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Registration Pathways - Occupational Therapists

From 1 July 2012 occupational therapists must be registered under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia and meet the Board's Registration Standards, in order to practice in Australia.

If you have current registration with a State or Territory registration board as at 30 June 2012 you will automatically transition to the national registration and accreditation scheme. Your registration will be recognised in all states and Territories in Australia.

Occupational therapists who are not currently registered with a state or territory registration board are required to apply for national registration with the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia as early as possible to be able to continue practicing from 1 July 2012.

There are four universities offering study in occupational therapy in NSW and all offer WFOT accredited courses.

  • The University of Sydney (Lidcombe campus)
  • The University of Newcastle
  • Charles Sturt University (Albury)
  • The University of Western Sydney (Campbelltown Campus).

Mental Health OTs
The Australian Competency Standards for Occupational Therapists in Mental Health provide therapists with a framework for the development and assessment of their professional competence. The Competency Standards describe the units of competency that are expected of occupational therapists who have been practicing in mental health settings for two years. These competency standards build on the Australian Competency Standards for Entry level Occupational Therapists (1994) but are not a requirement.

Mutual Recognition
An OT currently registered in any State or Territory of Australia or in NZ can apply for registration under the Mutual Recognition Act or the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act to any other State or Territory where registration exists, or NZ. WA does not recognise persons under the TTMR.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Accreditation Status requires 60 points over each two-year cycle. The various categories are: OT practice Development; Private study; Mentoring/Supervision; Professional Activities; Non-Assessed Studies, Courses; Assessed Studies, Courses; Research and Publications. Refer to Section 2.3 CPD Categories for a detailed explanation of each category.

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
It is recommended that an OT ensure they have some insurance that covers things such as combined malpractice, public and products liability insurance solutions.

Recency of Practice
Minimum of 6 months practice within the last 5 years.

Fitness to Practice
Criminal history check and good standing check is usually required for OTs.

Qualified in Another Country
Successfully migrating to Australia as an OT is no guarantee of membership of OT Australia.

To work as an occupational therapist you need to have undertaken your occupational therapy studies at a WFOT accredited institution and undergo an assessment conducted by the Council of OT Registration Boards (COTRB), this includes NSW, in addition to the following aspects.

It is recommended that you visit the Australian Embassy in your country to enquire about conditions and visas required for working in Australia. Increased restrictions have recently been placed on migrant access to social security benefits in Australia.

The OTC has been specified by the Minister for DIAC as the assessing authority for OT under the General Skilled Migration program.

The individual’s skills assessment must be included with any visa application.

If you have a twelve month visitors work visa you can seek employment in a locum position for up to three months. Some employers stipulate eligibility for membership of OT AUSTRALIA NSW which requires fulfilling the Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (COTRB) criteria.

Permanent Residents
Permanent Residents are required to fulfil the Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (COTRB) criteria to qualify for locum or permanent occupational therapy positions. You will also require the appropriate working visa.

English Language Proficiency
A minimum score of 7 from the IELTS or grades A or B in the OET is required unless the applicant has met the educational requirements for English language.

Applicants are exempted if they meet educational requirements for English language by any of:

  • Completed OT educational program in NZ, Ireland, UK or USA.
  • Or likewise in Canada and gained registration in Canada through an examination conducted in English.
  • Likewise for South Africa where the education program was conducted in English.

Evidence is required from the Educational institution concerned.

The Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (COTRB)
COTRB is responsible for assessing the qualifications of overseas-educated (except from New Zealand) occupational therapists wishing to work in Australia.

The assessment process involves an initial desktop audit where intending migrants need to meet a number of criteria before being able to migrate.

Once in Australia you will complete a goal-directed practice audit in your initial employment, designed to ensure that your practice skills develop and that you are able to attain standards required in an Australian work context.

For further information on the assessment process, visit the COTRB website.

The Council of Occupational Therapists Registration Boards (Australia & New Zealand) Inc. ("COTRB") was established in 1996 in Queensland for the consideration of matters of joint or common concern or interest to the Occupational Therapists Registration Boards in Australia and New Zealand. On the 17 February 2010 the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs (SA) approved amendment to its Constitution and Rules and a change of name to the Occupational Therapy Council (Australia & New Zealand) Inc. ("OTC")

The OTC is an independent body comprising membership from the 5 State / Territory Occupational Therapy Registration Boards in Australia and New Zealand. The Board of Management comprises registered occupational therapists (nominated by the Registration Boards), nominees from the professional associations (Occupational Therapy Australia Limited (OTAL) and New Zealand Association of Occupational Therapists), nominees from the Australian and New Zealand Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ANZCOTE) and community representation.

The primary objects of OTC are to:

  • Assess for the purpose of granting accreditation to, programs leading to eligibility for registration as an occupational therapist;
  • Advise and make recommendations to the occupational therapy registering authorities (or successor body(ies)) relating to the accredited status to be granted to an occupational therapy program;
  • Develop, review and maintain accreditation standards and processes to assess occupational therapy programs;
  • Develop and implement an overseas skills assessment process to ensure the knowledge, clinical skills and professional attributes of overseas trained occupational therapists is of an equivalent standard to occupational therapists in Australia and New Zealand;
  • Provide information and advice to Government concerning the adequacy of a person’s qualifications and skills in the field of occupational therapy for the purposes of migration to Australia and New Zealand;
  • Provide information and advice to Government relating to law and policy concerning accreditation and competency requirements for the registration of occupational therapists;

The Council became an incorporated body on 21 January 2000.

New National Registration Web Site

The Australia Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has developed a new web site for those professions joining the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) in July 2012. Occupational Therapy is one of four professions joining this scheme in 2012, and this new web site will provide up to date information regarding the implementation of this scheme in our profession. For further information, please visit: www.nras2012.ahpra.gov.au

Medicare Items
Clients of OTs can access Medicare rebates under three initiatives:

  • Better Access to Mental Healthcare (FPS)
  • Enhanced Primary care and
  • Helping Children with Autism.

Occupational therapists who wish to provide services under the Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative, must apply through Occupational Therapy Australia.

To be eligible to register, therapists must:

  • Have a Medicare Australia provider number
  • Have a minimum of 2 years of supervised practice as an occupational therapist working in mental health.
  • Be a full-time or part-time member of Occupational Therapy Australia (National).

To apply, therapists must:

  • Collect relevant documentation to support your claim of 2 years experience in mental
  • Send completed statutory declaration to Occupational Therapy Australia for review
  • Applications are reviewed to ensure that all providers meet the eligibility criteria and are suitably qualified.

Occupational Therapy Australia will then advise Medicare Australia of successful applicants. Where an applicant is required to provide further information or clarification of experience, Occupational Therapy Australia will contact the applicant.

Registration Timeframes
Qualification assessment
An application for assessment will take approximately twelve (12) weeks to process, depending upon the complexity of the application and whether any further information is sought. This timeframe allows for situations where further information may be sought from the applicant, referees or organisations in other countries where the response and mail service may be slow.

Up to 7-8 weeks.

More Information
For further information and assistance please email the Nursing and Allied Health recruitment team.