Criminal disclosures are an important part of your registration process as nurses and midwives. Make sure you’ve got the ins and outs of what you need to know.
When you renew your registration, you are likely to be asked whether since your last declaration (i.e. either your application for registration or your last renewal) to AHPRA if there has been any change to your criminal history in Australia or overseas that you have not declared to AHPRA.
This question often brings about lots of enquiries about what exactly must you notify AHPRA of and when you need to make that notification.
Under section 130 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (NSW) No. 86a (“National Law”) nurses and midwives are required to give the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (“NMBA”), through AHPRA, notice of a “relevant event” within 7 days of the event.
With regard to criminal matters, a relevant event is defined as a charge of an offence punishable by 12 months imprisonment or more; or a conviction or finding of guilt for an offence that is punishable by imprisonment.
The key word to understand is “punishable”. This refers to offences that you could receive such a punishment for regardless of whether you have received that sentence or not.
When you are asked about criminal disclosures upon renewal of your registration, you must notify AHPRA of any charges, not just those that are considered a relevant event.
It’s important to differentiate between what is a charge and what is a penalty for breach of the road rules. For example, a speeding fine is not a charge and therefore does not need to be disclosed, but if you are caught driving negligently then you may be charged under the Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) and you would have to disclose this. The obligations for disclosure vary depending on the specific charge.
If you are charged with any offence, it is important to seek legal advice from the NSWNMA as soon as possible with regard to your disclosure obligations.
In NSW, when you notify AHPRA of a charge, the NMBA will consider that notification and decide whether they need to take any action in relation to that notification, e.g. refer the matter to the Health Care Complaints Commission and/or the Nursing and Midwifery Council of NSW. In making their decision, they will refer to the AHPRA Criminal History Registration Standard which can be found here.
Criminal charges have the potential to impact your registration as a nurse and/or midwife. You should consult the Code of conduct for nurses and/or the Code of conduct for midwives for more information about your obligations.