Chinese Medicine Board of Australia - November 2023
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November 2023

Issue 30 – November 2023

From the Chair

Prof Danforn Lim CMBA Chair

With great pleasure, I present an overview of our Board's accomplishments and initiatives in 2023, a year marked by significant milestones and advancements.

As reported in our May newsletter, we met with representatives from all major professional organisations in Chinese medicine.

A notable achievement this year was our extensive outreach to all Chinese medicine education providers nationwide. This initiative, a first for the Board, has reinforced our commitment to quality education and practice standards in Chinese medicine.

Further, we successfully conducted our inaugural regulatory Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) for overseas-trained acupuncturists and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners. This is a testament to our ongoing efforts to uphold high professional standards, further solidifying our regulatory framework and maintaining public safety in our community.

We also expanded the Board's Reference Group, and I can report that our first meeting in September yielded constructive outcomes, underscoring our commitment to inclusive and effective governance.

I am also delighted to announce the publication of the Guidelines for safe Chinese herbal medicine practice and the Guidelines on infection prevention and control for acupuncture and related practices. These guidelines, effective from 1 December, represent a significant step forward in ensuring the highest patient care and practitioner safety standards.

As we approach the festive season and the advent of the New Year, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all Chinese medicine practitioners for your dedicated service to the community. Your contributions are invaluable, and we look forward to continuing our collaborative efforts in the coming year.

Adjunct Professor Danforn Lim
Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia

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Priority news

Practitioner webinar on 7 December

On 7 December, the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia is hosting a webinar on Chinese medicine regulation for all practitioners and stakeholders. The Board will give an update on its activities as well as on policy issues in Chinese medicine. You will also hear about notifications trends in Chinese medicine with a case study that illustrates the notification process.

Keep an eye out for your invitation email, and please submit your questions for the Q&A session when you register.

Revised Chinese medicine guidelines take effect on 1 December 2023

Two revised guidelines released by the Board in September will take effect on 1 December 2023. These are the:

Both guidelines are the product of extensive consultation. They have been released early so Chinese medicine practitioners have time to become familiar with them before they take effect.

Supporting material, including Chinese translations of quick reference guides, has also been updated for both guidelines.

The herbal medicine guidelines:

  • provide clear guidance to practitioners on the consistent writing of prescriptions, labelling and dispensing of medicines
  • enable practitioners to identify and correct any deficiencies in practice, and
  • encourage consistency within the profession in the use of herbal names and patient record-keeping.

The infection control guidelines include refinements in guidance, including:

  • hand hygiene
  • developing an infection control plan, and
  • the design of facilities and procedures for the use and disposal of sharps.

The Board will review both sets of guidelines within the next five years and will continue to update the Nomenclature compendium of commonly used Chinese herbal medicines on our website each year.

Read more in the news item.

Have your say on draft guidelines for practitioners who perform and who advertise non-surgical cosmetic procedures

Ahpra and the National Boards are consulting on three documents related to the regulation of registered health practitioners who perform and who advertise non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

We invite your feedback on any or all of the following draft guidelines:

  1. Guidelines for nurses who perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures (nurses practice guidelines)
  2. Guidelines for registered health practitioners who perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures (shared practice guidelines)
  3. Guidelines for registered health practitioners who advertise non-surgical cosmetic procedures (advertising guidelines).

The two draft practice guidelines will apply to any registered health practitioner performing non-surgical cosmetic procedures. This excludes medical practitioners, who already use their cosmetic practice guidelines implemented on 1 July 2023.

The draft advertising guidelines will apply to any registered health practitioner advertising non-surgical cosmetic procedures. Much like the Medical Board’s new cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines – now in place – these advertising guidelines include guidance around issues such as before and after images, claims about experience and qualifications and the ban on the use of testimonials. The use of social media influencers is also a focus.

The consultation is open for 10 weeks, closing on 2 February 2024.

Learn more about the consultation and how you can have your say on Ahpra's or the Chinese medicine Board’s consultations pages.

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Board news

Renew your registration online now and avoid late fees

Chinese medicine practitioners have until 30 November to renew their general or non-practising registration on time.

We encourage you to renew early to avoid delays during the busy renewal period. Renewing on time also means you’ll avoid late fees, which apply after 30 November 2023.

Look out for an email from Ahpra providing access to online renewal.

Fees for 2023/24

The Board and Ahpra have announced a freeze for the fourth year running for the annual registration fee for Chinese medicine practitioners for 2023/24.

Since 2020, the registration fee has remained unchanged and will stay frozen from 20 September. This will cover the registration period from 1 December 2023 to 30 November 2024.

Ready to renew?

Head to the Registration renewal webpage to start an online application.

If you submit your application on time, or during the following one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is assessed.

If you don’t renew by the end of the late period, 31 December 2023, your registration will lapse, you’ll be removed from the Register of practitioners and you won’t be able to use the protected title for the profession.

Got questions?

Read the renewal FAQs on the Ahpra website for helpful tips and information on what you need to do to renew.

We cover common questions on professional indemnity insurance, recency of practice, continuing professional development, and what to do if you have a change in your criminal history or health impairments you need to tell us about.

Regulatory examinations for overseas-qualified practitioners

Over the past few years, the Board, its Examination Committee and a project team from Ahpra, have developed the CMBA regulatory examinations. These exams assess whether overseas-qualified Chinese medicine practitioners have the knowledge, clinical skills and professional attributes needed to practise safely and competently in Australia.

They are made up of a multiple-choice questionnaire (MCQ) and objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) and cover the divisions of both acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner. Candidates must pass both the MCQ and the OSCE.

In the last 12 months, the MCQ has been run four times and is available at examination centres in Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, South Africa, South Korea, New Zealand, Israel, Indonesia and Hong Kong.

The first OSCE was run in September and a second will run in December. The Board recognises the hard work of the Examination Committee and Ahpra teams who have supported the work. We also acknowledge RMIT for providing the clinical facility for the 2023 OSCEs.

OSCE examiner training session and examination day  

Examiner training and OSCE rooms

Board visits education providers

This year, the Board visited all the Chinese medicine education providers in Sydney and Melbourne. These interactions have been instrumental in broadening our understanding and appreciation of the current landscape in Chinese medicine practice and education.

Our visits to these facilities provided an insightful glimpse into the clinical experiences that shape the training of future practitioners. Touring the clinical facilities and engaging in meaningful discussions with the staff was an experience that was both enlightening and enriching. We extend our sincere gratitude to the education providers for their hospitality and openness in facilitating these meetings. Their collaboration is integral to our mutual goal of advancing the standards and practices in the field of Chinese medicine.

Photo of board members visiting Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health

Photo of board members visiting Western Sydney University

Western Sydney University

Photo of board members visiting Torrens University

Torrens University

Photo of Board members visiting Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine Web

Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Photo of Board members visiting RMIT University

RMIT University

Photo of Board Members visiting NICM Health Research Institute

NICM Health Research Institute

Annual meeting of Chinese medicine reference group

In August, the Board welcomed representatives from all the major Chinese medicine professional associations, education providers, individual practitioners, insurance company representatives and community consumer representatives. In total we had 30 participants at this meeting which provided a collaborative opportunity to share information and explore issues of mutual interest. You can read more about the meeting in the communique.

Students and graduates

Graduate registration is open – apply now and avoid delays

Need help applying?

Check out our graduate video to help you get your application right.

You’ll find the video, plus helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay and downloadable information flyers, on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.

A new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team (the support team) is also available for First Nations graduates who might need help with or have questions about their application for registration.

The support team is committed to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates get registered promptly so you can start making vital contributions to safe healthcare and to your communities. If, after reading our helpful tips, you would still like help with your application for registration, please email the support team at [email protected].

Who can certify documents?

In addition to a Justice of the Peace (JP), most registered health practitioners, public servants, teachers, lecturers and members of the legal profession can certify photographic ID documents. For the full list of authorised officers see the Certifying documents guide.

Make sure you provide correct photo ID

It's important that you provide correctly certified photo ID documents with your application as the wording required is specific:

‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original and the photograph is a true likeness of the person presenting the document as sighted by me.’

To get it right the first time, download the Certifying documents guide and take it with you to the authorised officer.

Meeting the registration standards

You may need to provide supporting documents with your application to prove that you meet the Chinese Medicine Board’s registration standards, including meeting the English language skills requirements. Make sure you provide all the documents we need with your application so we can assess it quicker.

How long does it take to assess my application?

We can’t finalise your application until we receive your graduation results from your education provider.

If you’ve submitted everything needed to prove you’ve met the requirements for registration, we aim to finalise your application within two weeks of receiving your graduation results.

For more information, read the news item.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board has released its quarterly registration report to 30 June 2023. At this date, there were 4,823 registered practitioners: 4,477 with general registration, 14 with both general and non-practising registration, 331 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.

What’s new?

Work to eliminate racism from Australian healthcare recognised internationally

The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) serves and supports the international regulatory community. Its global membership promotes regulatory excellence to improve the quality and understanding of regulation to enhance public protection. At its annual educational conference in the United States, CLEAR presented an award to Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU), highlighting its critical role in dismantling racist behaviours and systems in healthcare.

Established in 2021, the HSU ensures that Indigenous experts lead reforms to make regulatory processes culturally safe and free from racism, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are represented in decision making. The HSU draws on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, practitioners, peak bodies, and race scholars to shape its transformative work.

Led by Gomeroi woman Jayde Fuller, the HSU drives Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 and its goal of eliminating racism from the health system by 2032. Ms Fuller told the conference that: ‘Culturally safe healthcare for Indigenous people has been a commitment in our organisation for six years – but we've been protecting our communities for 65,000 years and regulators can learn a lot from our survival and ways of knowing, being and doing.’

‘Healthcare should not be harmful. We are taking a strategic approach to dismantling all forms of racism – systemic, institutional and interpersonal. This includes ownership and accountability by providers, practitioners and regulators for creating safe healthcare,’ Ms Fuller said.

The CLEAR award recognises the HSU’s role in driving world-first reform to embed cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare into Australian legislation. The law reforms mean that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive care that is racist and unsafe and their complaint enters the regulatory system, cultural safety must be considered. As well, registered health practitioners are required to take steps to educate themselves on cultural safety in relation to the accessibility of their services.

The award also highlights the HSU’s work to:

  • include an agreed definition of cultural safety in the codes of conduct for more than 850,000 registered health practitioners
  • create a culturally safe notification process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making a complaint, and
  • implement cultural safety continual professional development (CPD) for all registered health practitioners.

For more information, read the news item.

Cosmetic procedures in the spotlight one year on from surgery review

Cosmetic procedures, including Botox and other anti-wrinkle injections and fillers, will be under the spotlight in an expansion of Ahpra’s year-long crackdown on Australia’s cosmetic surgery industry. Stronger public safeguards are needed because of escalating consumer demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures and more health practitioners seeking a career in the cosmetics industry.

One year on from the cosmetic surgery review, work is complete on most reforms with higher practice standards and new advertising rules for medical practitioners now in place. Further reforms will focus on the non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry with new guidelines coming for all health practitioners providing these services.

The planned overhauls are likely to place a stronger emphasis on informed consent and pre-procedure consultation, including a patient suitability assessment. There will also be a focus on prescribing and administering prescription-only cosmetic injectables.

Proposed new advertising guidelines are likely to focus on the use of ‘before and after’ images, claims about expertise and qualifications of practitioners, and affirm the ban on the use of testimonials. There will also be clear rules on the use of influencers and social media figures.

Public consultation on the proposed guidelines will open in coming months ahead of their release in the first half of 2024.

Read more in the news item.

Win for patient safety with ‘surgeon’ now a protected title

Only specialist surgeons will be able to call themselves ‘surgeon’ under new legislation to restrict the use of the title by registered medical practitioners. The change means that a medical practitioner will only be able to use the title ‘surgeon’ if they are registered in one of the recognised specialties of surgery.

The amendment to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law legally protects the title ‘surgeon' from being used by any doctor without the necessary qualifications and training. Before this, any registered medical practitioner could call themselves a ‘surgeon’, even if they were not registered in a surgical specialty or had not completed specialist training in surgery.

The move supports the work of Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia to clean up the cosmetic surgery industry, with only specialist doctors now able to call themselves a ‘cosmetic surgeon’, and complements the Medical Board’s introduction of an endorsement for cosmetic surgery. Both will help patients understand who is qualified and equip them to make informed choices.

Doctors who continue to use the title illegally may face criminal and/or regulatory action.

Read more in the news item.

New checklist launched to help practitioners manage complaints

A new Checklist for practitioners has been developed to help resolve feedback or complaints made directly to practitioners or the health service where you are working.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and stressful and as well as this resource we have published a list of general support services.

You might find this checklist helpful when a complaint is first raised with you by a patient or client, and it may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes at a health service.

When feedback or complaints are managed well, they can result in improvements that increase patient, client, and community confidence in you as a practitioner. It can also help prevent a concern escalating to an external complaint body or regulator.

The checklist was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Ahpra and the 15 National Boards as part of a joint project with the Commission, with work also underway on resources to help consumers navigate the various complaints options available.

The checklist, along with other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice, is available on Ahpra’s Resources page.

Listen to the latest podcasts

Ahpra's Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. We also publish transcripts of our podcasts.

Listen and subscribe by searching for 'Taking care' in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify) or listen on our website.

The latest episode is ‘Coming to a land down under: Australia as a destination for health practitioners’. This ep. examines the path overseas health workers must tread when wanting to work in Australia.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter. Our Summer issue will be out soon, and you can subscribe on the newsletter page.

National Scheme news banner graphic

Stay 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 9135 3010 (for overseas callers).

  • Address mail correspondence to: Adjunct Professor Danforn Lim, Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.

Page reviewed 20/12/2023