Dental Board of Australia - December 2018
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December 2018

Issue 16 - December 2018

Chair's message

Photo of Murray Thomas

Welcome to my first message as the Chair of the Dental Board of Australia.

I have been involved with dental practitioner regulation since 2005, first on the ACT Dental Board followed by appointment to the Dental Board of Australia as a practitioner member in 2012.

I am enthusiastic, positive and optimistic about my involvement in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme), and, in particular, my role now as the Chair of the Dental Board.

I relish the opportunity to face and resolve the emerging challenges of contemporary health service delivery to consumers and patients and I intend to lead the Dental Board in making a difference in regulation for public protection and contributing to the ongoing development and improvements of the National Scheme.

The public is best protected by professionals acting professionally.

I am acutely aware of the need for good regulation that can be complied with, is enforceable and makes sense to both the public and dental practitioners. The current authorising environment is filled with questioning and the desire to cut ‘red tape’.

A balance needs to be maintained in the regulation of health practitioners between the individual practitioner’s agency and the purpose of regulation, such as the public having trust in the practitioner, the ethical conduct and behaviour of practitioners providing care, and confidence in the system to assure safety and quality.

The Dental Board, in partnership with the consumers, registered practitioners, dental professional associations, educators and fellow regulators, looks forward to maintaining effective channels of communication and a productive relationship working together in protecting patients, consumers and supporting dental practitioners to comply with regulatory requirements.

In these times of seeming constant change it is worth reflecting on one of RFK’s greatest quotes:

There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed. Robert F Kennedy


Murray Thomas
Dental Board of Australia

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Board news

New appointments to the Dental Board of Australia

The COAG Health Council has announced new appointments and reappointments to the Dental Board of Australia and other National Boards.

Dr Murray Thomas is the new Chair of the Dental Board of Australia.

Dr Thomas is a full-time general dentist providing care in the south eastern suburb of Chisholm in Canberra for over 20 years. He graduated from Queensland University BDSc and holds a postgraduate Diploma in Dental Health.

On graduating he embarked on a career in the Australian Regular Army and retired from the army to private practice in 2000. During his career in the military he worked as a dental officer and in a number Defence Health staff officer positions including Head of Corps for the Royal Australian Army Dental Corps.

He has served as a Director and Councillor of the Australian Dental Council (ADC) and has had active involvement with the Australian Dental Association (ADA) committees, particularly the ADA NSW Branch as a Director and Councillor and serving as part of the of its executive team.

He has been a champion of accreditation of dental practices since 2008 and has a long association with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care through working parties for the development of a Dental Guide to the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards and Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard. He is currently a member of the ACT Clinical Council.

He has been involved with dental practitioner regulation in the ACT since 2005 and was appointed to the Dental Board of Australia as a practitioner member in 2012. He is a recipient of the Australian Dental Association Service Medallion and is a fellow of the Pierre Fauchard Academy and the International College of Dentists.

From 2 October 2018 the Board is joined by:

  • Dr Penny Burns, practitioner member (dentist), New South Wales
  • Ms Jacqui Gibson, community member, Victoria
  • Mr Tan Nguyen, practitioner member (oral health therapist), Victoria.
  • Ms Janice Okine, practitioner member (oral health therapist), Queensland
  • Professor Richard Logan, practitioner member (dental specialist), South Australia, and
  • Ms Carolynne Smith, practitioner member (prosthetist), Tasmania.

We congratulate all the new appointees.

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Thank you to retiring members

We thank Dr John Lockwood AM for his commitment, dedication and contribution as the Dental Board of Australia’s inaugural Chair. John, you have facilitated the achievement of significant milestones in the regulation of the dental profession and we thank you for your efforts in guiding the Board since your appointment in 2009.

We thank and congratulate the retiring members of the Board on their enthusiasm and commitment to the regulation of the dental profession over many years, including before the start of the National Scheme.

They are:

  • Ms Susan Aldenhoven AM
  • Mrs Jennifer Bishop
  • Mr Paul House
  • Associate Professor Sajeev Koshy OAM, and
  • Ms Alison von Bibra.

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About the Board's scope of practice changes: in brief

The Board proposes to remove the requirement that dental hygienists, dental therapists, and oral health therapists may only practise within a structured professional relationship with a dentist and they must not practise as independent practitioners.

Does this mean anyone can do anything? No. Dental practitioners must only perform dental treatment for which they have been educated and trained, and in which they are competent. Dental practitioners are also expected to practise within the Board’s definition of dentistry and their dental practitioner division.This has been the key requirement of this registration standard since it took effect in 2010.

Removing these regulatory barriers enables dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists to exercise their full scope of practice in the delivery of dental care. When treatment is beyond their individual scope of practice and competence the Board expects these practitioners to refer to a dentist.

And for consumers its removes an unnecessary barrier to accessing safe and quality dental care. It has the potential to increase the capacity of the dental health care workforce to respond to current and emerging public health needs, particularly in regional and remote areas of Australia.

The Board will work with registered dental practitioners and stakeholders to implement the changes once a decision has been made by Health Ministers.

Summary of proposed change What's changing? 
Registration standard Retained 
Dental team Improved requirement
Educated, trained and competent Requirement retained 
Structured professional relationship Requirement and definition removed 
Independent practitioner Requirement and definition removed 
Expectations of dental practitioner Requirement retained 
Code of conduct New reference 
Definition of programs to extend scope Definition removed 
Guidelines Retained 
Description of the dental profession Guidance improved 
Definition of dentistry Guidance retained 
Dental practitioner divisions Guidance improved 
Education Guidance improved 
Other legislative/regulatory frameworks Guidance retained 
Reflective practice tool  New 

Read more about the Board's proposed changes to improve scope of practice regulation to reflect contemporary dental practice.

Read more about phasing out the approval of programs to extend scope.

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Closure of the Public Sector Dental Workforce Scheme

The Board’s public consultation on its proposal to close the Public Sector Dental Workforce Scheme (PSDWS) and retire the associated guidelines closed on 2 November 2018.

The Board thanks all registrants and stakeholders who took the time to provide a submission. The submissions will be published soon (except those made in confidence) on the Board’s Past consultations page.

The PSDWS was established in 2005 by state and territory health ministers in response to a shortage of dentists at that time. The consultation explored whether there remains a need to maintain the pathway given the growth in new graduates, the decline in PSDWS registrants (currently only three dentists in the pathway) and other registration pathways open to overseas-trained dentists.

The Board received a small number of submissions with the option to close the PSDWS supported by most respondents. Based on this feedback, the Board has decided to close the PSDWS on 1 January 2020.

The Board will work closely with the small number of current PSDWS registrants and other relevant stakeholders to coordinate the transition.

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Late renewal fees now apply

Dental practitioners have until 31 December 2018 to renew their registration during the late period. The quickest and easiest way to renew is online.

If your application is received during the one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is processed. However, applications received in December will incur a late payment fee in addition to the annual renewal fee.

If you do not apply to renew your registration by 31 December 2018 you will have lapsed registration. You will be removed from the national register and will not be able to practise in Australia.

More information about registration renewal is available on the Board’s website.

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Quarterly registration data released

The Board has released its quarterly registration data. Read the latest report and other statistics on the Board's Statistics page.

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Regulation at work

Action taken on unregistered practitioner to protect the public

Mr Majid Rahebi from New South Wales has been convicted and fined $11,250 for falsely representing that he was authorised or qualified to practise as a dentist and $18,750 for performing restricted dental acts. He was also ordered to pay approximately $19,950 in costs.

Mr Rahebi’s company MJ Dental Care Pty Ltd was also convicted and fined $11,250 for representing that Mr Rahebi was authorised or qualified to practise as a dentist.

Mr Rahebi was charged on 14 May 2018 by AHPRA with 44 counts of falsely representing that he was a registered dentist and 31 counts of performing a restricted dental act. Mr Rahebi’s business, MJ Dental Care Pty Ltd was also charged with falsely representing that Mr Rahebi was authorised or qualified to practise as a dentist. The charges related to Mr Rahebi’s conduct between 15 November 2017 and 24 February 2018 while working at his business MJ Dental Care Pty Ltd at Guildford West, NSW.

Mr Rahebi has never been registered as a dentist or as any other health practitioner in Australia and holds no formal dental qualifications.

Read the full media release on the Board’s website.

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Fake orthodontist convicted for performing restricted dental acts

Mr Edward Lipohar was convicted and fined $65,000 plus $25,000 in costs for unlawfully claiming to be a dental specialist and performing restricted dental acts on two patients.

The charges related to Mr Lipohar’s conduct between November 2015 and September 2016 while working at an orthodontic business with premises in Nunawading and Fitzroy, Victoria. During this time he attempted to carry out orthodontic procedures, including fitting corrective or restorative dental appliances.

Orthodontic procedures are restricted dental acts and can only be carried out by someone registered as a dentist. Mr Lipohar continued to attempt those treatments after being directed to stop by AHPRA in August 2016.

Mr Lipohar has never held registration as a dental practitioner or as a registered health practitioner or student under the National Law with any National Board.

Read the full media release on the Board’s website.

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National Scheme news

AHPRA's 2017/18 annual report is released

The annual report for AHPRA and the National Boards for the year to 30 June 2018 is now available to view online.

The report provides a nationwide snapshot and highlights our multi-profession approach to risk-based regulation across the work of the National Scheme. Our mission is to make sure that Australians have access to a safe and competent registered health workforce.

Insights from the year include:

  • More practitioners: There were 23,800 more registered health practitioners, totalling 702,741 health practitioners across the 15 regulated professions. Student registrations increased by almost 4,000 registrants to 161,114.
  • Assuring individuals seeking registration are trained, qualified and competent: Over 740 accredited approved programs of study delivered by over 330 education providers.
  • Growth in notifications: This year, AHPRA received more notifications than in any other year since the National Scheme began (7,276), an increase of 5.5% nationally (1.6% of all registered health practitioners). The top three notifier complaints related to clinical care (41.0%), medication issues (12.6%) and health impairment (8.9%).
  • Improved management of notifications about practitioners: While we received more notifications than ever before, we also closed more than ever before during the year (7,105). AHPRA is committed to improving the notification experience for both notifier and practitioner.
  • Dealing with statutory complaints: This year, we received 416 new offence complaints relating to title and practice protection and 1,043 complaints related to advertising.
  • Ensuring public safety through monitoring and compliance: 5,005 practitioners had their registration monitored in 2017/18. The majority of active monitoring cases related to additional requirements about suitability and eligibility for registration.
  • Prosecutions to protect the public: AHPRA completed 13 proceedings in the Magistrates’ and Local Courts. All prosecution resulted in findings of guilt.

‘AHPRA works in close partnership with the National Boards’, AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said. ‘Our annual report highlights the joint work we do to regulate health practitioners efficiently and effectively to keep the community safe.’

To view and download the 2017/18 annual report, visit the AHPRA website.

In the coming months, AHPRA and the National Boards will publish profession-specific summaries and these will also be available for download from the AHPRA website.

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National Boards support more public information on register

Changes to the national Register of practitioners will make it easier to access public information about health practitioners across Australia.

The online Register of practitioners has accurate, up-to-date information about the registration status of all registered health practitioners in Australia including dental practitioners. As decisions are made about a practitioner’s registration renewal or disciplinary proceedings, the register is updated to inform the public about the current status of individual practitioners and any restrictions placed upon their practice.

Along with other National Boards, the Board has decided to introduce links to public tribunal decisions when serious allegations have been proven, in the interests of transparency and on the recommendation of the Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia.

No information about the notifications received by the National Boards and AHPRA will be published. The change is simply helping to make already publicly available information easier to find.

Further information is available on AHPRA’s website.

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AHPRA and National Boards welcome release of the Accreditation Systems Review final report

AHPRA and the National Boards have welcomed the publication of the Independent Accreditation Systems Review final report.

The Independent Accreditation Systems Review’s (the Review) final report makes significant, far-reaching recommendations to reform the accreditation system for regulated health professions in Australia. It proposes recommendations which range from relatively uncontentious and which the National Scheme bodies generally support, to those which are significantly more complex and contentious.

Health Ministers commissioned the Review following a review of the National Scheme as a whole.

For more information read the statement on the AHPRA website.

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Dental practitioners to be asked about advertising compliance as part of 2018 renewal

Dental practitioners renewing their registration in 2018 will be asked to declare that, if they advertise, their advertising meets the National Law’s advertising requirements.

This additional step at renewal follows the National Board’s agreement to take part in a pilot audit for advertising compliance. The Chiropractic Board of Australia is also taking part.

Random audits of advertising compliance will advance a risk-based approach to enforcing the National Law’s advertising requirements and facilitate compliance by all registered health practitioners who advertise their services.

Regulatory Operations Executive Director Kym Ayscough said the audit for advertising compliance would provide opportunities to extend the current action under the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy launched in April 2017.

‘The audit will provide opportunites for AHPRA and the National Boards to become more proactive in helping to prevent non-compliant advertising by registered health practitioners,’ she said.

This pilot audit has been modelled on the well established approach to auditing compliance with core registration standards so involves adding an extra declaration about advertising compliance when dental practitioners apply for renewal of registration in 2018. (The National Law1 enables a National Board to require any other reasonable information2 to be included with a renewal application.)

‘The audit will potentially improve compliance with advertising obligations across the entire registrant population, not just those who have had an advertising complaint,’ Ms Ayscough said.

When applying to renew their registration, dental practitioners will be required to complete a declaration in response to the following statement:

I confirm that if I advertise my services or my business as a dental practitioner that advertising complies with section 133 of the National Law and the board’s advertising guidelines as it:

  • is not false, misleading or deceptive or likely to be misleading or deceptive
  • does not offer a gift, discount or other inducement without stating the terms and conditions of the offer
  • does not use testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business
  • does not create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment, and
  • does not directly or indirectly encourage the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of my services.

Practitioners who are renewing non-practising registration and those who have contacted AHPRA in response to a complaint about their advertising in the past 12 months will not be included in the audit sample.

Ms Ayscough said the audit would not delay a decision on the application for renewal.

The audit will be carried out by AHPRA’s Advertising Compliance Team from January 2019 and will involve a random sample of dental practitioners who renewed their registration in 2018.

‘One of the audit’s main objectives is to analyse the rate of advertising compliance for those health practitioners who advertise and who have not been the subject of an advertising complaint in the past 12 months,’ Ms Ayscough said.

Other objectives of the audit are:

  • to inform the evaluation of the compliance and enforcement strategy
  • establish the rate of advertising compliance within the profession, and
  • address any non-compliance with advertising obligations identified in the audit.

A pilot audit report addressing the above objectives and including data analysis and recommendations will be prepared for National Boards to consider the pilot outcomes and implications for future compliance work.

For information about your advertising obligations see the advertising resources page.

1 The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
2 Section 107(4)(e) of the National Law

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New results format for OET English language test; registration standards remain unchanged

AHPRA and the Board have started accepting an updated format of test results for the Occupational English Test (OET).

All National Boards have a registration standard for English language skills, which require applicants for initial registration to demonstrate English language skills to be suitable for registration. The OET is one of the English language skills tests accepted by the Dental Board.

The English language level being tested by OET remains the same. Test takers are not being measured differently, with the only change being the way the OET scores are described. As such, the National Boards’ English language skills registration standards referring to OET have not changed. Rather, updates have been made to internal systems and relevant application forms to accommodate and reflect the new numerical scale.

Find out more on the AHPRA website.

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Keep in touch with the Board

As always, we encourage you to regularly check the Dental Board website for information and updates relating to the dental profession.

  • Visit our website for information on the National Scheme and for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets. Board communiqués and consultation papers are published on the site under News.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 8708 9001 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Executive Officer, Dental Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.
Page reviewed 12/12/2018