Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Mandatory notifications

What are mandatory notifications?

All registered health practitioners have a professional and ethical obligation to protect and promote public health and safe healthcare. Under the National Law, health practitioners, employers and education providers also have some mandatory reporting responsibilities.

What is a reasonable belief?

The threshold to require mandatory reporting is high. ‘Reasonable belief’ is a term commonly used in legislation, including in criminal, consumer and administrative law. While it is not defined in the National Law, in general, a reasonable belief is a belief based on reasonable grounds.

Note: Anyone can make a voluntary notification at any time.

Each National Board has published guidelines on mandatory notifications for its profession, which are published on each National Board’s website. These guidelines help individuals to decide whether they are required to make a mandatory notification or not.

Mandatory notification requirements for employers and registered health practitioners

The National Law requires registered health practitioners and employers of registered health practitioners, to advise AHPRA or a National Board if they have formed a reasonable belief that a health practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes notifiable conduct in relation to the practice of their profession.

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.

Exceptions to the mandatory reporting requirement

There are specific exceptions to the requirements 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 requirement for treating practitioners to make mandatory notifications about patients (or clients) who are practitioners in one of the regulated health professions. However, all registered practitioners have a professional obligation to comply with professional and ethical standards set down by their National Board.

National Boards have the power under the National Law to take action on the registration of a practitioner who does not comply with this mandatory reporting requirement. Ministers have the power to name employers that do not meet their mandatory reporting responsibilities.

Mandatory notification requirements for Education Providers

Education providers have an obligation to make a mandatory notification about a student if the student has an impairment 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.

Page reviewed 25/02/2016