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Effective regulation 
Marcus Dripps

It is not news to readers of this column that the physiotherapy profession is a broad, unique and diverse one. With physiotherapists being engaged in a wide variety of clinical areas, across multiple sectors of the Australian healthcare system, there are a myriad is complex issues affecting us.

One of the features of the Australian healthcare system that allows us the flexibility to safely develop new roles and innovate in the way we deliver services, is the regulatory environment. Under the umbrella of AHPRA, the Physiotherapy Board of Australia plays the crucial role of regulating physiotherapists in line with the relevant national law.

A key feature of the Australian regulatory context is that we regulate title (ie, who can call themselves a physiotherapist) rather than practice (ie, explicitly listing what a physiotherapist can and cannot do). Many countries around the world take a different approach. Our record regarding patient safety and our ongoing status as one of the world leaders in physiotherapy would suggest that this approach to regulation has served us well.

Recently, with the governmental review of the functions of the national scheme regulating health practitioners, there was a recommendation put forward to consider eliminating the Physiotherapy Board, and amalgamating its functions along with eight other health professions under a single board.

The APA (and all other health professions) have argued against this for a range of reasons. Apart from not accepting that there is a ‘case for change’ of our current regulatory environment, we feel that the current system both allows innovation, and provides an opportunity for open discussion between the profession, physiotherapy schools, the accreditation body and our regulator about issues affecting physiotherapy practice, and patient safety.

I encourage you all to support the ongoing function of the Physiotherapy Board of Australia, and not accept any effort to amalgamate boards for unsubstantiated arguments around ‘efficiencies’ and ‘sustainability’.

APA National President

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