National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the Health Professions in Australia

Here is an important development in the accreditation of health professions in Australia as agreed by the Council of the Australian Governments as reported by the Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (COTRB), Inc. I reckon this is similar to the Health Professions Council (HPC) in the UK.

National Registration & National Accreditation

On 26th March 2008 the Council of the Australian Governments (COAG) signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for a National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the Health Professions, which will commence on 1 July 2010.

This agreement will establish a single national registration and accreditation scheme for health professionals, beginning with the nine professions currently registered in all jurisdictions. That is, physiotherapy, optometry, nursing and midwifery, chiropractic, pharmacy, dental care (dentists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists and dental therapists), medicine, psychology, and osteopathy.

The objectives of the national scheme, to be set out in the legislation, are to:

  • provide for the protection of the public by ensuring that only practitioners who are suitable trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered;
  • facilitate workforce mobility across Australia and reduce red tape for practitioners;
  • facilitate the provision of high quality eduacation and training and rigorous and responsive assessment of overseas trained practitioners;
  • have regard to the public interest in promoting access to health services; and
  • have regard to the need to enable the continuous development of a flexible, responsive and sustainable Australian health workforce and enable innovation in education and service delivery.

The inclusion of partially regulated professions, such as occupational therapy, will be determined during implementation of the national scheme against criteria agreed by Ministerial Council comprising Commonwealth, State and Territory Health Ministers.

Podiatry has been considered a special care and will automatically be included in the National scheme as soon as practicable post 1 July 2010.

The Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (Australia & New Zealand) Inc. (“COTRB”) and OT AUSTRALIA have joined together to put a case forward for National registration of occupational therapists, and this process is well underway.

The establishment costs will be jointly funded by the Commonwealth, States and Territories and both schemes are to be eventually self-funding.

The IGA can be viewed at www.coag.gov.au under “COAG Meeting Outcomes”.

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