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Ahpra Benefits ALL Audiologists: IAA Speaks

May 10, 2024

Written By Dr Tegan Keogh (PhD – Audiology) IAA President

Independent Audiologists Australia (IAA) strongly believe in registration, via the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra), for ALL Audiologists, regardless of the workplace you work in. For over 15 years, IAA has lobbied and campaigned government for what we think is an important step in the quality assurance of our profession. IAA cares about the standing of Audiologists within the community, and the way Audiologists are portrayed in the public eye which is why IAA was the only Professional body to submit a request for registration at the National Health Ministers Meeting. We care about ensuring that the public can receive quality care, in addition to the future of student Audiologists, and their positioning within the sector.

Put simply, there are significant reasons why IAA continues to advocate for this important step which enhances our profession (https://www.ahpra.gov.au/About-Ahpra.aspx).

Ahpra enhances:

1. Protection of title

According to Ahpra, in Australia, the titles of registered health professions are ‘protected’ by law. This is important because Ahpra can act as a sort of shorthand for patients and consumers. When you see someone who uses a protected title (for example, ‘medical practitioner’), you can expect that person is appropriately trained and qualified in that profession, registered, and that they are expected to meet safe and professional standards of practice. Under the National Law, Ahpra works to make sure that registered health practitioners meet the standards of their profession, and they act if they think there is a risk posed to the public.

Additionally, it’s a criminal offence for someone who isn’t a registered health practitioner to use a protected or specialist title. This would mean protection, under law, of the title “Audiologist”. There are significant penalties if the title is mis-used, including possible jail time. A national Register of practitioners allows Ahpra the public to find accurate information about individual health practitioners.  For more information it’s important to read this link; https://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/~/link.aspx?_id=44762DEA37D042E99F2C3144F4BA97DB&_z=z

2. Quality and compliance

Ahpra provide policy advice to the National Boards about registration standards, codes and guidelines for health practitioners. In partnership with the National Boards, ensure that only health practitioners with the skills and qualifications to provide competent and ethical care are registered to practise. Ahpra manages registration and renewal processes for local and overseas qualified health practitioners and manage student registration. They monitor and audit registered health practitioners for compliance, and work with accreditation authorities to ensure graduating students are qualified and skilled to apply to register as a health practitioner.

3. Protections for the public

The National Boards and Ahpra administer and comply with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law), as it applies in each state and territory. Public protection is a paramount objective in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. Ahpra act to support safe, professional practice and the safety and quality of health services provided by registered health practitioners. Ahpra protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring that only registered health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered.

AHPRA aims to: identify risks, assess their likelihood and potential consequences, and respond in a way that is culturally appropriate, proportionate, and aligns with community expectations to effectively safeguard the public, while also taking necessary actions promptly as required under the National Law. This applies to all regulatory decision-making, the development of standards, policies, codes and guidelines as well as the way Ahpra regulate individual registered health practitioners. IAA anticipates that this will create stronger national competency standards and scopes of practice within the sector.

When deciding on regulatory responses, Ahpra maintain they are fair and transparent, and consider the importance of maintaining standards of professional practice that support community confidence in regulated health professions. IAA strongly believes that Audiologists would benefit from the restoration of confidence in the sector.

4. Health profession agreements with National Boards

Each National Board has entered into a health profession agreement with Ahpra which sets out the fees payable by health practitioners, the annual budget of the Board and the services provided by Ahpra. This may change the role that Audiology Australia currently provides and would require a period of adjustment.

IAA continues to support mandatory registration as the gold standard for safeguarding public interests, ensuring quality of service provision, and upholding professional recognition. IAA cares about Audiologists, recognising the substantial investment they make in their professional qualifications, and seeks to uphold and safeguard their professional integrity within the community.

For more information, please contact the IAA executive team at exec@indaud.com.au

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