Occupational Therapy Board of Australia - 2020/21 annual summary
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2020/21 annual summary


  • 25,632 occupational therapists
    • Up 6.8% from 2019/20
    • 3.1% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.6% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 90.4% female; 9.6% male


Age: <25 = 8.9%, 25 to 34 = 41.3%, 35 to 44 = 26.5%, 45 to 54 = 14.6%, 55 to 64 = 7.3%, 65 to 74 = 1.4%, >75 = 0%



  • 79 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 124 registered occupational therapists Australiawide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 0.5% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Patient, relative or member of the public 50.6%, Other practitioner 17.7%, Employer 16.5%, HCE 6.3%, Board’s own motion 1.3%, Other 7.6%

  • 3 immediate actions taken

  • 13 mandatory notifications received
    • 7 about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Documentation 21.5%, Clinical care 16.5%, Communication 8.9%, Boundary violation 8.9%, Health impairment 7.6%, Confidentiality 5.1%, Other 31.6%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 70 notifications closed, 4.3% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 2.9% received a caution or reprimand, 7.1% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 85.7% no further action


  • 16 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 87 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 3 for conduct
    • 5 for health reasons
    • 1 for performance
    • 1 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 77 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 14 criminal offence complaints made
    • 12 about title protection
    • 1 about practice protection
    • 1 about advertising breaches
  • 10 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

  • No matters decided by a tribunal
  • No matters decided by a panel
  • No appeals

A report from the Chair

Regulatory response to COVID-19

It’s been a challenging time for the profession given the restrictions that practitioners have had to adapt to. The Occupational Therapy Board of Australia supported practitioners in continuing to provide safe care in changing work environments.

Competency standards

The Board developed and published case studies to help practitioners understand how the Australian occupational therapy competency standards can be applied in practice. The Board started engagement work with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Occupational Therapy Network to better understand how it can promote improved culturally safe occupational therapy practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

Joint reviews

The Board participated in a joint review of the Code of conduct shared with 11 other National Boards. The Board also contributed to the scheduled review of the Registration standard: English language skills and to the development of a revised Supervised practice framework.


The Board approved one program of study. There are now 44 occupational therapy programs of study delivered across 22 education providers.

Stakeholder engagement

The Board held regular meetings with Occupational Therapy Australia (the national professional association) and the Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Limited. These meetings also provided the opportunity to discuss the impact of the pandemic, and to better understand how the Board could respond to emerging issues.

The Board held a webinar in August on the registration standards for continuing professional development, recency of practice and professional indemnity insurance arrangements. The webinar outlined the changes in the standards and how these will affect the profession. The webinar was attended by almost 800 practitioners and included a live Q&A session with Board members.

In September, the Board held its fifth successful webinar for new and soon-to-be graduates to help them understand their obligations on becoming a registered occupational therapist. The webinar was attended by almost 400 students and provided a valuable opportunity to answer questions about the registration process.

Other news

The Board commissioned Ahpra to conduct a review of notifications about occupational therapists received and closed between 2012 and 2019. The final report, considered by the Board in December, provided some invaluable findings about the main drivers of notifications that may be amenable to regulatory response. The Board is now considering how best to communicate the findings.

The Board supports the National Scheme’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety strategy 2020–2025. Members are participating in the Moong-moong-gak cultural safety training program.

Ms Julie Brayshaw

Page reviewed 22/11/2022