Find out about the complaints process

Receiving the complaint or concern

There are a number of possible stages in the complaints process. Importantly, not every complaint goes through all the possible stages. For example, many complaints are closed after assessment.

In complex cases, a complaint can be involved in more than one stage at the same time and can take a number of possible pathways. One of the features of the National Law is its flexibility, so the complaints process can be tailored to the issues involved.

The initial stages of the process

Acknowledgement and notice

Acknowledgement and notice

Complaints or concerns about health practitioners can be lodged by phone, email, post, through our online complaint form or in person.

We will acknowledge receipt of all complaints or concerns in writing, providing a reference number for the matter.

The practitioner is also usually contacted and advised that a complaint has been received.


During the lodgement, or first stage of a complaint, we need to determine if the complaint or concern raised:

  • relates to a registered health practitioner, and 
  • relates to a matter that is a ground for a complaint or concern under section 144 of the National Law.

We also need to decide during the lodgement stage if there is enough information provided for the complaint or concern to proceed. If there is not enough information 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 or concern because there is not enough information to proceed.

If the complaint has been made on behalf of the patient, we need the patient’s consent to proceed. If this has not already been provided, we will contact the person who made the complaint to obtain the patient’s consent.

If the concerns raised identify a possible serious or immediate risk, then you may be contacted and requested to provide further information very quickly.

In some instances, the lodgement stage may take up to 30 days when we need to seek further information. However, we always endeavour to obtain additional information as quickly as possible.


An assessment of a matter takes place after we have received enough information about a complaint made or concern raised, and sufficient information to identify a practitioner.

In most cases, we try to complete the assessment process within 60 days. During this period, we will contact you to make sure we have all of the relevant information about your complaint or concern. The health practitioner who has had a complaint made or concerns raised about them is also usually contacted and may be asked to respond to the complaint or concerns.

Sometimes, AHPRA is not able to contact the practitioner at this stage if it is considered doing so would:

  • prejudice an investigation 
  • place a person’s safety at risk, or 
  • place a person at risk of intimidation.

The role of the AHPRA investigator is to gather relevant information. At the end of the assessment stage, the investigator will present this information to the National Board for consideration. This report is prepared only for the National Board and is not released to the practitioner or the person who raised the complaint or concern.

After assessing a complaint or concern, a National Board has a number of options available including:

  • close the complaint or concern, or take another action under the National Law
  • refer the matter or aspects of the matter for investigation, or
  • refer the health practitioner for a health or performance assessment.

Other stages of the process

Find more information about the other stages of the complaints process:

Page reviewed 21/08/2018