Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Statement by Ahpra and the National Boards on the misuse of protected titles
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Statement by Ahpra and the National Boards on the misuse of protected titles

26 Feb 2020

Protected titles are an important public safety measure and we take their misuse seriously. 

While we are unable to talk about individuals, we would like to thank everyone who has helped to promote a greater community understanding of the importance of protected titles and their appropriate use. 

We have recently been working with media organisations to ensure they understand their legal obligations when using titles such as ‘nurse’, ‘medical practitioner’ or ‘psychologist’.

In Australia, titles that relate to a registered health profession are protected by law. You must be registered with a national health practitioner board (National Board) to use a protected title. To be registered, you must be suitably trained, qualified and satisfy the National Board’s requirements for continuing professional education, professional indemnity insurance and recency of practice. 

To use a protected title when you’re not registered, or to hold someone else out as registered when they’re not, breaches the trust the public has in their registered health practitioners. That’s because when the public sees a protected title, they trust that they’ll be receiving safe and professional healthcare and advice. 

We have written to media organisations to remind them of their obligations under the National Law,  and to advise that the easiest way to check if someone is registered to practise and entitled to use a protected title in Australia, is by checking our online register of practitioners. The register, which contains the most up-to-date information about a practitioner’s registration status, is available to members of the public, employers and third-parties. It’s free, available 24/7, with updates made daily. 

If you are concerned that someone might be holding themselves out to be a registered practitioner when they’re not, call 1300 419 495 or notify us via the Ahpra website

Tougher penalties for offences committed after 1 July 2019

In February 2019, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Qld) was passed by the Queensland Parliament. 

The amendments included increased penalties and introduced an imprisonment term of up to three years for offences against the National Law. The penalties apply to offences committed after 1 July 2019.

The introduction of an imprisonment term means that some offences will automatically become indictable offences in all states and territories (except Western Australia).  

For more information

  • Lodge an online enquiry form
  • For registration enquiries: 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 8708 9001 (overseas callers)
  • For media enquiries: (03) 8708 9200
Page reviewed 26/02/2020