Accreditation

Ensuring the future health practitioner workforce is competent

  • Over 189,786 registered students are studying to be health practitioners in accredited programs.
  • Over 860 programs of study are now accredited and approved.
  • More than 130 education providers deliver accredited and approved programs of study.
  • Approved programs of study can be searched on our website. 

In February, we received a Ministerial policy direction requiring Ahpra to establish an independent accreditation committee as a new committee of the Agency Management Committee. The committee must have broad stakeholder membership and will provide independent and expert advice to National Scheme bodies on accreditation reform and other National Scheme accreditation matters. We began setting up the new committee in line with the Ministers’ request, including consultation with relevant stakeholders and jurisdictions on the terms of reference and proposed membership.

The Accreditation Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the Agency Management Committee, provides a whole-of-scheme perspective on: accreditation through oversight of financial and reporting matters; accreditation governance, accountability and transparency issues; and accreditation agreements. 

Our work with the committee focused on preparing for the expected policy direction from Health Ministers with details about the new independent accreditation committee (as foreshadowed in Ministers’ response to the independent review of accreditation systems in the National Scheme, Australia’s health workforce: strengthening the education foundation). 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, we supported the committee to monitor the broader impact of pandemic restrictions that are likely to present significant challenges for the National Scheme, including changes to program delivery and risks that some students may not achieve the required capabilities before graduation. 

The Agency Management Committee will discontinue the Accreditation Advisory Committee when the new independent accreditation committee is established. Oversight of relevant accreditation matters, including governance and performance reporting, will revert to the Agency Management Committee.

We completed reviewing and updating the procedures for developing accreditation standards in mid-2020 and published the revised version in August.

The procedures set out issues that:

  • an accreditation authority should consider when 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
  • a National Board should raise with the Ministerial Council, and when they should be raised.

Ten National Boards exercise accreditation functions through external councils. Five National Boards – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice, Chinese Medicine, Medical Radiation Practice, Paramedicine and Podiatry – exercise accreditation functions through a committee established by the Board. The National Boards contributed over $10.8 million funding to these accreditation authorities.

Ahpra supported the five accreditation committees to:

  • assess and accredit programs of study
  • monitor approved programs of study
  • develop and/or review accreditation standards for paramedicine and podiatry
  • develop and implement consistent guidelines for accreditation of education and training programs in these professions.

Accrediting and monitoring programs

At 30 June, the accreditation committees have accredited these programs of study:

  • 16 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice 
  • 9 for Chinese medicine 
  • 34 for medical radiation practice
  • 15 for podiatry, with two accreditation assessments in progress into the next financial year.

The Paramedicine Accreditation Committee monitored 26 Board-approved programs and started to accredit these programs against newly developed paramedicine accreditation standards from 1 July 2021.

New and revised standards

We worked in collaboration with paramedicine and podiatry committees to draft accreditation standards that are consistent with the standards for 11 other professions, reflecting current and emerging trends in education and practice.

We also consulted widely on draft accreditation standards for podiatry and podiatric surgery, including endorsement for scheduled medicines, and this work has since been completed. 

Policy and process

We supported the accreditation committees to: 

  • develop and implement specific monitoring to assure the relevant National Boards that all students are achieving the capabilities required for safe and competent practice before graduation, despite significant changes to program delivery under the COVID-19 public health restrictions 
  • apply a flexible approach to monitoring education providers’ compliance with accreditation standards, based on specific issues and risk profile – this flexible, risk-based model enabled COVID-responsive approaches to assessment and monitoring activities
  • implement consistent cross-profession guidelines for accreditation, complemented by profession-specific processes (such as establishing assessment teams)
  • collaborate to implement consistent cross-profession processes and tools to collect data from more than 45 education providers delivering over 90 approved programs across the five professions.

This work provides an opportunity for multi-profession approaches to accreditation.

Collaborative forum

The accreditation committees, with Ahpra, collaborated with the other 10 accreditation authorities through the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum (HPACF). This collaboration reflects the HPACF’s multi-profession and multi-entity nature and its consideration of issues affecting all accreditation entities.

 
 
 
 
Page reviewed 22/11/2021