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Counselling Committee

The purpose of the Counselling Committee is to counsel a nurse, midwife or student who is directed to attend for counselling after a notification (complaint) about their health, performance or conduct.

The role of the Counselling Committee is advisory and educative in nature. The members reinforce the standards expected of nurses and midwives. The nurse, midwife or student is required to reflect on his or her behaviour and its potential or actual impact on the care provided; and to identify ways of preventing similar situations occurring in the future. Nurses, midwives or students who attend counselling are assisted to identify ways of enhancing their ability to practise in a safe and competent manner. In relation to nurses and midwives the Committee may  make suggestions about continuing professional development and if necessary, caution or reprimand the nurse or midwife.

Counselling is usually provided when, for example, the matter is not sufficiently serious to warrant disciplinary action; the behaviour is an isolated incident; or the nurse, midwife or student shows some insight into the behaviour which brought them to the attention of the Council. Nurses, midwives or students suffering an impairment or who have demonstrated a pattern of poor performance are not usually referred to counselling.

At least two, and sometimes three, members of the Council sit on the Counselling Committee on an ongoing basis (a lay member and 1 - 2 professional members). On occasion the Council co-opts appropriately qualified and experienced external professional members to the Committee to ensure there is appropriate expertise on the Committee to counsel the health practitioner in a specific area of practice.

The nurse, midwife or student attending the counselling interview is permitted to be accompanied by a support person, who may be a legal advisor. Support people can provide emotional support or advice to the nurse, midwife or student but can not represent or speak for them.

On completion of a counselling interview, the Counselling Committee advises the Council of the outcome of the interview. Most commonly this means the closure of the matter, with the nurse, midwife or student being reminded of their duty of care regarding the issues discussed. The Committee may however identify concerns during the counselling interview and recommend to the Council that further action be taken, such as referral for an health assessment, performance assessment or referral to the Health Care Complaints Commission for further investigation.