September 2018

Issue 21 - September 2018


From the Chair

Since our last newsletter, I am happy to report that the Physiotherapy Board of Australia (the Board) has continued refining its regulatory approach, ensuring that it does not react with a regulatory solution without careful consideration of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme's regulatory principles, and being clear about the problem it is intending to fix.

With the National Scheme’s recent launch of the Statement of Intent and Reconciliation Action Plan to help achieve equity in health outcomes, Indigenous health and healthcare are high on the agenda for all National Boards. For the Board’s July meeting in Melbourne, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) was approached to host and provide an overview of its work in healthcare education and training. Read more in the newsletter.

The Board is holding its September meeting in Hobart at a time coinciding with the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) Conference in that city. On Saturday 6 October, before the day’s conference activities begin, the Board is holding a stakeholder breakfast to which all conference goers are invited. See the details provided below.

Charles Flynn
Chair, Physiotherapy Board of Australia

Photo of Charles Flynn

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Board news

Be audit ready! Make sure you're on top of your CPD

Physiotherapists are being reminded to be audit ready in 2018 by meeting the continuing professional development (CPD) obligations set by the Board.

One of the functions of the Board is to support the physiotherapy workforce to maintain and improve the high standards of practice and care received by their patients. Registered physiotherapists renew their registration with the Board every year. Only those who meet the Board’s CPD registration requirements can maintain registration, something which is checked each year through an audit process.

Under the Board’s requirements, all registered physiotherapists must declare when registering that they have completed a minimum of 20 hours of relevant CPD and reflected on the impact of that CPD on their practice during the period November 2017 to November 2018.

Practitioners are best placed to determine the most appropriate activities for their professional development. The Board has published information and resources to help them meet their obligations outlined in the physiotherapy Continuing professional development registration standard and guidelines.

‘CPD is essential to providing safe care and helping contribute to improving the health of all Australians. All physiotherapists should familiarise themselves with the CPD standard and guidelines and use them to move through the stages of CPD to help plan, do, record, reflect on and guide their practice,’ said Board Chair Charles Flynn.

‘We urge all physiotherapists to access the resources published by the Board on its website, especially in terms of breaking down CPD into easier to manage stages. Evidence of completing CPD activities will be checked during audit. It’s vital for physiotherapists to meet their obligations so they can stay registered and help keep patients safer by keeping their professional development up to date,’ he said.

The Board has published a new poster for practitioners to help break down the CPD cycle and help them understand what they need to do each year. Physiotherapists must provide evidence of the CPD activities they have completed to meet the requirements of the Board’s standard. Their CPD activities must directly relate to their physiotherapy practice and a reflection recorded against those activities. Choose suitable activities that address your CPD needs.

Don’t take the risk of not meeting the requirements if audited, get your CPD underway today.

Still have a question? Helpful resources

You can read these registration standards on the Board’s website.

The Board has also published guidelines and FAQs to support the standard and to help practitioners to understand its requirements.

Physiotherapy Board of Australia - Are you ready for audit fact sheet

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Physiotherapists are encouraged to take care of their own health on World Physical Therapy Day

The Board has been joined by the Australian Physiotherapy Council to encourage physiotherapists to take care of their own health and wellbeing, as part of World Physical Therapy Day.

Australia’s 31,772 registered physiotherapists make an important and varied contribution to health services accessed by the Australian community, and they do this best by also maintaining their own health and wellbeing.

World Physical Therapy Day is an international day of significance held on 8 September every year. This year, the suggested campaign message is ‘physical therapy and mental health’, highlighting the important role that physical therapy and physical activity have in maintaining your mental health.

The joint call aims to highlight the crucial role that physiotherapists play in keeping the community well, mobile and independent. However, the day is also an opportunity to share regulatory messages about the profession and send an important message to practitioners to look after themselves. 

‘World Physical Therapy Day has an important focus on how physiotherapists support patients and this year it looks at mental health. Building on this we wanted to also focus on physiotherapists themselves. A practitioner’s health and wellbeing is more than just about their physical wellbeing. It includes their social, emotional and cultural wellbeing,’ said Board Chair Charles Flynn.

‘Most registered physiotherapists do the right thing and ask for help when their health and wellbeing needs some support to get back on track. It is important to take care of yourself and seek help and support when you need it. Being able to seek help is so important when you are delivering care to patients,’ Mr Flynn said.

We know that exercise is an evidence-based treatment for depression and the benefits of physical activity in protecting against the emergence of depression. Our advice to practitioners is to make sure you maintain a healthy work/life balance. This is in your best interests and it is also in the best interests of your patients.

We want you to enjoy the success of working with patients and seeing great outcomes for them as a result of your care. Making sure you meet your regulatory obligations will help you do that, while providing quality, safe care to the public. This means that your patients can be safe in the knowledge that you will put their best interests first.

You can read more about World Physical Therapy Day in the media release.

Visit the Board’s website for registration standardscodes and guidelines for physiotherapists. The AHPRA website has information on support services available to you.

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Registration fees set for 2018/19

The Board has announced the national registration fees for physiotherapists for 2018/19. The Board has increased the registration fee to $140. It will cover the registration period for most practitioners of 1 December 2018 to 30 November 2019.

The fee for practitioners whose principal place of practice is New South Wales is $122. NSW is a co-regulatory jurisdiction.

A full fee schedule, including the fee arrangements for practitioners whose principal place of practice is NSW, has been published on the Board’s website.

The National Scheme is funded by practitioners’ registration fees. Despite the fee increase, this fee represents one of the lowest of the regulated health professions.

Fees support the Board in the continual development of a safe and mobile Australian workforce for health practitioners and the public in the most efficient ways possible. It also allows the Board to facilitate the provision of high-quality education and training for practitioners.

For more information, read the news item.

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Meet the Board at our breakfast event in Hobart

The Board is hosting another information-sharing breakfast for physiotherapists and others on Saturday 6 October in Hobart (8:30am for a 9.00am start). The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) annual conference is being held that week in Hobart and the Board is inviting all conference goers and Tasmanian physiotherapists to the breakfast, before the conference gets underway that day.

The event is being held at the Woolstore Apartment Hotel, Macquarie Street, Hobart. All Tasmanian physiotherapists will be invited via email, along with a number of local stakeholders. The breakfast provides an opportunity to meet members of the Board and learn about its work.  

Please email.chair@physiotherapyboard.gov.au if you would like to attend and have not received an emailed invitation.

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Board gains insights into Aboriginal healthcare education and training

With the National Scheme’s recent launch of the Statement of Intent and Reconciliation Action Plan to help achieve equity in health outcomes, Indigenous health and healthcare are high on the agenda. The Physiotherapy Board of Australia, as a signatory to the Statement along with the other 14 National Boards, wanted to find out more about this sector. For the Board’s July meeting in Melbourne, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) was approached to host and provide an overview of its work.

VACCHO is the peak body for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people living in Victoria, and a leading advocate for health equality and effective health policy and health service delivery. It believes each Aboriginal community should have its own community based, locally owned, culturally appropriate and adequately resourced primary healthcare facility. Its 27 member bodies across the state, the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), have a proud history as sustainable, grassroots organisations that assist in building community capacity for self-determination.

VACCHO has six units: Business Services, Education and Training, Policy and Advocacy, Public Health and Research, Sustainability and Business, Workforce and Wellbeing. Among its many projects and programs, the Australian General Practice Training Program works to increase the uptake of GP Registrar training opportunities with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHSs), there is a health promotion and chronic disease management program, and programs dealing with mental health, alcohol and drugs, smoking cessation, maternity care and early years, nutrition and physical activity. The Board was impressed by the range of activities and the strong partnerships VACCHO has formed with government and with health bodies such as Cancer Council Victoria, Dental Health Services Victoria, Diabetes Victoria and many others.

As a registered training organisation (RTO), VACCHO offers many accredited vocational education and training courses, including a Board-approved program of study that leads to eligibility for registration as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner. Over 95 per cent of its students for all courses identify as being of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent.

VACCHO’s building in urban neighbourhood Collingwood provides Aboriginal people with a sense of permanency and identity as it is located in the historical meeting place for community in Victoria.

The building houses a large collection of exceptional Indigenous artwork, including paintings and sculpture. Perhaps its most famous artwork is on the building itself. The 20th Anniversary mural (2016) marks the milestone birthday of the peak representative body for Aboriginal health in Victoria. 

In partnership with world famous street artist Adnate, three Aboriginal artists, Ray Thomas, Kulan Barney and Ruby Kulla Kulla painted a mural that showcases 20 years of advancement and achievement in Victorian Aboriginal health. This vibrant, stand-out artwork provides a snapshot of Aboriginal Victoria and is another Aboriginal cultural footprint on the Collingwood landscape. 

The Board came away from the visit with an enriched understanding of Aboriginal health and culture, the principles of cultural safety and the unique and comprehensive services delivered by the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations. 

Jill Humphreys, Physiotherapy Board Executive Officer, said ’VACCHO works with the National Scheme in providing an approved program of study for registration as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner and it was great for the Physio Board to be able to work together across the two professions on this day, to learn a bit more about each other, as the Scheme is intended.’

Photo of Physiotherapy Board in front of a mural

Physiotherapy Board members, National Scheme Ombudsman Richelle McCausland, AHPRA’s National Director Policy and Accreditation, Helen Townley, and VACCHO staff member Lorraine Fisk with the anniversary mural.

Photo of Physiotherapy Board members in VACCHO foyer

L to R: Board members Libby Kosmala OAM and Kim Gibson, VACCHO staff member Libby Neesham and Board Chair Charles Flynn in the foyer, standing on a superb welcoming artwork inset in the floor.

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National Scheme news

Closing the gap by 2031: a shared commitment to improving Indigenous health outcomes

The National Scheme has made a landmark commitment to helping achieve equity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians to close the gap by 2031.

Nearly 40 health organisations have signed the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Statement of Intent, including leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations, AHPRA, all National Boards, all accreditation authorities and other entities.

AHPRA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group is leading this work, in close partnership with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and experts.

The group shares a commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have access to health services that are culturally safe and free from racism so that they can enjoy a healthy life,

To help achieve this, the group is focusing on:

  • a culturally safe health workforce supported by nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all professions in the National Scheme
  • using our leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals
  • increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ participation in the registered health workforce
  • greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services of health professions regulated under the National Scheme, and
  • increased participation across all levels of the National Scheme.  

More information is available in the news item, the Statement of Intent and AHPRA’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

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Workforce milestone: 700,000th health practitioner registered

AHPRA and the National Boards have welcomed the 700,000th health practitioner to be registered in Australia since the start of national regulation in 2010, Victoria-based enrolled nurse Alison Tregeagle.

Reaching the 700,000th registered practitioner milestone comes almost eight years after the launch of the National Scheme on 1 July 2010, when AHPRA and the National Boards for 10 health professions began their regulatory partnership governed by a nationally consistent National Law.

In 2010, the registration of over half a million health practitioners transferred to the new National Scheme, with a further four health professions joining in 2012 and growing the number of registered health practitioners to more than 590,000 for the year to 30 June 2013. This year the number will grow further as paramedics join the National Scheme in late 2018.

AHPRA’s first annual report showed there were slightly more than 530,000 registered health practitioners across Australia as at 30 June 2011 so hitting 700,000 represents significant growth over that time. It demonstrates that regulation is enabling the growth and mobility of a registered health workforce to support the delivery of health services to Australians.

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Quarterly registration data show growth in the profession

The latest registration data report was released by the Board last month. It covers the period of 1 April —30 June 2018.

There are 31,995 registered physiotherapists as at that date, an increase of 719 or 2.24 per cent since the previous quarter ended 31 December. This increase includes new graduates registering for the first time.

For more data on the profession, including registration type by gender, age group and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s statistics page.

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Consultation — proposed reforms to the National Law

Australia’s Health Ministers are consulting on some proposed reforms to the National Law1, which provides the framework for health practitioner regulation in Australia.

The Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) is leading the consultation, in the second stage of the reform process. The first amendments in The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 have already been made and are now being implemented.

More information about the reform process, a summary of the proposed changes and the consultation paper ‘Regulation of Australia’s health professions: keeping the National Law up to date and fit for purpose’ is available on the COAG Health Council website.

Submissions can be sent to NRAS.consultation@dhhs.vic.gov.auThe consultation closes Wednesday 31 October 2018.


1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.

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Advertising update — selectively editing reviews or testimonials may break the law

AHPRA has issued more guidance for advertisers to make it clearer that selectively editing reviews is not acceptable.

Under the National Law, testimonials about clinical care are not permitted, but reviews about non-clinical aspects of care are allowed.

In a recent case, an advertiser removed all negative comments from patients’ reviews. This selective editing changed the meaning of the reviews and had the potential to mislead the public. AHPRA’s new guidance makes it clear this is not acceptable and outlines the rules about editing or moderating reviews. It is misleading to:

  •  edit a review that is negative to make it positive, as this falsely presents the feedback
  • edit a review that has a mix of negative and positive comments so that the published review only has positive comments, as this falsely implies that the reviewer only had positive feedback, or
  • edit a review so that it no longer accurately reflects all the reviewer’s feedback and presents an inaccurate or false impression of the reviewer’s views.

Reviews influence consumers healthcare choices so advertisers must make sure reviews are genuine and not misleading.

The way advertisers moderate and publish reviews must comply with the National Law and the Australian Consumer Law.

The updated testimonial tool is available in the Advertising resources section on the AHPRA website.

For more information, access the Advertising resources on the AHPRA website.

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Vexing not vexatious: research finds more risk in not reporting

Independent research commissioned by AHPRA has looked internationally at vexatious complaints, finding these are very rare and that there is more risk from people not reporting concerns than from making complaints in bad faith.

The report found that the number of vexatious complaints dealt with in Australia and internationally is very small, less than one per cent, but they have a big effect on everyone involved. The research also confirms that the risk of someone not reporting their concerns is greater than if the complaint turns out to be vexatious.

Most of Australia’s 700,000 registered health practitioners provide great care, but patients also have the right to make a complaint when things don’t go so well.

The best available evidence suggests that truly vexatious complaints are very rare, and that under-reporting of well-founded concerns is likely a far greater problem.

There is a common misconception that a complaint must have been vexatious if it resulted in no regulatory action. However, a decision by a National Board not to take regulatory action does not mean that the complaint was unfounded or made in bad faith. For example, a risk to the public may have been adequately addressed between the time the complaint was made and when the investigation concluded.

The report will be used to inform best practice for reducing, identifying, and managing vexatious complaints and helps to identify opportunities to work with others to help reduce their frequency and adverse consequences.

The report is available on the AHPRA website under Published research.

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AHPRA designated a WHO Collaborating Centre for health workforce regulation across the Western Pacific

AHPRA’s commitment to best practice and learning from others has received a boost, with an official designation from the World Health Organization (WHO) as a Collaborating Centre for health workforce regulation. This designation means that AHPRA, in partnership with National Boards, will work with WHO and its Member States in the Western Pacific to strengthen regulatory practice across the region.
Crucial to the work of the Collaborating Centre is establishing a network of regulators across South East Asia and the Western Pacific. The network is expected to work on improving regulatory standards.

The designation as a Collaboration Centre is timely, with the Australian Government Department of Health and WHO recently beginning a four-year Cooperation Strategy. Strengthening regulation in health services, health workforce, radiation, food safety and health products is an identified priority for the joint work in this Cooperation Strategy. You can access the Cooperation Strategy on WHO’s information-sharing site. Queries about AHPRA’s work as a Collaboration Centre can be directed to WHO_CC_HWR@ahpra.gov.au.

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True partnership recognised through AHPRA and Victoria Police MOU

AHPRA and Victoria Police have announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enable greater cooperation which will see the public better protected.

The MOU is the first of its kind between AHPRA and a police force. It recognises the cooperation already in place between the two agencies. It establishes procedures for timely and appropriate information sharing, within the law, where AHPRA or Victoria Police discover certain information in the course of their investigations.

The MOU provides a mechanism for the release of information by AHPRA when it identifies information relating to criminal offences, including physical harm, sexual offending, production of exploitative material and/or drug offences.

Victoria Police will also be better placed to share information with AHPRA about practitioners who they suspect may pose a risk of substantial harm to the public or individuals posing as registered health practitioners when they are not.

The agreement lays out detailed security protocols around the transmission, storage, use and disclosure of information that is shared between Victoria Police and AHPRA.

AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said, ‘This agreement formalises a long history of cooperation between AHPRA and the Victorian police, and will help us to protect the public and further manage possible risks to patient safety. We already have a strong and productive working relationship with Victoria Police. This MOU recognises our different jurisdictions but common purpose to play our role in keeping the public safe.'

‘Victoria is proud to be the first state to formalise our working relationship with AHPRA that will help us all do our jobs – Victoria Police to investigate criminal offences and AHPRA to protect patients. This MOU has many benefits for both our organisations and the public, for example being able to share information that would avoid a situation where a witness has to give two separate statements, one to AHPRA and one to Victoria Police,’ said Victorian Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton.

The MOU recognises the learning that came from the Chaperone Review, a report into the use of chaperones to protect patients. The report stated that where there are allegations of indecent or sexual assault there needed to be greater clarity around whether AHPRA contacts the police or relies on the notifier (the person who makes the complaint) to do so. The report also considered it was important that AHPRA was kept aware of developments in police investigations, which may trigger the need to review risk and take immediate action on a registered health practitioner’s ability to practise their profession.

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For more information

  • Visit the Board’s website for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Charles Flynn, Chair, Physiotherapy Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 19/09/2018