Open Access Correspondence

Development of physiotherapy inherent requirement statements – an Australian experience

Andrea Bialocerkowski1*, Amanda Johnson2, Trevor Allan3 and Kirrilee Phillips3

Author Affiliations

1 Griffith Health Institute, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Gold Coast Campus, Griffith University, Queensland, 4222, Australia

2 School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, Australia

3 Student Equity and Disability Services, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, Australia

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:54  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-54

Published: 16 April 2013



The United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities promotes equal rights of people with a disability in all aspects of their life including their education. In Australia, Disability Discrimination legislation underpins this Convention. It mandates that higher education providers must demonstrate that no discrimination has occurred and all reasonable accommodations have been considered and implemented, to facilitate access and inclusion for a student with a disability. The first step to meeting legislative requirements is to provide students with information on the inherent requirements of a course. This paper describes the steps which were taken to develop inherent requirement statements for a 4-year entry-level physiotherapy program at one Australian university.

Case presentation

Inherent requirement statements were developed using an existing framework, which was endorsed and mandated by the University. Items which described inherencies were extracted from Australian physiotherapy professional standards and statutory regulatory requirements, and units contained in the physiotherapy program. Data were integrated into the 8 prescribed domains: ethical behaviour, behavioural stability, legal, communication, cognition, sensory abilities, strength and mobility, and sustainable performance. Statements for each domain were developed using a 5-level framework (introductory statement, description of the inherent requirement, justification for inherency, characteristics of reasonable adjustments and exemplars) and reviewed by a University Review Panel. Refinement of statements continued until no further changes were required. Fifteen physiotherapy inherent requirement statements were developed. The eight domains identified in the existing framework, developed for Nursing, were relevant to the study of physiotherapy.


The inherent requirement statements developed in this study provide a transparent, defensible position on the current requirements of physiotherapy study at one Australian university. These statements are transferable to other physiotherapy programs in Australia due to standardised physiotherapy accreditation requirements. The model and framework could be applied to other health professional courses and used to explore the physiotherapy inherent requirements from an international perspective.

Inherent requirements; Physiotherapy education; Students with a disability; Inclusive curriculum; Inclusive practice