October 2021

Issue 24


Chair’s message

Prof Danforn Lim CMBA ChairWelcome to our second newsletter for 2021.

Our lives have continued to be disrupted and reshaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic was a theme for our most recent meeting with the professional associations, and we have continued, with the associations and local jurisdictions, to keep you informed about restrictions affecting Chinese medicine practitioners.

The Board is pleased to announce that its first regulatory examination for overseas-trained practitioners is scheduled for late November. You can read more about this milestone in this edition.

We have several opportunities for you to get involved with and shape the work of the Board. Whether it’s on our reference group, one of our Board committees or the Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee, have a think about getting involved.

If you’re a practitioner you will have received an email inviting you to renew your registration, and graduates, if you’re set to complete your course in the next three months – apply now!

Stay safe.

Professor Danforn Lim

Chair, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia

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Board news

Meeting with professional associations

The Board met recently with representatives from the Chinese medicine professional associations as part of a regular exchange of information between the associations and the Board. Attendees at the online meeting heard updates on the work of the Board and discussed issues currently affecting the Chinese medicine profession. You can read more in the communiqué published on the Board’s website.

Image of meeting attendees on screen

CMBA and Chinese medicine professional orgs online meeting with Ahpra logo

Images reproduced with permission.

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Updates on the work of the Board’s committees

Policy, Planning and Communications Committee

The Board’s Policy, Planning and Communication Committee (the PPCC) had a refresh in 2021 with three new Board members appointed to the committee, including a new committee Chair. Meeting since April, the PPCC has:

  • approved and updated the Board’s Nomenclature compendium
  • settled draft revised guidelines on infection prevention and control in acupuncture practice and safe practice in Chinese herbal medicine (see more below in the 'Current consultations' story)
  • revised and updated the Board’s communication plan, work plan and risk management plan
  • approved updates for the Board’s website
  • created a development plan for Board members, and
  • coordinated a communication and engagement workshop for Board members.

Registration and Notification Committee

The Board’s Registration and Notification Committee (RNC) saw the appointment of a new Board member in February. The RNC has met monthly since then and has:

  • considered and determined 33 applications for registration as a Chinese medicine practitioner
  • concluded 16 notification (complaints) matters
  • considered five reports on practitioner’s compliance with their registration conditions.

Of the 16 notification matters finalised, the majority involved complaints about clinical care or breaches of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law) in relation to the use of protected titles in advertising.

Thirteen of the notifications were closed with no further action from the Board, two practitioners were issued with cautions and one practitioner had conditions imposed on their registration.

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Launch of the Board’s regulatory examinations

The Board is pleased to announce that its first regulatory examination will be held in November. The project to deliver a revised regulatory examination was significantly delayed in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions affecting examination centres. Closures of some centres due to the ongoing pandemic may affect some applicants.

The Board uses regulatory examinations to assess whether an applicant for registration has the knowledge, clinical skills and professional attributes needed to safely and competently practise as an acupuncturist and/or Chinese herbal medicine practitioner in Australia. Regulatory examinations are used for applicants who hold overseas qualifications, and completion of the regulatory examination enables these applicants to qualify for general registration.

Further information on regulatory examinations is published on the Board’s website.

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Have your say on our current consultations

Draft revised Guidelines for infection protection and control for acupuncture practice and Guidelines for the safe use of herbal medicines have now been released for public consultation.

There is no change to the rules, but rather the documents have been updated with the latest information and made clearer and easier to understand. In the meantime, the existing guidelines remain in force.

Guidelines published by National Boards are widely consulted on during their development and provide clarity around the requirements of the National Law. We would be very pleased to receive your feedback on the guidelines. The consultation will be published shortly on our Consultations page.

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No place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare

There is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards want to remind registered health practitioners of their professional obligations and encourage speaking up about disrespectful behaviour and unprofessional conduct in healthcare.

See our joint statement, No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare.

Our expectations of practitioner conduct and respectful, professional behaviour, including maintaining appropriate professional boundaries, are set out in the Board’s Code of conduct.

Practitioners must always treat patients, consumers, students, employees and colleagues with respect. They must always communicate professionally and respectfully with and about others, including when using social media. Respect is a cornerstone of good, professional practice and it is fundamental to the Australian community’s trust in registered health practitioners.

Concerns about a registered health practitioner’s unprofessional conduct, including sexual harassment, should be reported to Ahpra. For more information, visit the Ahpra website.

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We’re hiring!

Calls for applications to Chinese Medicine Reference Group, Board committees and Accreditation Committee

Chinese Medicine Reference Group

We are seeking applications from experienced and recently graduated registered Chinese medicine practitioners and members of the community for appointment to the Chinese Medicine Reference Group.

The purpose of the Chinese Medicine Reference Group is to engage stakeholders in order to achieve a common understanding of the National Scheme and to assist the Board in its regulatory work.

The Board is seeking the perspective of a recently graduated Chinese medicine practitioner to add value to the group discussions.

Chinese Medicine Board committees

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 assess all notifications about Chinese medicine practitioners.

Interested? Find out more

The National Scheme has a commitment to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ leadership and voices. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply for these positions, as are people from rural or regional areas in Australia.

For more information and to submit an application for these positions, please visit the Committee member recruitment page on Ahpra’s website.

For general enquiries please email statutoryappointments@ahpra.gov.au.

Applications close on Sunday 17 October 2021 at 5:00pm AEST.

Accreditation Committee: we need clinical supervisors and cultural safety expertise

Applications will soon open for people interested in a position on the Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee.

The Board is looking for people with an interest in accreditation and particularly practitioners with experience in clinical education. We also invite Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander People with experience in cultural safety in healthcare to apply.

This is an opportunity to help shape accreditation standards for the profession. We need committee members with the skills and knowledge to ensure that Chinese medicine practitioners of the future have the necessary skills to practise safely, which includes a commitment to culturally safe healthcare.

If you have an interest in accreditation and you can work collaboratively with colleagues and stakeholders, we look forward to hearing from you.

More information will be published in October including answers to some frequently asked questions about the role and functions of the committee and a profile of a current committee member.

Applications will open late October.

Visit the Committee member recruitment page of the Ahpra website in late October.

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Registration

Online renewal for Chinese medicine practitioners is now open

Chinese medicine practitioners have until 30 November 2021 to renew their general or non-practising registration. Look out for an email from Ahpra providing access to online renewal.

Ready to renew?

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

What’s different this year?

Embedding cultural safety in the ways we work

The National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy aims to make patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples the norm. We strive to embed cultural safety in the ways we work within the National Scheme too. From 2021, you’ll be asked if you identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander when you renew your registration. This will help us continue to develop culturally safe ways of working.

Renewal is now online only with changes to payment options

We’ve moved to online only for general and non-practising registration renewal. Over 99 per cent of health practitioners already renew online, it’s the quickest and easiest way to renew.

Renewal fees can be paid by credit/debit card. If you don’t have either of these cards you can purchase a pre-paid debit card from various retail outlets for a nominal fee. BPay is no longer available for any profession.

Advertising declaration and audit

Proactive advertising audits have now started. If you’re renewing your general registration, you’ll be asked to declare that, if you are advertising health services, your advertising complies with Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) advertising requirements.

This is part of a risk-based approach to enforcing the National Law’s advertising requirements and compliance by registered health practitioners who advertise their services. This approach includes auditing health practitioners to check advertising compliance.

Continuing to support health practitioners during COVID-19

What if I can't meet the CPD requirements because of COVID-19?

The Board expects you to make reasonable efforts to complete your required continuing professional development (CPD). However, we understand that some practitioners may have had trouble fully meeting these, particularly any face to face requirements, due to the impacts of COVID-19. CPD is important as it helps maintain competence and supports safe and effective care.

The Board will not take action if you have not been able to complete your CPD for the 2020–21 registration period due to the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 and you declare this on your renewal application.

It’s important that you answer all questions honestly and accurately and declare that you have not met the CPD requirements if that is the case. The Board may request evidence in future of what you have done to address any identified gaps in your CPD learning needs, such as interactive or face to face requirements.

You should update your CPD plan to explain how you will address these in the next registration period.

Given the importance of CPD and the increasing availability of flexible and COVID-safe CPD options, you will be expected to fully meet CPD requirements in future and when renewing in 2022. There are many flexible-delivery and COVID-safe options for CPD and interactive CPD can be completed virtually. COVID-related learning activities can be counted towards CPD.

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Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data has been released. The report covers 1 April to 30 June 2021. At this date, there were 4,863 registered practitioners. Of these, 4,561 have general registration, six have general and non-practising, one has limited registration and 295 have non-practising registration.

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

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Students and graduates

Graduating soon? Be ready to start work – apply now

If you’re set to complete your course within the next three months, you can apply for registration now and we will start assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results

Remember, you must be registered with the Board before you can start practising and using the protected titles, including ‘Chinese medicine practitioner’.

Getting your application right

See the Board’s news item for information about the process and steps you need to complete, including creating your account on Ahpra’s online services portal and getting the photo ID requirements right. The news item links to a handy guide to certifying documents that you can download and take with you to the authorised officer.

You can also check out our graduate video, and find helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay and downloadable information flyers on the graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.

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Alert

Information for practitioners on changes to Queensland Criminal Code: Child Sexual Offences

As of 5 July 2021, Queensland’s Criminal Code Act 1899 is amended under the Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 to include two new offences (Criminal Code, Chapter 22 – Offences against morality):

  • ss. 229BB – Failure to protect a child from a sexual offence: will make it an offence to fail to protect a child from a sexual offence in an institutional setting. The offence will be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment for an ‘accountable person’ who fails to protect a child from a sexual offence.
  • ss. 229BC – Failure to report sexual offending against a child to police: will make it an offence for any adult not to report sexual offending against a child by another adult to police. This obligation extends outside of the workplace to our responsibility as members of the Queensland community to protect children. The offence will be punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment for any adult who fails to report child sexual abuse to police.

These new offences recognise the difficulties victims have in disclosing or reporting abuse, the vulnerability of children, and the risk that perpetrators of child sexual abuse may have multiple victims and may continue to reoffend against particular victims over lengthy periods of time.

The Criminal Code amendment does not replace the mandatory reporting obligations of doctors and registered nurses under the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (the CP Act).

This advice applies to all registered health practitioners; for further information please visit: www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/types-of-crime/sexual-offences-against-children.

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National Scheme news

COVID-19 and vaccines: new joint statement helps sort fact from fiction

A joint statement has been released by Ahpra and the National Boards, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Office of the Health Ombudsman and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Its message is: You need reliable, evidence-based information to be able to make good choices about your healthcare. But in a climate thick with commentary about COVID-19 and vaccines, how do you sort fact from fiction

The statement covers four main points:

  • Get advice from the experts (with a link to the national online register of practitioners).
  • Be safe in the knowledge that registered health practitioners must meet national standards (with links to the National Boards’ websites).
  • Don’t get swayed by opinions.
  • Reach out to a trusted person, like your GP.

It also lists and links to reliable sources of information on COVID-19 and vaccinations in Australia to help people make sure they have the best, most accurate and evidence-based information for their specific needs when making decisions about their own or their loved ones’ health.

The statement has been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese. These versions are available on Ahpra’s Translations page.

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You may notice that the public register looks a little different

Ahpra has launched a new-look public register with enhanced search capabilities. The aim of the enhancements is to make the register easier to use, especially for those in our communities who may have barriers to access.

What’s different?

Some of the changes you’ll see include:

  • increased prominence of the register on the Ahpra homepage so it’s easier to find
  • simplified language with pop-up information boxes, and
  • improved search functionality, including:
  • predictive text
  • phonetic searching capability
  • search by location, and
  • refined search filters (including being able to search by the 15 most common community languages).

To help users navigate the new-look register, we’ve developed a ‘how to search’ video which is available on our Help and tips page.

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Guidance on reflective practice reports

If a practitioner has been the subject of a notification to Ahpra or the Board, they may be required by the conditions on their registration to do specified education. This is usually accompanied by a requirement to provide the Board with a reflective practice report demonstrating how they have reflected on the issues that gave rise to the condition and outlining how they have incorporated these lessons into practice.

New guidance is now available for practitioners who are subject to education or mentoring conditions as part of their registration. The new guidance: Information sheet – Reflective reports (Education) and Information sheet – Reflective reports (Mentoring) is published under the Monitoring and compliance section on the Ahpra website.

The guidance on developing a reflective report is endorsed by the Board.

National Boards have also approved a new form for review of conditions of undertakings (form ARCD-00) which is published on the Registration Common forms page. Ahpra is also developing guidance for practitioners on the information required by National Boards when considering applications to change or remove conditions or undertakings.

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Improvements made to notifier confidentiality safeguards

All improvements recommended in the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman’s (NHPO) Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners have now been implemented by Ahpra or are underway. These include:

  • updating relevant policies to reflect that possible confidentiality safeguards for the notifier will be considered when assessing each new notification
  • publishing an updated privacy policy and collection statement to clarify how personal information will be used and disclosed, and
  • providing new guidance to staff about how to safeguard confidentiality, including in relation to redacting a notifier’s information and sharing a notifier’s information with the relevant practitioner.

As part of this work, we also recognised the importance of procedural fairness for practitioners. Following consultation with professional associations and professional indemnity providers, we have published a new guide for staff to help them manage complaints which may have insufficient detail to allow practitioners to respond meaningfully.

We have also published a vexatious notifications framework and introduced new training for staff in how to identify and manage vexatious complaints.

For more information, read the news item.

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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 14/10/2021