National Scheme engagement strategy 2020-2025

Introduction

There is growing evidence that trust is fundamentally important to be an effective regulator.1

We rely on members of the community, health practitioners, students, employers, co-regulators, educators and many others to engage, and work with us, as we regulate more than 744,000 registered health practitioners across Australia.2 They expect us to be fair, transparent, responsive, empathic and accountable as we regulate and work effectively with our partners to keep the public safe.

We maintain a wide range of important relationships and partnerships across the health care system in Australia as well as internationally. We are committed to working with a broad range of stakeholders and doing our part to protect the health and safety of the public within a wider network of regulation.

This strategy:

  • outlines the broad principles to guide our strategic engagement
  • aims to ensure that our interactions with individuals and organisations are consistently respectful, person-centred and contribute towards our regulatory objectives,
  • provides an overview of ways we will engage with our stakeholders over the next five years.

The strategy supports the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Strategy 2020-25 (National Scheme strategy).

It expands on the ‘Trust and Confidence’ pillar and its purpose is to support Ahpra and the National Boards to deliver on the goals and objectives of the NRAS National Strategy 2020-25.

Important note

This strategy outlines our engagement approach and commitments. It is not a legal instrument and does not supersede our legislative commitments. The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, in effect in each state and territory, directs Ahpra and National Boards in our work to regulate registered health practitioners.

Ahpra works in partnership with 15 National Boards (the Boards) to protect the public by regulating health practitioners practising in Australia across 16 regulated professions in the National Scheme.3 This work enables community access to health services from suitably trained and qualified health practitioners. Public safety is always our number one priority. Our decisions are guided by the National Law.4 The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council oversees our work.

Why engaging in a meaningful way is important to us

We know that a commitment to genuine and appropriate engagement can improve the effectiveness of our regulation of health practitioners and contribute to a safer health care system in Australia.

We understand that to be an effective and efficient regulator, we must be responsive to the evolving understanding and expectations of the public, health practitioners, key organisational partners and other stakeholders. This requires two-way communication and an active interest in the needs of people who engage with us.

Elicit and understand community and practitioner expectations

So that we can address expectations

Build interest in and understanding of regulation by the community and practitioners

To build trust in the scheme

Provide more positive experiences of our processes

So that people are not discouraged from engaging with us

Promote informed practices to regulate more effectively and efficiently

For safer healthcare

Our policies and programs are based on best available evidence and reflect the relevant expertise of our key stakeholders

So that we can be effective

Improved collaboration and coordination with partners in patient safety

For patient safety

Through a focus on the following objectives, we aim to increase the trust and confidence of our key stakeholders. The priority objectives for our engagement strategy are driven by several key areas of the National Scheme strategy:

Overall objective: Build trust and confidence with our stakeholders to be a more effective regulator
Focus area: Relationships and partnerships Focus area: Cultural safety Focus area: Person-centred focus
Specific objective Through our relationships and partnerships, we work to build a humane, effective, accessible and responsive regulatory system. We contribute to a culturally safe health system for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. We are fair, transparent, responsive, empathic and accountable.
Goal statement: Communities and the public Build trusted and effective relationships with the community, with a focus on representative groups for diverse and more at risk communities.

Public safety is improved through increased community access to and knowledge of regulation.
Increase knowledge and awareness among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of when and how to engage with us, including when raising concerns about a practitioner. Enable a person-centred culture that is consistent with our service charter and recognises vulnerable people in the community.
Goal statement: Practitioners Increase our positive and proactive engagement with practitioners and practitioner groups.

Improve communication of our role in wider patient safety system.
Support health equity and cultural safety in all engagement with all registered health practitioners. Enable a person-centred culture that is consistent with our service charter.
Goal statement: Organisations involved in ensuring public safety Improve our coordination and sharing of information with partner organisations.

Actively seek opportunities to partner with organisations to improve our regulatory effectiveness.
Ensure engagement is guided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Commit to transparency in our engagement and provide meaningful information on our performance.

This engagement strategy will be applied across all levels and functions of our work.

We recognise we may not always be able to be as proactive or two-way in our engagement as we, or our stakeholders, would like. In these cases, we will be clear about these limitations.

Our stakeholders

Our stakeholders include:

  • patients, clients and consumers of health services
  • registered health practitioners and students of approved health practitioner courses
  • health care providers/employers
  • notifiers, which includes registered practitioners, employers, patients and others
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health leaders and experts
  • vulnerable and higher risk communities, including children, the aged, those living with disability, people who are the potential targets of family and domestic violence, and those from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.5
  • the Commonwealth, state and territory Ministers for Health and their departments • co-regulators of health practitioners
  • accreditation bodies
  • education providers
  • profession representative organisations
  • health complaints entities
  • professional indemnity insurers
  • other Australian health system regulatory authorities

Consultation with key stakeholders has provided us with an initial picture of what we need to do and how to do it to gain their trust and confidence.

They want us to be fair, transparent, responsive, empathic and accountable.6 We are committed to these behaviours, which will guide our stakeholder engagement, can be found in our service charter.

How we will engage with stakeholders

We recognise that there are many types of engagement, which suit specific stakeholders differently. The purpose and frequency of our engagement will vary to reflect the needs of the stakeholder.

We also acknowledge that our engagement will be iterative and evolve at a different pace depending on the stakeholders. Accordingly, we have adopted the IAP2 Spectrum (recognised as the global standard for defining forms of engagement) to help to shape our approach to engagement.

Inform Consult Involve Collaborate Empower
  We will provide our stakeholders with accessible, timely and appropriate information to help them understand our work, what they can expect from us, how we will work with them, as well as information and discussion of relevant health issues. We will seek stakeholder feedback on an ongoing basis to understand what we need to improve. We will also formally consult when proposing changes to regulatory standards. We will involve our stakeholders to ensure their feedback and concerns are consistently understood and considered. We will let them know any outcomes resulting from their feedback. We will partner with our stakeholders, including in the development of policies, procedures, engagement and campaigns. We will work with stakeholders to create shared networks and partnerships, empowering groups to develop and lead initiatives.
Ways we can demonstrate these
  • One-on-one communication (phone, email)
  • Corporate communications such as newsletters, fact sheets and
  • Web content
  • Announcements on social media
  • Meetings
  • Webinars
  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • User experience testing
  • Calls for comment
  • Public meetings / forums
  • Formal arrangements such as Memoranda of understanding (MOUs)
  • Stakeholder workshops
  • Reference groups
  • Expert panels
  • Roundtable meetings
  • Joint planning
  • Provision of data
  • Shared projects
  • Sponsorships
Examples of current work
  • Ahpra Report
  • Annual Report
  • National Board newsletters
  • Media relations
  • Practitioner Information Exchange
  • Podcasts
  • Notifier and practitioner website videos
  • Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram
  • Definition of cultural practice consultation
  • National Board consultations
  • Medical Training Survey
  • Notifier and practitioner experience surveys and interviews
  • New registrant surveys
  • MOUs with police, Dept of Health, etc.
  • Mandatory reporting focus groups
  • Partnership agreements
  • Advisory groups (such as that used for the Medical Training Survey)
  • Community Reference Group
  • Professions Reference Group
  • Mandatory reporting external reference group
  • Regulatory Expert Advisory Group
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group
  • Expert advisory panels
  • WHO Collaborating Centre
  • CRG is represented on the Forum of National Chairs
Proposed future work
  • Develop multilingual resources
  • User-friendly information about public register
  • Community education campaign for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  • Town hall meetings with community
  • Regular, 'Listening events' with the professions
  • Registration surveys (previous registrants)
  • Engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners about barriers and enablers to participation
  • Social research (e.g. such as focus groups) for future campaigns and consultations
  • Increasing engagement with health consumer bodies
  • Partner with community groups to improve navigation of the health complaints system more broadly
  • State and Territory-based consumer reference groups
  • Strengthen collaboration with quality and safety bodies
  • Explore co-design with practitioners for policy development

Ahpra and the Boards will implement this strategy in line with the overarching National Scheme Strategy 2020-25.

It will require effort at all levels of our work and at every stage of our processes. This includes actively seeking feedback from stakeholders, designing our processes, engaging and communicating, providing information, as well as how we adapt and respond to feedback from those stakeholders.

We will monitor our progress through structured annual reviews of our activities as they evolve.

We will analyse:

  1. social research survey results, measuring trust and confidence of practitioners and the public in Ahpra and the Boards
  2. engagement data in our regulatory work such as notifier and practitioner surveys and surveys of new (first-time) registrants
  3. engagement data gained through our other policy frameworks such as our Professional Practice Strategy
  4. evaluation of existing forms of engagement to determine their effectiveness 5. sentiment reflected in media coverage
  5. progress on the balanced scorecard of relevant measures built into the NRAS Strategy 2020-25.

We will continue to launch new initiatives, such as the emerging podcast channel, public forums, and practitioner listening events. We will build feedback mechanisms into those activities, which will help us evaluate our progress towards improved trust and confidence through engagement. We will share feedback with relevant stakeholder groups (internally and externally).

 

For more information

Please contact the Ahpra communications team if you have questions about this strategy by emailing communications@ahpra.gov.au.


  1. OECD (2017) How Better Governance Can Help Rebuild Public Trust, www.oecd.org/governance/trust-and-public-policy-9789264268920-en.htm
  2. Ahpra and the National Boards (the Boards) are charged with the regulation of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (2009) (the National Law) as enacted in each state and territory in Australia
  3. National Registration and Accreditation Scheme
  4. Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory
  5. Several of these specific groups were recently highlighted by the COAG Health Ministers in Policy Direction 2019-1 to Ahpraand the National Boards to consider the potential impact of practitioners’ conduct on these potentially more vulnerable groups.
  6. These five qualities are based on significant feedback through both the annual sentiment surveys of the public and practitioners (completed in 2018 and 2019) as well as 85 semi-structured interviews and over 6,000 responses to a post notification survey of notifiers and practitioners.
 
 
 
Page reviewed 5/10/2020