A National Board has the power to establish two types of panel depending on the type of concerns identified. The panel will include health practitioners and a community representative. The panel will decide how the hearing will be conducted, but generally the process may be less formal than public hearing.
The National Board can refer a matter to either:
A student can only be referred to a health panel and cannot be referred to a performance and professional standards panel.
Performance and Professional Standards Panel
May occur when:
May occur when a National Board believes that a registered practitioner or student has, or may have, an impairment.
Expand the links below for more information on investigation.
A National Board will establish a health panel if it reasonably believes that a practitioner or student has an impairment and it is necessary or appropriate for the matter to be referred to a health panel.
A health panel consists of at least three members selected from a list of people approved by the National Board, including:
A National Board may establish a performance and professional standards panel if, after receiving a notification or any other information, it reasonably believes that:
A performance and professional standards panel consists of at least three members, selected from a list of people approved by the National Board. The panel will include:
AHPRA gives written notice of the hearing to the practitioner.
The notice will tell the practitioner what the hearing is about. The notice also sets out:
A panel hearing is an opportunity for a practitioner to talk about the issues in question, for example, a practitioner may explain why their conduct was reasonable in the circumstances.
AHPRA also gives the notifier (the person who raised the concern) information about the allegations and what the hearing is about.
AHPRA will tell the practitioner the names of the panel members who are scheduled to conduct the hearing. This gives the practitioner the opportunity to tell AHPRA about any concerns about, or conflicts of interest with, selected panel members before the hearing.
Before the hearing, the panel members receive all the relevant information and documents AHPRA obtained during the investigation or assessment, including information and documents provided. This is usually information the National Board relied on when deciding to refer the matter to a hearing. It may also include extra information such as expert reports or formal witness statements. During the hearing, the panel may refer to this information.
Panel members read all the material before the hearing.
The practitioner is provided with the same material as the panel well before the hearing. This gives the practitioner an opportunity to read all the material and to prepare a response.
The notifier (person who raised the concern) might also be invited to provide a submission to the panel.
At the start of the hearing, one of the panel members (usually the chair) will introduce panel members, state the purpose of the hearing and explain the allegations to be considered. The chair will also explain the procedures that will apply at the hearing.
At the hearing the panel may:
The National Law lets a practitioner be accompanied by a legal practitioner or another person. If the practitioner wants a lawyer or another person to speak on their behalf, they must ask AHPRA about this before the hearing, as the panel decides whether or not the legal representative or another person may speak for the practitioner at the hearing. AHPRA will tell practitioners this before the hearing.
The panel is likely to consider factors such as the practitioner’s ability to participate in the process, the complexity of the material to be considered, the seriousness of the allegations and the nature of the notification.
A notifier (person who raised the concern about the practitioner) does not generally attend the panel hearing. An exception is when they may need to attend to be interviewed by the panel or the practitioner.
Similarly, there are not usually witnesses at a panel hearing. Panels tend to rely on witness statements and other written material.
By law panel hearings are not open to the public.
After the hearing, the panel may decide that the practitioner has no case to answer and take no further action. If the panel decides the practitioner does have a case to answer, it can decide that:
If a panel decides that a practitioner or student has an impairment, or that the practitioner has behaved in a way that constitutes unsatisfactory professional performance or unprofessional conduct, the panel may decide to:
After hearing a matter about a student, a health panel may decide the student:
In some cases, the chair of the panel may advise the practitioner of the panel’s decision on the day of the hearing.
The panel must give formal written notice of its decision to the National Board as soon as possible after making the decision.
The National Board must, within 30 days after the panel makes its decision, write to the practitioner or student and include:
More information is available in the Appeals fact sheet.