Protecting patients from sexual misconduct in healthcare

In February 2023 we announced reforms to strengthen public safety in health regulation with a focus on sexual misconduct in healthcare. 

The reforms raise the bar for patient safety, with increased transparency and increased support for victim-survivors. The reforms build on changes in recent years to better protect patients from sexual misconduct. 

The information below highlights our work to date. Some of our broader reforms planned will require National Law amendments and cross-jurisdiction support.

Learn more about our work 

Notifier Support Service

Support for people involved in sexual misconduct matters.

Through a trauma-informed approach, qualified social workers provide emotional support and help explain how our notifications process works.

Criminal history standard review

Ahpra and the National Boards recently consulted on several issues related to the criminal history standard and some related areas of work. 

We are now considering stakeholder responses with outcomes from the consultation to be released in early 2024, before further public consultation about specific changes to the standard.

More specialist investigators

Resources have been boosted to meet the jump in sexual misconduct complaints.

We have added 10 full-time staff members to our specialist investigation team to reduce investigation times and help us reach an outcome quicker.


Information on the public register

Publicly available tribunal/court decisions about proven serious allegations are available on a practitioner’s registration details page on the Public register of practitioners. This increased transparency helps patients and consumers make informed decisions about their healthcare.

Chaperone review

In 2017, Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia made changes to the handling of allegations of sexual boundary violations following an Independent review of the use of chaperones to protect patients in Australia.

Find out more about the recommendations and actions taken.

Information sharing

Ahpra has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Victoria and Western Australia police forces and the Tasmanian Government. Development of other MOUs is ongoing.

The MOUs establish procedures for timely and appropriate information sharing, within the law.


Timeline

2023

  • Review of registration standard for criminal history starts with consultation of stakeholders (open eight weeks)
  • Specialist investigation team and Notifier Support Service expanded
  • Launch of blueprint reforms to strengthen public safety in health regulation

2021

  • Notifier Support Service pilot begins with aim of preventing or mitigating re-traumatisation of notifiers

2020

  • Approach to investigations reset to complete more and faster
  • Review of changes in regulatory management of sexual misconduct is found to have profound impact

2018

2017

  • Specialist Ahpra investigators identified and given specialist training to manage complaints and/or concerns about sexual misconduct
  • The Medical Board of Australia establishes a National Sexual Boundaries Notifications Committee to deal with all matters about sexual misconduct
  • A National Specialist Compliance team established within Ahpra to monitor practitioners with conditions on their registration related to allegations of sexual misconduct
  • Members of the National Sexual Boundaries Notifications Committee and staff that engage with victims/survivors receive training from Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service
  • All recommendations of independent review into use of chaperone conditions adopted

2016

  • Medical Board of Australia and Ahpra commission an independent review of the use of chaperone conditions as a regulatory tool to manage allegations of sexual misconduct