Overview of the Commonwealth Qualified Privilege Scheme

The Commonwealth Qualified Privilege Scheme encourages health professionals to undertake quality assurance activities in connection with the provision of certain health services.

Page last updated: 25 January 2006

The scheme has been designed to provide important safeguards by protecting certain information from disclosure and protecting persons involved in the activity from civil liability.

To be covered by the Commonwealth legislation (Part VC of the Health Insurance Act 1973), a quality assurance activity must involve one of the following:

  • an assessment or evaluation of the quality of health services
  • a study of the incidence or causes of conditions or circumstances that may affect the quality of health services
  • the making of recommendations about the provision of health services as a result of an assessment, evaluation or study
  • the monitoring of the implementation of a recommendation about the provision of health services.
The Commonwealth legislation can only have effect where the health services to which the activity relates involve Commonwealth funding, namely:
  • Medicare Benefits
  • Public Hospital Services
  • Health Program Grants
  • Prescribing of pharmaceutical products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The Commonwealth legislation is designed to complement, not override, similar legislation that may be in place in the States and Territories. It is designed to be used when a quality assurance activity takes place in more than one State or Territory. However, there are occasions when the Commonwealth legislation may be applied to an activity taking place in only one State or Territory.

In order for the privilege provided by the Commonwealth legislation to apply, the Minister for Health must make a declaration in relation to the specific activity.

A person who wishes to seek a declaration in relation to a quality assurance activity under the Commonwealth legislation must do so by completing the approved application form. Applicants are required to provide a range of information including details about the design and expected outcomes of the quality assurance activity.

For further information, see the Commonwealth Qualified Privilege Scheme information brochure.