Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
 

Glossary

A

Accreditation

Accreditation of courses ensures that the education and training leading to registration as a health practitioner is rigorous and prepares the graduates to practise a health profession safely.

The Accreditation Authority may be a committee of a National Board, or a separate organisation. More information about accreditation is published on the website of each National Board.

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Adjudication Body

A court, tribunal, panel or council inquiry that hears matters under the National Law.

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AHPRA

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

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Allegation

An allegation is a claim of a fact which a person claims to be able to prove. Allegations remain assertions without proof, until they can be proved.

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B

Board Approval End Date

The end date of the National Board’s approval of a program of study. In most cases this will be the date that the next submission is due from the Education Provider to the accreditation authority in order to gain further accreditation and approval from the National Board.

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Board Approval Start Date

The start date of the National Board’s approval of a program of study.

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Board delegate

Any individual role/organisation (committee) which has been delegated powers by a National Board.

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C

Caution

A formal caution may be issued by a National Board or an adjudication body. A caution is intended to act as a deterrent so that the practitioner does not repeat the conduct. A caution is not usually recorded on the national register. However, a National Board can require a caution to be recorded on the register of practitioners.

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Condition

A National Board or an adjudication body can impose a condition on the registration of a practitioner or student, or on an endorsement of registration. A condition aims to restrict a practitioner’s practice in some way, to protect the public.

Current conditions which restrict a practitioner’s practice of the profession are published on the register of practitioners. When a National Board or adjudication body decides they are no longer required to ensure safe practice, they are removed and no longer published.

Examples of conditions include requiring the practitioner to:

– complete specified further education or training within a specified period
– undertake a specified period of supervised practice
– do, or refrain from doing, something in connection with the practitioner’s practice
– manage their practice in a specified way
– report to a specified person at specified times about the practitioner’s practice, or
– not employ, engage or recommend a specified person, or class of persons

There may also be conditions related to a practitioner’s health (such as psychiatric care or drug screening). The details of health conditions are not usually published on the register of practitioners.

Also see the definition of Undertaking.

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Co-regulatory jurisdictions (s. 5)

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 professionals councils work with the Health Care Complaints Commission to assess and manage concerns about practitioners’ conduct, health and performance.

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Course Type

The type of the program of study delivered by the Education Provider (e.g. Diploma, Bachelor)

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D

Date of first Registration

The date a practitioner was first registered in a specific profession in Australia. This date remains the same throughout the practitioner’s lifetime. The date may be before the start of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, as it reflects when the person was first registered in the profession, whether under the National Law or previous legislation. This date does not apply to student registration. This date does not change.

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Division

Part of a health profession. A practitioner can be registered in more than one division within a profession. Not all professions have divisions. For a list of divisions, see Professions and Divisions.

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E

Education Provider

The name of the university, tertiary education institution, specialist medical or other health profession college that provides a program of study.

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Endorsement

An endorsement of registration recognises that a person has an extended scope of practice in a particular area because they have an additional qualification that is approved by the National Board.
See Endorsement of Registration Fact Sheet (56.7 KB,PDF)

There are a number of different types of endorsement available under the National Law, including:

  • scheduled medicines1
  • Nurse Practitioner  
  • acupuncture, and
  • approved area of practice. In psychology, these are divided into 'subtypes' which describe additional qualifications and expertise. (See table below).

An endorsement can include more than one 'subtype'. The table below shows which National Boards use endorsements on registration, which groups of practitioners they apply to, what the endorsement is and, in psychology and nursing and midwifery, what subtypes there are.

1 For registered nurses, there is an additional endorsement subtype to supply scheduled medicines (rural and isolated practice). 

National Board Profession/Division Endorsement Subtype
All Medical Practitioners, Osteopaths, Physiotherapists Acupuncture N/A
Nursing and Midwifery Registered Nurses     Supply scheduled medicines Rural and isolated practice
Nursing and Midwifery Registered Nurses Nurse Practitioners N/A
Nursing and Midwifery Midwives Prescribe scheduled medicines for Eligible Midwives N/A
Optometry Optometrists Scheduled medicines N/A
Podiatry Podiatrists Scheduled medicines N/A
Dental Dental practitioner - Division of Dentists Area Of Practice Conscious sedation
Psychology Psychologist Area Of Practice Community psychology
Clinical psychology
Counselling psychology
Forensic psychology
Health psychology 
Clinical neuropsychology
Organisational psychology
Sport and exercise psychology
Educational and developmental psychology

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Entity (s. 5)

Company, corporation, individual or organisation, for example, hospital, health practice registered as a business.

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H

Health (Impairment) (s. 5)

Physical or mental impairment, disability, condition or disorder (including substance abuse or dependence), that detrimentally affects or is likely to detrimentally affect a registered health practitioner’s capacity to safely practise the profession or a student’s capacity to undertake clinical training.

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Health complaints entity (HCE) *specific to each state (s. 5)

An entity:

  1. that is established by or under an Act of a participating jurisdiction, and
  2. whose functions include conciliating, investigating and resolving complaints made against health service providers and investigating failures in the health system.

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I

Immediate action (s.155)

Immediate action can include:

  1. the suspension, or imposition of a condition on, the registered health practitioner’s or student’s registration, or
  2. accepting an undertaking from the registered health practitioner or student, or
  3. accepting the surrender of the registered health practitioner’s or student’s registration.

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Issue/s

Concerns about the registered practitioner’s health, performance, or conduct, related to events/behaviour raised within a notification. Also applies to concerns about a student’s health.

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M

Mandatory notifications (s. 5)

Notification that an entity is required to make to AHPRA under Division 2 of Part 8 of the National Law.

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Ministerial Council

Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council comprising Commonwealth, state and territory health ministers, which oversees the National Scheme.

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N

National Board

Appointed by Ministerial Council to regulate the profession in the public interest and meet the responsibilities set down in the National Law. National Board members and/or state board members and/or committee members are delegated the functions/powers of the National Board.

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National Board Conditions (for programs of study)

The details of any conditions imposed by the National Board on the approval of a program of study if the National Board Approval Status is "Approved with Conditions"

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National Board Information (for programs of study)

The details of any information the National Board believes is relevant when a qualification is reviewed for the purposes of registration.

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National Law

The Act, adopted in each state and territory, setting out the provisions of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. The National Law has been adopted by the parliament of each state or territory through adopting legislation. The National Law is generally consistent in all states and territories. New South Wales did not adopt Part 8 of the National Law.

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National Scheme

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for registered health practitioners, established by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). In 2010, under the National Law,14 professions became nationally regulated by a corresponding National Board. In 2012, four additional professions joined the National Scheme.

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Notation

Records a limitation on the practice of a registrant. Used by National Boards to describe and explain the scope of a practitioner’s practice by noting the limitations on that practice. The notation does not change the practitioner’s scope of practice but may reflect the requirements of a registration standard.

Midwives that meet the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Eligible midwife registration standard requirements may apply for a notation that reflects an expanded scope of practice. This notation states: An eligible midwife competent to provide pregnancy, labour, birth and postnatal care and qualified to provide the associated services and order diagnostic investigations required for midwifery practice, in accordance with relevant state or territory legislation. Eligible midwife, but NOT qualified to obtain endorsement under section 94 to prescribe Schedule 2, 3, 4 & 8 medicines required for midwifery practice in accordance with state and territory legislation.

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Notifiable conduct (s. 140)

The registered health practitioner has:

  1. practised the practitioner’s profession while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, or
  2. engaged in sexual misconduct in connection with the practice of the practitioner’s profession, or
  3. placed the public at risk of substantial harm in the practitioner’s practice of the profession because the practitioner has an impairment, or
  4. placed the public at risk of harm because the practitioner has practised the profession in a way that constitutes a significant departure from accepted professional standards.

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Notification

Anyone can make a notification (complaint) about a registered health practitioner. This is the way to raise a concern about a practitioner’s professional conduct, performance or health. More detailed information about notifications is published on the Notifications & Outcomes page. If you have concerns about the conduct, health or performance of a registered health practitioner, please contact AHPRA on 1300 419 495.

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.

    The Boards are ‘notified’ of an issue. The word ‘notification’ is deliberate and reflects that the Boards are not complaint resolution agencies. Health practitioner regulation is a protective jurisdiction. The role of the National Boards is to protect the public by dealing with practitioners who may be putting the public at risk as a result of their conduct, professional performance or health.

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P

Practice

This definition of practice is used in a number of National Board registration standards.

It means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a practitioner in their regulated health profession. Practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes using professional knowledge in a direct non-clinical relationship with patients or clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of health services in the health profession.

Some National Boards have also issued guidance about when practitioners need to be registered. Search under ‘guidance’ on the relevant Board website.

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Principal Place of Practice

Location declared by the practitioner as the address at which they mostly practise the profession. If the practitioner is not practising, or not practising mostly at one address, then the practitioner’s principal place of residence is used instead.

If the location of the principal place of practice is in Australia, the following information is displayed on the registers of practitioners:

  • suburb
  • state
  • postcode
  • country

If the location is outside Australia, the following information is displayed on the registers of practitioners:

  • international state/province
  • international postcode
  • country

In rare cases, when a practitioner has demonstrated that their health and safety may be at risk from the publication of this information about their principal place of practice, a National Board may choose to not publish this information.

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Profession

Name of the profession being practised by a practitioner. Since July 2010, 10 health professions have been regulated under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, see Professions & Divisions.

From July 2012, four new professions will join the scheme:

  • Chinese medicine
  • Medical radiation practice
  • Occupational therapy
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice

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Program of Study Course Code

A code to uniquely identify each program of study for a particular Education Provider. This code is issued by the Education Provider.

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Program Status

The status of a program identifies whether this program of study is approved and currently delivered by an education provider:

Program StatusDescription
Approved or Approved with conditions Students are currently enrolled and/or the course is open for new enrolment; the program is currently approved by the National Board.
Inactive No students are currently enrolled and the course is no longer open for enrolment OR the course is no longer approved.
Re-assessment in progress The program was previously approved by the National Board and is currently undergoing re-assessment by the Accreditation Authority and/or National Board.

Applicants for registration with an “approved” qualification will be qualified for general registration under section 53(a) of the National Law (and other equivalent sections appropriate for the type of registration)

Applicants for registration with an “inactive” qualification may be qualified for general registration under section 53(b) of the National Law (and other equivalent sections appropriate for the type of registration)

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Q

Qualification Type

Each program of study provides a qualification that may be suitable for different types of registration or for endorsements or other aspects of registration. The qualification type describes what the qualification is suitable for:

Qualification TypeDescription
General A suitable qualification for General Registration.
Specialist A suitable qualification for Specialist Registration.
Endorsement A suitable qualification for an Endorsement.
Addition of Notation A suitable qualification to add a notation on an existing registration.
Removal of Notation A suitable qualification to remove a notation on an existing registration.
Re-entry A suitable qualification for someone who was previously registered in Australia and is re-entering the profession.
Bridging A suitable qualification for an internationally qualified applicant.

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Qualifications

Professional qualifications that a practitioner must have to meet the requirements for registration in a profession. Undergraduate and postgraduate Australian qualifications recognised by National Boards are published on the National Board’s websites.

Individual practitioner’s approved qualifications are published on the register of practitioners.

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R

Registered health practitioner (s. 5)

An individual who:

  1. is registered under the National Law to practise a health profession, other than as a student, or
  2. was, but is no longer, registered in a health profession under the National Law, or
  3. holds a non-practising registration in a health profession under the National Law.

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Registration Expiry Date

Date when a practitioner’s current registration expires. Practitioners must apply to renew their registration annually. If the practitioner's name appears on the register, they are registered and can practise within the scope of their registration and consistent with any conditions or undertakings that apply.

Under the National Law, registrants who apply to renew on time are able to practise while their annual renewal application is being processed.

Practitioners remain registered for one month after their registration expiry date. If they apply to renew their registration during this period, they are required to pay a late fee and are able to continue to practise while their application is being processed.

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Registration Number

Since March 2012, practitioners have been allocated one unique registration number for each profession in which they are registered. This number stays with the practitioner for life, even if they have periods when they are not registered. Practitioners registered in more than one profession have one registration number for each profession.

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Registration Status

Status of a registration is described below:

Registration status Description  
Registered The practitioner is registered to practise.  
Suspended The registration has been suspended and the practitioner is not permitted to practise while suspended. The practitioner's name is published on the register of practitioners.
Cancelled The registration has been cancelled and the practitioner is not permitted to practise. The practitioner's name is not published on the register of practitioners but is published on the list of cancelled practitioners.

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Registration Type

The National Law defines the type of registration that a National Board can grant to an eligible practitioner.

For a detailed description, view the Registration Types Fact Sheet (93.1 KB,PDF).

Registration typeDescription
General registration Registration granted to practitioners to practise the profession. In general, practitioners who hold general registration have graduated from a Board-approved, accredited program of study in the profession and completed any required period of supervised practice or internship, or they have demonstrated equivalence of their overseas qualifications.
Specialist registration Requirements for specialist registration vary across the three professions that have specialist recognition (medicaldental and podiatry) . Please refer to each specific Board’s requirements on their websites.Also see the definition of specialty and list of specialties on each Board’s website.
Limited registration Registration granted to practitioners who do not qualify for general or specialist registration, but who hold qualifications in the profession to practise under a form of limited registration. Limited registration may be renewed for a maximum of three times, after which a new application can be made. The four types of limited registration are:
Postgraduate training or supervised practice For practitioners who hold qualifications in the profession, but who are required by the Board to practise under supervision or to sit an examination or assessment approved by the Board.
Area of need Granted to overseas-trained practitioners who do not qualify for general or specialist registration but who have skills and qualifications considered sufficient to work under supervision in a particular role or position in a geographic location or specific health service.
An area of need is granted by a Health Minister when there are not enough health practitioners to meet the needs of people living in the area.
Teaching or research Granted to practitioners who are not qualified for general registration or do not intend to engage in clinical practice, but who are qualified to fill a teaching or research position in the profession.
Public interest Granted to practitioners who do not qualify for general or specialist registration, but who hold qualifications in the profession and who may be visiting from overseas for a short period, filling a locum position or exchanging practice with a local practitioner. It is granted when the Board decides it is in the public interest for that practitioner to practise for that time or within that scope.
Provisional registration Granted to practitioners to enable them to complete a period of supervised practice or internship to be eligible for general registration. This type of registration is intended for practitioners who have completed a Board-approved, accredited qualification in the profession. Since 1 July 2010, only three professions have had internship requirements for general registration:
  • medicine
  • pharmacy
  • psychology
Non-practising registration Granted to practitioners who have previously held general or specialist registration in a profession, who do not wish to practise the profession but wish to remain registered. Some practitioners choose to hold non-practising registration so that they may use a protected title for the profession.
Student registration Granted to people who are enrolled in an approved program of study that qualifies them for general registration in a profession, or people undertaking clinical training that has been arranged by an education provider, with the exception of psychology students who are enrolled in an Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) accredited higher degree.

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Reprimand

A reprimand is a chastisement for conduct; a formal rebuke. Reprimands issued since the start of the National Scheme (1 July 2010 or 18 October 2010 in WA) are published on the Registers of Practitioners.

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S

Specialty

There are currently three professions with specialist registration under the National Law: podiatry, dental and medicine. The Ministerial Council (Australia’s health ministers) is responsible for approving a list of specialties for each profession and for approving one or more specialist titles for each specialty on the list. The National Boards each decide the requirements for specialist registration in their profession.

Requirements for specialist registration vary across the professions that have specialist recognition (medicaldental and podiatry). Please refer to the Boards’ specific requirements on their websites.

For a list of specialties, fields of specialty practice, and related specialist titles, see Specialties and Specialty Fields. Also see the definition of Specialty Subtype and Registration Type - Specialist Registration on this page.

In medicine, a practitioner can be registered in more than one specialty subtype, within a specialty, or in more than one specialty. For a list of medical specialty subtypes, see Specialties & Specialty Fields. Specialist registration is granted consistent with the provisions of the National Law and is available to medical practitioners who have been assessed by an Australian Medical Council-accredited specialist college as being eligible for fellowship of that college. Ongoing membership of a specialist college is not a pre-requisite for specialist registration. To check if a doctor is a current member of a specialist college, please contact that college. Links to all specialist college websites are published here.

Note: Specialty subtype is also referred to as a ‘field of specialist practice’.

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Spoken Languages

Languages other than English spoken fluently by the practitioner. Under the National Law, practitioners can advise a National Board if they fluently speak a language other than English, and this can be published on the register of practitioners.

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Start date of current registration

This is the start date of a practitioner’s current registration in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme under the National Law. The National Scheme came into effect on 1 July 2010 (18 October 2010 in WA). This date can be different from the date of first registration in a profession in Australia.

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Student (s. 5)

A person whose name is entered in a student register as being currently registered under the National Law.

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Suspension

If a practitioner’s registration is suspended, they are not eligible to practise. A tribunal has the power to suspend a practitioner’s registration as a result of a hearing. A National Board also has the power to suspend a practitioner’s registration pending other assessment or action, if it believes there is serious risk to the health and safety of the public from the practitioner’s continued practice of the profession, and that suspension is necessary to protect the public from that risk. A Health Panel can suspend a practitioner’s registration if the panel finds that the practitioner (or student) has an impairment and it is necessary to suspend the practitioner’s registration to protect the public.

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U

Undertaking

National Boards can seek and accept an undertaking from a practitioner to limit the practitioner’s practice in some way if this is necessary to protect the public. The undertaking means the practitioner agrees to do, or to not do something in relation to their practice of the profession. Current undertakings which restrict a practitioner’s practice of the profession are published on the register of practitioners. When a National Board or adjudication body decides they are no longer required to ensure safe practice, they are revoked and are no longer published. Current undertakings which relate to a practitioner’s health are mentioned on the national register but details are not provided.

An undertaking is voluntary, whereas a condition is imposed on a practitioner’s registration.

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Unprofessional conduct (s. 5)

Professional conduct that is of a lesser standard than that which might reasonably be expected of the health practitioner by the public or the practitioner’s professional peers. A more extensive definition is available under section 5 of the National Law.

Each profession has a set of standards and guidelines which clarify the acceptable standard of professional conduct. Go to www.ahpra.gov.au to access the website of each National Board.

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Unsatisfactory professional performance (s. 5)

The knowledge, skill or judgement possessed, or care exercised by, the practitioner in the practice of the health profession in which the practitioner is registered is below the standard reasonably expected for a health practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience.

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V

Voluntary notification (s. 5)

A notification made on a voluntary basis. The grounds for a voluntary notification are set out in section 144 of the National Law.

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Page reviewed 6/02/2013