As well as managing concerns about the conduct of registered health practitioners, there are a number of criminal offences that people can report to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) under the National Law.
You can find a list of these offences below. If you believe someone has committed an offence you need to tell Ahpra so it can be investigated.
Section 113 of the National Law provides information on protected titles and who may carry out restricted acts. Section 97 of the National Law also outlines the use of the title ‘acupuncturist’.
The National Law restricts the use of protected titles. This means that it is unlawful for someone to knowingly or recklessly take or use a title to make someone believe they are registered in one of the health professions listed below, as well as other practices including using a specialist title when the person does not have specialist registration.
It is also unlawful for someone to lead someone to believe that another person is registered in a health profession from the list below.
Section 116 and 118 of the National Law provides information on ‘holding out’ and making claims about registration.
Under the National Law, it’s unlawful to knowingly or recklessly claim to be a registered health practitioner, when you are not. We call this ‘holding out’.
This can include using a title, name, initial, symbol, word or description which could be reasonably understood to indicate that an individual is a health practitioner or qualified to practise in a registered health profession.
Section 116 of the National Law also makes it an offence to knowingly or recklessly:
The National Law also makes it an offence for a person to claim that another individual is a registered health practitioner when they are not.
Section 118 of the National Law makes it an offence for a person to claim to be a specialist practitioner, if the person is not registered in that recognised specialty. It is also an offence to claim someone else is registered in a particular profession or division or holds specialist registration, when they do not.
Section 121 of the National Law provides information on restricted dental acts and who can carry them out.
Restricted dental acts include irreversible procedures on the teeth, jaw and associated structures. Under the National Law, restricted dental acts can only be carried out by individuals who are:
Section 122 of the National Law provides information on restricted prescription of optical appliances and who can carry it out.
Optical appliances are those that are designed to correct, remedy or relieve any refractive abnormality or sight defect, including:
Under the National Law, a restricted prescription of optical appliances can only be carried out by individuals who are:
Section 123 of the National Law provides information on restricted spinal manipulation and who can carry it out.
Manipulation of the cervical spine means moving the joints of the cervical spine beyond a person’s usual physiological range of motion using a high velocity, low amplitude thrust. Under the National Law, a person must not perform manipulation of the cervical spine unless they are:
The National Law defines ‘appropriate health profession’ as:
Under the National Law, a person must not advertise a regulated health service or a business providing a regulated health service in a way that:
National Boards have published advertising guidelines on their website which apply to each regulated health profession. You can view information about advertising on our Advertising hub page.
It’s important to note that it is not an offence for a person, as part of their business, to print or publish an advertisement for another person.
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 introduction of an imprisonment term means that some offences will automatically become indictable offences in all states and territories (except Western Australia).
The updated section of the National Law (Section 241A) states the following offences as indictable offences:
Complaints about advertising are managed in accordance with Ahpra’s Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme. See advertising complaints for more information about this process.
All other criminal offence complaints lodged with Ahpra are managed by the Criminal Offences Unit (COU) and are risk assessed.
This means that low and moderate risk matters are dealt with through administrative management. These matters are closed, following compliance.
Major and critical risk matters are allocated to an Inspector within the COU for Investigation. Major and critical risk matters often relate to allegations of alleged holding out, restricted acts and/or pose a high risk to the public.
After an investigation, the matter is then considered whether it is suitable for prosecution. Ahpra will prosecute individuals only where:
Where prosecution is considered to not be the most appropriate route of action, other avenues of regulatory action will be considered such as referral to another law enforcement or regulatory agency.
Refer to AhprA’s Prosecution Guidelines for further information.
The penalties for offences vary and include:
Decisions about prosecutions completed by Ahpra are published on the Court and Tribunal Decisions page.
Published outcomes about advertising have been published on the Advertising cases heard by Courts and Tribunals page.
Ahpra and the National Boards take complaints about possible offences seriously, as we are responsible for making sure that only practitioners who have the skills and qualifications to provide care are registered to practise.
These breaches can put individuals and the community at risk.
If you suspect that an offence has occurred or you have concerns about a possible offence, complete the form below and submit it along with any additional evidence, if required to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Prosecution Guidelines (65.3 KB,PDF), Word version (577 KB,DOCX)