The 15 National Boards who regulate registered health practitioners in Australia are responsible for registering practitioners and students (except in psychology, where students are registered as provisional psychologists), setting the standards that practitioners must meet, and managing complaints and concerns (notifications) about the health, conduct or performance of practitioners.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) works in partnership with the National Boards to implement the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme), under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
The core role of the National Boards and Ahpra is to protect the public.
The Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service were jointly developed by the National Boards under section 39 of the National Law. The guidelines have been developed to help practitioners and other advertisers understand their obligations when advertising a regulated health service.
The Medical Board of Australia has also published the Guidelines for registered medical practitioners who advertise cosmetic surgery to explain the requirements for medical practitioners when advertising cosmetic surgery.
National Boards and Ahpra have published other useful information about advertising for registered health practitioners and consumers in the Advertising hub on the Ahpra website.
Download the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service (192 KB, PDF)
In 2022, the National Law was amended and one of the changes was to increase the maximum penalty for advertising offences. For an individual, the maximum financial penalty per offence increased from $5,000 to $60,000, and for a body corporate the maximum financial penalty per offence increased from $10,000 to $120,000. The process for managing advertising breaches under the National Law is set out in section 1.3 of the guidelines.
In Western Australia the maximum penalty for advertising offences has not increased and different penalties apply.
The advertising guidelines will be updated to include the changes when the advertising guidelines are next reviewed.
View the Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service.
The only medical practitioners who can call themselves ‘surgeon’ are those holding specialist registration in surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, or ophthalmology. Restricting the use of the title surgeon follows an amendment to the National Law that introduces a new section 115A (1).
Medical practitioners who do not hold specialist registration in surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, or ophthalmology will no longer be able to use the title ‘surgeon’. All references to ‘surgeon’ must be removed from all advertising including (but not limited to) websites, social media, letterheads, business cards and clinic windows.
Medical practitioners with general registration or specialist registration in a different specialty such as general practice or dermatology cannot call themselves ‘surgeon’, including ‘cosmetic surgeon’.
The new section only applies to registered medical practitioners. It does not change the rules for use of protected titles by health practitioners with specialist registration in the dental and podiatry professions.
The advertising guidelines will be updated to include the changes when the advertising guidelines are next reviewed.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) works in partnership with 15 national health practitioner boards (the National Boards) to implement the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) and administer the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
The National Boards regulate registered health practitioners in Australia. They:
The National Law states that the National Boards can develop and approve codes and guidelines including guidelines about the advertising of a regulated health service by registered health practitioners or others.2 The Guidelines for advertising a regulated health service (the guidelines) were jointly developed by all National Boards.
These guidelines use both ‘patient’ and ‘consumer’ to mean a person or persons accessing healthcare, which includes clients and healthcare consumers. These terms can also include families, carers, groups and/or communities.
1. In NSW notifications about health, performance and conduct are managed by the Health Care Complaints Commission and the Health Professional Councils Authority. In Qld they are managed jointly by the Office of the Health Ombudsman and the National Boards and Ahpra. Complaints about advertising are managed according to the Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme.
2. Sections 39, 40 and 133 of the National Law
The National Law establishes the requirements for advertising a regulated health service. These requirements are important for public protection and help to ensure the public receives accurate and honest information about healthcare services. These guidelines have been developed to explain those obligations.
As the guidelines are established under the National Law, a court or tribunal may consider them when hearing advertising offences against section 133 of the National Law (see Appendix 1).
Anyone (registered health practitioners, individuals who are not registered as health practitioners and body corporates) advertising a regulated health service must ensure their advertising complies with the National Law and other relevant legislation (see Appendix 3).
The guidelines explain the obligations under the National Law that apply to any person or business advertising a regulated health service.
The guidelines set out:
It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list of advertising that will or will not breach the National Law. The guidelines aim to explain legal obligations when advertising and to provide practical examples to help this understanding. Resources to supplement these guidelines are available on the Ahpra website to further help advertisers understand their obligations.
As a risk-based regulator, Ahpra will only take regulatory action where there is a risk to the public and will only apply the necessary regulatory force appropriate to manage the risk.
As regulators, Ahpra and the National Boards cannot provide advice about whether specific advertising is compliant. Advertisers should seek their own independent advice such as from their legal adviser or indemnity insurer.
If you are advertising a regulated health service, your advertising must not:
These guidelines were developed to help advertisers understand their obligations when they are advertising a
regulated health service. The guidelines, together with the resources published on Ahpra and National Board
websites, support compliance with the National Law’s advertising requirements. Compliance with the advertising
requirements is in the public interest as it protects the public from unlawful advertising. The public are entitled
to receive accurate, clear information about regulated health services. Unlawful advertising may compromise the
healthcare choices of the public.
The guidelines do not prevent regulated health service providers from informing the public about the services
they provide or stop members of the community from discussing their experiences online in forums outside the
provider’s control, or in person.
The guidelines are developed in recognition that:
A complaint about advertising can be made by using the complaint form on the Ahpra website. You can also call
Ahpra on 1300 419 495 for further information on making a complaint about advertising.
The Ahpra website also has information about how complaints about advertising are managed.
A breach of an advertising requirement is a criminal offence for which a court may impose a monetary penalty. If
you are a current or previously registered health practitioner, you may also be subject to disciplinary action.
Ahpra has published an Advertising compliance and enforcement strategy for the National Scheme (the strategy)
that sets out how the National Boards and Ahpra monitor and enforce compliance with the National Law’s
advertising requirements. The strategy adopts a risk-based, proportionate approach to enforcing the advertising
requirements of the National Law. Please refer to the strategy for more information about how complaints about
breaches and potential breaches of the advertising requirements are managed.
Compliance and enforcement action will escalate depending on the ongoing assessment of risk and whether the advertiser is willing to comply.
The compliance and enforcement tools available to the National Boards and Ahpra vary depending on whether
the advertiser is a registered health practitioner (or a previously registered health practitioner), individual,
business, or a corporate entity.
For registered health practitioners the enforcement tools available under the National Law include the power to:
For corporate entities, business and individuals who are not registered health practitioners, the tools available
under the National Law include the power to prosecute which may lead to a financial penalty.
Section 133 of the National Law includes financial penalties for offences which breach the advertising
requirements of the National Law (see Appendix 1).
Advertisers whose advertising breaches the National Law may be prosecuted and ordered by a court to pay a
penalty for each offence which breaches the National Law. The financial penalties vary depending on the type of
advertiser. In the case of:
If an advertising breach is related to an unlawful use of a protected title (see Appendix 2) this is also an offence
under the National Law for which penalties can apply.3 In the case of:
3. In Western Australia different penalties apply. In the case of an individual the maximum penalty is $30,000, or in the case of a body
The guidelines do not provide advice about how to advertise. Ahpra and the National Boards cannot give
advertisers legal advice about their advertising and they cannot approve advertising. This is because as statutory
regulators our role is to enforce the law and not to provide legal advice to advertisers about their advertising.
These guidelines are not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone requiring advice about advertising a regulated
health service should seek appropriate independent advice from their legal adviser or indemnity insurer.
Advertising a regulated health service often involves the advertising of therapeutic goods (e.g. medicines and
medical devices) and requires compliance with the Australian Consumer Law. Advertisers must comply with
all relevant legislation. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is responsible for laws
governing Australian Consumer Law and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for laws
governing the advertising of therapeutic goods. More information about this is included in Appendix 3.
If a complaint about advertising may be of interest to another Australian regulatory authority, such as the TGA or
ACCC, Ahpra may refer the matter to the appropriate regulator.
The National Law’s advertising requirements do not apply to public health information, advice and publications
about or from public health services. This information is often provided as part of a public health program led by
public health agencies such as Commonwealth, state or territory government health departments.
A regulated health service displaying a National Immunisation Program poster produced by the Australian
Government that promotes the infuenza vaccine would not breach the advertising requirements of the
4. Advertisers who generate independent advertising material promoting a service involving the use or supply of therapeutic goods
(including vaccines) should be aware that the therapeutic goods advertising legislation is likely to apply (see Appendix 3).
The meaning of advertising for the purpose of these guidelines is set out in the Definitions.
In the context of advertising a regulated health service, advertising includes all forms of verbal, printed and
electronic communication that promotes and seeks to attract a person to a regulated health service provider
and/or to attract a person to use the regulated health service. Social media is also often used to advertise a
regulated health service. The meaning of ‘social media’ for the purpose of these guidelines is set out in the
A practitioner providing information about treatment or costs in a consultation, whether in person, by telephone
or video or via other digital means, is not considered to be advertising a regulated health service.
Anyone (person, business or corporate entity) who advertises a regulated health service, is considered
an advertiser and must comply with the advertising requirements of the National Law (see below and the
The person or entity who controls part or all of the advertising (i.e. who authorises the content) is the advertiser.
An advertiser has control of the advertising if:
Advertisers are responsible for their advertising, so they need to check any content produced by others on their
Advertisers can include:
A regulated health service is a service provided by, or usually provided by a registered health practitioner.
All advertisers of regulated health services must comply with:
All registered health practitioners who advertise should be aware that:
Section 133 of the National Law establishes the requirements for advertising a regulated health service and is set
out in Appendix 1. This section of the guidelines provides further explanation about these requirements.
133 (1) A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health
service, in a way that—
(a) is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive
Advertisers must not make false, misleading or deceptive claims in their advertising. To avoid being misleading
and deceptive when advertising, advertisers should aim for the following:
Advertising may be false, misleading or deceptive when it:
5. See www.accc.gov.au/business/advertising-promoting-your-business/false-or-misleading-statements
Advertisers of a regulated health service must be able to substantiate claims made in advertising. This is referred
to as ‘acceptable evidence’ in these guidelines. Acceptable evidence mostly includes empirical data from formal
research or systematic studies in the form of peer-reviewed publications. Figure 1 below provides further
guidance about when claims made in advertising need to be supported by acceptable evidence.
The evidence required for claims in advertising and the evidence for clinical decisions about the services
provided are different.
There is an important difference between acceptable evidence for claims made in advertising and the
evidence used for clinical decisions. When providing healthcare services, practitioners must obtain informed
consent and are expected to discuss the evidence for different treatment options. This means patients have
an opportunity to consider a proposed treatment, benefits and potential negative effects, ask questions of
their practitioner(s) and make informed decisions about their healthcare.
Advertising does not provide this opportunity as the claims are generic and practitioners are not available to
clarify whether a treatment is appropriate for an individual.
Ahpra and the National Boards assess the evidence for claims made in advertising consistent with approaches
used by the wider scientific and academic community. Primary sources of evidence should be used wherever
possible. Advertisers should consult the Ahpra and National Boards’ framework for assessing acceptable evidence
for any claims made in their advertising. The framework is available on the Ahpra website.
The evidence required to support a therapeutic claim will depend on the specific claim made in the
advertisement. A well-conducted systematic review of relevant randomised controlled trials represents the
highest level of evidence where it includes and identifies all studies on a given topic and the review is systematic,
reproducible and representative of the totality of evidence. Where a systematic review is unavailable, it is
important that all relevant sources of evidence are considered (i.e. the research is not ‘cherry picked’).
Examples of unacceptable evidence could include a comparative study without concurrent controls or a single
case study. Such evidence has a higher risk of biased (or inaccurate) findings because of the study’s design.
The following types of studies will generally not be considered acceptable evidence for advertising claims:
Comparative advertising that is used to promote a regulated health service over another can be misleading and/or deceptive because it can be difficult to include complete information when making comparisons.
If comparative claims are used in advertising of regulated health services they must be clear, accurate and
supported by acceptable evidence where relevant. Examples of comparative advertising include:
The National Law regulates the use of certain titles (protected titles). Misuse of a protected title is an offence
under the National Law. Advertisers should be aware of the protected titles for the profession that they are
advertising. Penalties can apply for a breach of National Law title protection provisions. In the case of an
individual, there may be a financial penalty, imprisonment or both. In the case of a body corporate a financial
penalty may apply (see section 1.4 What penalties apply for advertising breaches under the National Law?).
A summary of title protection under the National Law is set out in Appendix 2. This also provides lists of protected
titles, recognised specialties, divisions, and endorsements, or links to those lists.
Further information and examples of non-compliant advertising about titles, claims about registration,
competence and qualifications are on the Ahpra website.
The National Law protects endorsements and recognised specialist titles. A specialist title indicates that
a practitioner holds specialist registration in one of the recognised specialties for certain professions. An
endorsement on a practitioner’s registration indicates that the practitioner is qualified to practise in an approved
area of practice.
Under the National Law, only the Ministerial Council can approve a recognised specialty in a health profession or
approve an area of practice in a health profession for endorsement.
Only a registered health practitioner who holds specialist registration in a recognised specialty or an
endorsement may use the relevant specialist title or a title relating to an endorsement in advertising. This includes
in the name of the business or other advertising to the public.
The National Law prohibits claims of:
A registered health practitioner may not, through advertising or other means:
An unlawful claim about specialist registration or endorsement by a registered health practitioner may also raise
concerns about the practitioner’s health, performance or conduct for which the National Board may take action
to protect the public.
Other uses of titles and specialist claims in advertising may not necessarily breach title protection provisions of
the National Law, but may be considered false, misleading or deceptive under the advertising requirements.
When a practitioner does not hold specialist registration, the National Boards consider that any advertising
using words or titles related to specialty is likely to mislead the public to believe the practitioner holds a type of
specialist registration approved under the National Law.
This includes advertising that uses the words, or variations of the words or phrases ‘specialist’, ‘specialises in’,
‘specialty’, or ‘specialised’. Words such as ‘substantial experience in’ or ‘working primarily in’ are less likely to be
Example – Use of ‘specialist’, ‘specialises in’, ‘specialty’, ‘specialised’
Potential breach: Dr Lopez (Chiropractor) is a specialist in paediatric chiropractic care.
Correct: Dr Lopez (Chiropractor) has substantial experience working with musculoskeletal issues in children.
Where a practitioner holds specialist registration in a recognised specialty, they should ensure their use of
‘specialist’, ‘specialises in’, ‘specialty’, or ‘specialised’ in their advertising is restricted to the specialty they are
registered in and does not misrepresent their specialist registration.
Example – Overstating specialist area of practice
Potential breach: Dr Chan, Specialist paediatric general practitioner.
Correct: Dr Chan, Specialist general practitioner with substantial experience working with children.
A medical practitioner who holds specialist registration in general practice should not claim they are a
paediatric specialist, as this may mislead the public into the belief that they hold specialist registration in
Advertising of qualifications or memberships can provide the public with useful information about a practitioner’s
education and experience. It can help the public make informed decisions about accessing regulated health
services. If a practitioner holds further or postgraduate qualifications, or has specific experience, or has
completed specific courses it is acceptable to advertise that in an accurate and factual manner. It is also
acceptable to refer to where the qualification was issued.
Example: Postgraduate qualifications
Correct: Master of Public Health.
Example – Specific experience
Correct: 10 years’ experience working at clinic XY.
When a National Board acknowledges further education awarded by a professional college, as in physiotherapy,
any reference to the further qualification must clearly specify the relevant educational award.
Example – A National Board acknowledges further education
Correct: P Smith, Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist (as awarded by the Australian College of
Physiotherapists in 2008).
Advertisers should ensure that abbreviations or post-nominal letters to indicate membership of a body or
association are not misleading by implying the practitioner has more qualifications, skill or experience than is the
When considering whether a title may be in breach of section 133 of the National Law it is important to consider
the context in which the title is used. A title is unlikely to be considered advertising when it is used within the
employment context only (i.e. the title is not used externally to promote the service to the public) and:
However, it must be clear to the public that the title relates specifically to the position held and the practitioner
must not use this title outside the context of their employment.
In some contexts, individuals might use a title that includes some or all of a protected title together with a
descriptive term. Use of a descriptive term with a protected title might provide useful information to the public
about the subset of the population, area of practice or specific setting the practitioner works in.
However, advertisers must take care that the title does not over-represent the practitioner’s skills, experience or
qualifications, or imply specialist registration or endorsement.
Example – Recognised specialist title with a descriptive term
Potential breach: Dr Taylor, GP Oncologist.
If a medical practitioner who holds registration as a general practitioner uses this title this would be
misleading as it implies the practitioner holds registration as a medical oncologist, a recognised specialty.
Correct: Dr Taylor, GP who works extensively with patients undergoing cancer treatment.
Example – Protected title with a descriptive term
Correct: Dr Nguyen, Sports chiropractor.
Sports chiropractor is not a recognised specialty, so this does not imply the practitioner holds specialist
registration, rather it describes the area of practice the practitioner works in.
‘Doctor’ is not a protected title, but registered health practitioners must be careful about how they use ‘Doctor’
or ‘Dr’ in their advertising because the public historically associates the term with medical practitioners. If the
title ‘Dr’ is used in advertising and does not refer to a registered medical practitioner, then (whether or not a
doctorate or PhD is held) the profession the practitioner is registered in should be made clear.
Example – Use of title doctor by professions other than medical practitioners
Potential breach: Dr Lee.
Correct: Dr Lee (Osteopath).
(b) offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business,
unless the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer.
Advertising that offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract someone to use the regulated health service
or business must state the terms and conditions of the offer, gift or inducement. The terms and conditions should
be provided in plain language.
Advertising may be in breach of the National Law:
The public generally consider the word ‘free’ to mean ‘absolutely’ free. When the costs of a ‘free offer’ are
recouped through a price rise elsewhere or through other sources such as Medicare, the offer is not actually free.
Advertising that may breach the National Law includes advertising that:
It may not be possible in some advertising to display the terms and conditions alongside an offer of a gift,
discount or inducement. In this case the offer should direct the public to the location of the terms and conditions,
such as through a link or directions to the section of the advertiser’s website that contains the terms and
conditions. This allows for an advertiser’s full terms and conditions to be stated.
Advertisers must ensure that terms and conditions are easily found and accessible. The public should not be
required to exhaustively search for or contact the advertiser for terms and conditions.
Further information and examples of non-compliant gifts, discounts and inducements are on the Ahpra website.
(c) uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business;
Section 133(1)(c) of the National Law specifically prohibits advertising a regulated health service in a way that uses
testimonials or purported testimonials, such as for example, patient stories and experiences, success stories, or
fake testimonials. The risk of harm posed by using testimonials in advertising is greatest where it:
The National Law does not define ‘testimonial’, so Ahpra and the National Boards have adopted its ordinary
meaning of a positive statement about a person or thing. In the context of the National Law, testimonials
are recommendations or positive statements about the clinical aspects of a regulated health service used in
Not all reviews or positive comments made about a regulated health service are considered testimonials. For
example, comments about customer service or communication style that do not include a reference to clinical
aspects are not considered testimonials for the purposes of the National Law.
A clinical aspect exists if one of the following is expressed:
Some patients use online reviews to make decisions about their choice of practitioner and treatment options.
Reviews can appear on business web sites, in a service directory or booking site, on social media, on discussion
forums, on a search engine or on a review platform.
The prohibition on using testimonials (or purported testimonials) to advertise regulated health services does not
The prohibition on the use of testimonials only exists when:
See Figure 2 below to help identify whether a review is considered a testimonial used in advertising and is in
breach of the requirements of the National Law.
The advertiser − that is, whoever has control over the advertising − is responsible for compliance with the
prohibition on the use of testimonials in advertising.
Advertisers are not responsible for removing (or trying to have removed) testimonials published on platforms they
do not control or on sites that are not advertising a regulated health service.
However, a regulated health service provider should take care if they choose to engage with reviews on a third-party
site as this may be considered using a testimonial to advertise a regulated health service.
The examples below help to explain who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the advertising
requirements of the National Law in relation to reviews from the public. Where the review appears and whether it
is being used in advertising (as defined in these guidelines) are important for determining who is responsible for
Example – Clinic or practitioner’s website
Review appearing on a clinic or practitioner’s website that publishes (or republishes) reviews/testimonials.
The clinic business owner or practitioner (that is, whoever has control over the website) is responsible for
Example – Clinic or practitioner’s business social media
Review appearing on a clinic or practitioner’s business social media that has reviews/testimonials functions.
The clinic business owner or practitioner (that is, whoever has control over the website) is responsible for
Not all social media sites allow for editing or removal of testimonials. However, the clinic business owner or
practitioner (whoever has control over the social media) is still responsible for ensuring compliance with the
prohibition on testimonials. This may be achieved by disabling the reviews/testimonials functions.
Example – Third-party sites that include advertising
Review appearing on a third-party site that advertises a regulated health service (such as a booking site or
review platform) where the practitioner/clinic has no control over the testimonials/reviews function.
The owner of the online booking site or review platform is responsible for compliance (that is, whoever has
control over the testimonials/reviews function of the site or platform).
The clinic business owner or practitioner may have control over other content on the third-party site and
would be responsible for ensuring that content complies with the advertising requirements.
Example – Third-party sites that do not advertise a regulated health service
Review appearing on a third-party site that does not advertise a regulated health service (including service
directories, review platforms, social media platforms and/or discussion forums).
Advertisers are not responsible for removing (or trying to have removed) testimonials published on platforms
they do not control or on sites that are not advertising a regulated health service.
(d) creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment;
Advertising must not create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment. The claims of beneficial
treatment can range from unsubstantiated scientific claims through to miracle cures. Advertising of treatments or
services must not encourage or promote unreasonable expectations.
Examples where advertising may be in breach of this section of the National Law include where it:
Patient stories and journeys or anecdotes from the advertiser about the personal benefit or outcome obtained
from treatment may create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment as the outcomes experienced by
one person do not necessarily reflect the outcomes that other people may experience.
Example – Anecdote from the advertiser
Potential breach: ‘I decided to study to become a chiropractor after regular chiropractic treatment was the
only thing that helped reduce my asthma symptoms.’
Care should be taken when using graphic or visual representations in advertising of regulated health services to ensure they do not create an unreasonable expectation of benefit, as the outcomes experienced by one person do not necessarily reflect the outcomes that other people may experience.
Advertising may be in breach of this section of the National Law if:
Care should be taken when using ‘before and after’ images in advertising a regulated health service as they have the potential to be misleading or deceptive. These images may cause a member of the public to have unreasonable expectations of a successful outcome.
Use of ‘before and after’ images are less likely to be misleading if:
(e) directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
Advertising must not directly or indirectly encourage the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of a regulated health
service. Encouraging the unnecessary and indiscriminate use of a regulated health service can lead the public to
buy or use a regulated health service they do not need and is not clinically indicated or provides no therapeutic
benefit. Any health intervention involves inherent risks, so encouraging the use of regulated health services which
is not based on clinical need or therapeutic benefit is not in the public interest.
Advertising may be unlawful when it:
Example – Substantial prize
Potential breach: ‘Each time you attend for cosmetic injections at our practice you go into the draw to win a
luxury car. The more times you attend the more entries you get and the more chances you have to win!’
Terms in this document are defined for the purposes of section 133 of the National Law. Advertisers should note that definitions in other legislation may be different to the definitions in these guidelines and should refer to the relevant definitions to ensure they comply with all relevant legislation.
Any person or business that advertises a regulated health service provider (practitioner or business).
This definition of advertising includes but is not limited to all forms of verbal, printed or electronic public communication that promotes a regulated health service provider to attract a person to the provider (practitioner or business). This can include advertising via:
Advertising can also include situations in which practitioners make themselves available or provide information for media reports, magazine articles or advertorials if the practitioner (author) also promotes a particular (or their own) regulated health service provider.
This definition of advertising excludes:
Ahpra is the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Ahpra’s operations are governed by the National Law (defined below). Ahpra provides administrative and policy support to the 15 National Boards that are responsible for regulating the 16 registered health professions.
An individual who practises a registered health profession (as defined in the National Law).
A national health practitioner board established by section 31 of the National Law.
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
Expressions used to denote persons generally (such as ‘person’, ‘party’, ‘someone’, ’anyone’, ‘no‑one’, ‘one’, ‘another’ and ‘whoever’), include a body politic or corporate as well as an individual.
A statement or representation that appears to be a testimonial, whether provided in the first or third person.
A service provided by, or usually provided by, a health practitioner (as defined in the National Law).
Includes websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking. Social media is sometimes used to advertise a regulated health service.
Common social media platforms include:
See the Ahpra website for more information about what falls within the definition of social media.
Date of issue: 14 December 2020
Date of review: These guidelines will be reviewed from time to time as required. This will generally be at least every five years.
Section 133 of the National Law regulates advertising of a regulated health service. It states:
(1) A person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health
service, in a way that—
(a) is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive; or
(b) offers a gift, discount or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless
the advertisement also states the terms and conditions of the offer; or
(c) uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business; or
(d) creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment; or
(a) in the case of an individual—$5,000; or
(b) in the case of a body corporate—$10,000.
(2) A person does not commit an offence against subsection (1) merely because the person, as part of the
person’s business, prints or publishes an advertisement for another person.
(3) In proceedings for an offence against this section, a court or tribunal may have regard to a guideline
approved by a National Board about the advertising of regulated health services.
(4) In this section — regulated health service means a service provided by, or usually provided by, a health
Sections 113 to 119 describe the title and practice protection provisions under the National Law, including the
penalties for offences by individuals and bodies corporate. Each provision applies both to the way that an
individual describes themselves, and the way that anyone describes another person.
Section 113 provides that a person must not knowingly or recklessly take or use a protected title found in the
table of that section (Table 1 below) which would induce a belief that the person is registered in that
Section 114 provides that a registered health practitioner whose registration is endorsed under section 97 of the
National Law as being qualified to practise as an acupuncturist may use the title ‘acupuncturist’.
Section 115 provides that a person must not knowingly or recklessly take or use the titles, ‘dental specialist’,
‘medical specialist’ or a specialist title for a recognised specialty unless the person is registered under that
Section 116 provides that a person who is not a registered health practitioner must not knowingly or recklessly
(i) take or use the title ‘registered health practitioner’ (ii) take or use a title, name, initial, symbol, word or
description to indicate the person is a health practitioner or claim is authorised or qualified to practise as a health
practitioner, or (iii) claim to be registered or hold themselves out as being registered.
Section 117 provides that a person must not knowingly or recklessly claim or hold themself out to be registered
or qualified to practise in a health profession or a division of a health profession if the person is not so registered.
Section 117 also provides that a person cannot use or take a title which would induce a belief that such a person is
Section 118 provides that a person who is not a specialist health practitioner must not knowingly or recklessly
take or use the title ‘specialist health practitioner’. Further, a person must not use a title, name, symbol, word
or description that would induce a belief that a person is or is authorised or qualified as a specialist health
practitioner. Further, the person must not claim or hold out to be registered in a recognised specialty or claim to
be qualified to practise as a specialist health practitioner.
Section 119 provides that a person must not knowingly or recklessly make claims about a type of registration,
endorsement, or registration in a recognised specialiy that the person does not have.
These provisions are often referred to as ‘holding out’ provisions.
Note: the above is a summary only – please consult the National Law for more detail.
The Ministerial Council approved the recognised specialties and specialist titles for the following professions.
6. The Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Physiotherapy Boards have no approved program or pathway for acupuncture endorsement. There are
currently practitioners with acupuncture endorsement in these professions as a result of Victoria having different legislation before the start
of the National Scheme.
Administered by: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and relevant state and territory
consumer protection departments and agencies
Go to: www.accc.gov.au
Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth)
Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990
Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code
Price Information Code of Practice (see Schedule 4 of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code)
Administered by: Department of Health – Therapeutic Goods Administration
Go to: www.tga.gov.au
Administered by agencies in each Australian state and territory