Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency - Organisation

Organisation

Agency Management Committee 

Ahpra's governing body meets up to 11 times per year. The Committee publishes a communique of meetings that summarises issues discussed and decisions made. It has established four committees: 

  • Accreditation Committee provides independent and expert advice on accreditation governance, reform, accountability and transparency issues, and a whole-of-scheme perspective on the performance of the accreditation functions. 
  • Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee oversees risk and provides advice to the Agency Management Committee on the effectiveness of the corporate assurance framework and risk management, financial strategy, sustainability and internal audit functions. The Committee also oversees the external audit process. 
  • People and Remuneration Committee helps the Agency Management Committee effectively discharge its functions by providing governance oversight of strategy and performance in relation to people, capability and culture. 
  • Regulatory Performance Committee makes recommendations to the Agency Management Committee to strengthen the performance culture across the National Scheme; provide oversight and scrutiny of regulatory performance measures and data; and provide assurance that any organisational performance-related issues, including the consistency of data and statistics, are being well managed.

National Executive 

The National Executive is Ahpra’s national leadership group. Its members were: 

  • Mr Martin Fletcher Chief Executive Officer 
  • Ms Kym Ayscough Executive Director, Regulatory Operations 
  • Ms Liz Davenport Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Risk 
  • Mr Mark Edwards Executive Director, People and Culture 
  • Mr Chris Robertson Executive Director, Strategy and Policy 
  • Mr Clarence Yap Chief Information Officer, Information Technology. 

Directorates 

  • Regulatory Operations carries out Ahpra’s core regulatory functions of registration, notifications and compliance, and includes the national legal practice. It continues to mature in the application of risk-based assessment of regulatory matters, so we can focus our regulatory efforts and resources on matters of high risk and high complexity and, wherever possible, resolve other matters more quickly. 
  • Strategy and Policy’s purpose is to protect the public through effective and responsive strategy, policy, engagement and regulatory governance. With a multiprofession focus, it works in partnership with National Boards, accreditation authorities and stakeholders to fulfil our regulatory functions. 
  • People and Culture is accountable for whole-of-organisation people initiatives that drive employee engagement and include services such as learning and organisational capability, health, safety and wellbeing, recruitment, payroll and property and facilities. 
  • Finance and Risk is responsible for efficient and effective financial strategy and management, procurement, risk management and assurance and audit programs. 
  • Information Technology partners with all internal and external stakeholders in providing the required technology and services to support health practitioner regulation in Australia. 

State and territory managers 

Our state and territory managers are our senior leaders in each jurisdiction, and are based at each of our offices: 

  • Australian Capital Territory: Mr Anthony McEachran 
  • New South Wales: Ms Jane Eldridge (to 25 Feb), Mr Timothy Bowen (from 14 Jun), and Mr David Clements was acting state manager 
  • Northern Territory: Ms Helen Egan (to 29 Oct), Ms Claudia Manu-Preston (from 24 Jan), and Mrs Karen Banks and Ms Diane Walsh were acting territory managers 
  • Queensland: Ms Heather Edwards 
  • South Australia: Ms Sheryle Pike (to 9 Jul), Mr Patrick Maher (from 5 Jul) 
  • Tasmania: Mr David Clements 
  • Victoria: Dr Clarissa Martin PhD (to 19 Nov), Ms Joe Goddard-Williams (from 9 May), and Mr Anthony McEachran, Mr Luka Dujmovic and Mr Patrick Maher were acting state managers 
  • Western Australia: Mrs Karen Banks (to 10 Dec), Ms Jodie Holbrook (from 13 Jun), and Mr Richard Smirk was acting state manager.

Ahpra and the National Boards work in partnership to ensure the scheme operates efficiently and effectively and is sustainable. 

The financial statements describe the performance in more detail, including the net result and equity position for each National Board. 

Financial overview 

Income and expenses have steadily increased since 2017/18. Accounting for other economic flows, the comprehensive result for 2021/22 of $14.9 million is a decrease from $17.3 million in 2020/21. 

The changes to each year’s net result reflect growing practitioner numbers, increase in business operations and improvements to support the scheme’s public safety objectives. 

Fluctuations in net cash flows reflect the timing and any changes in registration renewals, grants, employee and vendor payments and interest receipts.

Financial performance 

A favourable yet lower comprehensive result was due to higher revenue and income being offset by increased expenses, investment in technology enhancements, Ahpra’s transformation program and loss on revaluation of financial assets. 

The National Scheme revenue and income for the full financial year to 30 June was $249.7 million, an increase of $14.5 million from 2020/21. The growth was due to an increase in regulatory income and investment income, offset by a decline in Commonwealth grant funding to meet the COVID-19 health workforce response. 

Fees are set by each National Board to meet the full costs of regulation for each profession. Six National Boards froze their registration renewal fees, seven Boards increased fees by 2.5% or 3.0% in line with inflation, and two Boards reduced their fees. 

Grant funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health provided a further $2.6 million in support to increase the number of health practitioners registered and available to work in the health system in response to COVID-19. 

Total expenses from transactions were $232.0 million in 2021/22, an increase of $14.3 million from 2020/21 due to expected increases in wage inflation and workforce growth, additional costs of growing business operations, our digital transformation program and partial resumption of travel and office-based working. 

A change to investment policy was implemented in 2021/22 and as term deposits matured, investments were made in low-risk managed funds with the Victorian Funds Management Corporation to achieve improved return on financial assets in the medium term. Short-term revaluation losses on the unit funds were realised in response to economic decline in the market value of the units held. 

Financial position 

The financial statements disclose income and expenditure by each National Board and the equity balances held at year end. The amounts held are assessed against equity targets, based on independently developed actuarial models. 

Equity 

Equity increased by $14.4 million to $101.7 million in 2021/22. Equity is held by each National Board in accordance with an agreed framework and serves several important purposes, including: 

  • mitigating against unexpected loss not covered by the National Scheme’s comprehensive insurance 
  • funding capital and strategic projects that support the effective and efficient operation of Boards and the scheme 
  • offsetting the impact to the financial position due to variance in the operating result. 

The equity balance also includes funding for strategic projects delayed due to restrictions or other consequences of COVID-19 in recent years. These projects have been committed to by Boards to support effective and efficient regulatory functions.

Assets 

The financial assets of $242.2 million includes $116.4 million in registration fees paid in advance for all professions. 

Non-financial assets include IT intangible assets that increased to $17.0 million from $9.4 million in 2020/21. Property lease assets have been consumed, reducing to $44.2 million in 2021/22 as scheduled. 

Capital investment was higher than in 2020/21. Property right-of-use assets increased $2.6 million with a new lease for the Western Australian office. Intangible asset investments for cyber security, data platform and transformation program increased the work in progress to $12.2 million as at 30 June 2022. 

Liabilities 

Employee benefits provisions increased in line with additional resourcing to meet demands of business growth and investment initiatives, long service, wage inflation and an increase to the superannuation guarantee. There is a slight offset resulting from the economic impact of applying an increased discount rate that reduces the present value of long service leave and excess annual leave liability. 

The year ahead 

The expected financial performance in 2022/23 is for a small operating deficit to occur, as expenditure is increased to meet growth in operational demands and investment in transformation programs. Break-even results are forecast in the forward years consistent with our five-year financial plan that aims to adequately fund the required workforce, support and systems from continued increases to the scheme’s regulatory income.

Risks are managed in accordance with the Australian and New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2018) and the risk management processes are an element of Ahpra’s Corporate assurance framework

Ahpra’s Corporate assurance framework aims to provide sufficient, continuous and reliable assurance on the management of major risks to continuously improve regulatory services to the Australian community. Ahpra, in partnership with the National Boards, seeks to manage risks in ways that allow us to meet the objectives of the National Scheme strategy. During 2021/22, the National Scheme managed its risks within the following risk themes: 

  • regulatory effectiveness and partnerships 
  • business transformation outcomes and financial sustainability 
  • delivering actions to eliminate racism for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples within healthcare 
  • removing barriers to access for identified communities 
  • public confidence/trust 
  • cyber security/emerging technologies 
  • people and culture 
  • health practitioner workforce sustainability. 

The corporate assurance and risk management processes are integrated with the strategic and business planning processes and come from many sources within the organisation. 
Ahpra's internal audit function forms part of the review process, provides assurance on the risk management process, and advises the Finance, Audit and Risk Management committee (FARMC) accordingly. 

Insurance policies are in place to mitigate the risk of financial losses arising from an (insured) event. 

Quality assurance activities confirm the implementation of our work by doing the right things the right way. We review organisational systems and processes to help us identify and mitigate risks by applying the right controls. Quality assurance complements risk management activities by taking proactive and preventive action to reduce risks and drive continuous improvement. 

Corporate legal compliance 

In addition to regular reporting to FARMC, we have undertaken the following tasks to improve governance and compliance: 

  • implementing Ahpra’s whole-of-organisation legislative compliance program, with reporting to be presented to FARMC in late 2022 
  • reviewing Ahpra’s Public interest disclosure (whistleblower) policy and drafting an accompanying procedure to assist Ahpra public interest disclosure (PID) officers to meet their obligations in each state and territory 
  • cataloguing and reviewing all Ahpra corporate policies and the National Law to assess Ahpra and the National Boards’ risk of regulatory capture 
  • working with Ahpra’s Procurement team to draft a Modern slavery policy to ensure Ahpra’s supply chain is compliant with Commonwealth anti-slavery legislation 
  • refreshing Ahpra’s Procedure to respond to a breach of privacy to assist staff to identify risks and quickly and easily report privacy breaches. 

Ahpra’s Public interest disclosure policy is for the use of Ahpra staff as well as members of the public. Twenty-one referrals were received by Ahpra’s whistleblower hotline provider, Deloitte, and another two were sent directly to Ahpra. Of the 21 referrals submitted to Deloitte, ten were made by a single person and nine were complaints regarding vaccine mandates. After an assessment, one referral was found to meet the criteria of a public interest disclosure. This matter related to conduct arising in Victoria and was referred to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). IBAC considered the disclosure and decided that the matter did not warrant investigation.

Ahpra received: 

  • 286 valid applications for access to documents under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) 
  • 21 applications for internal review of an FOI decision. 

The National Health Practitioner Privacy Commissioner (NHPPC) notified Ahpra that: 

  • 12 applications for external review of an Ahpra FOI decision had been made 
  • 7 external review applications had been closed. 

The NHPPC provided notice that Ahpra’s FOI decision had been affirmed in one matter. In another matter, the NHPPC notified Ahpra that it had varied Ahpra’s access decision to provide an applicant with additional details within redacted documents. Ahpra was advised that two applicants had withdrawn their applications for external review and three matters were discontinued by the NHPPC. 

Two applications were made to a responsible tribunal for a review of FOI decisions. These applications were made after the NHPPC had already made a decision. 

During the year, 326 FOI applications were finalised: 178 were granted in full or part. At 30 June, 25 FOI matters were open and had not been finalised. 

Evidentiary certificates 

Ahpra issued 129 evidentiary certificates, most in response to requests from our co-regulatory partners, health complaints entities and police, to help them to perform their functions in the community. 

Production of documents 

We responded to 140 subpoenas and orders to produce documents issued by courts, tribunals and law enforcement bodies about proceedings in which neither Ahpra nor a National Board was a party.

When people raise concerns about Ahpra and the National Boards, we aim to listen, to respond promptly, empathetically and fairly, and to learn from the issues raised. 

Administrative complaints relate to concerns about the service delivery, policies, procedures and decisions of Ahpra, National Boards and committees, and the Agency Management Committee. They are divided into three types: 

  • Stage 1 (straightforward) complaints are handled by the Ahpra area that receives them. 
  • Stage 2 (complex) complaints are managed by a National Complaints team. 
  • Stage 3 complaints are investigated or reviewed externally by the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman (NHPO). 

We received fewer complaints from health practitioners, employers and the public, and more complaints about public campaigns. 

We saw 50 fewer concerns raised from health practitioners compared to 2020/21. We also saw fewer complaints from members of the public (34, compared with 74 in 2020/21) and employers (down from 14 to 9). 

There was a significant increase in complaints about a public campaign: 160, up from 48 previously.

Public campaign complaints 

The increase in overall complaints can be attributed to a substantial increase in the number of public campaign complaints, which increased by 233%. Public campaign complaints accounted for 18.7% of all complaints received. 

A public campaign complaint is made about our regulatory role by individuals who are not a party to a regulatory action and do not have a personal relationship with the subject of the regulatory actions. Often this involves submitting a complaint after being made aware of the matter, usually through traditional or social media. This year we received public campaign complaints about statements made by Ahpra and the National Boards about the COVID-19 vaccination program and regulatory action taken against specific health practitioners. 

Issues raised 

We received 853 complaints about 1,239 issues – a complaint may include more than one issue. 

Registration issues 

In the 374 complaints received about registration, process and policies were raised 165 times, communication was raised 147 times, perceived delay in our management of applications was raised 102 times, and other issues (including accessibility and technical problems) were raised 71 times. 

Notifications issues 

In the 285 complaints received about notifications, dissatisfaction with the outcome was raised 183 times, communication 100 times, policies or processes 73 times, and the time taken to finalise a notification 55 times. 

Resolving complaints 

We responded to 838 complaints. When we receive a complaint, we look carefully at the information provided and how people would like their complaint resolved. We then conduct a review of the information we hold and endeavour to respond in a way that meaningfully addresses the concerns. 

Engaging with the NHPO 

The NHPO receives complaints and helps people who think they may have been treated unfairly in administrative processes by the national agencies in the National Scheme. We engage collaboratively with the NHPO to resolve complaints and value its contribution. 

Under our early resolution transfer process with the NHPO, 102 complaints were handed to us to resolve directly. 

We responded to 76 enquiries received from the NHPO seeking preliminary information about a complaint. We also provided documents and other information in response to 17 notices of investigation from the NHPO. 

A complaint can be reported more than once if a person complains to both Ahpra and the NHPO.

Performance 

We aim to respond to complaints within 20 business days. Our average time to respond was faster than the expected timeframes.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 22/11/2022