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:
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:
At 30 June, the accreditation committees have accredited these programs of study:
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.
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.
We supported the accreditation committees to:
This work provides an opportunity for multi-profession approaches to accreditation.
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.