Issue 25 - March 2021
Welcome to the Board’s first newsletter for 2021! We would like to thank you all for your patience, dedication and professionalism throughout extraordinary circumstances in 2020.
You will be aware of the Independent review into chiropractic spinal manipulation of children under 12 years, conducted by Safer Care Victoria. The Health Council’s (formerly the COAG Health Council) consideration of the recommendations of the report is ongoing. The Board is committed to communicating with all chiropractors at the completion of the process to advise you of the outcome and clarify any change of policy on spinal manipulation of infants and young children.
I thank those chiropractors who participated in the second annual survey of stakeholder understanding and perceptions of the role and work of the Board and Ahpra. This is an important way to provide feedback to the Board and we have published a report based on the results. These results assist the Board in planning and improving our engagement with the profession and inform future work.
Dr Wayne Minter AM
Chair, Chiropractic Board of Australia
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The Board has released a new information video explaining the professional obligations of chiropractors to provide safe, professional and evidence-based care. Developed for both new and existing members of the profession, the video aims to help clarify for a chiropractor what it means to be registered under the National Scheme.
We will also be holding information sessions via Zoom. There will be a several sessions and we will send practitioners an invitation to attend. This follows on from the Board’s commitment to provide face to face information sessions in 2020; these were postponed due to the pandemic. More information will be provided on the website shortly.
The National Boards and Ahpra have published a joint statement to help registered health practitioners and students understand what’s expected of them in giving, receiving and advising on and sharing information about COVID-19 vaccination.
Registered health practitioners have led the remarkable public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, and we commend them for this sustained public health response. As the national vaccination program gets underway, registered health practitioners and students remain critical to this success by:
The statement should be read in conjunction with the standards, codes, guidelines, position statements and other guidance. The Code of conduct explains the public health obligations of registered health practitioners, including participating in efforts to promote the health of the community and meeting obligations on disease prevention. The Statement on the provision of health information contains important information for chiropractors on vaccination and information sharing.
There is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional health practice, and any promotion of anti-vaccination claims, including on social media and in advertising, may result in regulatory action. See the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service for further advice.
The Board understands that some practitioners had trouble meeting the continuing professional development (CPD) and recency of practice (ROP) requirements in 2020 because of the national COVID-19 emergency.
If you declared in your 2020 renewal that you didn’t meet the CPD and/or ROP requirements because of COVID-19, there is no further action you need to take.
However, as the COVID-19 emergency has now eased, the Board expects all practitioners to take the necessary action to meet the requirements of both standards ahead of renewing their registration in 2021. This includes meeting the first aid requirement. If you were unable to meet this requirement in 2020, we encourage you to ensure your first aid training is current as soon as possible now that training organisations have started offering programs again. The Board will publish further advice if the current situation regarding COVID-19 changes
The CPD guidelines include a range of activities that you can do to maintain competence, develop professionally and improve the quality of care you provide within your scope of practice and within a COVID-safe environment.
Some examples of the types of CPD activities include:
We often receive queries about non-practising registration. This type of registration may be suitable for chiropractors who have retired completely from practice, are not practising temporarily (for example on maternity or paternity leave), or who are not practising in Australia but are practising overseas.
The Board’s registration standards − Professional indemnity insurance arrangements, Continuing professional development and Recency of practice − do not apply to chiropractors holding non-practising registration. However, if you are considering moving to non-practising registration we advise you to consider your circumstances and the requirements for applying for general registration again in the future. The Recency of practice registration standard sets the minimum requirements to maintain recent practice and applies to practitioners changing from non-practising to general registration.
The past 12 months have been a challenging time and we have worked with the other National Boards and Ahpra to support practitioners in continuing to provide safe care. The Board has received many questions about aspects of COVID-19 that are outside our role of protecting the public by regulating individual registered health practitioners. Issues outside our role include professional indemnity insurance refunds, availability and access to personal protective equipment and clinical issues related to COVID-19 including infection control measures. For more information refer to the COVID-19 portal.
We understand that practitioners are looking for trusted sources of information and strongly recommend you download the Australian Department of Health’s app, Coronavirus Australia. This app will help you stay up to date with the latest official information and advice and help you find relevant contact information. The Australian Government Department of Health webpage Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert also provides a collection of resources for health service providers.
Welcome to new and returning students! The Board sends three e-newsletters a year to chiropractors and students across Australia. You are a valued part of our profession and we hope that you find the newsletter helpful.
Each year the Board presents to students of chiropractic programs across Australia and we are often asked about social media obligations for chiropractors. It is important to remember that information that you post on social media can be circulated easily and stays forever. The Code of conduct and Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service apply equally to social media as they do to more traditional forms of advertising and face-to-face interactions.
Examples of when social media posts can cause issues are:
The Board published its latest quarterly report in February, covering workforce data from 1 October to 31 December 2020. At that date, there were 5,893 registered chiropractors.
Registration type by principal place of practice (PPP)
For further information, including data breakdowns by age and gender, visit the Statistics page on our website.
Another successful renewal of registration period has passed, marking 10 years of annual renewal under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme). Online renewal is the easiest way to renew and since 2011 the number of practitioners who renew online has risen from 82 per cent to 97 per cent. Thanks to everyone who renewed their application on time, and especially to those of you who got in early. Responding to the early email reminders to renew ensures plenty of time for your application to be assessed and for you to be contacted if follow-up is needed.
When renewing their registration, some practitioners are making declarations about impairments that we don’t need to know about. It’s only impairments that may affect your ability to practise that you must declare.
Impairment means any physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence), that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect your ability to safely practise the profession.
You don’t need to include such things as wearing glasses or temporary injuries like a sprained wrist or ankle. If you’re unsure about whether your impairment should be declared, do let us know when you renew.
If you do have an impairment that either affects, or you think is likely to affect your ability to practise, you must tell us about it and about what you’re doing to manage it. You should provide documents outlining your current diagnosis and/or treatment plan and a statement from your treating health practitioner regarding your current fitness to practise.
A key objective of the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 is to embed cultural safety in the National Scheme and the health system. A new, online and face-to-face education and training program for all Ahpra staff, board and committee members has begun state by state, starting in our Tasmanian office in Hobart.
The Moong moong-gak Cultural Safety Training Program is designed to provide members of the National Scheme with the knowledge, skills and abilities to develop and apply culturally safe work practices as these relate to their role as part of the National Scheme.
The program gives participants an opportunity to hear and learn from the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, and to reflect on their own behaviours, and their conscious and unconscious beliefs. Upon completion of the program, participants will be better prepared to engage in culturally safe practices, communication and behaviour, in order to contribute to more effective service delivery and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
The cultural safety training will contribute to Ahpra employees’, Board members’ and practitioners’ ongoing critical reflection on their knowledge, skills, attitudes, practising behaviours and power differentials in providing safe, accessible and responsive healthcare free of racism.
We want all our people to embrace the training with an open mind and the ability to learn and unlearn!
Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series has a new episode. Talking to host Susan Biggar, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Adjunct Professor Brett Sutton, and Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, speak openly about their experience of leading during a pandemic, how they coped, and the impact on them and their families.
Brett Sutton speaks about the heavy burden of decision-making with such far-reaching consequences and the importance of his own family and other support mechanisms he relied on to handle the huge pressures. Jeannette Young discusses the fact that there was no rule book, the importance of her husband’s early retirement to support her and how she managed death threats.
Despite the intensity and seriousness of their work, both could see the lighter side of their unexpected celebrity status, a consequence of the unavoidable media spotlight.
Ahpra releases a new Taking care episode fortnightly, discussing current topics and the latest issues affecting safe healthcare in Australia. You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.
L to R: Prof Brett Sutton, CHO Victoria and Dr Jeannette Young, CHO Queensland
In 2017 Ahpra commissioned independent research that took the first international look at vexatious (unfounded) complaints. The report, Reducing, identifying and managing vexatious complaints, found that vexatious complaints account for less than one per cent of notifications received, and that there is greater risk of people not reporting concerns than of people making truly vexatious complaints.
The report also noted that being on the receiving end of any notification is a distressing experience for any health practitioner. Regulators need to have good processes for dealing with unfounded complaints quickly and fairly.
Following recommendations made in the report, Ahpra developed A framework for identifying and dealing with vexatious notifications for staff and regulatory decision-makers. This will help us identify and manage potentially vexatious notifications. The framework outlines:
We understand that practitioners who feel that they may be the subject of a vexatious notification are more likely to experience stress and anxiety. Our staff are equipped to identify and support these practitioners and to implement management strategies set out in our framework when a concern about vexatiousness is raised with us.
Our staff are here to help you before, during or after the notifications process. We encourage you to visit our General support services page where you can find the contact details for additional support services. You can also listen to Episode 1: Vexatious notifications, Taking care, Ahpra’s podcast and visit our Concerns about practitioners page for more information about notifications and links to the report and framework.