Occupational Therapy Board of Australia - June 2024
Look up a health practitioner


Check if your health practitioner is qualified, registered and their current registration status

June 2024

Issue 24 - June 2024

From the Chair

With my first Chair’s message I want to thank my predecessor, Ms Julie Brayshaw for her commitment and passion for the regulation of the profession. For over eight years Julie led the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, supporting the development of the 2018 Australian occupational therapy competency standards, OT Board funding of cultural safety training for Ahpra staff and navigating the challenges of chairing a board by Zoom during COVID travel restrictions. On behalf of the Board, we sincerely thank you for your tireless commitment and leadership, and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours.

As the new Chair, I am looking forward to continuing Julie’s work and supporting the occupational therapy workforce to provide safe and effective services to the Australian public and adapting to any new challenges that may arise in our ever-evolving health sector.

I also want to raise an important topic regarding the myths and misconceptions about seeking help as a practitioner, whether it be for your health, mental health or drug and alcohol issue. In this edition, you can read more about why the best thing you can do for yourself, your family and for your clients, is to seek help early.

Rebecca Singh
Chair, Occupational Therapy Board of Australia

back to top

Board news

Rebecca Singh OTBAMeet our new Chair, Rebecca Singh

Rebecca is a director of a private allied health practice in Adelaide. She graduated from the University of South Australia in 1997 and has postgraduate qualifications as an occupational therapy driver assessor. Her main experiences within occupational therapy are in adult physical and cognitive rehabilitation, acute services and driving, as well as leadership experience on professional and community committees.

Rebecca has long been committed to promoting the profession and enhancing the quality and safety of the services provided.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the regulation of occupational therapists in Australia?

The development of the NDIS over the past 10 years has seen a seismic shift in the practice of occupational therapy in terms of the way practitioners work and the skills and knowledge required, with an explosion of private practices and sole traders. This has created an increase in notifications about practitioners and unprecedented workforce pressures, which present a significant challenge to the Board in maintaining public safety.

Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence also present significant challenges in occupational therapy programs of study and in safe clinical practice. The Board recognises the benefits of incorporating these technologies to clients and for workplace efficiencies. However, risks associated with inherent system biases, client consent, information privacy, and data storage and security can be confusing to navigate for practitioners. We are looking to develop guidance for practitioners in the use of these emerging technologies in practice, so watch this space!

That is the tip of the iceberg regarding the current challenges in occupational therapy regulation, so I look forward to sharing more about other challenges in future newsletters.

What areas of the profession are you most passionate about?

I have worked in brain injury, care needs assessments and driving for many years in private practice, government service delivery and the not-for-profit sector. The one thing that remains consistent across all these areas, and that I am passionate about, is connection. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, however in all those areas of practice I have found that I can only do my best work if I have time to develop therapeutic relationships and connections with clients, families, communities and other service providers. It is integral to truly collaborative and inclusive service delivery.

Occupational therapists need to continue to advocate for service provision to have sufficient time to develop these connections. Doing this has the bonus of making our work more fulfilling.

What work of the Board are you most interested in seeing come to fruition?

I am very excited about our planned review of the Australian occupational therapy competency standards. I look forward to consulting the community and practitioners about what needs to be changed or strengthened and learning about what they think. Strengthening the competency standards regarding racism in healthcare is a current focus of the Board and Ahpra more broadly.

Occupational therapists are generally very ethical and dedicated professionals, so I also look forward to developing additional guidelines to support practitioners in relation to the use of artificial intelligence in practice.

back to top


Consultation on embedding good practice in clinical placements and simulation-based learning

Ahpra’s Accreditation Committee is seeking feedback on its draft guidance on embedding good practice in clinical placements, simulation-based learning and virtual care in initial education for student health practitioners. The guidance will support improvements in these important components of every health practitioner’s initial education.

The committee wants to ensure that our student health practitioners have access to high quality clinical placements, simulation-based learning and virtual care educational experiences. These activities enable students to develop the capabilities they need for contemporary practice, and to provide client-centred care safely and competently.

The aim of the guidance is to help National Scheme entities, in particular National Boards and accreditation authorities, improve student education in these areas.

Find out more about this consultation and provide feedback on the committee’s Current consultations page. The public consultation runs till close of business (AEST) Friday, 21 June 2024.

Students and graduates

Beware of identity theft – don’t post your registration certificate online

Successfully registering with the Board is one of the final steps for new graduates starting their career in their chosen profession. It’s an exciting step and one to feel immensely proud of. The temptation might be strong to celebrate by sharing your first registration certificate with the world – but think twice before posting.

Identity theft is rife. Every day, websites pop up selling fake Ahpra certificates of registration based on real ones that graduating practitioners have posted on their social media. Never post your identity documents online. You’ve worked hard to earn your registration; don’t let somebody steal it.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s quarterly registration data to 31 December 2023 is published on its website. At this date there were 31,595 registered occupational therapists, including 1,084 with non-practising registration.

There are 199 occupational therapists who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

For further details on registration by age, gender and principal place of practice, read the report on our Statistics page.

What’s new?

Myths and misconceptions about notifications – getting the help you need

Too often, practitioners struggle in silence when they are dealing with a health, mental health or drug and alcohol issue – or even just the day-to-day challenges of being a health practitioner.

The best thing you can do – for yourself, for your family, and for your clients – is to seek help early and to actively engage in recommended treatments. This might be from your own GP, another health practitioner or from one of the many independent practitioner support services available.

There is a common misconception that if you seek help, your treating practitioner will automatically be required to report you to Ahpra and your registration may be affected.

The threshold for when treating practitioners need to make a mandatory notification about health is only necessary when the public is at substantial risk of harm. The need for a mandatory notification to be made is not often met.

If you are managing your health and getting the help you need, you can usually continue to practise. The Board wants you to be healthy and safe to practise, and encourages you to seek help early when you need support.

Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent

The Ahpra Accreditation Committee has published its Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Statement of Intent. The statement of intent aims to embed interprofessional collaborative practice across the continuum of healthcare settings.

The statement is a fundamental step towards achieving effective team-based and coordinated care across Australia. It is a commitment to improving the outcomes for patients and consumers by reducing the risk of fragmented and uncoordinated care.

Interprofessional collaborative practice is healthcare practice where multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together and with clients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care that is free of racism and other forms of discrimination.

The statement represents a joint commitment from 53 stakeholders across the health and education sectors to take action.

Read more in the news item.

Partnership with Weenthunga Health Network guiding critical reform work to eliminate racism in healthcare

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have the right to access and work in healthcare that is culturally safe and free from racism. Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit is supporting the Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Working Group and Weenthunga Health Network, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander consultancy, to co-design and develop nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines on cultural safety for registered practitioners.

The Cultural Safety Accreditation and Continuing Professional Development Framework and Strategy is a multi-year project, grounded by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of being, knowing and doing. By embedding cultural safety in accreditation and continuing professional development requirements for all 16 regulated health professions in the National Scheme, we will ensure consistency and accountability to protect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health workers.

Cultural safety is patient safety. Racist and culturally unsafe practice and behaviour towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples will not be tolerated, as seen in the landmark ruling of a doctor banned for discriminatory and offensive behaviour.

Read more in the media release.

TGA’s Regulatory basics on medical devices for health practitioners

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published guidance to help Australian health practitioners that manufacture, supply, and use medical devices identify whether they are regulated by the TGA, and if they are, how to comply with the existing requirements of the therapeutic goods legislation.

Read the guidance on the TGA website.

Regulators come together as one million Australians turn to medicinal cannabis treatments

Maintaining a balance between access to medicinal cannabis and its safety is a priority for health regulators across Australia amid a growing number of prescriptions and the emergence of telehealth, online prescribing and direct-to-consumer health services. Australia’s medicine regulation system is complex, with different agencies responsible for overseeing the medicines themselves, the health professionals who prescribe and provide them, and the premises where they are stored and dispensed.

In February, Ahpra and several of the National Boards convened a forum in Melbourne that brought together health regulators to share information and regulatory intelligence, discuss any current risks to the public, and determine how all regulators can best work together.

The use of unapproved medicinal cannabis products has spiralled in recent years, from around 18,000 Australians in 2019 to more than one million in January 2024. The number of prescribers accessing the Authorised Prescriber and the Special Access Scheme has also risen sharply to more than 5,700 medical and nurse practitioners prescribing and dispensing medicinal cannabis products that have not been evaluated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for safety, quality, or efficacy.

The forum attendees agreed to continue discussions with the aim to monitor issues and identify any gaps in the regulatory and wider health response to this rapidly growing industry. In particular:

  • improving data and information sharing among Australia’s regulatory agencies
  • gaining a better understanding of the drivers of the recent rapid rise in access to these products
  • enhancing communication to prescribers, including clinical guidance, on the safe and effective use of medical cannabis products
  • examining ways of better educating consumers about medicinal cannabis medications, and
  • encouraging more research to drive the production of clinical guidelines for medicinal cannabis.

Read more in the communiqué on Ahpra’s website.

Greater protections for patients in Western Australia as National Law changes are enacted

Health practitioner regulation and public protection were further strengthened in Western Australia recently, following the passage and enactment of changes to the National Law as it applies in that state.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Application Act was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia on 9 May and is now an Act of Parliament.

It contains a suite of changes, including protecting the title ‘surgeon’ when used by medical practitioners. It also allows the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards to issue a statement warning the public about individual practitioners, when there is a serious, unmanaged risk to public health and safety.

The Act brings Western Australia into greater alignment with the other states and territories. The Act also establishes a mechanism for WA to adopt any future changes to the National Law, while retaining the ability to make modifications and disallow amendments as necessary.

Most of these changes have started, with some to start later this year on a date to be agreed by governments. For more information about these changes, please visit the Ahpra National Law amendments page.

Mandatory reporting obligations for all WA registered health practitioners have not changed.

Keep in touch with the Board

Page reviewed 4/06/2024