Overview of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme

In 2008 the Council of Australian Governments decided to establish a single National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for 10 health professions. There is a National Board for each profession. AHPRA is the single agency that supports the Boards and the National Scheme. AHPRA has offices in each state and territory, with the head office in Melbourne.

The National Scheme commenced in 2010. A further four health professions joined the scheme from 1 July 2012, including the new profession of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners.

The National Scheme has been established under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act (the National Law), as in force in each state and territory. The main purpose of the National Boards is to protect the public by registering suitability qualified, safe and competent practitioners. The Boards are led by the professions and are separate to, and independent of, professional associations and unions.

Further information on the National Law is available on the AHPRA website.

The key principles are:

  • that the National Scheme is to operate in a transparent, accountable, efficient, effective and fair way
  • fees required to be paid are to be reasonable
  • restrictions on the practice of a health profession are only to be imposed if they are needed to make sure that health services are safe and appropriate.

Some of the benefits of the National Scheme are:

  • once a practitioner is registered they can practice anywhere in Australia
  • everyone who is registered has to meet the same standards.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners
  • Chinese medicine practitioners
  • Chiropractors
  • Dental practitioners (including dentists, dental hygienists, dental prosthetists & dental therapists)
  • Medical practitioners
  • Medical radiation practitioners
  • Nurses and midwives
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Osteopaths
  • Pharmacists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Podiatrists
  • Psychologists

AHPRA stands for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. It is a national agency established to support the National Scheme. AHPRA provides operational and administrative support to each of the National Boards. There is an AHPRA office in each state and territory, with the head office in Melbourne.

More information on AHPRA can be found on the AHPRA website.

Each of the National Boards has responsibility for the regulation of their profession under the National Law. The primary role of each National Board is to protect the public and set standards and policies that health practitioners must meet in order to be registered.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board was appointed by Australian Health Ministers in July 2011 to begin getting ready for when the profession enters the National Scheme on 1 July 2012. This work has included developing and consulting on registration standards, codes and guidelines for the profession developing and consulting on registration standards codes and guidelines for the profession and, from 1 July 2012, will also include

  • registering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and students
  • handling notifications, complaints, investigations and disciplinary hearings
  • keeping the national register of practitioners.

National Board members are appointed by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council for a period of not more than three years and are eligible for reappointment.

Find out more about your National Board members.

A national practitioner register is available on the AHPRA website so that everyone can see who is registered and can see any conditions which are attached to a practitioner’s registration (note that if a practitioner has any health conditions which are attached to their registration, these will not appear on the national register).

There are specific titles listed in section 113 of the National Law which are referred to as protected. This means that only those people who are registered in a particular profession can use the titles associated with that profession.

Persons receiving health care are entitled to know whether they are dealing with a registered practitioner. The aim of title protection and registration is to protect the public by restricting the use of specified titles to practitioners who have been assessed as competent to deliver the specified services.

For the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice profession these protected titles are: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, Aboriginal health practitioner and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner.

A person holding a particular title should be able to offer the services associated with that title. The National Law prohibits making claims to be qualified as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, an Aboriginal health practitioner, and a Torres Strait Islander health practitioner unless you are registered appropriately. The National Law also prohibits knowingly or recklessly holding yourself out as being registered under the National Law.

Holding out means to present yourself in a way that suggests to others that you are something or someone that you are not. A person who is not a registered health practitioner must not:

  • use the title of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, an Aboriginal health practitioner, or a Torres Strait Islander health practitioner or
  • claim to be registered under the National Law or hold themselves out as being registered under the National Law.

The National Law permits conditions to be imposed on a practitioner's registration by a National Board when deciding to register a practitioner. Conditions are imposed when a Board decides it is necessary or desirable in the circumstances. A practitioner must comply with the conditions on their registration and failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

For example, if you do not meet the English Language Skills Registration Standard, you may have a condition imposed.

The Board will advise you if it proposes to impose conditions including the conditions proposed and the reasons for the conditions. You will have an opportunity to make written or oral submissions about the conditions. The Board will then reach a decision on whether or not the conditions should be imposed. If you do not agree with that decision, you will have an opportunity to lodge an appeal.

 
 
 
Page reviewed 8/05/2013