Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Legal action
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Legal action

Independent tribunals and panels decide the most serious allegations

  • 374 matters (371 notifications, 3 compliance breaches) were the subject of ongoing tribunal proceedings at 30 June, compared with 358 matters last year.
  • 126 tribunal matters were finalised:
    • 121 matters were decided by a tribunal, 96.7% resulting in disciplinary action; National Boards continue to appropriately identify the thresholds for referring a matter to a tribunal to protect the public
    • 5 matters were withdrawn or did not proceed to a tribunal because: the practitioner was deceased (4 matters), and a separate tribunal matter was withdrawn in Western Australia when it became clear that co-regulatory authorities in New South Wales had addressed the same conduct in separate proceedings (1 matter). 
  • 19 matters were decided by panels with more than 80% resulting in regulatory action.

Tribunal decisions

National Boards refer serious matters to tribunals in each state and territory. Only a tribunal can cancel a practitioner’s registration, disqualify a person from applying for registration for a time or prohibit a person from using a specified title or providing a specified health service.

We include links to published adverse tribunal (disciplinary) decisions and court outcomes for a practitioner on the online Register of practitioners, if the name of the practitioner has not been suppressed by the court or tribunal.

When a court or tribunal cancels a practitioner’s registration or disqualifies them from applying for registration, or using a specified title, or providing a specified health service, this is recorded in the online Register of cancelled practitioners.

When a tribunal reprimands, suspends or places conditions on the registration of a practitioner, this is recorded on the online Register of practitioners.

Some serious allegations are referred to tribunals

Matters included findings of professional misconduct involving:

  • family violence offending and other serious criminal offending
  • sexual boundary breaches and other general boundary breaches such as inappropriate relationships with patients
  • misappropriating or prescribing of ‘peptides’ or other drugs that are at risk of misuse/abuse, for non-therapeutic purposes
  • failure to comply with conditions imposed on registration by a Board or a panel
  • continuing to practise when registration has lapsed or not been renewed
  • inappropriate commentary on social media
  • providing treatments for which the practitioner was not qualified.
  • Significant periods of disqualification were imposed in appropriate matters, including in matters involving:
  • misappropriation of drugs by a registered nurse (three years)
  • a former dental practitioner who maintained false, misleading and inaccurate records and recorded procedures or tests that had not been performed and who made fraudulent claims to a health insurer for those procedures (five years).

Panel decisions

A National Board establishes health or professional standards panels to decide matters when appropriate. Panels must include members from the relevant health profession and community members. All health panels must include a medical practitioner.

We published 103 summaries of decisions. Some decisions are not published for privacy reasons or due to suppression orders applied by the tribunal or court.

  • 106 appeals were lodged nationally about decisions made by National Boards.
  • The number of appeals lodged this year was the same as in 2019/20.
  • The majority of appeals were from professions that have a higher number of regulatory decisions such as medical practitioners (57) and nurses (16).
  • 95 appeals were finalised.
  • 84 appeals were not yet decided at 30 June.

We investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute allegations of criminal offences. 

  • 451 criminal offence complaints were received 
    • 76.1% related to alleged unlawful use of title and unlawful claims to registration.
  • 462 criminal offence complaints were considered and closed, some from the last year.
  • 215 open criminal offence complaints were still under review at 30 June.
  • 70 new complaints about advertising were considered and managed where advertising was assessed as unlawful – most related to the advertising of corporate entities or unregistered persons.
    • 87 complaints were closed, some from last year.

Types of criminal offence

  • Unlawful use of protected titles
  • Unlawful claims that a person is registered 
  • Performing a restricted act
  • Unlawful advertising.

Significant prosecutions this year demonstrate the importance of criminal offence provisions for the protection of the public.

  • 16 proceedings completed in the courts for offences across five jurisdictions (including 2 appeals)
  • 1 matter pending appeal at 30 June.
  • Outcomes show that Ahpra continues to identify appropriate thresholds for referring offence complaints for prosecution.
  • 7 prosecutions and 1 appeal ongoing at 30 June.
Page reviewed 22/11/2021