No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare

30 Jun 2021

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the National Boards are reminding practitioners that there is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare.

Key points

  • Ahpra and the National Boards have released a joint statement reminding practitioners that there is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. Ahpra and the National Boards explicitly condemn this behaviour by registered health practitioners.
  • No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare reinforces the important role registered practitioners have in building and maintaining a culture of respect in healthcare. Ahpra and the National Boards encourage speaking up about disrespectful behaviour and unprofessional conduct to support a safer healthcare system for everyone.
  • Unprofessional conduct, including sexual harassment or assault is contrary to the National Boards’ codes of conduct (or equivalent).

A position statement released today, No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare, reinforces the professional, respectful behaviour expected of registered health practitioners. This includes always communicating professionally and respectfully with and about others, including when using social media.

Most of Australia’s 822,374 registered health practitioners are focused on patient safety and practise professionally and respectfully within the regulatory framework of registration standards, codes and guidelines set by National Boards. However, there have been recent media reports about some incidents of sexual harassment and gendered violence involving registered health practitioners, prompting Ahpra and National Boards to issue this statement.

Ahpra and the National Boards explicitly condemn sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence by registered health practitioners.

‘Respect is a cornerstone of good, professional practice and it is fundamental to the Australian community’s trust in registered health practitioners. Sexual harassment by registered health practitioners is unprofessional conduct and Ahpra and the National Boards encourage reporting of this type of behaviour,’ Psychology Board of Australia Chair, and registered psychologist, Rachel Phillips said.

Unprofessional conduct may result in regulatory action including suspending registration or imposing a condition on registration, to protect the public.

Some unprofessional conduct may involve criminal behaviour, such as sexual assault, and should be considered by police in the first instance.

‘Speaking up when we see or experience disrespectful behaviour and addressing it helps build a culture of respect that supports patient safety. Gendered violence and sexual harassment are unacceptable in any context and we want to make it clear that National Boards and Ahpra condemn this behaviour by registered health practitioners,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.

Raising concerns about a registered health practitioner’s unprofessional conduct

Concerns about disrespectful behaviour can often be handled locally, including raising concerns directly and as soon as practicable with the practitioner or with the practitioners’ employer. Serious concerns about unprofessional conduct, including sexual harassment, can be reported to Ahpra through the concerns submission portal. For more information about raising concerns about registered health practitioners, visit the Ahpra website.

For more information and support

  • Full position statement can be found on the Board's website
  • For media enquiries, phone 03 8708 9200.
  • For free counselling and support, contact 1800Respect on 1800 737 732
 
 
Page reviewed 30/06/2021