09 Nov 2023
The number of international practitioners registered to work in Australia over the past year almost doubled, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards 2022/23 Annual report reveals.
9 November 2023
The number of international practitioners given the green light to work in Australia over the past year almost doubled under a streamlined registration process by the national health regulator.
The 2022/23 Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency annual report reveals there were 877,119 registered health practitioners across 16 regulated professions at 30 June 2023, an increase of almost three per cent over the past year.
More than 42,000 newly registered Australian health graduates were joined by 19,288 overseas-trained practitioners. There was a 92 per cent increase in new overseas registrants, and more than half were nurses and midwives.
Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said an overhaul of registration processes has cut the assessment time for international applications from 29 days to just 10, and from 11 days to seven for Australian graduates.
Increased exam places for internationally qualified nurses, enhanced information for employers and clearer information for international applicants on the Ahpra website all contributed to the workforce boost.
‘To address workforce shortages, we have cut the complexity and time it takes to register practitioners and get them ready to work where they are most needed,’ Mr Fletcher said.
‘Public safety is the paramount principle driving everything we do. That not only means making sure that every registered health practitioner is skilled and suited for their vital role, but also doing everything we can to ensure there are more health workers to meet demand.’
A five-year trend of increasing practitioner registrations per capita now means there are 3.3 registered health practitioners for every 100 Australians.
However, more work is required to increase the rates of practitioners identifying as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander working in the nation’s health systems. In 2022/23, 10,813 health practitioners identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander – that’s 1.2 per cent of all registered health practitioners, and well short of the 3.8 per cent representation in the general population.
Ahpra and the National Boards’ ongoing work to improve cultural safety and eliminate racism in the health system is now a guiding principle of the National Scheme that governs health regulation in Australia. That commitment to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples has seen the total number of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander staff, board and committee members increase to 48, including eight new appointments of Board and committee members and nine new staff members over the past year.
A new Ahpra Engagement and Support team is also aimed at helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander applicants and registrants have a positive and culturally safe experience.
Nationally there was an 8.6 per cent drop in notifications made about practitioners, with 1.5 per cent of Australia’s registered health practitioners having a concern raised about them in 2022/23. The 17,096 notifications made across the country related to 13,584 health practitioners.
Practitioners were referred to tribunals on 231 occasions for the most serious matters. Tribunals finalised 129 cases during 2022/23, of which 98 per cent resulted in disciplinary action.
Continued efforts to uncover and act on sexual misconduct in the healthcare system saw 841 allegations of boundary violations in the past year relating to 728 health practitioners. The sustained jump in reports over the past two years reinforces the urgency of Ahpra’s blueprint for reform, which has already seen a public review of the criminal history registration standard, the rollout of specialist investigators and an expansion of the Notifier Support Service, staffed by social workers.