Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Accreditation

Accreditation

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.

  • More than 184,353 registered students were enrolled in approved programs. 
  • More than 840 programs of study were accredited and approved. 
  • More than 130 education providers delivered accredited and approved programs of study. 
  • Approved programs of study can be searched on our website. 

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: 

  • 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. 

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. 

Accrediting and monitoring programs

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

  • 14 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice 
  • 9 for Chinese medicine 
  • 37 for medical radiation practice 
  • 19 for podiatry 
  • 1 for paramedicine with 9 accreditation assessments in progress. 

The Paramedicine Accreditation Committee monitored 16 other Board-approved programs that are due to start their accreditation assessments in the next reporting year.

New and revised standards

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. 

Policy and process

We supported the accreditation committees to: 

  • develop and endorse Guidelines for risk-based decision making for implementation from 1 July 2022 
  • continue to 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 ongoing changes to program delivery under the COVID-19 public health orders 
  • continue to apply a flexible approach to monitoring education providers’ compliance with accreditation standards, based on specific issues and risk profile – this flexible, risk-based model continued to enable 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 more than 100 approved programs across the five professions. 
  • This work provides an opportunity for multiprofession approaches to accreditation.

Collaborative forum

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.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 22/11/2022