New series: Frustration over new national registration

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series New national registration requirements

Nurses have written to the NSW Nurses Association expressing their confusion over the new registration guidelines.

Confusion includes lengthy delays in renewing registration, frustration with the amount of paperwork and anger with delays in the return of phone calls and email.

In response, we have decided to do a series on the new National Registration guidelines discussing the changes and asking for feedback from readers.


Background: On 1 July 2010, the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009  introduced the regulation of 10 health professions by nationally consistent legislation. There is now one National Board setting standards and policies for the regulation of each of the 10 Australian health professions covered by the National Law. Each National Board is supported in this task by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Several changes were implemented when the new national registration guidelines commenced. These included:

  • Fees: A single national fee for all nurses and midwives was put into effect.
  • Mandatory notifications: One of the new aspects of the legislation for nurses and midwives in NSW is mandatory notifications. This means if a nurse or midwife has a reasonable belief that another health practitioner is a threat to public safety, they are mandated to make a notification to the National Board.
  • Student registration: From 2011 a new category of student registration will be launched. Students will not pay fees, nor be put on the public register. They also won’t be required to register individually: the education provider will forward all the names of those enrolled on courses to the Board.
  • Continuing professional development (CPD): All nurses and midwives who are engaged in any form of nursing or midwifery practice will be required to complete CPD that is relevant to their context of practice. This will require 20 hours of CPD per year which involves learning activities to maintain and enhance knowledge and skills pertaining to their area of practice.
  • Recency of practice: Nurses and midwives must have undertaken sufficient practice within the preceding five years, for a period equivalent to a minimum of three months fulltime, to demonstrate competence in their profession. Practice is defined as any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses skill and knowledge as a nurse or midwife.
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII): Nurses and midwives must not practise their professions unless they are covered in the conduct of their practice by appropriate PII arrangements.

What are your concerns about the new registration guidelines? Have you experienced any problems?

Share them with us below.


Series NavigationSeries on New National Registration – Part 2 >>


  1. A single word describes the APHRA experience……. INCOMPETENCE !!

    They are absolutely hopeless.

    Currently, their excuse for local telephone enquiries taking so long to get through, is still the Brisbane Floods. The 1300 number conects to Brisbane, and is then
    ( allegedly ) redirected to Melbourne.

    The quickest way to get through, is to phone the International number. Do this by dropping the 61 ( for Australia ), and simply start from the 07, and the rest of the Brisbane number quoted. I got through in about five minutes, as opposed to giving up one day on the local number, after some 45 minutes.

    The reference above, about ‘ Recency of Practice ‘ is incorrect: ” …..Practice is defined as any role…..”. No, Practice, according to APHRA is working as either an RN or EN in an acute hospital environment, under the general heading of ‘ Medical / surgical ‘.

    I say this, because, in order to re-enter the Profession Nursing after a break of five years or longer, a former RN / EN must complete an ” Assessment of Competence ” course in Medical / Surgical Nursing. In the State of NSW, that course is ONLY offered by the College of Nursing, at a cost of $10,000. ( I’m waiting for them to try and sue me now )

    Yes, the once honoured and beloved College of Nursing ( NSW College of Nursing at one point in time ), is nothing more than just another money hungry RTO ‘ business college ‘, that funds it’s training programs mostly with the funds offered by wealthy overseas Nurses ( in the particular course – the ” Assessment of Competence ” was supposed to be only offered to overseas trained Nurses, who also need English tutoring & assessment – and they would need to pay the $10,000. for the privilege ).

    I have a family member trying to regain her Registration, and I now declare ‘WAR’ on APHRA ( and the College of Nursing – until they remove the $10,000. fee for local Nurses born and trained in Australia ).


  2. The new Board is hopeless! I am a new grad who started on 31 January. I sent my pre-registration to AHPRA in November, my credit card was charged on 20 Dec and an email sent saying my application was being assessed. I am STILL not registered – I have been working for AiN wages, which as we all know is a considerable loss to me, especially as I have spent thousands going country. I have been emailing and calling for weeks, only to get a recorded message saying they were busy and to call back, or an auto-responder email of a similar nature.
    Anyway, today I decided to try one last attempt before my head explodes. I decided to brave the phone again. Several times I was put on hold and then promptly hung up on. As you can imagine, I was not impressed by this at all! It’s downright rude. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I finally got through to someone, an actual person! Wow. They first of all asked me why I hadn’t called earlier (don’t go there!) and then told me my application had not been assessed yet. NOT BEEN ASSESSED?!?!?!?!?! When they took my money two months ago and told me it was being assessed?! It took all my self control not to explode at the poor girl on the other end of the phone. Then she tells me they are processing applications in order of employment start date – a completely transparent story, obviously designed in an attempt to placate all the angry graduates! The board does not know our start dates, they do not know the facility we work in, so that isn’t even possible. I also know of graduates, yet to start work, who are already registered. The next excuse was that they only received confirmation from the university today – another obvious fabrication as I also chased the university to send my paperwork in a hurry! I really didn’t want excuses, I just wanted to know what was going on so I can be paid properly and do the job I trained for! I can tell you, I’ll be checking the Board’s website every hour tomorrow! The other issue with all this, is that I can’t be accepted into my post-grad course until my registration goes through – so my plans are really getting messed up right now!
    AHPRA = FAIL (big time!) Imagine what it will be like in May when everyone has to re-register at the same time. What a joke!

    • Yep, it’s a frustrating process… firstly with the paperwork… why, when already registered with the Board as EEN, do they deem it necessary to begin again with 100 point ID checks and so on? Why all this proof of continuing nursing employment over the previous 5 years? (Can you not register if your employment whilst studying has been, say, a swim teacher? Is an EEN guilty ’til proven innocent?) Why, when RN registration is finally up, and EEN still current, does someone at the end of AHPRA phone tell you that you’re not actually registered yet?? So you believe them and keep working as EEN!! Meanwhile

    • Yep, it’s a frustrating process… firstly with the paperwork… why, when already registered with the Board as EEN, do they deem it necessary to begin again with 100 point ID checks and so on? Why all this proof of continuing nursing employment over the previous 5 years? (Can you not register if your employment whilst studying has been, say, a swim teacher? Is an EEN guilty ’til proven innocent?) Why, when RN registration is finally up, and EEN still current, does someone at the end of AHPRA phone tell you that you’re not actually registered yet?? So you believe them and keep working as EEN!! Meanwhile your workplace is ready and willing to employ you as RN.

  3. Sooz, I had the exact same problem as you. Tho I guess I’m now in a better situation.

    I was suppose to start my new grad on the 7th but they decided to email me all of my registration details (no paperwork in the mail as of yet) on 4pm that exact day. Obviously I couldn’t start on that day because we are required to have our registration to participate.

    So I have a new start date of the 21st and hopefully the actual certificate that the new grad coordinator needs has arrived to me by then.

    But just like you, I had put in my application in quite early and received an email on the 16th of December saying it was being assessed. Then almost 2 months of waiting before I finally get at least email confirmation and a login for their site.

    I hope you get at least email confirmation soon.

  4. a fellow co- worker has had no end of trouble with them trying to get re reistered when her rego accidently never went thru at the end of last year she has had to take annual leave for the last month as she can never get to talk to anyone on their phone line and eventually she did and they said her name was wrong on the rego form she has had to send notirised forms back to them and they are still stuffing her around waiting for people to ring her back !!! How ridiculous is this when u cnt talk to people on the phone about enquiries !How many people do they employ ??????????????

  5. never in my 30years of nursing have I been waiting for my registration past my due date-31/1…..did they not realise how many nurse’s rego is due then along with new graduates who have high priority to register….don’t start me on emails and phone calls and the lack of concerns about being past your registration date!!!

  6. GORDO 1 – APHRA 0 !!

    See Saturday’s Illawarra Mercury newspaper ( you can look it up online )

    The Mercury did their own investigation, and found that the ‘ Assessment of Competence ‘ course is free in most other States. ACT Health are considering allowing NSW applicants to do their course, but it seems you would need to also apply for a job with them ( which is fair enough ).

    As for the many other issues with APHRA, well, my Federal MP will hear all about our collective frustrations tomorrow, when she comes down to our Nursing Home for afternoon tea.


  7. I finally got it…….RN as of the 14th!!! Only one fortnight at AiN wages thank goodness!

    LOL Gordo – having done a placement in ACT Health, I can tell you they are FAR ahead of NSW Health in terms of education and open-mindedness. Canberra Hospital is a fantastic place to work. Wish I could afford to live there, oh, and if it was just a bit warmer in winter……… ;-P

  8. I finished TAFE EEN training last June 2010 finally completed cliinical practice of 700 odd hours on Dec12th, posted TAFE transcripts etc on the 4th Jan by registered post guaranteed delivery 2 days. Been working as an AIN the whole time , still waiting for my registration, the frustrataion is not being able to apply for uni study or jobs as an EEN due to the fact I am not yet registered. Why is it taking so long? ringing is a waste of time the operators are rude and you get disconnected.
    Nurses seem to be under valued, why is that? cleaners get paid more than I do at the moment.

  9. Where nurses stand legally if they have met their end of the bargain, i.e. lodged paperwork and paid fees on time, yet the processing body fails to process same in a timely manner?

    As I’ve asked elsewhere on this site:

    If AHPRA processing delays place an impediment on an individual’s ability to practice and/or be paid at the rate to which they are entitled what is their legal recourse?

  10. APHRA is terrible. The number of nurses that now have to leave the profession due to their lack of hours is ridiculous..who wants to pay $10k to get their registration back? It is a slap in the face, money grubbing and insulting to our industry.

    I only found out by accident I needed 120 more hours before July 1st! So just found out in time. I’ve written Nicola Roxon about all of this, have heard nothing back of course. Nurses need to stand up for their rights with this joke of an organization.

  11. I let my registration lapse past the fast track period by 2 weeks while on maternity leave. So have had to apply for general registration again I sent in this on the 1/3/11. They took the money on the 8/3/11 and I am still waiting!!! I was ment to be back at work 4 weeks ago so have had to take leave without pay. It would be just nice if they could tell me when I will be through so I can tell my employer, Sick of getting the run around from AHPRA!!!!!!

  12. I have had several issues with AHPRA as well….. Firstly the frustration of the phone calls and late registration as a new grad, and to add insult to injury….. AHPRA charge us New Grads full Registration Fee’s again in May….. $330 for 14 months registration!! I don’t understand why New Grad’s had to pay Full registration fees twice, when all other nurses paid a Pro-Rata fee to enable them to come online with the May registration. Other nurses who had registration due in Feb only paid $28 to come inline with the May rego. AHPRA nor NSWNA can’t explain why we had to pay the full $104 (NSW Rego)!!! Come on AHPRA give us a break!!

  13. I have been a registered nurse for 35years however i have not been working as a RN I have been working with mentally ill people in boarding houses ( 11years ) in a project linking the residents to the community. My role was as a co-ordinator who worked with 3 support workers.
    The last 3 years I have been working locally providing activities to mentally ill people by running support groups from monday to friday ( before and after hospital).
    I decided to apply as a RN for one day a week, due to mail problems recently I realised my registration had lapsed. As I contacted AHPRA they told me that if i wanted to get registered I had to go to Uni and do three year nursing studies to become an RN or go to TAFE and do a 12 month course to become a enroled nurse.
    At present I am working as an AIN one day a week. Other days I am still working in the community running groups for people with a mental illness.
    Could you please advise me where I can go to get some legal advise ?
    I am willing to do a refresher course. Or do I need to get documentation of the mental health work I have been doing ?
    Any advise would be greatly appreciated. I am not alone I am sure there are many nurses RN’s and EN’s wanting to return to nursing.

    supporting mental health residents .
    My mother was a registered nurse and retired at 82years ( working privately )

  14. I am an RN who, like many, left to have children. On April 1 2012 I will have been ‘out’ for 5 years – meaning under the new Recency of Practice rules, my registration will not be renewed.

    I only found out about these new regulations from an article in a Sydney newspaper. I haven’t got 3 months to find a full time job or course, nor would it be possible as my youngest child is only 1. I’m in a small rural town with no childcare until pre-school age, plus my husband is a paramedic doing shiftwork!

    Essentially I am forced to give up my career entirely. Not only do I not have $10, 000 for the Assessment of Competence course, but I also do not have the ability or inclination to leave my family to attend on-campus education in Sydney! Not to mention the slim chance of getting a clinical placement close to home!

    What a disgrace – forcing people out of a profession that is so understaffed already!

    Surely the union will take up this fight?!

  15. The union appears to be quiet.

    Talk to your MP about your issues and how nurses are having to leave the profession against their will. It can’t hurt!

  16. It is astonishing to read these comments. I returned to nursing in 2007 never dreaming I ever would after about 13 years away from it. I work in Aged Care.
    There is a screaming shortage everywhere as far as I know. Most places will do almost anything to keep their RN’s and to attract new ones. One recent colleague of mine said to not get a job as an RN in Aged Care you would have to be one eyed, have one arm and be lame – and even then some places would take you on! So these ridiculous hurdles put in front of people wanting to re-register are nothing short of outrageous. My own view is that nursing is very much a matter of ability and gifting – a conclusion you reach as you observe many others over the years and accept your own modest place in the spectrum. If the basics are there almost anyone who was once registered can be brought up to speed in Aged Care to an acceptable standard in reasonable time. I feel sorry for the numbers of very capable RN’s out there (some even double certificate and more) who now feel stymied. I would be interested in any comments.

  17. I have a BSc In Nursing & a Masters in Nursing Education & Research. I have not practised for 10 years AHPRA have taken 10 months to assess my situation & say that I cannot be admitted to the practising register. My friend in the same situation with similar degrees was told that she would have to retrain. I wrote to Nicola Roxton (before the reshuffle) & she just patted me on the head & said it was a state matter. The state said it was National Law. AHPRA have not communicated with me well. They don’t answer my written letters & then say that their letter must have been lost in the mail. They send me non sensical letters asking for more information. They appear to want me to drop off. I am astonished that these people can get away with this. Experienced RNs are being prevented from re-entering the workforce at a time when the population is aging & nursing shortages abound.

  18. I am having similar problems after letting my registration lapse for less than a year due to mail problems, moving and also having a baby. I find out that I now have to back to study for 12 months and complete the exact same units I passed 3 years ago. I’m not impressed. We also live rural so I cannot fly down and leave my children with a shift working husband to do a course I have already done. There goes my career. All because of a few months.

  19. I have a question about the recency of practice standard. It mentions a transition measure ending in May 2012 – what does that mean??

    In 2010 at registration time if a nurse didn’t have the recency of hours in the preceeding 5 years, were they refused registration and referred to do the assessment course?

    I understand the cut-off period for not practicing for over 5-10 years, that’s pretty much clear cut. But what if someone had been out for under 5 years but didn’t have the recency of practice hours? What did AHPRA do with those nurses?

  20. Sandra, not sure what you mean by ‘transition measure’. This is not mentioned in the Standard.

    If someone is nearing the 5 year milestone and wishes to avoid the re-entry requirements, they should undertake the necessary activities to meet the standard within the deadline period. It should be borne in mind that for the purposes of this standard, ‘practice’ means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skills and knowledge as a nurse or midwife. For the purposes of this registration standard, practice is not restricted to the provision of direct clinical care. It also includes working in a direct non-clinical relationship with clients, working in management, administration, education, research, advisory, regulatory or policy development roles and any other roles that impact on safe, effective delivery of services in the profession and/or use their professional skills (NMBA Recency of Practice Registration Standard).
    Practice hours are recognised if evidence is provided to demonstrate:
    a. the nurse or midwife held a valid registration with a nursing or midwifery regulatory authority in the jurisdiction (either Australian or overseas) when the hours were worked; or
    b. the role involved the application of nursing and/or midwifery knowledge and skills, or
    c. the time was spent undertaking postgraduate education leading to an award or qualification that is relevant to the practice of nursing and/or midwifery.

  21. I completed training as a TEN in 2009, then there was no continuing employment afterwards. I found it frustrating that agencies would not employ me without 6 months post-training employment, so I travelled, was out of action due to injury etc.
    Now I am trying again. Will my application to re-enrol succeed? Will volunteering in a community sector assist? How expensive it is! And it appears AHPRA want evidence of 5-years FT tertiary education… I did my School Certificate in 1984…

  22. The comments on this thread are interesting. My wife was SRN and midwife for 20+ years, broke her career to bring up kids and was then completely caught out by these changes. She only found out when her registration was late coming through. It was almost 10 years by that stage and so she needed to get on a course fast. But get this – only approved courses count and AHPRA being bogged down with the new registration process had not got around to approving any. My wife spoke to the course trainer at the SAN and she was completely frustrated by the whole thing. This was over 12 months ago. Now of course it is past the 10 year gap and she is stuffed.

    I told her to get legal advice but she was frankly too depressed to react rationally to her livelihood being taken away on a whim and a pretext. Speaking as a member of another profession, I am appalled that there were no transitional arrangements put in place, and no communication with members (all of whom had paid registration even if they were not working). My wife was blissfully ignorant of the whole thing and it was only a nagging worry about the late registration made her enquire at all. Even then AHPRA told her for 3 months there was nothing to worry about, they were just a bit behind in the process. Incompetence at every level!

    With the passage of time rationality has been restored and we are now considering avenues for legal redress. If any of you wish to, contact me at fiachmac at (Replace the “at” with the @ symbol.

  23. Same, same, same abysmal story as what must be thousands of other RNs.
    Left to have kids and get youngest off to school and now have no career – what the #$?!
    On so many levels this is the most unintelligent policy I could imagine.
    If fulltime parenting didn’t have enough self esteem issues, to have your career robbed from you whilst blindfolded and hands tied is just mean.
    Do they hate nurses or fulltime parents the most – everyone is losing.
    Shocking, mind-blowingly brainless creation of a policy – my guess, a mistake by the policy writers who were playing a game of the Emperors New Clothes with each other. Now there seems to be a huge bureaucratic machine in place that we are all drowning in.

  24. My story’s a bit different, but may end with the same frustrating result, thanks to AHPRA’s policies and procedures.

    In 2005, I applied to re-register as an EN after 22 years away from the health profession. After satisfying the condition that I have my competencies assessed by my employer (a large aged care facility in Sydney), I was registered to practice. in 2006 I attended a medication administration course and became an EEN. In 2008 I attended a dementia care course for EENs and passed that.
    In 2011, I was working as a community nurse when I noticed a notification on my registration for the first time, to the effect that I was not recognized to administer medications. At the time, my employer was not troubled by this as my role did not include med administration.

    In 2012, I returned to my original aged care employer and was asked to resolve the issue of the notification.

    After filling in required forms and furnishing the results of the Med Admin course that they asked for, now AHPRA want the 100 point ID details, proof of my graduation as an EN and other documents which I had provided back in 2005. It seems that they have no record of me being a nurse at all! I can see where this is leading … attending a 12 month course at TAFE to become an EN again and at my own expense. If this is the case, goodbye nursing. I hear there’s good money in cleaning!

  25. Are nurses being shafted because it’s a female dominated profession? Makes me wonder…

    I have decided to leave the profession and branch into phlebotomy and/or medical administration. So another RN bites the dust.

  26. Why not call for a national strike and get lots of media attention. The pain that is being caused by having unqualified teenagers in the AHPRA call centre is unbelievable. To be honest I can see this only getting worse. The power that has been given to these people is unbelievable. The fees are extortionate. Currently they are taking away a person’s work and vocation on a whim without consequences. Ironically this is supposed to be for health professionals and the stress that is being caused is unreal. This is the result of politicians and ego maniacs in ivory towers with nothing else to do but mess with systems that, ok were never perfect, but they have just made the thing so much worse. Every nurse, doctor that is lost is affecting patient care. They are self funding so their weakness is their purse. I wonder what would happen if everyone refused to pay?


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