Accreditation helps ensure that people seeking registration are suitably trained, qualified and competent to practise as health practitioners.
National Boards and accreditation authorities have separate but complementary functions. For example, an accreditation authority accredits a program of study and the relevant National Board approves it as a basis for registration. Accreditation authorities can be an external council or a committee.
In July, we established the independently chaired accreditation committee required by the Ministerial policy direction received in February 2021. This new committee of the Agency Management Committee provides independent and expert advice on accreditation reform and other accreditation matters to National Boards, accreditation authorities and Ahpra. Other external entities performing accreditation roles as part of the National Scheme, such as specialist colleges and postgraduate medical councils, take account of the committee’s advice, where relevant.
The Accreditation Committee met four times; Professor Andrew Wilson is its independent chair. Its priority areas of work are supporting the future health workforce and strengthening accreditation systems. Specific deliverables reflect areas referred to the committee in Health Ministers’ response to the independent review of accreditation systems in the National Scheme, Australia’s health workforce: strengthening the education foundation.
The Agency Management Committee provides a whole-of-scheme perspective on accreditation governance, accountability and transparency issues. This includes oversight of financial and reporting matters, and the agreements and terms of reference for accreditation authorities.
The Agency Management Committee discontinued its Accreditation Advisory Committee when the new independently chaired committee was established. Oversight of relevant accreditation matters, including governance and performance reporting, reverted to the Agency Management Committee in July.
The Accreditation Committee’s work with the Agency Management Committee focused on refining the reporting requirements under the accreditation agreements and terms of reference, providing whole-of-scheme summaries of performance reports from the accreditation authorities, and preparing for the next scheduled review of accreditation arrangements that will start later in 2022.
We continued to support the Agency Management Committee to monitor and contribute to managing the broader impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges it presented for the National Scheme. This included ongoing changes to program delivery and risks of delayed course completion if students were unable to achieve the required capabilities before their expected graduation.
Nine 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 their Boards.
One National Board – Nursing and Midwifery – exercises accreditation functions related to education programs through an external council, and functions related to assessment of internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNM) through a committee established by the Board.
The National Boards contributed over $10 million of funding to these accreditation authorities.
Ahpra supported the accreditation committees for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice, Chinese medicine, medical radiation practice, paramedicine and podiatry to:
Ahpra supported the nursing and midwifery (assessment of IQNM) accreditation committee to oversee the outcomes-based assessment of the knowledge, clinical skills and professional attributes of internationally qualified nurses and midwives wanting to register in Australia.
At 30 June, the accreditation committees had accredited these programs of study:
The Paramedicine Accreditation Committee monitored 16 other Board-approved programs that are due to start their accreditation assessments in the next reporting year.
We worked in collaboration with the Podiatry Accreditation Committee to submit proposed accreditation standards for podiatry and podiatric surgery, including endorsement for scheduled medicines, to the Podiatry Board of Australia for approval in September. These standards took effect on 1 January.
We supported the accreditation committees to:
The five 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 multiprofession and multi-entity nature and its consideration of issues affecting all accreditation entities.