In brief - AHPRA's revised Code of Conduct for allied health practitioners came into effect on 29 June 2022. The revisions to the Code aim to maintain its relevance and usefulness as a regulatory tool for the industry, and improve clarity and accessibility for consumers.

The Code establishes a shared standard for professional behaviour and conduct expected of registered health practitioners in the following 12 professions:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice; 

  • Optometry; 

  • Chinese medicine; 

  • Osteopathy,

  • Chiropractic, 

  • Paramedicine, 

  • Dental, 

  • Pharmacy, 

  • Medical radiation practice, 

  • Physiotherapy, 

  • Occupational therapy; and

  • Podiatry. 

The Code of Conduct does not apply to the Medical Board of Australia, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, or the Psychology Board of Australia which are regulated by individualised codes. 

Notable revisions to the AHPRA Code

The notable revisions to the Code include:
 

Section of Code

Change

Sections 1 - 11

The introduction of eleven principles which seek to guide practitioner behaviour, underpinning the expectation that practitioners will exercise their professional judgment to achieve the best possible outcomes in practice.

Section 2

A new section relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety, which imposes an obligation on practitioners to consider the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the need to foster open, honest and culturally safe professional relationships with members of the community.

Section 3.2, 5.3

Additional information regarding bullying and harassment, drawing attention to the importance of addressing these issues in the workplace. While the Code acknowledges that concerns about bullying and harassment are often best handled locally, it provides grounds for regulatory action by the National Boards to impose conditions or accept undertakings from practitioners in the event such conduct impacts public safety.

Section 7

Further guidance on clinical governance, and ensuring that performance targets and other business practices implemented on a practice level are consistent with the Code.

Section 8.2

Expanding the section on vexatious complaints against practitioners, confirming that mandatory notifications without substance may result in regulatory action by the National Boards.

Key takeaways

The introduction of the revised Code provides practitioners with an opportunity to refamiliarise and update themselves with the ethical and professional expectations of the National Boards. 

Practitioners should take active steps to review and implement policies, procedures and practices that are consistent with the Code. 

Practitioners should be aware that while the Code articulates the National Boards' expectations with regards to ethical and professional conduct, it does not encapsulate the standard for clinical practice within individual health professions or disciplines. Clinical standards will continue to be assessed with reference to other guidelines issued by the relevant National Boards and other professional bodies. 

 

This is commentary published by Colin Biggers & Paisley for general information purposes only. This should not be relied on as specific advice. You should seek your own legal and other advice for any question, or for any specific situation or proposal, before making any final decision. The content also is subject to change. A person listed may not be admitted as a lawyer in all States and Territories. © Colin Biggers & Paisley, Australia 2022.

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