Articles and Case Studies

APHRA Registration - Disclosure of Criminal Offences

20 Sep 2013

Julian Walter 110x137

by Dr Julian Walter

By Dr Julian Walter, MDA National Medico-legal Adviser. Every year as final year medical students excitedly complete their end of year exams and begin to contemplate finally working as a doctor, the realities of applying to the Australian Health Practitioner RegulationAgency (AHPRA) for registration begin to sink in. This article explores the necessity to disclose criminal matters to AHPRA.
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The AHPRA registration process is governed by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (the “Act”) as applicable in each state or territory. The disclosure requirements are broad and are not limited to past misdemeanours that might show up on your own search, such as a National Police Check.1

What must be disclosed?

On application for registration as a medical practitioner you must declare your “criminal history” to AHPRA2 (as seen below on the screen shot of the application form). It is not possible to “avoid the rush” by making a criminal history disclosure to AHPRA before applying for registration. Criminal history is defined as:3

(a) every conviction of the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law.

(b) every plea of guilty or finding of guilt by a court of the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law and whether or not a conviction is recorded for the offence.

(c) every charge made against the person for an offence, in a participating jurisdiction or elsewhere, and whether before or after the commencement of this Law.

Spent convictions must be disclosed

Spent convictions are those convictions that are exempted from disclosure by a variety of state/Commonwealth/territory laws and schemes. Typically these convictions are over a certain age and where there has been no re-offence by the person. It is important to note that “spent convictions” laws are overridden by the Act4. Thus all relevant “criminal history” should be disclosed during the AHPRA registration process.

The Medical Board can approach CrimTrac, the Police Commissioner or a relevant overseas entity at any time for a report about your criminal history5 to either check your submission or as part of an audit6.

It is important to note that performing your own National Police Check will not be accepted by AHPRA and will not provide information relevant to spent convictions.

Can students be asked to disclose criminal matters prior to registration?

Yes, under the Act7 a student must provide notice to the National Board within seven days of becoming aware of:

(a) being charged with an offence punishable by at least 12 months of imprisonment

(b) conviction / found guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment.

How is this material relevant?

The Medical Board may consider your criminal history in deciding whether a person is an appropriate person to be registered, whether it is in the public interest for you to be registered, or whether you are not a fit and proper person.8

A criminal disclosure may also raise a concern about impairment (for example, a criminal history disclosure in relation to illicit substances or where substance abuse may be an issue). In this case, you should inform the Board of relevant supporting information to address this concern – e.g. why you should not be considered to have an impairment.

If you are making a criminal disclosure, you should familiarise yourself with the Medical Board of Australia Medical Criminal History Registration Standard 9 and online information provided by AHPRA.10

More information

If you have questions or concerns relating to your criminal history disclosure to AHPRA please do not hesitate to contact our 24 hour Medico-Legal Advisory Service on 1 800 011 255.

Screen shot of the application form

ARTICLE-AHPRA-FORM


References
1 afp.gov.au/what-we-do/police-checks/national-police-checks.aspx

2 s77(3)(c)

3 s5

4 s79 (3)

5 s79 (2)

6 s135

7 s130

8 s55(1) (b) [General registration]; s60 [Specialist registration]; and s63 [Provisional registration]

medicalboard.gov.au/documents/default.aspx?record=WD10%2f102&dbid=AP&chksum=2Udhuw6cqfGw%2boDhSqpoHQ%3d%3d

10 ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registration-Process/Criminal-Checks.aspx

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