Anyone can make a voluntary notification (complaint or concern), but under the National Law only registered health practitioners, employers and education providers are required to report ‘notifiable conduct’ by making a mandatory notification (complaint or concern).
What type of complaint or concern should I make?
What is a mandatory report?
All registered health practitioners have a professional and ethical obligation to protect and promote public health and safe healthcare.
Health practitioners and their employers, as well as education providers, also have mandatory reporting responsibilities under the National Law.
Education providers, registered health practitioners and their employers must tell us if they have formed a reasonable belief that a registered health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct.
Notifiable conduct by registered health practitioners is defined as:
- practising while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
- sexual misconduct in the practice of the profession
- placing the public at risk of substantial harm because of an impairment (health issue), or
- placing the public at risk because of a significant departure from accepted professional standards.
What is a reasonable belief?
The threshold for a person or organisation to make a mandatory complaint or concern is high. This means they need to have a reasonable belief that a practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct and that their belief is based on reasonable grounds.
If you are a registered health practitioner, employer or education provider and you are not sure whether you should make a complaint or raise a concern, you can contact AHPRA to discuss your obligations in a confidential way or with your professional indemnity insurer, a trusted colleague or a legal adviser.
Mandatory reporting exceptions for health practitioners
There are specific exceptions to mandatory reporting for all practitioners in Australia that relate to the circumstances in which the ‘reasonable belief’ is formed, for example in the medico-legal context.
In Western Australia, there is no legal obligation for treating health practitioners to make mandatory notifications (complaints) about patients (or clients) who are also health practitioners in one of the regulated health professions.
Making a mandatory complaint or raising a concern about a student
Education providers have an obligation to make a mandatory complaint or concern about a student if the student has an impairment or health issue that may, either in the course of study or clinical training, place the public at substantial risk of harm.
AHPRA has the power to publish information about education providers that do not meet their mandatory reporting obligations.
Do you want to find out more?
Each National Board has published guidelines on their websites on mandatory complaints or concerns. These guidelines help individuals to decide whether or not they need to make a mandatory notification.