Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia - 2021 annual summary
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2021 annual summary


  • 829 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners
    • Up 2.1% from 2019/20
    • 0.1% of all registered health practitioners
  • 100% are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 77.3% female; 22.7% male


Age: <25 = 4.6%, 25 to 34 = 22.9%, 35 to 44 = 22.9, 45 to 54 = 25.6%, 55 to 64 = 20.4%, 65 to 74 = 3.6%, >75 = 0%



  • 9 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 9 registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 1.1% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Employer = 44.4%, Patient, relative or member of the public = 22.2%, Other practitioner = 11.1%, Other = 22.2%

  • No immediate action taken

  • 4 mandatory notifications received
    • 3 about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Offence against other law = 44.4%, Confidentiality = 22.2%, Health impairment = 11.1%, Documentation = 11.1%,  Boundary violation = 11.1%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 9 notifications closed, 55.6% received a caution or reprimand, 33.3% registration suspended, 11.1% no further action


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

Criminal offence complaints

  • 1 criminal offence complaint made
    • about advertising breaches
  • 2 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

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

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

During this pandemic year, we have seen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners utilised in flexible roles, both clinical and non-clinical, that suit the needs of the service provider, as was intended when the profession was first regulated nationally.

Our registrants’ involvement in the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out illustrates the unique nature of how Australia regulates its health professions by not defining what a practitioner can or cannot do in their practice, and so facilitates a flexible and mobile health workforce that can pivot and be used in a broad range of clinical and non-clinical roles to suit service needs. As long as the employer is satisfied that an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner whom they employ is qualified and competent to practise in the role they want them to (e.g. by successfully completing the government training programs for vaccinating), from the regulator’s point of view, that is that practitioner’s chosen scope of practice.

All Australians should know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and workers build trust and understanding in the communities they serve and can practise in very diverse roles, both clinical and non-clinical, in every health setting. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are central to providing culturally safe health services that strengthen health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

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 reregistered for up to 12 months.

The sub-register has now been extended for those practitioners wishing to continue to work in a role related to the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out across the country.


The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia approved a revised accreditation standard for implementation from 1 July. The revised standard expands the eligibility criteria for programs of study to seek accreditation for courses leading to registration for practitioners.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Accreditation Committee (ATSIHPAC) is a committee of the Board. The ATSIHPAC monitored and reported to the Board on the accredited programs of study. Guidance for clinical placements during the pandemic year was published on the Board’s website.

New standards, codes or guidelines

The Board contributed to the work of revising its Code of conduct, which is shared with 11 other regulated health professions. No new or revised standards, codes or guidelines were published.

The Board acknowledged the extensive work and thought that went into developing the agreed definition of cultural safety that is being included in all professions’ codes of conduct. This means that all registered health practitioners’ professional obligations will include providing culturally safe care and ensuring they can be held to account if a complaint is made.

Stakeholder engagement

The Board conducts extensive visits and engagements when it is able to meet face-to-face four times a year. We look forward to re-engaging with our stakeholders in person when we can. The Board publishes three newsletters a year for its stakeholders and students.

Ms Renee Owen

Page reviewed 22/11/2022