Dental Board of Australia - December 2023
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December 2023

Issue 30 - December 2023

Chair’s message

Welcome to the last Board newsletter for 2023. From visiting Aotearoa in May, hosting our national conference in September, and attending the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme conference in October, it’s been another busy year of regulation, consultation and engagement.

While the work the Board and its national committees undertake can be challenging, it is also gratifying. It is a privilege to contribute to ensuring dental professionals are supported in their practice, but most importantly, ensuring practitioners are safe in providing care to the community. The Board will welcome applications to join the Board or its national committees in the new year. If you are interested in how the profession is regulated, consider applying.

We finish the year with another important consultation about regulating health practitioners who perform and advertise non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

On behalf of the Board, I thank you for serving the community and wish you all a happy and safe festive season.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others? Martin Luther King, Jr

Murray Thomas
Dr Murray Thomas
Chair, Dental Board of Australia

Priority news

Have your say on the draft guidelines for practitioners who perform and advertise non-surgical cosmetic procedures

Ahpra and the National Boards are consulting on three documents related to the regulation of registered health practitioners who perform and advertise non-surgical cosmetic procedures.

We invite you to provide feedback on any or all of the following draft guidelines:

  1. Guidelines for nurses who perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures (NMBA practice guidelines)
  2. Guidelines for registered health practitioners who perform non-surgical cosmetic procedures (shared practice guidelines)
  3. Guidelines for registered health practitioners who advertise non-surgical cosmetic procedures (shared non-surgical cosmetic advertising guidelines).

Learn more about the consultation and how you can have your say on Ahpra’s or Dental Board of Australia’s consultation pages.

The two draft shared practice guidelines and advertising guidelines will apply to registered health practitioners performing and advertising non-surgical cosmetic procedures, including dentists. With recent data showing two-thirds of dental practitioners advertise online, we encourage you to have your say. Much like the Medical Board’s new cosmetic surgery advertising guidelines – now in place – these advertising guidelines will include guidance around issues such as before-and-after images, claims about experience and qualifications, and will reinforce the ban on the use of testimonials. The use of social media influencers is also a focus.

The consultation is open for 10 weeks, closing on 2 February 2024.

Board news

Applications for national committees open in January

The Board delegates responsibility for making registration and notification decisions, as well as other regulatory activities, to national committees. Positions are for a fixed term, so from time to time, vacancies arise. There will be a round of committee recruitment commencing in January. The roles will be posted on the Committee member recruitment page, which provides further detail about the roles, time commitment, eligibility requirements and the application process. We will also announce the recruitment campaign on social media and via a news item on the Board’s webpage.

The National Scheme is committed to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ leadership and voices. When the roles are advertised, the Board warmly encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as well as people from rural or regional areas, to apply.

Board’s biennial conference

Held in Melbourne in August, the conference brought together regulators, accreditors and those who work with the Board in the National Scheme from around Australia and New Zealand. The day had a strong focus on the importance of cultural safety, as delegates explored some of the challenges facing dental regulators in a rapidly changing environment.

The keynote was delivered by Ahpra Board member Assoc Prof Carmen Parter, who took a deep dive into why the professions must work alongside regulators and the education sector to actively dismantle the systems that disadvantage First Nations Peoples and contribute to racism.

Ahpra also reported on its ongoing work to reduce notifier and practitioner distress. Recent improvements to the notification process, including reductions in the time to close or finalise matters, have yielded positive results.

The next conference will be in 2025.

Late fees now apply for registration renewal

We have now entered the late period for dental practitioners to renew their general, specialist or non-practising registration.

You can continue practising while your application is assessed. If you don’t renew by the end of the late period, 31 December 2023, your registration will lapse, you’ll be removed from the Register of practitioners and you won’t be able to practise or use the protected title for your division of the profession.

Check for an email from Ahpra with your access to online renewal, or head to the registration renewal webpage to start an online renewal application.

Fees for 2023/24

The registration fee for dentists and dental specialists has increased by 5 per cent to $755. For dental prosthetists, the registration fee has decreased to $257, and to $237 for dental hygienists, dental therapists and oral health therapists.

The Board and Ahpra have recently completed work to determine the cost of regulating each division of the dental profession. Given the greater complexity of registering and regulating dentists and dental specialists, their registration fees are higher to reflect the costs of administering the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

Got questions?

Read the renewal FAQs on the Ahpra website for helpful tips and information on what you need to do to renew.

We cover common questions on professional indemnity insurance, recency of practice, continuing professional development, and what to do if you have a change in your criminal history or a health impairment you need to tell us about.

Students and graduates

Graduate registration is open – apply now and avoid delays

Need help applying?

Check out our graduate video to help you get your application right.

You’ll find the video, plus helpful advice, tips for avoiding common causes of delay and downloadable information flyers, on the Graduate applications page of the Ahpra website.

A new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement and Support team (the support team) is also available for First Nations graduates who might need help with or have questions about their application for registration.

The support team is committed to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates get registered promptly so you can start making vital contributions to safe healthcare and to your communities. If, after reading our helpful tips, you would still like help with your application for registration, please email the support team at [email protected].

Who can certify documents?

In addition to a Justice of the Peace (JP), most registered health practitioners, public servants, teachers, lecturers and members of the legal profession can certify photographic ID documents. For the full list of authorised officers see the Certifying documents guide.

Make sure you provide correct photo ID

It’s important that you provide correctly certified photo ID documents with your application as the wording required is specific:

‘I certify that this is a true copy of the original and the photograph is a true likeness of the person presenting the document as sighted by me.’

To get it right the first time, download the Certifying documents guide and take it with you to the authorised officer.

Meeting the registration standards

You may need to provide supporting documents with your application to prove that you meet the Dental Board’s registration standards, including meeting the English language skills requirements. Make sure you provide all the documents we need with your application so we can assess it quicker.

How long does it take to assess my application?

We can’t finalise your application until we receive your graduation results from your education provider.

If you’ve submitted everything needed to prove you’ve met the requirements for registration, we aim to finalise your application within two weeks of receiving your graduation results.

For more information, read the news item.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

Quarterly registration data to 30 September 2023 shows that at this date, there were 26,823 registered dental practitioners in Australia:

  • 23,920 had general registration
  • 1,825 had general and specialist registration
  • 68 had specialist registration
  • 43 had limited registration (postgraduate training, supervised practice, teaching or research), and
  • 965 had non-practising registration.

Two practitioners had both general and non-practising registration.

Visit our Statistics page for more data, including registrant numbers by division of dental practice, age, gender, and principal place of practice.

Regulation at work

Latest tribunal cases

We publish summaries of court and tribunal cases for their educational value to the profession.

Victorian dentist disqualified for nine months for substandard clinical care

A tribunal has reprimanded and disqualified a dentist from registration for nine months for substandard clinical care that amounted to professional misconduct. Read more in the news item.

Dentist reprimanded for professional misconduct involving scheduled medicines

A Queensland dentist has been reprimanded by a tribunal for professional misconduct involving scheduled medicines. Read more in the news item.

What’s new?

Former dentist to pay $100,000 in costs, disqualified for five years

The Northern Territory Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by Myles Holt and upheld an earlier finding that he knowingly provided false or misleading evidence to a local court. The former dentist has been hit with record court costs, disqualified from applying for registration for five years, and banned from working in certain health services and using specified titles. The costs are the highest ever ordered against a dental practitioner under the National Law. Read more in the tribunal summary.

Work to eliminate racism from Australian healthcare recognised internationally

The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) serves and supports the international regulatory community. Its global membership promotes regulatory excellence to improve the quality and understanding of regulation to enhance public protection. At its annual educational conference in the United States, CLEAR presented an award to Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU), highlighting its critical role in dismantling racist behaviours and systems in healthcare.

Established in 2021, the HSU ensures that Indigenous experts lead reforms to make regulatory processes culturally safe and free from racism, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are represented in decision making. The HSU draws on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, practitioners, peak bodies, and race scholars to shape its transformative work.

Led by Gomeroi woman Jayde Fuller, the HSU drives Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 and its goal of eliminating racism from the health system by 2032. Ms Fuller told the conference that: ‘Culturally safe healthcare for Indigenous people has been a commitment in our organisation for six years – but we’ve been protecting our communities for 65,000 years and regulators can learn a lot from our survival and ways of knowing, being and doing.’

‘Healthcare should not be harmful. We are taking a strategic approach to dismantling all forms of racism – systemic, institutional and interpersonal. This includes ownership and accountability by providers, practitioners and regulators for creating safe healthcare,’ Ms Fuller said.

The CLEAR award recognises the HSU’s role in driving world-first reform to embed cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare into Australian legislation. The law reforms mean that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive care that is racist and unsafe and their complaint enters the regulatory system, cultural safety must be considered. As well, registered health practitioners are required to take steps to educate themselves on cultural safety in relation to the accessibility of their services.

The award also highlights the HSU’s work to:

  • include an agreed definition of cultural safety in the codes of conduct for more than 850,000 registered health practitioners
  • create a culturally safe notification process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making a complaint, and
  • implement cultural safety continual professional development (CPD) for all registered health practitioners.

For more information, read the news item.

New checklist launched to help practitioners manage complaints

A new Checklist for practitioners has been developed to help resolve feedback or complaints made directly to practitioners or the health service where you are working.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and stressful and as well as this resource we have published a list of general support services.

You might find this checklist helpful when a complaint is first raised with you by a patient or client, and it may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes at a health service.

When feedback or complaints are managed well, they can result in improvements that increase patient, client, and community confidence in you as a practitioner. It can also help prevent a concern escalating to an external complaint body or regulator.

The checklist was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, Ahpra and the 15 National Boards as part of a joint project with the Commission, with work also underway on resources to help consumers navigate the various complaints options available.

The checklist, along with other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice, is available on Ahpra’s Resources page.

Win for patient safety with ‘surgeon’ now a protected title

Only specialist surgeons will be able to call themselves ‘surgeon’ under new legislation to restrict the use of the title by registered medical practitioners. The change means that a medical practitioner will only be able to use the title ‘surgeon’ if they are registered in one of the recognised specialties of surgery. The amendment does not affect other health practitioners, such as dentists or dental specialists.

The amendment to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law legally protects the title ‘surgeon’ from being used by any medical practitioner without the necessary qualifications and training. Before this, any registered medical practitioner could call themselves a ‘surgeon’, even if they were not registered in a surgical specialty or completed specialist training in surgery.

The move supports the work of Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia to clean up the cosmetic surgery industry, with medical practitioners holding specialist registration in one of the recognised surgical specialities now the only ones able to call themselves a ‘cosmetic surgeon’. This complements the Medical Board’s introduction of an endorsement for cosmetic surgery. Both will help patients understand who is qualified and equip them to make informed choices.

Medical practitioners who continue to use the title illegally may face criminal and/or regulatory action.

Read more in the news item.

Ahpra annual report now online

Ahpra’s 2022/23 annual report is now online. Key highlights for the Board were the stakeholder engagement activities undertaken throughout the year, including a trip to Wellington to meet with Dental Council New Zealand; publishing the Board’s position on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and updating the list of approved qualifications from overseas jurisdictions for the first time since the National Scheme began.

It was also the third year of operation of the Dental Practitioner Support Service. This is the first 24/7, free, confidential, nationwide telephone and online service for all dental practitioners and students. The Board has renewed the service agreement for another two years.

Read the Annual report summary from the Dental Board of Australia.

Check out the latest podcasts

Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. Listen and subscribe by searching for Taking care in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify), or listen on our website.

The latest episode is ‘Coming to a land down under: Australia as a destination for health practitioners’. This ep. examines the path overseas health workers must tread when wanting to work in Australia.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter. Our next issue will be published soon, and you can subscribe on the newsletter webpage.

National Scheme news banner graphic

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 the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets. Board 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 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Executive Officer, Dental Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001.
Page reviewed 20/12/2023