December 2021

Issue 25


From the Chair

Prof Danforn Lim CMBA ChairWelcome to our third and last newsletter for 2021. As this year draws to a close, we are looking forward to the changes and opportunities that may be presented in 2022 as Australia sees borders reopen.

In this issue we update you on the Board’s first regulatory examination, invite you to our upcoming virtual roadshow webinar, and remind you (if you’re eligible) to consider applying for a position on the Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee – applications close 16 January 2022.

I want to thank all registered Chinese medicine practitioners and students for their patience and perseverance through another year in which COVID-19 presented more challenges and uncertainties. I know all registered practitioners have done exceptional work in a challenging year.

Best wishes for the Festive Season from the Board.

Professor Danforn Lim

Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia

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Board news

The Board’s webinar roadshow is coming up!

The Board invites you to its annual stakeholder engagement roadshow on 16 December 2021 at 7pm (AEDT). Like last year, as we can’t get out and about, we’re holding the event online. The webinar presents a unique opportunity to meet the newly appointed members of the Board and hear about a range of topics, this year we’re featuring a case study illustrating the notification process.

For more information and details of how to register see the news item on our website.

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Accreditation Committee vacancies

The Board is looking to appoint interested people to the Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee (the committee). The committee is established under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law) and plays an important role in developing accreditation standards and assessing programs of study against these standards.

Applications close on Sunday 16 January 2022. See our news item for more information.

Chinese Medicine Board committee vacancies

We are also seeking applications from experienced registered Chinese medicine practitioners and members of the community for appointment to the following committees of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia:

The PPCC considers and advises the Board on any emerging issues that may have strategic or policy implications and prepares and drafts codes and guidelines for Board consideration and stakeholder consultation.

The RNC decides applications for registration and assesses all notifications about Chinese medicine practitioners.

Applications close on Sunday 9 January 2022. See our news item for more information.

Previous applicants do not need to submit a new application.

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News from the Policy, Planning and Communication Committee

The Board’s Policy, Planning and Communication Committee (the PPCC) regularly reviews the environment in which Chinese medicine practitioners practise, with a view to advising the Board on any emerging issues with strategic or policy implications.

The PPCC wishes to call to practitioners’ attention the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website, which contains information about the TGA’s assessment and monitoring activities. Among other information, the TGA website has the latest regulatory and safety information on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, face masks and medical devices.

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COVID-19 vaccination: what the Board does and doesn’t do

We continue to receive many questions about COVID-19; however, many are about matters outside our role in protecting the public. The Board does not regulate the vaccine rollout and it does not issue vaccine mandates, these matters are being managed by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.

The Board strongly encourages all registered health practitioners and students (particularly those doing placements in various practice settings) to have the full COVID-19 vaccination course as scheduled, unless medically contraindicated.

More vaccination information and information about how we are responding to COVID-19 can be found on the COVID-19 updates page on the Ahpra website.

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Advance copy of supervised practice framework published

Twelve National Boards and Ahpra have published an advance copy of the revised Supervised practice framework. The framework has been revised to reflect a responsive and risk-based approach to supervised practice across the National Scheme.

The Chinese Medicine Board is among those implementing the framework in 2022.

The framework comes into effect on 1 February 2022. An advance copy has been published to allow time for supervisees, supervisors, employers and others to familiarise themselves with the revised framework.

Read more in the Board’s news item.

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Registration

Have you renewed your registration? Renew online now

We’re now in the late period for registration renewal. If you do not apply to renew by 31 December 2021, your registration will lapse.

If your registration lapses your name will be removed from the national Register of practitioners (the public register) and you will not be able to practise as a Chinese medicine practitioner in Australia until a new application for registration has been assessed and the public register is updated.

Be sure to renew online before 31 December if you haven’t already done so.

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data has been released. The report covers 1 July to 30 September 2021. At this date, there were 4,901 registered practitioners: 4,595 with general registration, seven with both general and non-practising registration, 298 non-practising registrants and one practitioner with limited registration.

For more details, including registration data by principal place of practice, age and gender, visit our Statistics page.

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Students and graduates

Finishing your course soon? Apply for registration now!

Before you can start working as a Chinese medicine practitioner, you must be registered with the Board.

If you're set to complete your course within the next three months – apply for registration now. We'll start assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results.

Find out how to apply.

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National Scheme news

Annual report released

Ahpra and the National Boards have released the 2020/21 Annual report on the work of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

While it was another year dominated by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of regulation continued and adapted to the impacts of the pandemic. A particular aim was to ensure that students were able to graduate with sufficient clinical experience despite placement delays. National Boards also looked to greater flexibility in some regulatory requirements, while maintaining their focus on patient safety.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation

Only 8,311 (1.1%) of all health practitioners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. This is well short of the 3.3% Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the general population.

Ahpra and the National Boards are working closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders and organisations to increase the participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples across all registered health professions and to promote cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare.

Top 10 facts from this year's report

  • Ahpra dealt with 84,607 new applications for registration; 41,548 applications were from new graduates, including nearly 23,300 nursing applications.
  • Ahpra renewed the annual registration of 738,659 practitioners.
  • 189,786 students were studying to be a registered health practitioner in over 860 accredited and approved programs of study delivered by more than 130 education providers. These programs of study provide graduates with the qualification they need for registration.
  • 10,147 notifications about 7,858 practitioners were received by Ahpra; this was 0.9% fewer than in 2019/20 and 8.7% more than in 2018/19.
  • The top three reasons for a notification were clinical care, medication issues and communication.
  • The overall percentage (1.6-1.7%) of health practitioners with a notification stayed around the same in 2020/21.
  • We received 568 notifications involving a possible failure to maintain appropriate professional boundaries, which is an increase on previous years. These can range from comments made by a practitioner to a patient during a consultation to inappropriate sexual relationships. The serious nature is reflected in the outcomes with regulatory action taken more often about boundary notifications.
  • 121 matters about professional misconduct were determined by independent tribunals: 96.7% resulted in disciplinary action.
  • Ahpra completed 16 successful proceedings in the courts. All resulted in findings of guilt against the defendant on one or more charges, with penalties imposed ranging from a good behaviour bond to fines of up to $30,000.
  • 3,516 practitioners were monitored by Ahpra to ensure health, performance and/or conduct requirements were being met during the year.

To view and download the annual report, visit the Annual report webpage.

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Consent matters in healthcare: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), online news site Women’s Agenda published an editorial called Consent matters in healthcare. What to do if something feels wrong, co-authored by Gill Callister PSM, Chair of Ahpra’s governing board, Dr Anne Tonkin, Chair of the Medical Board of Australia, Rachel Phillips, Chair of the Psychology Board of Australia and Annette Symes, Presiding Member of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

When seeing a health practitioner, many people, especially women and girls, may feel at their most vulnerable. It’s important to discuss the safety of women, and what to do if something doesn’t feel right.

Many of the complaints made to Ahpra about inappropriate behaviour involve practitioners breaching the normal boundaries of the patient-practitioner interaction. Some involve touching patients inappropriately and without adequate informed consent from the patient. Sexual misconduct is an abuse of the treating relationship and can cause significant and lasting harm.

In the past three years, Ahpra and National Boards referred 150 health practitioners to a tribunal, and outcomes included cancellation of registration for up to five years. You can read the published summaries of these cases and others on Ahpra’s website, and visit the Register of cancelled, disqualified and/or prohibited practitioners.

We know the majority of practitioners are doing the right thing, but we will continue to respond strongly to cases of sexual misconduct. Part of our role is ensuring that the public can have trust in registered health practitioners. We all have a role to play in preventing sexism, sexual harassment and violence in our communities, including in healthcare.

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Changes to notification management are coming in Queensland

Queensland will introduce joint consideration of all notifications about health practitioners between Ahpra, the National Boards and the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in December 2021.

The changes aim to speed up the initial assessment of notifications, which will benefit registered health practitioners and notifiers.

All notifications about Chinese medicine practitioners in Queensland will continue to be received by the OHO. Currently, the OHO deals with the most serious matters it receives and refers most of the remaining notifications to Ahpra and the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia.

From December, all notifications received by the OHO about Chinese medicine practitioners will be shared with Ahpra and the Board when they are received. Ahpra and the OHO will review each notification at the same time and agree on which agency should manage the matter. All notifications that raise a concern about a practitioner’s performance will be reviewed by a Chinese medicine clinical advisor.

The changes provide greater opportunity for earlier closure of concerns that do not need a regulatory response.

Relevant changes to Queensland legislation take effect on 6 December 2021 and all notifications from this date will be subject to joint consideration. For more information on how notifications are managed, see Ahpra's website.

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Updated regulatory principles – supporting trust and confidence in regulated health professions

We’ve updated our regulatory principles to foster a culturally safe, responsive and risk-based approach to regulation.

The regulatory principles guide the National Boards and Ahpra when making regulatory decisions.

The changes reflect community expectations and new policy directions from the Health Council, as well as feedback from public consultation. They recognise that community confidence in the regulation of health practitioners is key to a safe and effective health system. Overall, the changes:

  • reinforce that public protection is the paramount objective of the National Scheme
  • recognise the role of the National Boards and Ahpra in developing a culturally safe and respectful health workforce
  • consider the risks to the public including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and members of the community who are vulnerable to harm
    embed fairness and transparency, and
  • highlight the importance of maintaining community confidence in regulated health professions and working with consumer bodies to achieve this.

More information about the review of the regulatory principles is available on Ahpra’s website.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Chinese Medicine Board website for news about the profession, information on the National Scheme 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) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Sylvia Sanders, Executive Officer, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 8/12/2021