Australian Occupational Therapy Organisations: Roles & Responsibilities
There are four major players in the Australian occupational therapy landscape—and an abundance of acronyms (OTBA, AHPRA, OTC and OTA). It can be hard to know which organisation does what, so let’s unpack and clarify the roles of each.
All four organisations exist to benefit the occupational therapy profession in Australia, but each is responsible for different aspects, including:
- AHPRA support the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia to regulate the profession
- Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd are responsible for the accreditation of study programs and the assessment of overseas trained occupational therapists
- Occupational Therapy Australia represent and support members of the profession
Occupational Therapy Board of Australia (OTBA)
The OTBA is the national registration body for occupational therapists and students.
Its focus is to protect the public by setting a standard all occupational therapists must comply with. The OTBA ensures all occupational therapists are suitably trained and qualified, and are practising in an ethical and competent manner. It:
- Develops registration standards, codes and guidelines for occupational therapists
- Considers and makes decisions on complaints1 about occupational therapists
- Approves programs of study for registration purposes
- Approves accreditation standards developed by OTC
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
AHPRA supports the 15 National Boards (including OTBA) as the first point of contact for all enquiries and complaints1.
AHPRA performs the administrative work relating to:
- Registration and renewal of health practitioners under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme
- The national register of health practitioners available to the public
- Investigations into professional conduct, performance or health of registered health practitioners on behalf of the National Boards
- Audits to ensure practitioners meet the mandatory registration standards set by the National Boards
Occupational Therapy Council of Australia Ltd (OTC)
The OTC carries out accreditation on behalf of the OTBA by:
- Developing education program accreditation standards
- Accrediting and monitoring occupational therapy programs of study and education providers
- The assessment, monitoring and support of internationally qualified occupational therapists who want to practise in Australia
Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA)
OTA is the peak body representing occupational therapists Australia-wide. The association supports and represents the interests of occupational therapy through:
- Advocacy, promotion and lobbying for the entire profession
- Developing position statements, frameworks and evidence-based guides to good practice
- Providing opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) courses, networking and mentoring
- Fostering research through grants and scientific conferences
So, Who Should I Contact for Help?
At OTA, we are happy to be the first port of call for member enquiries. Our Professional Standards Team is made up of occupational therapists who are here to help OTA members with practice queries and advice.
Sometimes your enquiry may need to be re-directed to another organisation, but we can guide you to the right place to help you find the information you need. There are lots of resources across each website which may be a good starting point for information. Here are some of the common queries we receive:
- Studying OT
- International OTs moving to Australia to work processes from OTC
- Registration Standards set by AHPRA, including CPD, insurance and recency of practice requirements
- Practice Support including position papers, guides to good practice and resources for various areas of practice from OTA
About the Author
Catherine Burns is part of the Member Services team at Occupational Therapy Australia. She is also an allied health practitioner, working as an osteopath in Melbourne.
1 Except in NSW and Queensland where this is managed by the Health Care Complaints Commission, and the Health Professional Councils Authority and Office of the Health Ombudsman, respectively.