The paramount objective of the National Boards and Ahpra is to protect the public. Regulatory principles underpin our work in regulating Australia’s registered health practitioners. We aim to be empathic and fair in our dealings with notifiers and practitioners, but both parties can find the regulatory process stressful and distressing.
Practitioners tell us they often feel shame and stigma about receiving a complaint. It challenges their professional identity, and they find the uncertainty of the outcome and its potential consequences stressful.
An Expert Advisory Group1 to explore practitioner distress while involved with the regulator was commissioned by Ahpra and the National Boards in 2021. It provided an overview of its findings in October 2022 and made recommendations in February 2023.
The Expert Advisory Group made 15 recommendations and proposed 33 actions. All have been accepted. Some actions are already being implemented. Other actions build on work well underway to humanise the experience of practitioners involved in a regulatory process. For example, a Health Management Team was established at Ahpra in July 2022 and it has already significantly reduced the time to finalise a notification when a practitioner with a health impairment is notified to us.
Recommendations will be implemented progressively over 2023–25. Some recommendations will require the contribution of partners and other parties.
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Download PDF version of Identifying and minimising distress for practitioners involved in a regulatory process (143 KB,PDF)
Some small changes have been made to this overview of its findings, to protect the identity of those practitioners whose experience was drawn on. After submitting its findings to Ahpra and the National Boards, the EAG proceeded to craft its recommendations and actions.
1Expert Advisory Group membership: Ms Rachel Phillips, Chair, Psychology Board of Australia, (Chair); Associate Professor Manaan Kar Ray, Princess Alexandra Hospital Psychiatrist and Divisional Director of Adult Mental Health; Ms Catherine Schofield, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia member; Dr Anne Tonkin AO, Chair, Medical Board of Australia; Dr Anna van der Gaag, Visiting Professor in Ethics and Regulation from the University of Surrey; Ms Kym Ayscough, Executive Director of Regulatory Operations, Ahpra; Ms Susan Biggar, National Manager of Regulatory Experience and Engagement, Ahpra; Mr Martin Fletcher, CEO, Ahpra; Mr Matthew Hardy, National Director of Notifications, Ahpra; and Mr Pat Maher, State Manager South Australia, Ahpra.