Occupational Therapy Board of Australia - 2018/19 annual summary
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2018/19 annual summary

Occupational therapy in 2018/19

Snapshot of the profession

  • 22,412 occupational therapists
  • Up 6.9% from 2017/18
  • 3.0% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.5% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 90.8% female; 9.2% male


Under 25 years old: 7.7%, 25-34 years old: 41.3%, 35-44 years old: 26.7%, 45-54 years old: 15%, 55-64 years old: 7.8%, 65-74 years old: 1.5%, Over 75 years old: 0.0%

Audit outcomes

Audit outcomes pie chart

  • 93.4% compliant: fully compliant with the registration standards
  • 2.8% non-compliant: non-compliant with one or more standards
  • 3.8% no audit action required: during the audit period, practitioners changed their registration type to non-practising, elected to surrender their registration or failed to renew their registration

Regulating the profession

  • 59 notifications lodged with AHPRA1
    • 1 notification was made about a student
  • Australia-wide, including Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) in NSW and Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland data, 83 registered occupational therapists – or 0.4% – had notifications made about them
  • 52 notifications closed
    • 3.8% had conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted
    • 5.8% received a caution or reprimand
    • 21.2% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity (HCE)
    • 69.2% no further action taken
  • Immediate action taken twice
  • 7 mandatory notifications received
    • 3 about professional standards
  • 7 occupational therapists monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 50 cases were being monitored at 30 June
    • 3 for health reasons
    • 2 prohibited practitioner/student
    • 45 for suitability/eligibility for registration
  • 16 criminal offence complaints were made and 13 closed
    • 15 new matters related to title protection
    • 1 to advertising breaches
  • Matters decided by a tribunal: 2
  • Matters decided by a panel: 0
  • Decisions appealed: 0

1Unless stated otherwise, all notification data is AHPRA data.

Sources of notifications: 50.8% Patient, relative or member of the public, 18.6% HCE, 11.9% Employer, 5.1% Education provider, 5.1% Other practitioner, 8.5% Other

Most common types of complaint: 37.3% Clinical care, 15.3% Documentation, 10.2% Health impairment, 8.5% Behaviour, 6.8% Communication, 22.0% Other

A report on the year from the Chair

Competency standards

The Occupational Therapy Board of Australia developed the Australian occupational therapy competency standards (the competency standards), which have been in effect since 1 January 2019.

The 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 with respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

The Board produced resources, including an animated video, to support occupational therapists, students, employers and others to familiarise themselves with the standards. The Board is continuing to develop supporting tools to help occupational therapists and members of the public and others understand and apply the competency standards.

Review of registration standards

The Board continued to work with six other National Boards to progress its review of three core registration standards:

  • Registration standard: Continuing professional development
  • Registration standard: Professional indemnity insurance arrangements
  • Registration standard: Recency of practice.

The Board has also reviewed the Guidelines: Continuing professional development which supports the Registration standard: Continuing professional development.

Without pre-empting the Ministerial Council’s approval, the Board continued to prepare for the effective implementation of these standards. On 30 June 2019, the Ministerial Council approved them. They will take effect on 1 December 2019.

The Board will continue to review existing materials, such as fact sheets and FAQ, to support occupational therapists in understanding and meeting the requirements outlined in the standards.

Accreditation standards review

The Board supported the review carried out by the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd (OTC) of the Accreditation standards for Australian entry-level occupational therapy education programs – December 2013.

On 1 March 2019, the Board approved the Accreditation standards for Australian entry-level occupational therapy education programs – December 2018, which will come into effect on 1 January 2020. The revised accreditation standards were developed following wide-ranging consultation about their content carried out by the OTC.

The revised accreditation standards are used to assess whether a program of study, and the education provider that supplies the program of study, gives people who complete the program the knowledge, skills and professional attributes to practise the profession.

Stakeholder engagement

The Board continued fostering its working relationships and sharing information on current and future initiatives with its stakeholders. Thanks to the National Scheme conference hosted in February, the Board met with representatives of the OTC, the Occupational Therapy Council of New South Wales and the Occupational Therapy Board of New Zealand (OTBNZ).

Material outlining the key responsibilities of entities involved in the regulation of occupational therapists has been developed, together with a document describing the responsibilities of the entities involved in the accreditation process. This material aims to provide clear information to support the Board’s stakeholders, including education providers, in better understanding the role of each entity.

A collaborative partnership with Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) was formalised with the launch of the Collaboration Agreement in May. The partnership is focused on improving the quality, accessibility, cultural safety and responsiveness of occupational therapists to meet the health needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Increasing the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working as and studying to become occupational therapists is also a priority.

The Board successfully engaged with students and soon-to-be graduates by hosting its third annual webinar. Information about the Board, AHPRA and the registration requirements was provided, followed by a question-and-answer session.

The Board continued to engage with Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA). Preparation for the Board’s Breakfast Forum scheduled for the OTA’s 28th National Conference and Exhibition 2019 was also started. The forum will provide an update on regulatory matters.

The Board has also started to work with representatives of the OTBNZ and the Occupational Therapy Board of British Columbia to co-present at the Annual Educational Conference of the Council on Licensure, Enforcement & Regulation (CLEAR) in September 2019. This will be an opportunity for the Board to share its learning about the development of its competency standards in a regulatory context with other regulators internationally.

Ms Julie Brayshaw, Chair

Page reviewed 12/11/2020