Frequently asked questions

Make a complaint

What can a complaint be about?

We generally deal with complaints about the administrative actions of the bodies established to implement Australia’s national health practitioner regulation scheme, including:

  • Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)
  • National Health Practitioner Boards:
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia
    • Chinese Medicine Board of Australia
    • Chiropractic Board of Australia
    • Dental Board of Australia
    • Medical Board of Australia
    • Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia
    • Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
    • Occupational Therapy Board of Australia
    • Optometry Board of Australia
    • Osteopathy Board of Australia
    • Pharmacy Board of Australia
    • Physiotherapy Board of Australia
    • Podiatry Board of Australia
    • Psychology Board of Australia.
  • AHPRA Management Committee
  • Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council.

The majority of complaints we receive concern the administrative actions of AHPRA and the 14 National Health Practitioner Boards in relation to notifications (or complaints) about the health, conduct or performance of registered health practitioners.

We also commonly receive complaints from health practitioners in relation to their registration, complaints about interferences with privacy by AHPRA, and complaints about decisions made by AHPRA in relation to freedom of information requests.

Who can make a complaint?

Anyone can make a complaint. However, we may not investigate your complaint if we determine that you do not have sufficient interest in the subject matter of the complaint.

If you do not want to make the complaint yourself, you can ask someone else to complain on your behalf. We require that you complete our permission for another person to act on my behalf form in order to give consent for that person to communicate with us.

What are ‘administrative actions’?

An administrative action is any action taken by a body in relation to carrying out its duties and functions, or in exercising its powers.

Administrative actions that are commonly the subject of complaints to us include:

  • the actions of AHPRA when assessing and investigating notifications against health practitioners
  • the actions of a National Health Practitioner Board when considering what action to take in relation to a notification against a health practitioner
  • the actions of a National Health Practitioner Board regarding a decision to refuse registration, or place conditions on the registration of a health practitioner
  • The handling of personal information by AHPRA or a National Health Practitioner Board.

Can I complain anonymously?

You may lodge your complaint anonymously or by adopting a pseudonym, however, depending on the circumstances of the complaint, it may be difficult or impossible to investigate such a complaint. If we are not provided with sufficient identifying information, we may then have inadequate information to assess the matter in detail and the body that is the subject of the complaint may also be unable to respond to the complaint in a meaningful way. If possible, we will advise you if your complaint cannot be investigated for this reason.

If you have provided personal information to us but you do not wish for your identity to be disclosed to others – either at all, or to a particular person or entity – this request can be made to us and we will give it careful consideration.

All information you provide to us is treated confidentially. Please review our Privacy policy (DOC, 478KB) if you have any concerns regarding how your personal information will be handled by us.

Does it cost anything to lodge a complaint?

Our services are free.

Complaint process

How long will it take to look into my complaint?

While we have found that most complaints can be dealt with quickly, complex complaints may take some months to investigate properly.

As a starting point, your complaint will be promptly assessed in order to advise you whether the matter falls in the jurisdiction of this office. We will communicate the outcome of this assessment to you as soon as possible.

If your complaint is in the jurisdiction of this office, we will promptly acknowledge acceptance of your complaint. A number of factors will then determine the length of time necessary to finalise the complaint, such as the complexity of the issues and the response time of AHPRA and/or the National Health Practitioner Board involved. We may contact you to request further information throughout the process, and will also keep you regularly informed of the progress of your complaint.

More information about our complaint handling process can be found in our Service charter (DOC, 411KB).

Will I be advised of the outcome?

Once we have finalised you complaint, you will be advised of the outcome as soon as possible. We will also provide you with reasons explaining our decision.

If we undertake an investigation in relation to your complaint, the finding of the investigation will be reported to you, including recommendations (if any) that the Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner has made, or intends to make, to the body that is the subject of the complaint.

What happens if I want to withdraw my complaint?

You may withdraw your complaint at any stage by making a request to withdraw a complaint in writing. Once we have received your request, we will take no further action in relation to your complaint except where it is considered necessary to notify the body that is the subject of the complaint that the complaint has been withdrawn, or if the particular circumstances of your complaint necessitate us taking further action in order to lessen or prevent a serious threat to life, health or safety of a person or the public.

I am not happy with the way you managed my complaint. What further action can I take?

If you are dissatisfied with a decision we have made or with the way our services were delivered to you, you should raise your concerns with the staff member who has responsibility for managing your complaint. You will need to explain why you are dissatisfied and provide us with an opportunity to resolve your concerns or provide you with a better explanation of our decision or actions.

If, after completing this process, you remain dissatisfied with a decision we have made, you can then ask for the matter to be formally reviewed. You will need to make a written request for a review within three months of being advised of our decision, which should include any new information that is relevant to the decision we have made. To request a review please use the review request form:

Once a matter has been reviewed, there is no further avenue of appeal or review of the decision. We only review a matter once.

Freedom of Information

Can you force AHPRA to provide me with all the information it holds about me?

Before contacting us in relation to a request for access to information held by AHPRA, you should first make a direct request to AHPRA. If AHPRA refuses your request, you should then make a Freedom of Information application. If you are dissatisfied with the way AHPRA handles your freedom of information request, you should raise these concerns with AHPRA. You are welcome to complain to this office if you have been through this process and are still dissatisfied with the way AHPRA handled you request for information.

Following the assessment of your complaint, we can make recommendations to AHPRA regarding the application of exemptions for any or all of the documents subject to a Freedom of Information request. However, we cannot overturn AHPRA’s decision or order the release of any documents.

Privacy

I believe my privacy has been breached. What actions can I take?

If you are dissatisfied with the way your personal information has been handled by AHPRA or a National Health Practitioner Board, you should contact AHPRA to discuss the matter and attempt to resolve it. If you are unable to resolve the matter, you can lodge a complaint with us. We will assess your complaint to determine if further action is warranted in all the circumstances.

We can make a determination regarding what action (if any) should be taken to resolve your complaint, and may also make a declaration that you are entitled to compensation for any loss or damage suffered if your privacy has been interfered with.