Funder by the Department of Human Services Auspiced by Our Community


The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) is the organisation responsible for the implementation of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme across Australia.

AHPRA supports the 10 National Health Practitioner Boards that regulate clinicians - not all of whom work in mental health. They cover the professions of chiropractors, dentists, medical, nursing and midwifery professionals, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, and psychologists. (Note that it does not include social workers.)

The Boards (e.g. the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, the Medical Board of Australia, the Psychology Board of Australia) work to publish and set standards and policies that all registered professionals must meet. Complaints can be made through their member organisations.

Some of the member boards, like the Medical Board of Australia, have branches (such as the Medical Board of Victoria). Complaints will usually be referred to the local Board.

The Boards are responsible for holding the registration details of each practitioner in their field (if registration is required). This information must be made available to the public upon request. Consumers can, perhaps, use this information whilst making decisions about a suitable therapist.

Members of the public may also make a notification (legal jargon for 'complaint') to AHPRA about the conduct, health or performance of a practitioner.

Relevant Boards affiliated with APHRA include:

Professional bodies

The second tier mechanisms for maintaining standards are the professional bodies that have an interest in making sure their profession is as squeaky clean as possible.

However, these organisations are there primarily to protect the interests of their members so it's important not to assume they will either have the information you need or will give it to you. Their complaints mechanisms may not always work to the benefit of a consumer.

Professional organisations fulfil a range of roles, including:

Members of the public are often able to find a practitioner through a professional association (note that not all members of any given profession may belong to a professional association).

Below is a list of professional associations, bodies and colleges which might be useful.

A consumer perspective

These organisations can provide invaluable information about the professions they support. You can often find private clinicians through them and, if you're lucky, you might be able to speak to someone about the sub-specialties within their discipline; for example, you might be able to talk through the difference between psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Each of these organisations will have glossy pamphlets and promotional material available. All of this is useful but it's important to note that it is also both commercial and political. Whatever their desire, professional associations can never be neutral; they are there to represent their member clinicians, not us.

It's also useful to note that there are turf wars that go on within various clinical spaces; these organisations not only compete with each other but also internally. Sometimes position holders instinctively promote their areas of interest to people seeking guidance in choosing clinicians. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most of the websites disallow consumers from the more detailed, interesting and useful debates because this material is only available for members.

Under these circumstances the most useful way to go in using the professional bodies to gain information is to take the essence from the pamphlets and then do your own research, or go through consumer organisations (including the written material from Our Consumer Place).