• National Association Reports
    A New Governance Structure for Accreditation and Recognition Services at DAA
    Vol. 16 Issue 2
    Country: Australia
    A number of emerging issues prompted the Board of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) to consider alternative structures for accreditation and recognition services. These issues include:
    i) an Australian Government initiative to establish a single National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for Health Professions;
    ii) a dramatic increase in the number of dietetic programs requiring ongoing DAA accreditation services;
    iii) increasing reliance on dietetic experts to perform operational accreditation and skills recognition functions;
    iv) limited opportunity for external input into accreditation and recognition services with previous committee composition; 
    v) a need for an independent body to oversee accreditation and recognition functions of DAA; and
    vi) a desire to improve the sustainability and ongoing quality of these DAA services.

    The Australian Dietetic Council (ADC)
    Achieving consensus for a new governance structure is not an easy task. The formation of this council required significant stakeholder consultation and drafting and re-drafting of organizational structures and supportive documents. Following a strategic face to face meeting earlier this year the penny dropped and the stakeholders achieved consensus on the conceptual framework of the council. The ADC was formally launched on 28 May 2009 at the 27th National Conference of DAA held in Darwin, NT, Australia.

    The ADC’s primary function is to provide high-level strategic advice, on matters relating to accreditation and skills recognition, to the DAA Board. The council is not a separate incorporated body, however comprises a number of external members (non dietitians) to enhance the ADC’s ability to provide independent advice to the Board. The council has a key quality improvement role ensuring that DAA delivers accreditation and recognition services that are efficient, effective, equitable, accountable and transparent and are framed in a best practice model.
    For more information on the ADC please go to http://www.daa.asn.au and follow the path >> About >> Australian Dietetics Council .

    Introducing the 2009 DAA National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians in Australia

    The National Entry Level Dietetic Competency Standards are statements that describe the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for successful performance as a dietitian in Australia. These standards represent the minimum level of acceptable performance for an entry level dietitian, and form the basis of assessment of competency of Australian educated and overseas educated dietitians. 

    Key Purpose
    The National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians in Australia are used in the following ways: 

    By DAA for:
    • Accrediting university programs
    • Developing Competency Standards for Advanced Practitioner and Fellow of DAA credentials
    • Assessing dietitians not educated in Australia and wishing to practise in Australia
    • Communicating with other professions and occupations with a nutrition and food work environment
    • Informing international benchmarking.
    By universities for:
    • Designing dietetic programs
    • Assessing dietetic students on their practical placements.
    By dietitians for:
    • Determining the need for continuing professional development to meet the requirements for Accredited Practising Dietitian status.

    Historical Overview
    The first edition of the DAA National Competency Standards was released in 1993. The DAA National Competency standards have undergone a number of reviews over the past 16 years to ensure that the core activities of entry level dietitians are represented, the standards are validated, and the profession is widely consulted. 

    The recent (2007-2009) review has been the most comprehensive with significant enhancements in food service management and public health nutrition competencies and a focus on mental health competence. 

    The key improvements in the new competency standards include:
    • Incorporation of mental health competencies cross all units of competency
    • Stronger focus on management skills across all domains of clinical, community and public health and food service management
    • Greater articulation of food service competencies
    • In-depth description of community and public health competencies
    • Enhanced individual case management unit reflecting important role of dietitians in the diagnosis and management of malnutrition
    • Stronger research focus
    • Greater focus on cultural competency.

    The Future
    Australian dietetic programs are currently in the process of incorporating the new competency standards within their curricula. DAA is consulting with universities for support and advice on implementation of the new competency standards and identified areas of need for future revisions of the standards.

    DAA will also be seeking funding to undertake further evidence-based research on the impact of the implementation of the new competency standards in collaboration with university partners.

    Please go to http://www.daa.asn.au and follow the path >> Working and Studying >> National Competency Standards for a downloadable copy of the 2009 DAA National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians in Australia.

    Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos PhD APD AN 
    Accreditation and Recognition Services Manager

    Dietitians Association of Australia
    1/8 Phipps Close, DEAKIN, ACT, AUSTRALIA 2600
    E: nationaloffice@daa.asn.au