Mental Health Legislation:
Options for Regulation of Unregistered Health Practitioners
March 12, 2011
In November 2010 Health Ministers agreed to conduct a national consultation on options for strengthening the regulation of unregistered health practitioners. All interested parties have been invited to contribute their views by Friday 15th April 2011.
Dozens of instances of harmful practices have come to light, mainly in WA where there is no regulation and therefore no mechanism for complaint to be acted upon.
February 22nd saw Alison Xamon MLC speak in the WA Parliament of the many complaints of harm which had come forward with no redress possible. One case of implanted false memories was highlighted where a family was torn apart by false accusation.
In her speech, the Four Corners program of 5th April 2010 titled 'Over The Edge' was referred to. In this program, the activities of an unregistered psychotherapist were highlighted as were several complaints of harm where lives and relationships were seriously damaged.
Alison Xamon concluded by saying "I am urging the ministers for mental health and the ministers for health to urgently get together to discuss this issue and prioritise addressing these issues because people and their families are suffering and we should be taking action on this now."
Some Australian states notably NSW have regulation of psychotherapists where complaint of harmful practice is monitored and right to practice can be withdrawn.
The consultation is seeking submissions on whether regulatory protections such as those in NSW and under consideration in South Australia are required in all States and Territories, and the extent to which uniform arrangements are necessary or desirable for the terms of a code of conduct and for its enforcement. The options under consideration are:
Option 1: No change – rely on existing regulatory and non-regulatory mechanisms
Option 2: Strengthen self-regulation – a voluntary code of practice
Option 3: Strengthen health complaints mechanisms – a statutory code of conduct.
CIFS believes that Option 3 would be the most effective option where a state Healthcare Complaints Commissioner can investigate and issue prohibition orders or place conditions on the practice of unregistered practitioners found to be in breach.
Consultation forums will be held over the next few weeks in each State and Territory to enable all interested parties to contribute their views.
The Australian Health Ministers' Conference (AHMC) See: 'Related Links'
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