‘Serious’ sexual misconduct to be permanently public

3 minute read

Health ministers have agreed that proven cases against practitioners should be on the record ‘in perpetuity’.

Health ministers have agreed to amend the Health Practitioners National Law so that proven allegations of a criminal sexual offence or sexual professional misconduct will permanently remain on a health practitioner’s public record.

Early last year, ministers announced reforms to improve public safety, with a focus on sexual misconduct in healthcare, after a media report of practitioners who had returned to practice after a finding of sexual misconduct and had subsequently reoffended.

At a Health Ministers Meeting in Brisbane last month, the ministers backed reforms to publicise proven serious sexual misconduct allegations.

“Health ministers continue to take seriously the concerning reports of sexual misconduct by health practitioners,” the Health Ministers Meeting communique read.

“Patients should be aware of previous serious sexual misconduct of any health practitioner.

“Therefore, ministers have agreed that the Health Practitioner National Law will be amended to ensure any such proven allegation remain on a practitioner’s record in perpetuity.”

Currently, AHPRA only publishes sanctions against a practitioner until the expiration date of the sanctions or the national board deems it no longer necessary.

In the draft plan for the reforms, it was proposed that the full regulatory history of a practitioner should be published in the case of a conviction for a serious sexual offence, namely a criminal sexual offence or a finding of professional misconduct of a sexual nature.

“Publication would be reserved to instances where practitioners have engaged in serious conduct of a sexual nature which a tribunal has deemed to constitute professional misconduct or where there has been a criminal conviction or finding of guilt.

“While the proposed reforms aim to increase transparency for the public about practitioners’ regulatory history and improve public protection, these objectives must be balanced with potential privacy and reputational impacts to practitioners. 

“Consideration should be given to protections under existing legislation relating to privacy and reputation, such as those under human rights and other privacy legislation.

“However, the proposed reforms incorporate a high threshold, and specific criteria must be established before regulators would be permitted to publish practitioners’ regulatory history.”

In its submission to the consultation on the reform, the AMA labelled the inclusion of a practitioner’s entire regulatory history on the register in perpetuity a “serious and ongoing punishment”.

However, it supported the publication of serious misconduct findings in the case of sexual boundary violations of sexual misconduct.

A response to the full draft plan is scheduled for the middle of this year.

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×