Since March the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia’s work has included responding to COVID-19 from a regulatory perspective. The Board has been working with Ahpra to provide up-to-date information on COVID-19 to practitioners including answering common questions. The Board has recognised the adaptability and responsiveness of the profession in managing and working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Board developed the Australian occupational therapy competency standards, which have been in effect since 1 January 2019.
These competency standards focus on four conceptual areas of occupational therapy practice: professionalism, knowledge and learning, occupational therapy process and practice, and communication. They specifically acknowledge the need for occupational therapists to enhance their cultural responsiveness and capabilities for practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.
Through the year the Board has developed and published some case studies to help registered occupational therapists understand how the competency standards might apply to various occupational therapy roles. Consistent with the emphasis in the competency standards, the Board remains committed to working with Indigenous Allied Health Australia to enhance and improve culturally safe occupational therapy practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and communities.
Following a scheduled review and wide-ranging consultation, the Board, along with five other National Boards, has revised the registration standards for:
The registration standards apply to registered occupational therapists and applicants at initial registration (except for the CPD standard, which does not apply at initial registration).
The Ministerial Council approved each of the revised registration standards on 30 June 2019 and the revised standards took effect on 1 December 2019.
During the year the Board approved five programs of study delivered by three education providers. There are now 42 occupational therapy programs of study across 22 education providers.
The Board works closely with the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd (OTC), which has been assigned the accreditation function to assess and monitor occupational therapy programs of study offered by Australian education providers. Programs are assessed and monitored against the revised Accreditation standards for Australian entry-level occupational therapy education programs (December 2018) that came into effect on 1 January 2020.
The Board continued to collaborate with key stakeholders on matters of mutual interest. Thanks to the National Scheme’s Combined Meeting in February, we met with representatives of the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd (OTC), the Occupational Therapy Council of New South Wales and the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand (OTBNZ).
The Board also published two documents outlining the role and responsibilities of occupational therapy stakeholders. These documents aim to provide guidance on the functions and responsibilities of each of the organisations involved in the regulation of occupational therapists and the accreditation of occupational therapy programs of study.
As part of the Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) 28th National Conference and Exhibition, the Board held a forum on 10 July 2019 that all registered occupational therapists in NSW were invited to attend. The Board Chair hosted the Forum together with members of the Occupational Therapy Council of New South Wales and gave updates on the Board’s regulatory activities.
Members of the Board co-presented at the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) Annual Conference in Minneapolis, USA on 20 September 2019 with representatives from the OTBNZ. The presentation focused on the development of professional competencies within the regulatory context and included a discussion about the development and implementation of cultural competencies specific to the Australian and New Zealand practice environments.
The Board successfully engaged with students and soon-to-be graduates by hosting its fourth annual national webinar. It provided information about the Board, Ahpra and the registration requirements, followed by a Q&A session. The webinar gave us a valuable opportunity to engage with graduates and share information about their obligations on becoming registered.
Ms Julie Brayshaw, Chair