World Physiotherapy Day is on 8 September this year and it is time to reflect on the important role that physiotherapists have in health and recovery. This year’s theme is the role we play in the rehabilitation of people living with rheumatological conditions, which is central to supporting and optimising a patent’s recovery and well-being. We recognise and are proud of the work of Australia’s registered physiotherapists and the influence that their work has on other health factors, such as symptom management beyond physical activity.
This newsletter contains information about the physiotherapy competency thresholds, the workforce attrition research, and Ahpra’s current review of the criminal history registration standard for registered health practitioners. It also outlines two new resources to help physiotherapists better understand and meet their health record management obligations.
I encourage you to read our newsletter as it contains important information about our profession.
Chair, Physiotherapy Board of Australia
The Board continues its work on the proposed updates to the Physiotherapy practice thresholds in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. The public consultation on this document concluded on 30 June this year and work is continuing to finalise any changes.
The original thresholds were developed by the Board and the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand back in 2015 to provide joint guidance on entry-level practice thresholds for the physiotherapy profession in both countries and the two boards are committed to regularly reviewing the thresholds to ensure they remain relevant and up to date.
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The Board and the Australian Physiotherapy Association are conducting a research survey into workforce attrition to better understand why physiotherapists cease their registration and what they do after ceasing practice. The health practitioner workforce is a high priority for Australia and understanding the motivating factors of the workforce is a key to improving the systems that support them.
We are the first National Board to carry out this survey and it is going to another nine healthcare professions in early September. We will provide an update in our next newsletter.
To help physiotherapists better understand and meet their health record management obligations, the Board has developed two new health record management resources:
The Board’s expectations about health records are outlined in the Code of conduct. You must also consider state, territory or Commonwealth legislation about health records and privacy that may apply.
Visit Ahpra's Resources page to view and download the new resources, along with several other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice.
New Easy English information about the shared Code of conduct is now available. This easier to understand information will help people in the community who find it hard to read and understand English know what standards of conduct they can expect from a physiotherapist.
The shared Code of conduct applies to physiotherapists and was updated last year to improve patient safety. As well as being a guiding document for health practitioners, the code is an important document for the public. The code outlines what the public can expect when they see a registered physiotherapist, including information about respect, culturally safe care, privacy and confidentiality, and communication.
The new Easy English information is accessible on the Board’s website along with other resources for the public. There are also resources to help practitioners understand and apply the code, including FAQs and case studies.
The Board has published its latest quarterly report on the physiotherapy workforce, covering 1 January to 31 March 2023. At this date, there were 41,633 registered physiotherapists, of whom 38,784 have general registration.
For more data, including registration by principal place of practice, age and gender, read the report on our Statistics page.
The Board has agreed to accept additional English language tests to provide further flexibility to people applying for registration. The tests are:
Applicants for registration should visit the test provider’s website directly to find out more about these tests. Information about test providers is available on the Ahpra website.
All other requirements set out in the Board’s English language skills registration standard still apply.
A Queensland man who has never held registration as a physiotherapist has pleaded guilty to the charge of claiming to be qualified to practise as a physiotherapist in contravention of section 116(1)(d) of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law 2009.
Mr Carlos Adelino Henrique Ferreira has never been registered as a physiotherapist and holds no qualifications in physiotherapy. He used fake documents to make the claim he was a physiotherapist.
Read more in the news item.
When is criminal history incompatible with healthcare practice? What risks are acceptable – and manageable – when it comes to public safety?
From traffic offences at one end, to murder and serious sexual assault at the other, there is a spectrum of seriousness when it comes to criminal offences.
The Physiotherapy Board decides case by case whether to grant someone registration as a physiotherapist or allow them to return to practice, based on their criminal history. This process is the same for every registered profession.
As the National Boards and Ahpra review the criminal history registration standard, we’re keen to know what the professions and the community expect.
We are reviewing the criminal history registration standard to make sure it is up to date and relevant. This work is part of our blueprint for reform to strengthen public safety in health regulation, which has a focus on sexual misconduct in healthcare.
Tell us what you think about the current version of the criminal history standard and other work to improve public safety in health regulation.
Your feedback will shape our thinking. There’ll be another opportunity to comment when we consult on changes to the registration standard down the track.
More information about the review and how to make a submission is available on the Ahpra Consultations page. The consultation closes on 29 September 2023.
Public protection is at the forefront in the latest round of reforms to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The changes started on 15 May, in all states and territories except Western Australia (where the changes will be introduced later).
One significant change gives Ahpra and the National Boards a new power to issue a public statement to warn the public about a serious risk from an individual – either a registered health practitioner or a person who does not hold registration but is providing a health service. Issuing a public statement means we can warn the public about a serious risk at an early stage, while we continue to investigate. There is a high threshold that must be met to use the power, which we anticipate will be used sparingly and only in exceptional cases to better protect the public.
Read more in the public statements warnings FAQs.
Other changes will help us improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme and help create a fairer system. These changes include:
Some of the changes do not apply in NSW, because of differences in how concerns are managed in that state. For example, the power to issue a public statement and the power to require information at an earlier point in the assessment process are already held by the Health Care Complaints Commission. Read more about the NSW regulators.
The changes are the latest in a wide range of reforms outlined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022, which came into law last October.
For more information, read the news item and see the resources on the Ahpra National Law amendments page.
From fake physiotherapists working in aged care homes, to unqualified dentists removing teeth, Ahpra has now completed 100 criminal prosecutions to protect the public.
Ahpra’s first criminal prosecution was finalised in January 2014 when a West Australian woman was sentenced to a $20,000 fine for claiming to be a registered psychologist. Since then, Ahpra has prosecuted matters throughout Australia with the most in Victoria and NSW.
‘Holding out’ cases, where someone is pretending to be registered when they are not, dominated the prosecution list. The 100th case involved a man holding out as a registered pharmacist.
For more information, read the news item.
Ahpra has recently established a new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants, registrants and stakeholders through the registration process. The support team is part of Ahpra’s commitments to provide culturally safe services to its applicants, registrants and stakeholders.
The support team will focus on helping recent applicants and new graduates who have identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander on their application form. This applies to applicants across all 16 registered professions in the National Scheme.
The team’s one-on-one services range from providing helpful tips and tricks for navigating the registration process to regular phone contact, updates and advice on disclosures made on application (for example, impairments or previous criminal history) that may require consideration by the National Board.
The support team is committed to ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners in all professions get registered or renewed promptly so they can focus on their contributions to safe healthcare and to their communities. Keep an eye out for regular emails from the team or reach out for help at email@example.com.
Members of the team will be attending community events and health practitioner conferences.
If you are a student, contact your Indigenous Student Support unit at your tertiary provider for information.
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