A revised Code of conduct

Wooden blocks on a desk spell out 'CONDUCT'.

A revised Code of conduct

Wooden blocks on a desk spell out 'CONDUCT'.

A revised Code of conduct shared by 12 health professions, including physiotherapy, has been published. Find out what has changed and what it means for you.

What is the Code of conduct?

The shared Code of conduct sets out the National Boards’ expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for practitioners registered in 12 professions, including physiotherapists.

These expectations promote safe and effective care and help protect the public.

The National Boards use the code to evaluate practitioners’ conduct.

By defining the Boards’ expectations of professional conduct, the code supports patients’ interests, good patient care and the delivery of appropriate, effective health services within an ethical framework.

Practitioners have a professional responsibility to be familiar with and to apply the code.

The code sets the same expectations for all 12 professions subject to the code.

This consistency supports interprofessional practice and contributes to safety and quality in healthcare.

The public can also use the code to better understand what they can expect from registered health practitioners and if the care they receive meets expected standards.

The code is an important part of each Board’s regulatory framework for protecting the public.

It was originally developed in 2010 for the start of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, which is implemented by Ahpra and the National Boards.

Why has it been updated?

Following consultation with internal and external stakeholders, the code was revised so that it continues to be relevant and useful for practitioners, accessible for health consumers and an effective and up-to-date regulatory tool.

On 6 April 2022, 12 National Boards published an advance copy of the shared Code of conduct, which came into effect on 29 June.

The code describes 11 overarching principles to help guide healthcare practitioner decision-making.

Physiotherapy Board of Australia Chair Kim Gibson said, ‘The review included extensive consultation with the public and numerous stakeholders and we thank them for their input.

'The revised code is contemporary, more useful and more accessible to both practitioners and the public because of these contributions.

'We strongly encourage practitioners to familiarise themselves with the revised code.’

So, what’s new for practitioners?

The main changes to the code include:

  • overarching principles to guide behaviour, including when an issue is not specifically addressed in the code
  • a new section on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and cultural safety that includes the National Scheme’s definition of cultural safety
  • information about practitioners’ responsibilities in relation to bullying and harassment, including the importance of addressing the issue in the workplace and the role of the National Boards and Ahpra
  • content about the importance of clinical governance, particularly for practitioners in leadership positions
  • more information about vexatious complaints (notifications)
  • guidance for employers about ensuring that performance targets and other business practices are consistent with the shared Code of conduct
  • reorganised content to reduce duplication and make sequencing more logical and minor changes to wording to improve clarity.

The Chiropractic and Medical Radiation Practice Boards have removed the profession-specific appendices attached to the previous version of the code.

Where can I find it?

The shared Code of conduct is published on the Physiotherapy Board of Australia’s website under ‘Codes and guidelines’.

The code is also published on the Ahpra website and other relevant National Board websites.

Supporting resources

The Board has also published some supporting resources to help practitioners and the public understand and apply the code.

You can find these resources, including FAQs, on the Board’s Code of conduct webpage.


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