Optometry Board of Australia - Have your say on the professional behaviour crucial to public safety
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Have your say on the professional behaviour crucial to public safety

12 May 2021

Twelve National Boards and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) have launched a public consultation on a revised shared Code of conduct for 12 registered health professions across Australia.

The National Boards and Ahpra are inviting practitioners, patients and community members, employers, education providers and other stakeholders to have their say.

The current shared Code of conduct has been revised to reflect changes in public expectations and professional practice.

Ahpra CEO, Mr Martin Fletcher, said the code sets out important obligations about professional behaviour and conduct.1

‘The updated code sets out the National Boards’ expectations of professional behaviour and reflects the professionalism that is a fundamental part of being a health professional. Importantly, the code describes the behaviour patients can expect whenever they see a registered health practitioner,’ he said.

‘We want to hear from patients, consumers, practitioners and others to make sure the updated code is relevant and useful to practitioners and better able to protect the public. We want to hear all feedback to help make the code easy to understand and clear about what is expected from practitioners.

‘I strongly encourage health practitioners, community members, education providers and employers to read the consultation paper and have their say,’ Mr Fletcher added.

The code is vital in protecting patients and applies to over 184,000 registered practitioners in 12 professions including dental practitioners, physiotherapists and pharmacists.

The shared Code of Conduct applies to the following professions:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners
  • chiropractors
  • Chinese medicine practitioners
  • dental practitioners
  • medical radiation practitioners
  • occupational therapists
  • optometrists
  • osteopaths
  • paramedics
  • pharmacists
  • physiotherapists, and
  • podiatrists and podiatric surgeons.

The consultation is open until 6 July 2021.

What is the Code of conduct?

To help promote safe and effective care, all National Boards have codes of conduct (or equivalent) that set out their expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for registered health practitioners.

The shared Code of conduct is important for both the professions it applies to and the public; it helps guide health practitioners in their conduct and the public’s understanding of what they can expect from their health practitioner. For example, the code states that health practitioners must always act in a culturally safe and respectful way, maintain everyone’s right to privacy, provide safe and evidence-based care and promote good health and equal access to health services.

The shared code also creates consistency across the professions and regulatory approaches by setting out the same expectations of behaviour and professional conduct for all health practitioners who use the code. This consistency supports inter-professional practice and contributes to safety and quality in healthcare.

Why is the code being updated?

The code is being updated to make sure it continues to reflect the standard of conduct and behaviour expected of registered health practitioners by the National Boards. The updated code aims to be a relevant and useful resource for practitioners, while being more accessible to the public.

Making a submission

To make a submission please read the consultation paper and supporting documents which can be accessed on the Ahpra Consultations page.

The shared Code of conduct is open for public consultation for eight weeks until 6 July 2021. Feedback in invited from individuals and organisations, including practitioners, community members and patients, and employers.

For more information


1 The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) started in 2010.

Page reviewed 12/05/2021