Chiropractic Board of Australia - October 2020
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October 2020

Issue 24 - October 2020

Message from the Chair

Wayne MinterWelcome to our October newsletter. 

I’d like to start by welcoming chiropractic students. You will now receive the Board’s newsletter and see articles that are of interest to you. You are a valued part of our profession and we hope you will find the newsletter helpful. If you are getting ready to graduate, you can apply now to register − see the Students and graduates section below.

Registration renewal for chiropractors is now open and the registration fee for 2020-21 has been reduced. We know that this has been a difficult year for everyone, and for some even more so as they deal with the financial impact of COVID-19. The Board has a policy to help practitioners experiencing financial hardship: read more below.

I am pleased to advise you that I have been reappointed as Chair and practitioner member from New South Wales for three years. On behalf of the Board, thank you for your continuing commitment and professionalism during these challenging times.

Dr Wayne Minter AM
Chair, Chiropractic Board of Australia

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Board news

Registration fee reduced

The Board is pleased to announce a reduced registration fee of $530 for chiropractors for 2020/21. The fee for practitioners whose principal place of practice is New South Wales (a co-regulatory jurisdiction) is $513.

In considering a reduction to the registration fee, the Board looked at several scenario analyses that focused on reducing registration fees while ensuring the sustainable finances needed to support the Board’s regulatory work. We made sure our obligations in protecting the public were maintained.

Practitioner registration fees fund the work of the Board in partnership with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and support our continuing efforts to provide a safe and mobile chiropractic workforce and protect the public in the most efficient way possible.

Registration fees also allow the Board to facilitate the provision of high-quality education and training.

Financial hardship and registration fees

The Board recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected people in several ways, including financial hardship.

Financial hardship in the context of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) means that because of family tragedy, financial misfortune, unemployment, serious illness, impacts of a natural disaster, national health emergency and other serious or difficult circumstances a practitioner is unable to reasonably provide necessities such as food, accommodation, clothing, education and/or medical treatment for themselves, their family or other dependents, and by extension, the costs associated with their registration.

The COVID-19 pandemic is considered a national health emergency for the purpose of this definition.

Renewing registration

A payment plan will be available for health practitioners experiencing genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19. If eligible, practitioners will be able to pay half their registration fee at renewal and make a second payment in the first half of 2021. If you are eligible, you will need to complete and upload a financial hardship application form before completing your renewal – applications cannot be considered after a practitioner has renewed. Applications will close on 17 November 2020 to allow processing time.

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Advertising – tips for practitioners

All registered health practitioners who advertise, including chiropractors, are responsible for their advertising. When you advertise consider the following tips:

  • Think about your advertising from a patient’s point of view – could it be misleading; does it tell them everything they need to know; or could it create unrealistic expectations of treatment?
  • If the evidence is too weak to support advertising of a therapeutic claim, leave it out.
  • Including a lot of complicated information can be confusing for patients. Remember, you can explain more about the treatment in a consultation.
  • Be careful about publishing content copied from somewhere else – make sure you check it first. You are responsible for what you publish, even if someone else wrote it. 

See more information below about this year’s advertising declaration at renewal.

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Get to know your Board

Dr Abbey Chilcott, chiropractorDr Abbey Chilcott, practitioner member

Dr Abbey Chilcott, chiropractor, was first appointed to the Chiropractic Board of Australia in 2018. We asked Abbey to tell us about her background, her role as a practitioner member and her vision for the profession.

What is your background?

Shortly after emigrating from South Africa, I completed my double bachelor’s degree in science and chiropractic followed by an honours degree at Murdoch University in Perth. I spent my postgraduate year working alongside a Perth neurosurgeon and was supervised by Dr Bruce Walker; this work allowed me to develop outside of the chiropractic profession and after this I furthered my studies in public health at The University of Western Australia.

I’m now in private practice in Perth and spend time as a clinical supervisor at Murdoch University. Outside of my professional life, I enjoy a very active lifestyle (not always by choice!) with my two young children and West Highland White terrier.

What attracted you to the role of practitioner member on the Board?

My public health studies introduced me to the concept of public safety, and I recall early in my career being frustrated at stories from patients where a health professional had not treated them in a way that met their needs and expectations. I valued the work done by Ahpra and the National Boards in establishing practitioner accountability and used this to reflect on my own practices so I could advance and improve as a practitioner. It was this that attracted me to a role as on the National Board, working within the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

What Board roles and functions are you passionate about?

My two areas of interest are connected, they are my involvement in the new CPD registration standard and my membership on the Registration, Notifications and Compliance Committee. I feel strongly that a practitioner’s desire to complete CPD should not be an exercise in ticking a box at registration renewal, but the ongoing pursuit of learning and excellence as a foundation of our profession.

It has been important to me learning how notifications are very sensibly assessed and presented to the committee, with valuable input from our community members. It’s very rewarding to watch practitioners going through the notification process show a genuine focus on developing, while actively taking steps to reduce any issues with their professional practice.

What is your vision for the profession?

My vision is to have chiropractors integrated seamlessly into mainstream healthcare systems. I believe one way this can be achieved is by setting and maintaining the same regulatory standards for all health professions; I am pleased that I am part of Ahpra and am working towards this goal. As a profession, it is important that we reflect on previous barriers that may have restricted involvement in interprofessional associations and I would like to see chiropractic have a productive and strong future, reflected in the regulatory work we do as a Board.

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COVID-19 updates for November registration renewal

National Boards have provided COVID-19 pandemic-related updates for practitioners due to renew their registration by 30 November 2020.

CPD requirements

The Board encourages you to continue to do continuing professional development (CPD) that is relevant to your practice where possible. 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.

Some examples of CPD activities that would not require you to meet in large gatherings or to travel include:

  • online learning and internet research
  • written reflections on experience in day-to-day clinical practice
  • reading books, publications and journals relevant to your practice
  • quality assurance activities, such as accreditation, clinical audits or review of records, and
  • online professional or interprofessional interactions such as meetings, case reviews and clinical forums.

However, we do not want CPD requirements to take practitioners away from clinical care or cause additional concerns to anyone already under extra pressure due to COVID-19. If you can't meet the CPD standard because of the COVID-19 emergency, then we won't take any action for the registration period during which the COVID-19 emergency is in force.

Recency of practice

You are also strongly encouraged to meet the recency of practice requirements. If you are unable to meet the relevant recency of practice standard due to COVID-19, we will not take action. Recency of practice requirements will need to be met when practitioners apply for renewal in 2021. More information is published on the COVID-19 updates All profession information page.

We also expect practitioners to comply with their professional obligations, including to recognise and work within the limits of their competence and scope of practice and to maintain adequate knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care.

You should answer all renewal questions honestly and accurately and tell us whether you did or didn't meet the CPD and recency registration standards' requirements. Ahpra and the Board will not take action if you could not meet the requirements of either of these two standards in 2020 because of COVID-19.

First aid requirement

The Board understands that many of you may not be able to meet the requirement to have first aid training this year as training organisations may not be delivering the training at present. If any component of your training is not current, we encourage you to do the training as soon as possible. You can continue to practise in the meantime.

Where do I go for more information?

Please see the news item for more information.

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Advertising declaration and audit

When applying to renew their registration in 2020, health practitioners will be asked to declare that, if they advertise, their advertising meets Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) advertising requirements. This will be accompanied by auditing to check compliance.

Following an advertising audit declaration pilot in 2018, National Boards agreed in November 2019 to introduce a renewal declaration and audit as an effective approach to determine overall advertising and non-compliance rates.

The audit, to be carried out by Ahpra’s Advertising Compliance team from February 2021, will not delay a decision on the application for renewal.

This is part of the approach to improve compliance with National Law advertising requirements in the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme. The strategy supports improved compliance with National Law advertising requirements through a responsive, risk-based enforcement and educative approach.

Evaluation, such as the 2018 pilot audit, is a core component and has informed the revised Advertising and compliance enforcement strategy due to be released soon.

Updated Guidelines for advertising regulated health services to help health practitioners understand their obligations when they are advertising a regulated health service are also due to be released soon.

Audited practitioners who are found to have non-compliant advertising will be managed under the strategy.

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Latest workforce data released

The Board published its latest quarterly report in August covering workforce data from 1 April to 30 June 2020.

As at that date, there are 5,777 registered chiropractors, of whom 5,408 have general registration. There are 368 who have non-practising registration and one practitioner with limited registration.

The workforce consists of 2,352 (40.7%) female and 3,425 (59.3%) male practitioners.

For further information, including data breakdowns by principal place of practice and age, visit the Statistics page on our website.

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Students and graduates

Graduating soon? Here’s what you need to know

This year’s graduate registration campaign is underway. If you're set to complete your course within the next three months, apply now! See the Board’s news item for everything you need to know, including helpful tips, links to guidance documents and our video for graduating students.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives including clinical placements for students. Ahpra is taking COVID-19 into account in this year’s campaign.

Avoid delays with your application

Check out the resources on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website before you submit your application. This will help ensure your application is complete, so we don’t have to come back to you seeking clarification or more information. We can then get you registered as soon as we receive your graduate results.

Financial hardship arrangements

Some recent graduates may be experiencing financial hardship because of loss of casual or part-time employment in industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic. There may also be changes in financial circumstances in the graduate’s immediate household.

If you are experiencing financial hardship and are unable to pay the required fees, please contact the Ahpra Customer Service team via web enquiry or on 1300 419 495 to discuss your individual situation before you complete your online graduate application. You can start your application online and pause it if you need to contact us about financial hardship.

Graduate experience survey and service improvements

Last year Aphra conducted the first ever survey of new graduates to hear about their experience registering for the first time. We contacted just over 24,000 graduates and had a great response rate of over 15 per cent to the voluntary survey.

We’re very grateful to those graduates who participated, their feedback will help us improve the experience for this year’s graduates. Some of the improvements we’re making include:

  • emailing graduates with updates to complement the online application tracker and give more detail about where your application is at in the assessment process, and
  • providing more guidance on how to correctly certify photo identity documents.

We hope this will make first-time registration a smoother, less stressful experience.

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National Scheme news

Lend us your ears

Have you tuned into Ahpra’s podcast, Taking care?

Listen to conversations with practitioners, patients, advocates and thought leaders discussing current issues, innovations and how the healthcare system works to keep the public safe. Tune in to episodes about topics such as telehealth, practitioner wellbeing, the impact of the pandemic, and rural and remote practice. 

Now is a great time to download and listen to the latest Ahpra Taking care podcast, or pick any episode from our catalogue! You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

Taking care podcast image July 2020

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Appropriate use of social media during the pandemic

Ahpra and the National Boards appreciate the importance of a vigorous national debate on public policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we remind all registered health practitioners that their obligation to comply with their profession’s Code of conduct applies in all settings – including online.

The codes of conduct emphasise that practitioners must always communicate professionally and respectfully with or about other healthcare professionals.

We have received concerns about the conduct of some health practitioners engaged in online discussion, including in semi-private forums.

Community trust in registered health practitioners is essential. Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health practitioners have a responsibility to maintain professional and ethical standards, as in all professional circumstances.

In using social media, you should be aware of your obligations under the National Law and your Board’s Code of conduct. For more information see Social media: How to meet your obligations under the National Law.

Anyone with concerns about the online conduct of a health practitioner can contact 1300 419 495 or make a notification.

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New guide to increase transparency in regulatory decision-making

We have published a new guide explaining how National Boards and Ahpra apply the National Law in the management of notifications about a practitioner’s performance, conduct or health. The guide aims to make it easier to understand how and why decisions are made.

The Regulatory guide and an executive summary are available on the Corporate publications page on the Ahpra website.

Changes in regulatory practice since review of the use of chaperones to protect patients

An independent report has found reforms of the regulatory management of allegations of sexual misconduct have had a profound impact.

Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia commissioned the author of the ground-breaking 2017 Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia, Professor Ron Paterson, to assess what had been achieved and identify what more could be done to improve their handling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Professor Paterson, Professor of Law at the University of Auckland and Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Melbourne Law School, found that Ahpra and the Medical Board have fully implemented ‘nearly all’ his recommendations and made significant changes to regulatory practice.

The report notes the huge changes since 2017 to community and media discussion of sexual misconduct arising from the #Metoo movement and as a result of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The report finds that the National Scheme compares favourably with international health practitioner regulators on this issue and is highly advanced in how it operates in this complex and demanding area. Major changes to regulatory practice made by the Medical Board and Ahpra since 2017 to improve the handling of allegations of sexual boundary violations include:

  • abandoning the use of mandated chaperones and only rarely imposing practice-monitor restrictions
  • centralising the expertise and handling of allegations of sexual boundary violations, and
  • extensive specialised education and training for decision-makers and investigators handling these matters.

Ahpra and the Medical Board have accepted all Professor Paterson’s recommendations to ensure continuous improvement, including by:

  • improving communication with notifiers and practitioners and reducing timelines
  • improving support for notifiers (especially when cases go to tribunals), and for decision-makers and staff, and
  • applying new ministerial ‘public interest’ guidance to sexual boundary notification decisions.

Sexual boundary violations have a devastating impact on patients. For highlights of our action plan to address Professor Paterson’s recommendations and more information, read the media release.

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Review of confidentiality safeguards for notifiers

In June we welcomed the independent review by the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner of the confidentiality safeguards in place for individuals making notifications about registered health practitioners.

The Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners was conducted at Ahpra's request following the conviction of a general practitioner for the attempted murder of a pharmacist who had made a notification about his prescribing practices.

It examined Ahpra’s current management of confidential and anonymous notifications and whether there were ways in which safeguards could be strengthened to ensure the safety of notifiers.

The review found that Ahpra’s practices for managing confidentiality and anonymity were reasonable and consistent with the practices of other regulators internationally. However, there were improvements that could be made.

The review makes practical recommendations for strengthening the protection of notifiers while recognising the importance of fairness for health practitioners who are the subject of a notification. We have accepted all 10 recommendations and outlined a timeline to adopt these changes. For more information and links to the documents, read the media release.

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Social research results: perceptions of Ahpra and the National Boards

Ahpra and National Boards have released results from the second annual survey of stakeholder understanding and perceptions of our role and work. The results help us to better understand what the community, regulated health professions, and our stakeholders think and feel about us, particularly in areas of understanding, confidence and trust. The insights gained will inform how we can improve our engagement with both the professions and the community.

The report provides the results from anonymous surveys conducted in late 2019 of a random sample of registered practitioners and a random sample of members of the public across communities in Australia. There were nearly 6,000 responses from practitioners and 2,000 from the broader community. Both surveys were managed by an independent consultant.

Overall, the results show positive perceptions of Ahpra and National Boards. The surveys were, in the main, the same as ones carried out in 2018 and enable comparison of changes in awareness and sentiment over the period. The reports in PDF format are available in the news item.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit our website for news about the profession and for registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Dr Wayne Minter, Chair, Chiropractic Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 30/10/2020