Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting

Info about Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting

Confidentiality is an integral part of engaging in psychological treatment. Mandatory reporting laws have been identified as a barrier towards health care providers seeking mental health treatment. There have been misperceptions around the current requirements under mandatory reporting. Health professionals who seek psychological treatment will not be automatically reported.

Under the National Law, all registered health practitioners have mandatory reporting responsibilities, as well as an ethical and professional obligation to protect and promote public health and safe health care. These laws require that a health practitioner report another health practitioner if they have formed a reasonable belief that the practitioner has behaved in a way which presents a serious risk to the public.

Under the current National Law (Section 140), ‘notifiable conduct’ is defined as being when a registered health practitioner has:

  • practised while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
  • engaged in sexual misconduct in the practice of the profession
  • placed the public at risk of substantial harm because of an impairment (health issue), or
  • placed the public at risk because of a significant departure from accepted professional standards.

Proposed Changes To The Mandatory Reporting Laws

At the recent meeting of the Council of Australian Government Health Council, federal, state and territory health ministers unanimously agreed to amend National Law to exempt treating health practitioners from the mandatory reporting of impaired doctors. The proposed changes followed recognition of the significant barrier current reporting laws presented to doctors seeking mental health treatment. Under the proposed new laws, treating psychologists and other health practitioners will still be required to report “current and the risk of future instances of sexual misconduct, intoxication at work and practice outside of accepted standards”.

The proposed new laws will not come into effect until they are ratified by each state and territory parliament.


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