Articles and Case Studies

Criminal History Disclosure on Internship Application

21 Oct 2015

Julian Walter clover

by Dr Julian Walter

Young woman filling out application


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 AHPRA for registration begin to sink in. This article explores the necessity to disclose criminal matters to AHPRA

The AHPRA registration process is governed by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (the “Act”) as applicable in each state or territory. AHPRA conducts an Australian criminal history screen on every registration applicant.1 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.2

Do students have criminal reporting obligations prior to registration?

Yes, under the Act,3 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; or

 (b) being convicted or found guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment.

It can be difficult to know the range of possible penalties you may face, and the reporting requirements hinge on the range of penalties, not the penalty you face. So early advice is important. It may be better to over-disclose rather than face AHPRA disciplinary action for failing to disclose.

What must be disclosed at registration?

On the application for registration as a medical practitioner, you must declare your “criminal history” to AHPRA.4 It’s not possible to “avoid the rush” by making a criminal history disclosure to AHPRA before applying for registration. Criminal history is defined as5 (whether in Australia or overseas and at any time):

(a) every conviction of the person for an offence;

(b) every plea of guilty or finding of guilt by a court of the person for an offence, whether or not a conviction is recorded for the offence;

(c) every charge made against the person for an offence.



Taken from AHPRA’s Application for provisional registration for students completing an approved program of study (Form ASPR-30).


Spent convictions must be disclosed

It’s important to note that “spent convictions” laws are overridden by the Act.6 Spent convictions are those convictions that are exempted from disclosure by a variety of state, commonwealth or territory laws and schemes. Typically, these convictions are over a certain age and where there has been no re-offence by the person.

Thus all relevant “criminal history” should be disclosed during the AHPRA registration process, spent or not.

The Medical Board can approach CrimTrac, the Police Commissioner or a relevant overseas entity at any time for a report about your criminal history7 to either check your submission or as part of an audit.8

It’s 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.

International convictions

An international criminal history check9 (ICHC) will be required in circumstances where you declare you’ve resided outside Australia for a period exceeding six consecutive months when aged 18 years of age or more, or if you declare a criminal history in a jurisdiction outside of Australia. It’s incumbent on you to pay for this service through an AHPRA approved information vendor. The ICHC application (if required) should commence before you submit your application, as delays may affect your registration.

How is this material relevant?

The Medical Board may consider your criminal history in deciding whether you are 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.10

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 rebut this concern, i.e. why you should not be considered to have an impairment.

If you’re making a criminal disclosure, you should familiarise yourself with the Medical Board of Australia’s Medical Criminal History Registration Standard (summary information below)11 and online information provided by AHPRA.12, 13

The Medical Board will consider the following factors (these are not in order of priority)

1.   The nature and gravity of the offence or alleged offence and its relevance to health practice.

2.   The period of time since the health practitioner committed, or allegedly committed, the        offence.

3.   Whether a finding of guilt or a conviction was recorded for the offence or a charge for the        offence is still pending.

4.   The sentence imposed for the offence.

5.   The age of the health practitioner and of any victim at the time the health practitioner        committed, or allegedly committed, the offence.

6.   Whether or not the conduct that constituted the offence or to which the charge relates has been        decriminalised since the health practitioner committed, or allegedly committed, the offence.

7.   The health practitioner’s behaviour since they committed, or allegedly committed, the offence.

8.   The likelihood of a future threat to a patient of the health practitioner.

9.   Any information given by the health practitioner, such as an explanation or mitigating factors.

10. Any other matter that the Board considers relevant.

If you have any questions or concerns relating to your criminal history disclosure to AHPRA please don’t hesitate to contact our Medico-Legal Advisory Service to discuss the matter on 1800 011 255.


Dr Julian Walter
Medico-legal Adviser
MDA National


References

  1. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority. Registration Standard FAQs. Available at: ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Graduate-Applications-for-Registration-FAQs/Registration-Standards-FAQs.aspx#criminalhistory.
  2. Australian Federal Police. National Police Checks. Available at: afp.gov.au/what-we-do/police-checks/national-police-checks.aspx.
  3. Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (Cth). s130.
  4. Ibid., s77(3)(c).
  5. Ibid., s5.
  6. Ibid., s79(3).
  7. Ibid., s79(2).
  8. Ibid., s135.
  9. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority. International Criminal Checks. Available at: ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registration-Process/Criminal-history-checks/International-Criminal-History.aspx.
  10. Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (Cth). s55(1)(b) [General Registration]; s60 [Specialist registration]; and s63 [Provisional registration].
  11. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority. Registration Standard: Criminal History. 2015. Available at: ahpra.gov.au/documents.
  12. Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority. Registration Standard FAQs. Available at: ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Graduate-Applications-for-Registration-FAQs/Registration-Standards-FAQs.aspx#criminalhistory.
  13. Australian Federal Police. About Criminal History Checks. Available at: ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registration-Process/Criminal-History-Checks.aspx.


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