Sunday, 21 April, 2024

01 Jan 2005 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 46

Dental discipline WA style

A new State Government tribunal has taken over the disciplinary functions of the Dental Board of Western Australia. Initial complaints or allegations of professional misconduct will still be considered by the existing dental board, however now if there is believed to be a case to answer, the matter will be referred to the new tribunal which will determine the appropriate course of action.


The State Administrative Tribunal commenced operating on 1 January 2005 and is now responsible for some of the disciplinary functions of more than 50 separate industry and professional boards, including the Dental Board of Western Australia, and a range of administrative and Ministerial appeals.

President of the State Administrative Tribunal, Justice Michael Barker, said the creation of the new tribunal - the most comprehensive in Australia - would deliver a more informal, flexible and modern approach to the appeal process, dispute resolution and handling of professional disciplinary matters.

Along with the Dental Board of Western Australia, the SAT has taken over some of the disciplinary functions of dozens of self-regulated trades and professions, including doctors, lawyers, nurses, motor vehicle dealers, plumbers, finance brokers and real estate agents.

"The establishment of the SAT means that bodies like the Dental Board of Western Australia no longer have to act as prosecutor, investigator, judge and jury when dealing with professional disciplinary matters," Justice Barker said.

"For the first time, Western Australian occupational bodies will have a cohesive new jurisdiction and will be able to refer disciplinary matters such as alleged professional misconduct to the tribunal for resolution," he said.

The SAT will also be responsible for reviewing the licensing decisions of many of those occupational bodies.

Justice Barker said key features of the new tribunal were its accessibility, through the use of technology, and emphasis on mediation.

"People will be able to go on-line and find out all about the SAT as well as complete a tailored application form on the website," Justice Barker said.

"This is a tribunal for the 21st Century. We will not stand on ceremony or operate like a court of law.

"You will not have to be represented by a lawyer and the tribunal's emphasis will be on mediation rather than formal hearings to resolve disputes. Representatives other than lawyers will also be able to appear in the tribunal.

"When decisions are made, they will be based on the merits of the case and not the strict rules of evidence as would be the case in a court.

"The SAT will provide a simple and reliable framework for the delivery of better decisions and dispute resolution, more efficient case management, easier access to services and more consistent procedures and outcomes for a wide range of WA industries and professions," he said.

Operating independently, the dedicated tribunal is expected to handle 10,000 cases each year from original rulings, to the review of a wide range of decisions made by government agencies, public officials, local governments and other bodies.

The State Administrative Tribunal will consolidate more than 900 decisions and appeal rights arising under 137 Acts, covering everything from a review in a complex state revenue matter involving millions of dollars, through to a review of a decision about whether a dangerous dog should be put down.

The entire functions of 13 boards and tribunals including the Equal Opportunity Tribunal, Guardianship and Administration Board, Commercial Tribunal, Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and the Town Planning Appeals Tribunal, have been transferred to the new State Administrative Tribunal.

The tribunal - located at 12 St Georges Terrace, Perth - will operate as informally as possible and through video conferencing and e-filing facilities, be more accessible to people in regional areas. District Court Judge John Chaney and Judge Judith Eckert have been appointed Deputy Presidents.

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