AHPRA and police in Victoria are joining forces to help protect the public
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and Victoria Police have announced a Memorandum of Understanding which they say will enable greater cooperation in an effort to see the public better protected.
The MOU is the first of its kind between AHPRA and a police force.
It recognises the cooperation already in place between the two agencies and establishes procedures for timely and appropriate information sharing, within the law, where AHPRA or Victoria Police discover certain information in the course of their investigations.
The MOU provides a mechanism for the release of information by AHPRA when it identifies information relating to criminal offences, including physical harm, sexual offending, production of exploitative material and/or drug offences.
Victoria Police will also be better placed to share information with AHPRA about practitioners who they suspect may pose a risk of substantial harm to the public or individuals posing as registered health practitioners when they are not.
The agreement lays out detailed security protocols around the transmission, storage, use and disclosure of information that is shared between Victoria Police and AHPRA.
“This agreement formalises a long history of cooperation between AHPRA and the Victorian police, and will help us to protect the public and further manage possible risks to patient safety,” AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher says.
“We already have a strong and productive working relationship with Victoria Police. This MOU recognises our different jurisdictions but common purpose to play our role in keeping the public safe.”
Victorian Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton says that, “Victoria is proud to be the first state to formalise our working relationship with AHPRA that will help us all do our jobs – Victoria Police to investigate criminal offences and AHPRA to protect patients.
“This MOU has many benefits for both our organisations and the public, for example being able to share information that would avoid a situation where a witness has to give two separate statements, one to AHPRA and one to Victoria Police.”
The MOU recognises the learning that came from the Chaperone Review, a report into the use of chaperones to protect patients. The report stated that where there are allegations of indecent or sexual assault there needed to be greater clarity around whether AHPRA contacts the police or relies on the notifier (the person who makes the complaint) to do so.
The report also considered it was important that AHPRA was kept aware of developments in police investigations, which may trigger the need to review risk and take immediate action on a registered health practitioner’s ability to practise their profession.