open for longer.

For more information, see pandemic response sub-register and FAQs for practitioners. There are also FAQs for employers.

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Facilitating access to care in a COVID-19 environment

Ahpra and the National Boards recognise that registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and commend them for their sustained efforts.

National Boards expect all health practitioners to facilitate access to care regardless of someone’s vaccination status. People cannot be denied care if steps can be taken to keep the person, health practitioners and their staff safe.

Good practice involves keeping health practitioners, staff and patients safe. Some practitioners may be considering how best to do this while also facilitating access to care in the current COVID-19 environment.

Ahpra and the National Boards have developed guidance to help support good practice in this context. The guidance reinforces existing codes and guidelines and other publicly available information and does not introduce new or different requirements for practitioners.

National Boards expect practitioners to first comply with public health orders in their state or territory. The principle of safely facilitating access to care should then guide decisions about treating people in a COVID-19 environment.

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What’s the point of protected titles?

Recently, there’s been some debate about protected titles and how they work to protect the public. Ahpra and the National Boards provide the following guidance to help inform the discussion.

What is a protected title?

In Australia, the titles of registered health professions are 'protected' by law. This is important because they can act as a sort of shorthand for patients and consumers. When someone uses a protected title (for example, ‘physiotherapist'), you can expect that person is appropriately trained and qualified in that profession, registered, and that they are expected to meet safe and professional standards of practice.

The protected titles under the National Law can be accessed on the Ahpra FAQs page.

Health Ministers recently consulted on whether ‘surgeon’ should be a protected title under the National Law, and in what specialties it should apply, or if other changes should be made to help the public better understand the qualifications of medical practitioners. For more information on the consultation, visit the Engage Victoria website

Read the news item for more details on this topic.

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Senate Committee tables its report

The Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee has tabled its report on the inquiry into the Administration of registration and notifications by Ahpra and related entities under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

We actively engaged with the inquiry, with the Chair of the Board and representatives of Ahpra, the Agency Management Committee and Community Advisory Council all appearing. There were public submissions and stakeholder appearances.

We will consider the recommendations directed to Ahpra and National Boards and contribute to the Australian Government response, as requested.

The report is available on the Inquiry web page.

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Latest podcasts tackle big subjects

Ahpra releases fortnightly episodes of the Taking care podcast, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can access these on the Ahpra website or listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

Some recent episodes include:

Health practitioners’ role in eliminating family violence – a survivor’s story

The first episode of Taking care for 2022 is a powerful and honest conversation about family violence and the role of health practitioners in helping survivors.

Tackling the blame culture to improve patient safety – is it possible?

What is the best approach to support a practitioner’s professional practice to ensure patient safety? How do we regulate when honest errors occur in a workplace environment?

What needs to change to make cosmetic surgery safer for patients?

A consumer shares her good and bad surgery experiences, and consumer advocates Maddison Johnstone and Michael Fraser join CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland to share some of the red flags for consumers and contemplate what a safer system could look like.

Two voices from LGBTIQA+ communities

In this episode, we hear stories of people in LGBTIQA+ communities and their experiences and challenges accessing healthcare. They offer their advice for others experiencing the same and about what practitioners can do to better support these communities.

How practitioners can support LGBTIQA+ communities

Dr Judy Tang, clinical neuropsychologist, and Dr Lee Cubis, clinical psychologist, speak about the changes, small and big, that health practitioners can make to provide safe care to LGBTIQA+ patients.

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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 2/06/2022