If you are a health professional, I am sure you are aware that changes are being made in the registration of some health professions in Australia. The following article will give you a brief outline of those changes.
Until recently, health professionals were registered (or not registered) according to the state where the individual practitioner was located. States managed the regulation of these professions. This meant that there was a lot of inconsistency about the requirements of professions accross the country. For example, Occupational Therapists were requried to be registered in South Australia, Western Australia, The Northern Territory and Queensland but not in Tasmania, New South Wales, ACT or Victoria.
In 2005 the Productivity Commission was asked by the Federal Government to look into issues surrounding the health workforce and one of the recommendations was to have a single registration board for all health professions across Australia. In 2008 a decision was made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting to set up a single body to regulate a group of health professions.
The National Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is working with 14 professions to ensure national registration. Health professions which had registration in every state were included in the first phase of national registration. They are Chiropractic, Dental, Medical, Nursing and Midwifery, Optometry, Osteopathy, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Podiatry and Psychology. The professions were transferred to the national registration last year.
Four further professions: Chinese Medicine, Medical Radiation Practice, Occupational Therapy and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Health will be transferred to AHPRA on 1 July 2012. That means that those professions in states which have had no registration will now have registration. Anyone claiming to practise in these professions will be legally required to be registered.
If you are a Speech Pathologist, Rehab Counsellor or other health profession found working in rehab these changes do not apply to you.
You can find out more about the AHPRA here.
What Does This Mean For Me?
If you are in a profession and state which has had previous registration, you may find that the requirements for your registration have, or are about to change. You may be required to be registered for the first time. Each profession has their own requirements, which may include such standards as criminal checks, English language requirements, recency of practice requirements standards for continuing professional development (CPD) and insurance requirements. A registration fee will also apply.
If you belong to one of the professions which has already progressed to national registration, you can find furter information on the AHPRA website.
National Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapists must apply for registration by 30/3/12 to be registered by 1/7/12. The application forms are not ready yet but AHPRA states that they will be available sometime in February at the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia section of the AHPRA website. Please note that AHPRA has advised that Occupational Therapists in states which already have registration will automatically transfer national registration but you do need to check your ongoing requirements.
“Well that is quite soon!” you may be thinking. That’s what I thought anyway.
As an Occupational Therapist in NSW, the concept of registration is quite new to me and I feel like I would like to know a lot more about it. I recommend reading the information on the AHPRA particularly in relation to your profession. Here is the website for the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia.
The Board and the Profession
It is important to be clear that Occupational Therapy Australia and the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia are two very different bodies. Occupational Therapy Australia is the association that represents Occupational Therapsists and Occupational Therapy as a profession. It is owned and run by the profession and paid for by indiviual members. The Occupational Therapy Board of Australia is a government body which exists to regulate the profession on behalf of the community. It is paid for by the government, that is, by the community. The majority of the members of the board are Occupational Therapists. There are also some community representatives.
The board and the professional association are likely to have similar views on what is good for the profession and what is good for the community. They are also likely to have some differences.
Continuing Professional Development
CPD is crucial for all Occupational Therapists as it is for other health professionals. I will write a further blog on how Occupational Therapy Australia and the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia differ on their requirements for CPD. I will discuss Occupational Therapy courses and Occupational Therapy training and what CPD courses you will need to do, both for your national registration, and your association membership.
AHPRA is providing information sessions for OTs and other interested parties starting in February. All OT practitioners, colleagues, managers etc are wecome to attend. They do ask you to RSVP to the contact person. You can access the agenda of information sessions here for NSW and here for Victoria. Sessions for other states have not been announced yet. I think these sessions are vital if you want to know what is going on in your profession and I will indeed be attending one of the Sydney sessions. I will, of course report my experience on Rehabhub but I urge any OTs who are able to attend to do so.
I look forward to meeting some Rehabhub readers there!
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