National Cabinet commissioned a review of Australia’s regulatory settings for health professionals, which is considering options to help ease health workforce shortages while maintaining high standards in health care quality and patient safety.
At National Cabinet on 28 April 2023, First Ministers endorsed the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings Interim Report, led by Ms Robyn Kruk AO. The Interim Report recommends measures to immediately boost the health workforce and ensure Australia is a competitive destination for the global health workforce into the future, while maintaining high standards of quality and safety.
About the Review
On 30 September 2022, National Cabinet announced an independently-led, rapid review of Australia’s regulatory settings relating to health practitioner registration and skills and qualification recognition for overseas trained health professionals and international students who have studied in Australia.
On 8 December 2022, the Government announced the appointment of Ms Robyn Kruk AO to lead the Review. The Regulatory Reform Division of the Department of Finance and the Department of Health and Aged Care are jointly supporting the Review.
The Review will deliver recommendations designed to ease skills shortages in key health professions, while ensuring quality and safety standards designed to protect patients are maintained. These shortages have been heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic and are expected to continue as Australia’s population ages. The Review will consider whether regulatory settings for international health practitioners seeking registration in Australia:
- are fit-for-purpose
- are comparable with similar countries
- do not impose unnecessary barriers or compliance costs on migrants and employers.
The Review is expected to recommend reforms to streamline regulatory settings to make it simpler, quicker and cheaper for international health practitioners to work in Australia. These reforms will aim to drive productivity dividends for migrants, health sector employers and communities, while maintaining quality and safety standards.
The Review will complement the projects that National Cabinet has asked the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) to undertake on skills and qualifications recognition in key sectors. The Review also links with other related work, including the comprehensive review of Australia’s migration system.
The Review is strongly supported by state and territory governments, which are responsible for the legislative framework for health practitioner regulation. The Review will consult widely with relevant stakeholders to ensure the recommendations are practical and help deliver the health workforce Australia needs to provide high-quality and timely health services for the community.
Terms of Reference
The Review Terms of Reference outline the objectives and scope of the Review.
Ms Robyn Kruk AO brings a wealth of relevant senior government executive experience in the health and social care sectors to the Review, including state and Australian Government agency head roles. Ms Kruk has served as Secretary of NSW Health and the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and was the inaugural CEO of the National Mental Health Commission.
Ms Kruk has led other independent reviews such as the 2019 Western Australian Government’s Sustainable Health Review and the 2021 Ministerial Taskforce into Public Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents in Western Australia. In 2021, she led the Second Year Review of the National Redress Scheme and in 2022 the New South Wales Health COVID-19 System Response Debrief.
Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings Interim report
At National Cabinet on the 28 April 2023, First Ministers re-committed to Healthcare reform being the top priority for National Cabinet in 2023. First Ministers also endorsed the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings Interim Report, led by Ms Robyn Kruk AO. The Interim Report recommends measures to immediately boost the health workforce and ensure Australia is a competitive destination for the global health workforce into the future, while maintaining high standards of quality and safety.
The Review found there are significant shortages in nursing, midwifery and medicine, both for GPs and specialists. Shortages are worse for experienced and senior professionals. The Interim Report confirms there is an urgent need to reform the current regulatory system for overseas health practitioners coming to Australia, to make it simpler, faster, fairer and less costly.
While Australian governments are committed to growing the domestic workforce, more internationally-qualified health practitioners will be required in the short to medium term.
The Interim Report identifies immediate actions that governments and regulators can take to alleviate shortages in the health workforce and ensure all Australians can access timely and appropriate health care. These actions focus on improving the applicant experience, expanding fast-track pathways, collecting better workforce data, increasing regulatory flexibility, and enhancing regulator performance and regulatory system stewardship.
The recommendations in Interim Report increase the number of health practitioners registered in Australia, while ensuring practitioners meet minimum standards and protecting the public. The reforms are expected to save overseas health practitioners and employers time and money and bring Australia’s regulatory system more into line with key international competitors, like Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The Review will consult with key stakeholders over the coming months to identify further reform options.
The final report will be submitted to National Cabinet in mid-2023.
Health Ministers have been asked report back to National Cabinet with a full-costed implementation plan in mid‑2023.
For more information, contact the Review Secretariat via HealthRegReview@finance.gov.au.
- Read the Terms of Reference.
- Read the Finance Minister and Health Minister’s joint media release announcing the Reviewer appointment. [external]
- Read the National Cabinet media release announcing the Review. [external]
- Read the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings – Interim report