Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Accreditation
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Annual report 2022/23

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. The accreditation authority for each profession can be an external council or committee. As well, the Ahpra Board has an independent Accreditation Committee.

The year in summary

  • 183,900 registered students were enrolled in approved programs.
  • More than 802 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.

The Accreditation 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 committee met four times; Professor Andrew Wilson AO 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 the health ministers’ response to the independent review of accreditation systems in the health system, Australia’s health workforce: strengthening the education foundation.

The committee released public consultation proposals on two of its first priorities: a statement of intent for interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) and a glossary of accreditation terms that will enhance shared understanding and consistent interpretation of the committee’s advice. Achieving IPCP is fundamental to effective team-based and coordinated care. The committee is working towards embedding IPCP in the 16 registered health professions by gaining a joint commitment from stakeholders across the health and education sectors to take action. The glossary of terms will support interpretation and implementation of the committee’s future advice.

The Ahpra Board provides a whole-of-scheme perspective on accreditation governance, accountability and transparency issues. This includes oversight of financial arrangements and performance reporting, and the accreditation arrangements established by agreements and terms of reference for accreditation authorities.

The current accreditation arrangements end on 30 June 2024 for all professions except paramedicine, which ends on 30 November 2023. Ahpra and all National Boards started the third scheduled review of accreditation arrangements in late 2022 to prepare for the next period to mid-2029. The review will inform the priorities for accreditation during the next period and how progress on these priorities will be measured.

The Ahpra Board oversees the review process as part of its role in whole-of-scheme oversight and accountability. The review will end later in 2023, when all National Boards make decisions on the accreditation authorities to exercise functions for the next period.

In October, the Forum of National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Chairs (FoNC), Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum (HPAC Forum) and Ahpra agreed to discontinue the Accreditation Liaison Group and replace it with an integrated approach to collaboration on accreditation issues using existing structures, including expanding FoNC membership to include accreditation.

This highlights the commitment between National Boards, accreditation authorities and Ahpra to share information and work collaboratively. The intent of building specific consideration of accreditation, and facilitating cross-scheme collaboration on accreditation and related issues, is being achieved by dedicated discussions with HPAC Forum representatives at the FoNC, and attendance by Ahpra and National Board representatives at meetings of the HPAC Forum. In addition, HPAC Forum, FoNC and Ahpra hold an annual meeting to discuss accreditation issues relevant to the National Scheme strategy.

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 exercises functions related to assessment of internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNM) through a committee established by the Board.

The National Boards contributed over $10.8 million of funding to these accreditation authorities and committees.

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 five professions.

We also 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 who want to register in Australia.

This work across six professions supports our multiprofession approach to accreditation functions.

Accrediting and monitoring programs

We supported the accreditation committees to assess, accredit and monitor programs of study:

  • 14 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice
  • 9 for Chinese medicine
  • 35 for medical radiation practice
  • 26 for paramedicine
  • 16 for podiatry and 2 for podiatric surgery.

Policy and process

We also supported the accreditation committees to:

  • continue to implement specific monitoring to assure the relevant National Boards that 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 responsive and proportionate regulatory 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 44 education providers delivering more than 100 approved programs across the five professions
  • start to implement the Guidelines for risk-based decision making.

We began to develop Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety training specifically for accreditation assessors. The five accreditation committees and Ahpra collaborated on this with the other 10 accreditation authorities through the HPAC Forum. Following a procurement process, the forum appointed ABSTARR Consulting to develop, implement and evaluate the training.

It will be designed for accreditation assessors within the National Scheme to support their assessment of programs and providers against relevant accreditation standards. The first training session will be delivered later in 2023.

Page reviewed 9/11/2023