Glossary

Administrative action

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 the office of the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner include:

  • the actions of AHPRA when receiving, assessing and investigating notifications made against health practitioners
  • the actions of a National Health Practitioner Board when considering what action to take in relation to a notification made 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
  • AHPRA’s handling of requests for documents made under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cwlth)

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is established by section 23(1) of the National Law.

AHPRA’s primary role is to support the 14 National Health Practitioner Boards that are responsible for regulating the health professions.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Management Committee (Agency Management Committee)

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Management Committee is established by section 29 of the National Law.

The functions of the Agency Management Committee include deciding the policies of AHPRA (subject to any directs of the Ministerial Council) and ensuring that AHPRA performs its functions in a proper, effective and efficient way.

Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC)

AHMAC is the advisory and support body to the COAG Health Council (CHC).

AHMAC is responsible for providing effective and efficient support to the CHC by:

  • advising on strategic issues relating to the coordination of health services across Australia and, as applicable, with New Zealand
  • operating as a national forum for planning, information sharing and innovation.

Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council (Advisory Council)

The Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council is established by section 18 of the National Law.

The primary function of the Advisory Council is to provide independent advice to the Ministerial Council about any matter related to the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council (AHWMC)

Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council comprises of Commonwealth, state and territory health ministers, which oversee the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

COAG Health Council (CHC)

The COAG Health Council (CHC) is a mechanism for the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government, and state and territory governments to discuss matters of mutual interest concerning health policy, services and programs.

Co-regulatory jurisdiction

A jurisdiction which is not participating in the health, performance and conduct process provided by the National Law, but is involved in other parts of the National Scheme. New South Wales is a co-regulatory jurisdiction, so the health professional councils work with the Health Care Complaints Commission to assess and manage concerns about practitioners’ conduct, health and performance. Queensland is also a co-regulatory jurisdiction, and concerns about practitioners’ conduct, health and performance are managed by the Office of the Health Ombudsman.

Health practitioner

An individual who practices a health profession.

The following professions, including a recognised speciality in any of the following professions–

  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice;
  2. Chinese medicine;
  3. chiropractic;
  4. dental (including the profession of a dentist, dental therapist, dental hygienist, dental prosthetist and oral health therapist);
  5. medical;
  6. medical radiation practice;
  7. nursing and midwifery;
  8. occupational therapy;
  9. optometry;
  10. osteopathy;
  11. pharmacy;
  12. physiotherapy;
  13. podiatry;
  14. psychology.

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law)

The Act, adopted in each state and territory, setting out the provisions of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The applicable legislation in each jurisdiction is:

  • Australian Capital Territory: Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (ACT) Act 2010
  • New South Wales: Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) No 86a
  • Northern Territory: Health Practitioner Regulation (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2010
  • Queensland: Ombudsman Act 2013 (prior to 1 July 2014: Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009)
  • South Australia: Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (South Australia) Act 2010
  • Tasmania: Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Tasmania) Act 2010
  • Victoria: Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Victoria) Act 2009
  • Western Australia: Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (WA) Act 2010

The National Law establishes a national registration and accreditation scheme for health practitioners in 14 professions. In order to implement this scheme, the National Law establishes the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), the AHPRA Management Committee, the Australian Health Workforce Advisory Council, and the 14 National Health Practitioner Boards.

National Health Practitioner Board (National Board)

The National Health Practitioner Boards are established by section 31 of the National Law, including:

  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia;
  2. Chinese Medicine Board of Australia;
  3. Chiropractic Board of Australia;
  4. Dental Board of Australia;
  5. Medical Board of Australia;
  6. Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia;
  7. Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia;
  8. Occupational Therapy Board of Australia;
  9. Optometry Board of Australia;
  10. Osteopathy Board of Australia;
  11. Pharmacy Board of Australia;
  12. Physiotherapy Board of Australia;
  13. Podiatry Board of Australia;
  14. Psychology Board of Australia.

National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner (the NHPOPC)

The National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner (Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner) is an independent statutory officer appointed by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council. The role was established on 1 July 2010, to coincide with the introduction of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (as in force in participating states and territories).

For efficiency, the separate Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner roles are combined in the single office of the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner.

The office of the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner provides ombudsman, privacy and freedom of information oversight of the entities established by the National Law, particularly AHPRA and the National Health Practitioner Boards.

In order to fulfil these functions, the National Law confers specified jurisdiction on the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner that is derived from the Ombudsman Act 1976 (Cwlth), the Privacy Act 1988 (Cwlth), and the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cwlth).

National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (Scheme)

In 2008, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to establish the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for registered health practitioners.

The objective of the National Law is to establish the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.

Notification (or complaint)

Notification means a mandatory notification (according to Division 2 of the National Law) or a voluntary notification (according to Division 3 of the National Law).

Anyone can make a notification about a registered health practitioner to AHPRA. This is the way to raise a concern about a practitioner’s professional conduct, performance or health.

Notifications may be investigated by National Boards. A National Board may decide to take action about the notification if:

  • the practitioner has been found to have engaged in unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct
  • the practitioner has been found to have engaged in unsatisfactory professional performance, or
  • the practitioner’s health is impaired and their practice may place the public at risk.