Accreditation – assuring quality of education and qualifications

2018/19 Annual Report - Our National Scheme: For safer healthcare
  • 182,657 students studying to be health practitioners through an approved program of study or clinical training program
  • The National Scheme accredits over 1,000 approved programs of study delivered by more than 130 education providers
  • Over $10 million of National Board funding contributions to accreditation authorities

The accreditation function provides a framework for assuring that individuals seeking registration are suitably trained, qualified and competent to practise as health practitioners in Australia. This is a crucial quality assurance and risk management mechanism for the National Scheme.

Accreditation systems review

AHPRA continued to work with the National Boards to support their participation in further consultation on the Accreditation systems review final report, including a joint response to the consultation in early 2019.

Advisory committee

The Accreditation Advisory Committee met four times and focused on establishing new accreditation agreements with external accreditation councils and terms of reference for accreditation committees, developing interim funding and fee principles, performance indicators, and enhancing engagement with stakeholders. The committee issues a communiqué after each meeting to keep stakeholders informed about its work. See Accreditation Advisory Committee.

Developing standards

AHPRA’s procedures for developing accreditation standards are an important governance mechanism. They set out issues that:

  • an accreditation authority should consider in developing or changing accreditation standards
  • an accreditation authority should explicitly address when submitting accreditation standards to a National Board for approval
  • a National Board should consider when deciding whether to approve accreditation standards developed by the accreditation authority, and
  • a National Board should raise with the Ministerial Council – and when they should be raised – as they may trigger a Ministerial Council policy direction.

The procedures are published on the Procedures page. AHPRA started a project to review and update these procedures, which is expected to be completed in 2019/20.

Approved programs

AHPRA publishes a list of approved programs of study that provide qualifications for general registration, specialist registration or endorsement of registration. See Approved Programs of Study.

Accreditation funding

Each year, the National Boards contribute funding to accreditation authorities. For more information see Accreditation Authorities.

New agreements and terms of reference

30 June 2019, AHPRA had signed new accreditation agreements with the 10 external accreditation councils to apply until 30 June 2024. In July 2019, National Boards will consider new terms of reference for accreditation committees which mirror the key aspects of the agreements.

Committees

Three of the National Boards exercise accreditation functions through a committee established by the Board:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee (ATSIHPAC)
  • Chinese Medicine Accreditation Committee (CMAC), and
  • Medical Radiation Practice Accreditation Committee (MRPAC).

This year, AHPRA continued to support the accreditation committees to assess and accredit programs of study and to monitor approved programs.

As at 30 June 2019, these accreditation committees have accredited 49 programs of study across their professions.

During the year, two other National Boards decided to exercise the accreditation functions for their professions through an accreditation committee. The Paramedicine Accreditation Committee was established in March 2019 and started exercising the accreditation functions in April 2019. The Podiatry Accreditation Committee was established in May 2018 and will undertake the accreditation functions for a five-year period from 1 July 2019.

Policy, standards and process

AHPRA’s role in supporting the accreditation committees provides an opportunity for multi-profession approaches to the accreditation function.

AHPRA continued to support the accreditation committees to implement and further refine a risk-based approach to their monitoring activities. The National Law supports a flexible, risk-based model. AHPRA works with the committees to tailor the methods and frequency of activities to monitor education providers’ compliance with the accreditation standards based on specific issues and risk profiles.

AHPRA supported the committees to begin a review of their accreditation processes. Work is progressing on draft updated accreditation processes that reflect the committees’ risk-based approach. Consultation on draft updated accreditation processes will start in the second half of 2019.

AHPRA continued to support collaboration between the accreditation committees to implement a consistent cross-profession process and tools for annual data collection for more than 30 education providers and 50 programs.

Joint review of standards

continued a project to review and revise the accreditation standards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice, Chinese medicine and medical radiation practice. The project team worked in collaboration with the three accreditation committees to develop revised accreditation standards that are consistent across the three professions, reflect current and emerging trends in education and practice, and address the relevant objectives and requirements of the National Law. Multi-profession consultation on the draft revised standards was completed in the second half of 2018 and the three committees submitted proposed revised standards to the relevant National Boards in the first half of 2019.

The project also covers the professional capabilities for the three professions as these form an important part of the accreditation standards. Wide-ranging consultation on the draft revised professional capabilities began in the first half of 2019 and the project is due to be completed in late 2019.

Collaborative forum

The accreditation committees, with AHPRA, continued to participate in the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum (HPACF). This participation reflects the HPACF’s multi-profession and multi-entity nature and its consideration of issues affecting all accreditation entities.

 
 
Page reviewed 15/11/2019