September 2021


 Issue 26 – September 2021


From the Chair

Photo of Cylie Williams

We recognise the impact that the ongoing lockdowns and variable restrictions across the country are having on the podiatry profession. It is more important than ever to look after your own health during this challenging and unpredictable time and we encourage you to seek help when needed.

We’ve recently published new professional capabilities for podiatrists and podiatric surgeons. As well as reflecting contemporary podiatry practice in Australia they make cultural safety a key component of safe healthcare, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Board and committee members are doing cultural safety training as we work towards embedding this in our regulatory work and help build a culturally safe podiatry workforce.

Ahpra and the National Boards have published a joint statement reminding practitioners that there is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. Read more below.

Cylie Williams
Chair, Podiatry Board of Australia

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Board news

New professional capabilities for podiatrists and podiatric surgeons

We have recently published new professional capabilities for podiatrists and podiatric surgeons which will come into effect on 1 January 2022.

The professional capabilities describe the threshold or minimum level of professional capability needed for registration as a podiatrist or podiatric surgeon. They identify the knowledge, skills and professional attributes a podiatrist or podiatric surgeon needs to practise independently in Australia and to provide safe, high quality, culturally responsive, person-centred care throughout their career.

The professional capabilities were developed by the Podiatry Accreditation Committee, which consulted widely with the profession and other stakeholders. The capabilities were approved by the Board in July.

More information about the professional capabilities is in our news item.

We’ve published the professional capabilities well in advance of them coming into effect, so you have time to get familiar with them. You can find them on our website, along with some FAQs.

We’ll be progressively publishing more information to support their implementation. We’ll also be engaging with the profession and other stakeholders to help you to understand what they mean and what the changes are. We’ll let you know in advance when we’re doing this.

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New accreditation standards published

New accreditation standards for the podiatry profession have been published. They were approved by the Board in July and will come into effect on 1 January 2022.

The new accreditation standards describe the requirements that education providers must meet to ensure their graduates have the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to safely and competently practise as podiatrists or podiatric surgeons in Australia.

There are four new accreditation standards, including new standards for entry-level podiatry programs and podiatric surgery programs as well as standards for the accreditation of education programs leading to endorsement of registration for scheduled medicines.

The Podiatry Accreditation Committee developed the new accreditation standards after wide-ranging consultation with the profession and other stakeholders. You can find more information about the accreditation standards in the news item.

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Continuing professional development in 2021

Continuing professional development (CPD) is important as it helps us to maintain competence and supports safe and effective podiatry care.

The Board expects podiatrists and podiatric surgeons to make reasonable efforts to complete their required CPD this year. We are aware that there are many flexible and COVID-safe options for CPD. Interactive CPD activities can be completed virtually.

However, we understand that some podiatrists and podiatric surgeons may still have had trouble fully meeting the CPD requirements, particularly any face to face requirements of CPD due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

When you renew your registration later this year you should answer all questions honestly and accurately. If you could not meet the CPD requirements for the 1 December 2020–30 November 2021 registration period the Board will not take action.

If you declare that you have not met the standard due to COVID-19 the Board may request evidence in future of what you have done to address any identified gaps in your CPD learning needs, such as any interactive or face to face CPD requirements, as COVID safe options increasingly become available and/or restrictions are eased.

Given the importance of CPD, the increasing availability of flexible and COVID-safe CPD options, you will be expected to fully meet CPD requirements in future.

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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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Reminder about COVID-19 vaccination

The Board would like to remind practitioners and students of what is expected of them in giving, receiving and advising on sharing information about COVID-19 vaccination.

As the national vaccination program is underway, registered health practitioners and students remain critical to this success by:

  • being vaccinated against COVID-19 unless medically contraindicated
  • being appropriately qualified and trained to administer COVID-19 vaccines if authorised, and
  • providing accurate information and advice about COVID-19 vaccination including in social media and advertising.

The joint statement on vaccination from Ahpra and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) 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. 

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Meet the Board

Paul Bennett, practitioner member from Queensland

Image of Paul Bennett

Tell us a little bit about your background

I am based at the Queensland University of Technology with formal links to the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation in Brisbane and research ties to the University of Malaga in Spain.

I’ve held professional appointments as a staff podiatrist at the Royal Hobart Hospital, Head of Department at The Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Perth, Board of Trustees of the Australian Podiatry and Education Foundation and a professorial appointment at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

Before the start of the National Scheme I was a member of the Podiatrists Board of Queensland for nine years.

Tell us about your experience of working with the Podiatry Board of Australia

I’ve been a member of the Board for nearly nine years and maintained my active interest in regulatory reform for prescribing scheduled medicines.

In recent years the Board developed a new registration standard for endorsement for scheduled medicines. This provides a pathway for practitioners to qualify for endorsement by completing an accredited and approved program of study that incorporates the competencies needed for safe prescribing.

Many colleagues contributed to this regulatory reform, which will benefit practitioners and their patients.

As a practitioner, what attracted you to working with the Podiatry Board?

With previous experience on a state board, the opportunity to contribute to and support the development of the National Scheme was a natural step for me to take. It’s enabled me to share 34 years of experience working as a private and public health practitioner, academic, researcher, forensic consultant and health advocate.

It has been a privilege to work with leaders from the podiatry profession, and also with the many talented staff of Ahpra and members of the other National Boards

What contribution do you think the Board and regulation of podiatrists and podiatric surgeons makes to patient safety?

The clarity around community expectation is more obvious now than at any other time during the podiatry profession’s development. The work of the Board and the accreditation authority has contributed to high standards of education and a well-trained and competent podiatry workforce that provides safe and effective care.

The mandatory requirement for continuing professional development helps practitioners to maintain their competence and continue to practise safely throughout their career.

What do you think the Board and Ahpra should do to bring out the best of the National Scheme?

 Continue to provide leadership on issues that improve public health and safety.

Do you have a motto or belief by which you live your life?

It’s always helpful to consider others’ point of view before formulating your own opinions in life.

Anything you would like to add?

 As we enter a new era of working in a world badly affected by the COVID pandemic, working together has never been more important. We need to remember that Australians are fortunate to enjoy one of the highest levels of healthcare by international standards. Our political leaders, chief health officers and front-line health professionals have done a remarkable job in navigating the ravages of this international catastrophe.

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Registration news

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 5,783 registered practitioners: 5,604 with general registration as a podiatrist, 36 with both general and specialist registration as a podiatric surgeon, and 143 non-practising registrants, and 162 practitioners have their registration endorsed for scheduled medicines.

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

Graduate registration is open for 2021!

Graduating this year? The graduate registration campaign has started, so head to the Board’s website for the announcement as well as tips to help smooth the process as you register for the first time.

One of the requirements for registration is the completion of training that includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), management of anaphylaxis and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) conducted by an approved training organisation.

The Board expects new graduates who are applying for registration this year to make reasonable efforts to complete this training. However, we understand that some of you may have trouble completing the training due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

When you apply for registration later this year you should answer all questions honestly and accurately. If you were unable to complete the training that includes CPR, management of anaphylaxis and use of an AED the Board will not take action. However, we expect you to complete the training as soon as you can.

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Rural healthcare: the student perspective – a new podcast

Caring for rural and remote communities can be a challenging and rewarding career path. In Ahpra’s latest Taking care episode, we speak with three health students about their study journey and how they are supporting their communities

Podiatry student Hayley Johns, medical student Harry Gaffney, and medical student and pharmacist Debra Lee join host Tash Miles to discuss the unique nature of healthcare and healthcare delivery in rural and remote settings.

Between the three of them they have experienced life and healthcare in regional, rural or remote parts of the country including across Western Australia, New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria.

An advantage of placement in these communities is the exposure to more significant health issues. Due to the nature of regions and distance to hospitals, general practices are often treating patients in emergency department-type situations.

All three have felt the effects the pandemic has had on their learning. While they can see the benefits of some online training remaining the norm, it needs to be accessible to all, including those in rural areas with less internet coverage.

The challenges of healthcare in these communities include being geographically isolated, cultural barriers, and limited resources. But all agree it is a privilege to have these experiences.

Listen to the full episode now.

Did you know?

The Taking care podcast series offers professional and consumer perspectives on current issues and answers some frequently asked questions about public safety in healthcare. Download and listen to the latest Taking care episode today.

Ahpra releases a new 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.

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Alerts

Information for practitioners on voluntary assisted dying law in Western Australia

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (WA) (the Act) came into effect on 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: ww2.health.wa.gov.au/voluntaryassisteddying and include the WA Voluntary assisted dying guidelines.

The following resource provides a starting point for health practitioners in understanding their obligations, responsibilities and protections under the Act:

For further information, visit the website.

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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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New independent accreditation committee established

A new independent accreditation committee has been established by Ahpra in line with Health Ministers’ policy direction issued earlier this year and as a key element of Health Ministers’ response to the Independent review of accreditation systems final report.

The broad stakeholder membership of the committee will bring a wide range of perspectives to the new committee’s work, recognising the importance of professional and accreditation expertise as well as community, employer and education provider involvement.

Accreditation provides a framework for assuring that individuals seeking registration are suitably trained, qualified and competent to practise as health practitioners in Australia.

The new committee brings together a broad range of expertise that will help inform health practitioner education to support future workforce needs and protects the public. The committee’s terms of reference have been published on the Ahpra website.

Members have been appointed for a three-year term and have been drawn from categories identified by the Health Council, with the addition of a member who identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Read more in the news item.

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You may notice that the public register looks a little different

We’ve 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 undertake 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 or are underway.

The review found that Ahpra’s management of confidential and anonymous notifications offered reasonable safeguards for notifiers and was consistent with the practices of other regulators globally.

The NHPO recommendations to strengthen Ahpra’s policies, guidance, communications and systems to further mitigate risk of harm to notifiers have now been implemented. 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 www.podiatryboard.gov.au for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs. Visiting the website regularly is the best way to stay in touch with news and updates from the Board.
  • Lodge an enquiry form via the website by following the Enquiries link on every web page under Contact us.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • To update your contact details for important registration renewal emails and other Board updates, go to the Ahpra website: Update contact details.
  • Address mail correspondence to A/Prof. Cylie Williams, Chair, Podiatry Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 17/09/2021