The Ahpra website was viewed more than 29 million times. The most frequently visited section was Registration with more than 15 million unique page views. The Register of practitioners was the most popular individual page with more than 6 million unique views. The website’s home pages were redesigned to be more engaging and easier to use. The new design went live in February.
We published nine new episodes of our Taking Care podcast, and they were downloaded 11,532 times. There were 21,633 downloads across all episodes. The most popular episodes this year were about the challenges for our overseas workforce, rural and remote healthcare, and the link between climate change and healthcare.
Our social media posts were seen 2.63 million times and received 93,800 interactions (likes, shares and comments). Overall, we increased our audience by 20%, with 133,544 LinkedIn followers, 38,900 Facebook followers, 11,900 Twitter followers and 4,240 Instagram followers.
We published 51 National Board newsletters, with an average open rate of 63.1%.
We published 508 news items, including 43 media releases.
We responded to 461 media enquiries.
Our national Customer Service team handled an average of 675 telephone calls and closed 350 web enquiries each business day. Compared with 2021/22, call volumes were down by 4.6% and web enquiries were up by 25.3%, continuing the trend over the past few years of fewer calls and more web enquiries. On average, 35% of callers opted to use the call-back service, meaning they were able to retain their place in the queue without waiting on hold.
Ahpra’s governing body meets up to 11 times per year. The board publishes a communiqué of meetings that summarises issues discussed and decisions made. It has established four committees.
The Accreditation Committee provides advice on accreditation governance, reform, accountability and transparency issues, and a whole-of-scheme perspective on accreditation performance.
The Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee oversees risk and advises on the effectiveness of the corporate assurance framework, risk management, financial strategy, sustainability and internal audits. It also oversees the external audit process.
The Regulatory Performance Committee provides advice, oversight and scrutiny of regulatory performance measures and data.
The People and Remuneration Committee provides governance oversight of strategy and performance in relation to people, capability and culture.
The National Executive is Ahpra’s national leadership group.
Regulatory Operations carries out Ahpra’s core functions of registration, notifications and compliance, and includes the national legal practice. It also includes the Cosmetic Surgery Enforcement Unit, which was established in September. The directorate applies risk-based approaches to regulatory matters, so we can focus our regulatory efforts on matters of high risk and high complexity and, wherever possible, resolve other matters more quickly.
Strategy and Policy’s purpose is effective and responsive strategy and policy in partnership with National Boards and in collaboration with our key partners. Our goal is that our partners and stakeholders have trust and confidence in our work.
Information Technology partners with internal and external stakeholders to provide the technology and services required to support health practitioner regulation in Australia.
People and Culture is accountable for whole-of-organisation initiatives that drive employee engagement and include services such as learning and organisational capability, health, safety and wellbeing, recruitment, payroll, property and facilities.
Finance and Risk is responsible for efficient and effective financial strategy and management, procurement, risk management and assurance, and audit programs.
Our state and territory managers are our senior leaders in each jurisdiction, and are based at each of our offices.
Mr Daniel Hillary was acting state manager in South Australia for part of the year.
A structured multiyear program of work, the Business Transformation Program is implementing a new regulatory operating system to modernise our practices.
There are several planned releases for the program, with the first focusing on improving practitioners’ experiences when engaging with Ahpra. To achieve this, we’re introducing practitioner portals – one-stop shops for engaging and communicating with Ahpra. The portals will include digital smart forms for all applications, replacing paper forms; a more secure, single sign-on process to increase the security of individuals’ information; and integrated biometric ID verification, which will remove the need for manual, face-to-face approaches.
We’re also planning to introduce integrated student register data for improved workforce and operational planning, adapting to the changing needs of Australia’s healthcare workforce.
Risk exposure is managed in accordance with the Australian and New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS ISO 31000:2018). Ahpra’s Risk management framework aims to provide sufficient, continuous and reliable assurance on the management of major risks to continuously improve regulatory services. We seek to manage risks in ways that allow us to meet the objectives of the National Scheme’s strategy. During 2022/23, the scheme managed its risks within the following themes:
The corporate-assurance and risk-management processes are integrated with the strategic and business-planning processes and come from many sources within the organisation.
Insurable risk is managed through the ongoing maintenance of Ahpra’s insurance portfolio, which includes policies to adequately mitigate the risk of financial losses arising from an (insured) event.
Assurance is provided through internal audit, which provides independent objective assurance and advice regarding risk management to the Finance Audit and Risk Management Committee and the Ahpra Board. In addition, quality assurance activities are undertaken to provide assurance to stakeholders of the efficacy of Ahpra’s operational activities. These activities help identify and mitigate risks, determine whether processes assist Ahpra to achieve its objectives, produce required outputs and outcomes, and identify good practices and opportunities for improvement.
Enhancements were made to improve the way that Ahpra identifies, assesses and manages compliance obligations. Development of a corporate compliance framework in alignment with the AS ISO 37301:2023 Compliance management systems – Requirements with guidance for use, is underway. As part of this, compliance obligations are identified and assigned to various business units for ongoing management.
To ensure corporate compliance, we have:
Our modern slavery procedure addresses the risks of modern slavery in supply chains. The procedure requires procurement officers to consider the risk profile of the procurement or the supplier relating to modern slavery compliance before they engage a supplier or renew an existing contract. The modern slavery procedure is an important part of our commitment to responsible sourcing and helps to ensure that we do not contribute to modern slavery in our supply chains.
Additionally, Ahpra published its first Modern slavery statement in the modern slavery register. The statement outlines our approach to modern slavery, including our risk assessment, due diligence and training programs. The statement also includes information about Ahpra’s whistleblowing policy and how people can report suspected modern slavery. The statement provides transparency and accountability for Ahpra’s efforts to address this issue.
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, the National Boards, the Ahpra Board and committees. There are three types:
This year we received fewer complaints than the previous year (731, down from 853). The most significant decrease in complaints were those about a public campaign – this year we received 57, well down from 160 in 2021/22. 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 a regulatory action. Often this involves submitting a complaint after being made aware of a regulatory matter, usually through traditional or social media.
Other areas where we saw fewer complaints were from health practitioners who were the subject of a notification (60, down from 76 in 2021/22), health practitioners who had made an application for registration (307, down from 348) and members of the public (28, down from 34). We saw small increases in complaints from people who had made a notification about a practitioner (189, up from 165) and employers (16, up from 9).
The 731 complaints we received were about 1,163 issues. A complaint may include more than one issue.
In the 339 complaints received about registration, processes and policies were raised 127 times, communication was raised 122 times, a perceived delay in our management of applications was raised 96 times, and dissatisfaction with a regulatory outcome was raised 54 times.
In complaints received from practitioners about our management of their application for registration, there was a reduction in concerns raised about communication during the application process (mentioned 122 times, down from 151 in 2021/22) and time taken to assess an application (mentioned 93 times, down from 100 in 2021/22). This reflects changes we made that aim to improve communication with applicants and speed up the assessment of applications.
In the 350 complaints received about notifications, dissatisfaction with the outcome was raised 228 times, making this the most common issue raised. Communication was raised 99 times, policies or processes 57 times, and the time taken to finalise a notification 46 times.
In complaints received from practitioners regarding our management of a notification made about them, there was a reduction in concerns raised about the notifications process (mentioned 25 times, compared to 41 times in 2021/22), communication during the notifications process (mentioned 24 times, compared to 32 in 2021/22) and time to finalise a notification (mentioned 17 times, compared to 27 in 2021/22).
The NHPO receives complaints from people who think they have been treated unfairly in our administrative processes. We collaborate with the NHPO to resolve complaints, and we value its contribution. Under our early resolution transfer process with the NHPO, 143 complaints were handed to us to resolve directly. We responded to 81 enquiries received from the NHPO seeking preliminary information. We also provided documents and other information in response to 15 notices of investigation.
We responded to 721 complaints. We look carefully at the information provided and at how people would like their complaint resolved. We then review the information we hold and endeavour to respond in a way that meaningfully addresses the concerns.
We may take more than one action to address a complaint. We aim to respond to complaints within 20 business days. Our average time to respond in 2021/22 was consistently within the expected timeframes.
The National Health Practitioner Privacy Commissioner (NHPPC) notified Ahpra that:
The NHPPC provided notice that Ahpra’s FOI decision had been affirmed in two matters and varied in one matter. Ahpra was advised that one applicant had withdrawn their application for external review and a further eight matters were discontinued by the NHPPC.
One application was made to a tribunal for a review of an FOI decision.
During the year, 240 FOI applications were finalised. At 30 June, 40 FOI matters were open and had not been finalised.
Ahpra issued 135 evidentiary certificates, most in response to requests from our co-regulatory partners, health complaints entities and police, to help them perform their functions in the community.
We responded to 131 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.