About this inquiry

On 1 December 2016, the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report:

The complaints mechanism administered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

The terms of reference are:

  1. the implementation of the current complaints system under the National Law, including the role of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the National Boards;
  2. whether the existing regulatory framework, established by the National Law, contains adequate provision for addressing medical complaints;
  3. the roles of AHPRA, the National Boards and professional organisations, such as the various Colleges, in addressing concerns within the medical profession with the complaints process;
  4. the adequacy of the relationships between those bodies responsible for handling complaints;
  5. whether amendments to the National Law, in relation to the complaints handling process, are required; and
  6. other improvements that could assist in a fairer, quicker and more effective medical complaints process.

The committee intends to adopt a broad interpretation of the phrase 'medical complaints' in terms of reference b., c. and f. The committee welcomes all submissions that specifically address the complaints mechanism under the National Law.

The focus of this inquiry is the implementation and regulation of the complaints mechanism administered under the Health Practitioners Regulation National Law. Submissions outlining details of individual cases or complaints may assist the committee in identifying broader systemic issues for investigation. However, the committee has no power to investigate, advocate for or resolve individual cases. To protect the privacy of submitters, the committee has resolved not to publish any submissions outlining individual cases

Please note: All correspondence, submissions and other evidence provided to the committee’s previous inquiry into the medical complaints process in Australia is available to the committee for this inquiry. This means that submissions accepted by the committee for its previous inquiry do not need to be re-submitted.

Submissions were sought by 24 February 2017. The reporting date is 10 May 2017.

If you are considering lodging a submission to this inquiry you should consider the guidance on preparing a submission to an inquiry available on the Senate website.

Past Public Hearings

31 Mar 2017: Canberra, ACT
17 Mar 2017: Canberra, ACT



Complaints mechanism administered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law

10 May 2017

© Commonwealth of Australia 2017
ISBN 978-1-76010-571-6

View the report as a single document - (PDF 536KB)

View the report as separate downloadable parts:

Chapter 1 - Introduction (PDF 164KB)

Genesis and focus of the inquiry
Overview of the scheme
Overview of the complaints process
Previous reviews
Conduct of the inquiry

Chapter 2 - Lodgement and assessment of complaints (PDF 75KB)

Knowing where to lodge a complaint
Vexatious complaints

Chapter 3 - Investigations and national board decisions (PDF 92KB)

Confidence in the decision making process
Decisions of the national boards

Chapter 4 - AHPRA's administration of the complaints mechanism (PDF 68KB)

National board guidelines and policies
Information sharing

Chapter 5 - Conclusions and recommendations (PDF 46KB)


Chapter 6 - Matter of parliamentary privilege: Dr Gary Fettke (PDF 32KB)
APPENDIX 1 - Submissions and additional information received by the Committee (PDF 25KB)
APPENDIX 2 - Public hearings (PDF 13KB)

Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3515
Fax: +61 2 6277 5829