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A unique and substantial achievement: ten years of national health practitioner regulation in Australia

Accreditation Registration Regulatory reform Health practitioners Sector regulation Australia

In March 2005 the Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to examine workforce pressures facing the health system and to propose solutions to ensure the continued delivery of quality healthcare over the next 10 years.

Part of the brief was to consider regulatory factors affecting the supply and distribution of the health workforce in Australia. At that time, registration of health practitioners in Australia involved eight separate state and territory regulatory systems with differing legislation, requirements and scope of professions covered. There were 85 separate health practitioner boards and more than 65 different pieces of legislation.

The Productivity Commission’s report, Australia’s health workforce, was released in January 2006. Not surprisingly, it highlighted significant barriers to workforce mobility, supply, efficiency and safety caused by the fragmented regulatory arrangements across Australia and across professions.

Put simply, a doctor in Victoria couldn’t assist in an emergency response to floods in Queensland without first becoming registered in Queensland; a nurse trained in New South Wales needed to seek re-registration on moving to Western Australia; and a practitioner barred in South Australia could still register and practise in Tasmania.

To deal with workforce shortages and pressures faced by the Australian health workforce, to increase its flexibility, responsiveness, sustainability and mobility, and to reduce red tape, the report recommended that there be a single national registration scheme for health professionals, as well as a single national accreditation system for education and training.

Related Information

Australia’s health workforce

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