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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 March 2010) . . Page.. 854 ..


MR HANSON (Molonglo) (12.15): The opposition will be supporting this legislation today. It is important legislation relating to health practitioner regulation. There is no doubt that this legislation is a significant step forward not only in relation to health practitioner regulation but also in terms of public safety and medical education and training accreditation standards.

As outlined by the health minister in her presentation speech, this bill is the ACT’s commitment to a COAG-led reform initiative agreed to by all the states and territories in 2008. As stated in the intergovernmental agreement, the objective of the reform is to establish a single national registration and accreditation scheme for health professionals. I will say that again, because it is relevant to a number of the amendments that I will be putting forward later. It is to establish a single national registration and accreditation scheme for health professionals.

The reform will have a number of benefits, not only to the ACT but, I believe, to all health stakeholders right across the nation. As members may be aware, the genesis of this reform is the 2006 Productivity Commission report titled Australia’s health workforce, which examines and reports on the significant demands and pressures our health workforce is likely to experience in the future. Importantly, the full Productivity Commission report made a number of excellent recommendations about some of the structural changes which would improve the quality and enhance the capacity of our health workforce. One of these recommendations was that a new national registration regime be established for the registration of health professionals.

Some of the issues identified by the Productivity Commission which led to this recommendation included that there are currently more than 20 bodies involved in accrediting health workforce education and training, and over 90 registration boards across Australia. This leads to duplication in administration, variations in regulation and registration requirements between jurisdictions, barriers to workforce mobility, fragmentation in responsibilities, ineffective coordination between various other bodies and poor public safety outcomes, amongst other outcomes.

Under the nationally agreed reform, the more than 90 registration bodies across Australia will be abolished and there will be 10 national boards representing the following professions: medicine, nursing and midwifery, chiropractic, dentistry, optometry, osteopathy, pharmacy, physiotherapy, podiatry and psychology. Other professions will be considered for inclusion in the national scheme following the establishment of the first 10 boards.

Whilst I note that the Productivity Commission report recommended that a single registration body for all health professionals be established, I do believe the model that was agreed to and adopted by COAG to be the best and most appropriate model for a national health professional registration regime.

The national scheme will be a welcome step forward in terms of public safety by ensuring that health practitioners across the nation will now be monitored by a single national agency. This means that when a complaint is made about a health practitioner, and that complaint is fully investigated or resolved, the results of action taken by a board will be effective in every jurisdiction in the nation. While the opposition are


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