FAQs for Witnesses
What type of forums can I be called to attend as a witness?
You can be called as a witness in several forums such as:
- Professional Standards Committee (PSC)
- Council Inquiry
How have I been identified to be a witness in a case?
You have been identified as a witness by being able to provide information relevant to the matter.
How will I be notified if I am to be called as a witness?
You will receive a letter in the mail from the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) or the Council (or the legal representative acting on behalf of the Council) advising you that you have been summoned to appear before a Tribunal hearing, the letter will state the address of the Tribunal hearing, the time and date. You will be provided with a copy of the summons.
If for any reason you cannot attend this hearing you must contact the HCCC or the Council immediately. Penalties apply for failure to attend without reasonable excuse.
What happens at the Tribunal or Committee hearing?
As a witness, you will not be present during the opening stages of the hearing. All witnesses must wait outside the hearing room until they are called to give evidence. On the day, the Chairperson will decide the actual process to be followed. Generally this will involve the Chairperson of the Tribunal or Committee introducing you to the relevant people in the room. After these introductions you will be asked to take an oath or an affirmation before you begin giving evidence. You may be asked questions by both parties and the Tribunal members.
At the conclusion of your evidence, you may be excused, or you may be stood down and called to attend later in the proceedings. If you are excused you can stay in the room to listen to the hearing unless the Chairperson directs otherwise. When giving evidence speak slowly and clearly. If you don’t understand the question, please ask for it to be repeated. Most hearings are recorded.
Who can provide me with further information or support about appearing as a witness?
The party that served the summons on you can provide you with more information.
Can I seek legal advice prior to my hearing?
Yes. You can speak to a lawyer prior to your appearance at the Tribunal. You can bring along a lawyer / legal representative to the hearing, but this person cannot legally speak on your behalf, and plays no role in the proceedings.
Are Tribunal or Committee hearings open to the public?
In most cases the hearings in Tribunals and PSC’s are open to the public, it is however a matter for the Chairperson to decide.
What happens after I have given evidence?
The Tribunal will make a decision about the notification (complaint) when it has heard all the evidence and final submissions have been made by both parties. A written decision will be published. In some circumstances it can take several months for the decision to be finalised. Depending on the outcome and your role in the proceedings you may be advised by the HCCC or the Council.
Copies of PSC and Tribunal decisions are published online on the National Board’s website, which you can access via the AHPRA website www.ahpra.gov.au or on Austlii www.austlii.edu.au
There may be non-publication orders in relation to personal details of persons and /or the subject matter of the notification (complaint).
What if I disagree with any of the content attributed to me that is in the published decision?
A witness does not have the right to appeal a decision or comment on the content therefore.
Can I request that my name be suppressed from published material?
Yes you can make this request. It is a matter for the Tribunal, PSC or Council Inquiry to decide.
Will I be reimbursed for my time?
If you are a government employee you will receive your normal pay from your employer. You may need to provide a copy of the summons and other supporting documentation to your employer. Your employer will advise the appropriate documentation required.
If you classify as a specialist and work for a private practice, then on special occasions and only if you are called by the Council, you can be reimbursed for your time.