‘Podiatrists’ includes podiatric surgeons, unless otherwise stated.
In a year largely dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Podiatry Board of Australia continued to build on initiatives from the previous year.
We temporarily modified some of our regulatory requirements to provide flexibility for podiatrists and podiatric surgeons whose practice was affected when restrictions were introduced to slow the spread of coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Our responses included providing an extension for practitioners working towards endorsement for scheduled medicines to complete their supervised practice and a flexible approach to continuing professional development (CPD).
The professionalism of practitioners who adapted (and in some cases halted) their practice to comply with the relevant health directions contributed to containing the spread of the virus in Australia while ensuring safe access to urgent and essential podiatry care when needed.
The Board worked with Ahpra to identify where practitioners may need further guidance to support their understanding of our requirements for endorsement for scheduled medicines and to streamline our processes. As part of this work we published an example of a portfolio of evidence.
One of the strengths of the National Scheme is the opportunity to collaborate with other National Boards on the development of regulatory policy.
The Board and four other National Boards consulted on and approved Guidelines for registered health practitioners and students in relation to blood-borne viruses, which were to come into effect on 6 July 2020.
Together with other National Boards and Ahpra, we also reviewed and consulted on multi-profession guidelines for mandatory notifications, guidelines for advertising a regulated health service, and a supervised practice framework.
The Podiatry Accreditation Committee started performing the accreditation functions for the podiatry profession on 1 July 2019, supported by Ahpra. The Board thanks the committee for its commitment and hard work in a challenging first year that was significantly affected by COVID-19.
The committee began developing professional capabilities and accreditation standards for the podiatry profession, which will involve wide-ranging consultation in the coming year.
The Board has an ongoing program of stakeholder engagement that includes regular meetings with stakeholders including the Australian Podiatry Association, the Podiatry Council of New South Wales and the Podiatry Accreditation Committee.
We also met with stakeholders in Perth, including Podiatry WA, the Australian Association of Podiatric Surgeons and the Australasian College of Podiatric Surgeons. In February we met with representatives of the Podiatrists Board of New Zealand and the Health Ombudsman of Queensland, at the National Scheme’s Combined Meeting in Melbourne.
A member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board attended one of our board meetings to provide us with some insight into the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice profession and the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, including their important cultural liaison role in the health workforce.
In November, the Board was approved as the skilled migration assessing authority for podiatrists under the Australian Government’s Skilled Migration Program. Information about what is accepted as evidence of a suitable skills assessment for immigration purposes is published on the Assessment for migration page of our website.
The Board welcomed new community member Mrs Maria Cosmidis, who was appointed in November to fill a vacancy. She attended her first board meeting in December.
Associate Professor Cylie Williams, Chair