Welcome. This is my first newsletter as Chair of the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia.
I would like to start by thanking Distinguished Professor Charlie Xue for his outstanding commitment, leadership, dedication and contribution to the National Scheme and health practitioner regulation and wish him all the best for his future endeavours.
The Board’s membership has substantially changed since the last newsletter with five new members (myself included) appointed. I warmly welcome practitioner members Ms Dina Tsiopelas, Mr Luke Hubbard and Dr Johanna Shergis and community member Ms Sophy Athan. Mr Roderick Martin and Mr David Brereton have been reappointed. Please take the time to get to know your new and returning Board members.
As a result of the transition, the Board has revised its timelines for planned consultations. We look forward to engaging with the profession and the public in late 2021 when we will consult on the revised Guidelines for infection protection and control for acupuncture practice and the Guidelines for the safe use of herbal medicine.
Finally, welcome to all new Chinese medicine students; this is the second newsletter that we have sent to students. You are an important part of the profession and we look forward to engaging with you as you progress through your studies.
Professor Danforn Lim
Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
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I have been involved in Chinese medicine regulation since 2007, first with the Chinese Medicine Registration Board of Victoria and more recently with the Chinese Medicine Council of New South Wales.
Throughout my involvement in regulation including in the National Scheme, I’ve had a strong belief in public safety and protection through regulation. My interest in becoming the Chair of the Board is largely to see Chinese medicine practice become more standardised, safer and more effective, and to ensure it meets the same public expectations as all other healthcare professions.
In an era of patient-centred care in which patients commonly seek care from a variety of healthcare disciplines, it is important to promote interprofessional communication between health practitioners to ensure we give wholistic care.
It is also important to ensure that practitioners receive ongoing education and apply evidence-based practice to maintain a high standard of patient care.
This year the Board will implement the newly developed regulatory examinations for overseas-trained Chinese medicine practitioners.
I look forward to reinforcing the Board’s role in public protection and safety, and to collaborating with the other National Board Chairs, especially about issues to do with communication among healthcare practitioners.
I also have an interest in workforce mobility and development, and innovation in education and service delivery.
Ignorantia juris non excusat – ignorance is no excuse under the law. Understand your role, responsibilities and obligations within the National Scheme as a registered health practitioner; this means being familiar with the Board’s codes and guidelines as well as the registration standards.
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Over the past two years the Board has revised its regulatory examinations. The new regulatory examination is for any person who is qualified from a non-Board-approved program of study; this applies to programs both in Australia and overseas.
Applicants with these qualifications who apply to register in Australia may need to complete the CMBA regulatory examinations to qualify for general registration in Australia. While this mainly applies to overseas-trained applicants, it also applies to anyone whose qualification is deemed not substantially equivalent.
The new CMBA regulatory examinations will include a written multiple-choice questions (MCQ) exam and an objective structured clinical exam. The MCQ exam will be delivered through partner testing centres.
Unfortunately, the project was delayed last year by COVID-19 restrictions, which saw examination centres closed worldwide. In early 2021, we were able to carry out a pilot of the MCQ exam at a testing centre in Sydney. We will keep you updated about progress as the project continues to roll out.
The Board recently updated its position statement about using the protected title ‘acupuncturist’. The Board’s previous statement is outdated, with reference to grandparenting arrangements that have now ceased.
The statement sets out the training that must be done and competence demonstrated in order to be registered to use the title ‘acupuncturist’. You can read the position statement on the Board’s website.
The National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (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.
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.
Twelve of the 15 National Boards, including the Chinese Medicine Board, have a shared Code of conduct that sets out the standards of professional conduct the National Boards expect and which they use to evaluate practitioners’ conduct. Practitioners have a professional responsibility to be familiar with and to apply this code.
The shared code is also an important document for the public as it can help them understand what behaviour they can expect from a registered health practitioner and assess whether their care met professional standards.
National Boards and Ahpra are reviewing the shared code to ensure it stays up-to-date, relevant and useful for practitioners and to make it more accessible to the public. We have published a consultation paper that includes an overview of the review, case studies, proposed changes to the code and optional questions that may help frame your feedback.
The consultation is open until 6 July 2021 and we’re keen to hear from practitioners, the community and health system stakeholders. See Ahpra’s Consultations page for the consultation paper and more information.
The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (WA) (the Act) will be proclaimed and come into full effect from 1 July 2021. Registered health practitioners need to be aware of the Act and its requirements. There are some provisions that are relevant to all registered health practitioners (and healthcare workers) and some provisions that are more specifically relevant to medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and paramedics.
Resources have been developed by the WA Department of Health and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Leadership Team in collaboration with stakeholders. These are available at: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/voluntaryassisteddying and include the WA Voluntary Assisted Dying Guidelines.
The following resources provide a starting point for health practitioners in understanding their obligations, responsibilities and protections under the Act:
For further information, visit the website.
Another successful registration renewal 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.
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.
The Board is aware that there are many CPD activities that are COVID-safe options and many CPD programs and providers have now adapted their programs to be COVID-safe.
In 2021, the Board expects all Chinese medicine practitioners to meet the requirements of the CPD standard ahead of renewing their registration. We encourage you to do CPD that is relevant to your scope of practice and your current work environment.
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 detrimentally 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 detrimentally affects or you think is likely to detrimentally 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 confirming 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 will establish a new, independently chaired committee to consider key accreditation issues, in response to a new policy direction from the Health Council.
The new committee will have broad stakeholder membership to give independent and expert advice on accreditation reform issues to Ahpra’s Agency Management Committee. The new committee will replace Ahpra’s Accreditation Advisory Committee set up in 2020.
The Independent Review of Accreditation Systems (ASR) Final Report, Australia’s health workforce: strengthening the education foundation, recommended that Health Ministers issue the policy direction.
Ahpra and the National Boards welcomed the policy direction, which requires Ahpra, the National Boards and accreditation authorities to consider the new committee’s advice when exercising their functions under the National Law.
Under the policy direction, Ahpra, National Boards and accreditation authorities must document the outcome of their consideration of the new committee’s advice in meeting minutes, communiqués or other relevant formats.
Ahpra and National Boards will continue to work collaboratively with accreditation authorities through the Accreditation Liaison Group and the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum.
The policy direction can be viewed on the Ahpra website.
In a recent episode of Ahpra’sTaking care podcast series, 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.