How we manage advertising complaints

Complaint process

When we receive a complaint (usually through the criminal offences form), we will review the advertising, complete a risk assessment and take appropriate action to protect the public. 

We review all complaints received about advertising.

Review

We review the advertising to check whether it complies with the advertising requirements.

Assess

If the advertising is not compliant, we do a risk assessment to help us determine the best way to respond to the unlawful advertising and protect the public.

Action

We take action to ensure the advertiser complies with the advertising requirements. The type of regulatory action we take will depend on the level of risk and who is in control of the advertising e.g. registered health practitioner, corporate entity.

Review

Once we receive a complaint, we review the advertising of concern to:

  • determine if the complaint relates to advertising about a regulated health service, 
  • identify any unlawful advertising, and
  • identify who the advertiser is (e.g. a registered health practitioner, other individual, business, partnership or a body corporate).

If there is not enough information included in the complaint, we will attempt to contact the person who made the complaint and ask for further information. If that is not possible, we may close the complaint because there is not enough information to proceed with our review. 

If a complaint about advertising may be of interest to another Australian regulatory authority, such as Therapeutic Goods Administration or Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Ahpra may refer the matter to the appropriate regulator.

Assess

Following review, we will assess the risk of any identified breaches of the advertising requirements. The risk assessment helps us determine the most effective way to respond to the unlawful advertising.

As part of our risk assessment, we will consider previous complaints made about the advertiser and whether they have a history of non-compliant advertising. 

Action

We take a risk-based approach to advertising compliance and enforcement, meaning we will take different actions depending on the level of risk identified and what action is likely to achieve timely and efficient compliance outcomes in relation to complaints about advertising.  

The compliance and enforcement action we take will escalate depending on the ongoing assessment of risk and the response of the advertiser. 

All advertising breaches are managed on a case by case basis. 

However most cases start with us writing to the advertiser to let them know their advertising breaches the National Law, and require them to correct it within 30 days. 

We will provide education resources to help the advertiser check and correct their advertising.

In most cases, if the advertiser corrects their advertising we will close the matter.  

Where the advertiser is a registered practitioner and their advertising is not corrected as requested, we may propose to impose conditions on their registration which prohibit advertising if they do not comply.  

If the advertiser is not a registered practitioner we may prosecute if they fail to correct their advertising.

Regardless of whether the advertiser is registered, very serious breaches of the advertising requirements that placed the public at significant risk of harm may be subject to prosecution even if the advertising is corrected.

If an advertiser is also in breach of other consumer regulation laws, we will work with other regulators such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) or Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

More information is set out in the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy

  
 
 
Page reviewed 9/02/2021