Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia - 2019 annual report
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2019 annual report

Snapshot of the profession

  • 812 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners
    • Up 17.7% from 2018/19
    • 0.1% of all registered health practitioners
  • 100% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 77.6% female; 22.4% male


Age: 4.2% < 25, 21.7% 25-34, 22.0% 35-44, 27.3% 45-54, 20.8% 55-64, 3.9% 65-74

Audit outcomes

Audit: 100.0% fully compliant

Regulating the profession


  • 8 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 6 registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 0.7% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: 50.0% patient, relative or member of the public, 25.0% other practitioner, 12.5% HCE, 12.5% employer

  • No immediate action taken
  • 1 mandatory notification received
    • about professional standards

Most common types of complaint

Most common types of complaint: 37.5% breach of non-offence provision – National Law 12.5% clinical care 12.5% offence against other law 12.5% conflict of interest 25% other

Notifications closed

9 notifications closed (11.1% received a caution or reprimand, 11.1% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 77.8% no further action)


  • 4 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/ or conduct during the year
  • 4 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 2 for health reasons
    • 1 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 1 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 1 criminal offence complaint made
    • about title protection
  • 2 were closed

Referrals to an adjudication body

  • No matters decided by a tribunal
  • No matters decided by a panel
  • No appeals

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board has made steady progress on its strategic objectives during 2019/20. Those objectives include telling the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner story to governments and the wider community so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners can be understood and used to their full capabilities as registered health practitioners. 

By making sure a registered health practitioner is qualified and competent to carry out the work they do in their everyday practice, whether that is through individually sought or employer-led training and education, there is much we can do to promote a better understanding of the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners in the broader health workforce. 

In keeping with the objectives of the National Law, the Board does not define what a registered practitioner can or cannot do in their everyday practice (their chosen scope of practice) but rather, leaves that up to the individual and/or employer.

Regulatory response to COVID-19

Our profession was highlighted by governments as a priority workforce to be ready to respond to COVID-19 outbreaks in the communities where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work. We established a sub-register of eligible practitioners who were no longer registered but had been recently. Those practitioners who opted in to the sub-register were re-registered for up to 12 months.

New standards, codes or guidelines

The Board published five revised registration standards on 1 December 2019:

  • Professional indemnity insurance arrangements
  • Continuing professional development (and CPD guidelines)
  • Recency of practice
  • English language skills
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

Several supporting documents have also been published to help explain the registration standards, codes and guidelines.

The Board is contributing to the work to revise its Code of conduct, which is shared with 11 other health professions regulated in the National Scheme.


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee (ATSIHPAC) is a committee of the Board. ATSIHPAC continues to do a fine job monitoring and reporting to the Board on the accredited programs of study. Its job is made more challenging by the geographic spread of our approved programs of study and the Board is very appreciative of ATSIHPAC's diligent work in this vital area.

The Board looks forward to the implementation of the revised accreditation standards from 1 July 2020. The revised standards expand the eligibility criteria for programs of study to seek accreditation for courses leading to registration for practitioners. 

Stakeholder engagement

The Board conducts extensive visits and engagements when it meets four times a year. It is always good to visit services and to see the very broad ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners work, helping to provide culturally safe care across the breadth of the health system. We hope to return to our normal visiting schedule when safe to do so after the COVID-19 pandemic eases.

Ms Renee Owen, Chair

Page reviewed 22/11/2021