September 2021

Issue 6 - September 2021


From the Chair

Photo of Stephen Gough. Chair, Paramedicine Board of AustraliaTo say that 2020’s challenges in the delivery of health services have flowed into 2021 would be an understatement. The Board is aware of the risk and complexity of paramedicine practice in a pandemic environment and we acknowledge and applaud your ongoing commitment to the important work you do in both the public and private sectors.

The impact of these challenges on the wellbeing of individual paramedics should also not be underestimated. It is critical that you look after yourselves and each other. Some of you will have access to employee assistance programs, others might need to seek support from a healthcare professional or one of the many community resources such as Beyond Blue, the Black Dog Institute or Lifeline. It is important that you reach out to someone if you need to or where there is a need, help guide colleagues to support services.

The annual renewal of paramedic registration starts in October, so keep a close eye on your email and the Board’s website for information. Remember it is your responsibility to ensure that you renew your registration by 30 November each year.

Professor Stephen Gough ASM
Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia

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Board news

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 Board’s 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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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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Registration renewal is coming up

The National Law requires all registered health practitioners to renew their registration annually. Paramedics must renew their registration with the Board by 30 November each year.

Paramedics, along with over 265,000 other registered health practitioners, will be invited to renew their registration before 30 November 2021. You must renew via the online portal.

Ahpra will start sending out information on renewal in October so look out for email reminders to renew as confirmation that online renewal is open. Reminders will be emailed several times during the renewal period, so please make sure your contact details held by Ahpra are up to date.

Keep an eye on our website too, we will be publishing more information about renewal.

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Grandparenting is ending, so unregistered paramedics should apply now

Unregistered practitioners thinking about applying for registration as a paramedic, who want to rely on their experience practising paramedicine before the national regulation of paramedics, are encouraged to apply for registration before 1 December 2021.

After this date, qualification under the grandparenting pathways will not be available, and paramedics will need to meet the usual qualification pathways provided for in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, (the National Law).

‘Paramedic’ is a protected title under the National Law and only registered paramedics may use the title. Claiming to be registered or qualified to practise as a paramedic is known as ‘holding out’. Unlawfully using the title or holding out is a criminal offence under the National Law and may result in fines of up to $60,000 for an individual and $120,000 for a corporate entity, and/or up to 3 years imprisonment.

Information on becoming a registered paramedic and how to make an application can be found on the Board’s website. Once you are on the homepage, click Become a registered paramedic to apply.

Please share this information with your unregistered friends and colleagues and encourage them to apply now.

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Professional capabilities and accreditation standards came into effect on 1 June

The Paramedicine accreditation standards and Professional capabilities for registered paramedics came into effect on 1 June 2021. These documents work together to outline the requirements that education providers must meet to ensure they are equipping graduates with the knowledge, skills and attributes they need to safely and competently practise as paramedics in Australia.

In addition, the professional capabilities identify the knowledge, skills and professional attributes needed to safely and competently practise as a paramedic in Australia. They describe the threshold level of professional capability required for both initial and continuing registration.

To further support your understanding of the paramedic capabilities the Board has published FAQs. The capabilities are published on the Professional capabilities page.

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Supervised practice problems and solutions

The Board has recently updated its FAQs on recency of practice. Supervised practice is a common approach we use to allow practitioners to demonstrate that they are safe and competent to practise and meet the requirements of the recency of practice registration standard. It is also used for other purposes such as grandparenting.

The Board understands that some practitioners may have had difficulty in finding and completing suitable supervised practice in a reasonable time. If this applies to you, in some cases there may be other ways you can show you are safe and competent to practise as a paramedic.

The Board is open to receiving individual submissions to undergo the paramedicine competency assessment or complete an appropriate training/credentialing program in lieu of all or part of a period of supervised practice. Each case will be considered on its merits and the individual practitioner will be responsible for any assessment or training/credentialing costs incurred, should this be approved by the Board. It is important to obtain Board approval before starting anything.

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Are you interested in being part of our accreditation committee?

Are you interested in being part of the accreditation committee that oversees education standards for paramedics?

Applications for appointment to the Accreditation Committee (the committee) will open in October 2021.

The committee:

  • develops and recommends approval of accreditation standards
  • assesses and accredits programs of study
  • monitors approved programs of study and education providers to ensure they continue to meet accreditation standards
  • advises the Board on issues in education and clinical training which may impact on paramedicine practice and approved paramedic programs, and
  • considers other matter as requested by the Board.

If you would like to register your interest in appointment to the Paramedicine Accreditation Committee, please contact us at by email at statutoryappointments@ahpra.gov.au and include Paramedicine Accreditation Committee in the subject line.

We are committed to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ leadership and voices. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warmly invited to apply.

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Registration

Workforce update: latest registration data

The Paramedicine Board’s latest quarterly data report covers 1 April to 30 June 2021. At this date there were 21,492 registered paramedics: 21,164 with general registration and 328 with non-practising registration. For more information on registration, including data breakdowns by age and gender, visit our Statistics page.

Table 1. Registration type by principal place of practice

Registration types

ACT

NSW

NT

QLD

SA

TAS

VIC

WA

No PPP

Total

General

328

5,455

197

5,443

1,387

598

6,083

1,374

299

21,164

Non-practising

8

70

3

83

16

9

98

25

16

328

Total

336

5,525

200

5,526

1,403

607

6,181

1,399

315

21,492

 

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Students and graduates

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.

Medical student Harry Gaffney, podiatry student Hayley Johns 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 and 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.

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.

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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 our 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 in 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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Want more information?

  • Visit the Board’s website for fact sheets and FAQs that help answer common questions about paramedic registration, and professional standards, codes and guidelines.
  • For employers of paramedics, we have specific information to help you in the Fact sheet: Employer obligations under the National Law.
  • 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: Professor Stephen Gough ASM, Chair, Paramedicine Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 15/09/2021