On 6 December 2023, National Cabinet endorsed the Final Report of the Independent Review of Australia’s Regulatory Settings Relating to Overseas Health Practitioners, led by Ms Robyn Kruk AO. The Final Report aligns with, but supersedes, the Interim Report, endorsed by National Cabinet and published in April 2023.
The Final Report recommends reforms to streamline regulatory settings to make it simpler, quicker and cheaper for international health practitioners to work in Australia. These reforms will drive productivity dividends for migrants, employers and communities, while maintaining health care quality and safety.
The review found that there are significant shortages in nursing, midwifery and medicine, particularly for experienced and senior professionals. The review 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 Final 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 the Final Report aim to increase the number of health practitioners registered in Australia while ensuring that these practitioners continue to meet Australia’s stringent safety standards. The reforms are expected to save overseas health practitioners, employers and the community time and money and bring Australia’s regulatory system into line with comparable jurisdictions like Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
The review was strongly supported by state and territory governments, which are responsible for the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law applied across Australia.
The review consulted widely with relevant stakeholders to ensure that recommendations are practical and help deliver the health workforce Australia needs to provide high-quality and timely health services for the community.
The Review met with over 140 stakeholders, surveyed over 1,700 internationally qualified health practitioners, and received 86 formal submissions. The submissions raised practical issues and provided valuable feedback on proposed recommendations. The Review received consent to publish 70 of these submissions:
- 30 initial submissions that provided feedback on Interim Report recommendations and informed the development of the Final Report.
- 40 further submissions that provided feedback on Interim Report recommendations and informed the development of the Final Report.
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.
The review was tasked with delivering recommendations designed to ease skills shortages in key health professions, while ensuring that quality and safety standards designed to protect patients are maintained. The review was tasked with considering whether regulatory settings for international health practitioners seeking registration in Australia:
- are fit-for-purpose
- are comparable with similar countries
- impose unnecessary barriers or compliance costs on migrants and employers.
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 jointly supported the Review.
At National Cabinet on 28 April 2023, First Ministers endorsed the Interim Report of the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings. The Interim Report recommended measures to immediately boost the health workforce and ensure Australia is a competitive destination for the global health workforce, while maintaining high standards of quality and safety.
The review complements projects that National Cabinet has asked the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to undertake on skills and qualifications recognition. The review also complements the comprehensive review of Australia's migration system.
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.
On 21 September 2023, Ms Kruk was appointed Chair of the Commonwealth Government COVID-19 Response Inquiry.
National Cabinet has asked Health Ministers to develop a detailed implementation plan in response to the review recommendations.
Please direct enquiries regarding implementation to the Workforce Regulation Section, Health Workforce Reform Branch of the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care, via firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings – Final Report
- Read the Economic Impact Analysis commissioned by the Department of Finance to support the Review
- View submissions received by the Review during the Interim Report consultation period and Final Report consultation period.
- Read the December 2023 National Cabinet media release announcing the endorsement of the Final Report recommendations
- Read the Independent Review of Overseas Health Practitioner Regulatory Settings – Interim report
- Read the April 2023 National Cabinet media release following endorsement of the Interim Report recommendations [external]
- Read the Terms of Reference.
- Read the December 2022 Finance Minister and Health Minister’s joint media release announcing the Reviewer appointment.
- Read the National Cabinet media release announcing the Review. [external]