Advertising

Frequently asked questions

I need help with my advertising
Who regulates advertising?
I’ve noticed inaccurate advertising about a physiotherapist
Am I breaching the law against advertising by testimonials by participating on Whitecoat?
Another practice is offering physiotherapist services, but no physiotherapist works there.

I need help with my advertising

The APA can only provide general advice about advertising. You should refer to the national law and the AHPRA guidelines and seek independent legal advice.

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Who regulates advertising?

Advertising health services is regulated either by AHPRA, or The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). You may be able to make a complaint to either or both regulators, depending on circumstances.

The ACCC legislation means it is illegal for a business to make false and misleading claims. This applies to their advertising, and any information provided by their staff. It also applies to any statements made by businesses in the media or online.

Similarly, under the National Law a person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive. For example, although the word ‘physio’ is not protected, the National Law states that ‘a title, word or description [must not] induce a reasonable person to believe this person is a physiotherapist.’

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I’ve noticed inaccurate advertising about a physiotherapist

The national law and AHPRA’s advertising guidelines establish how and what registered practitioners may advertise.

Advertising in any medium must not mislead, offer inducements such as a gift or discount (unless the relevant terms and conditions are also included), use testimonials, and/or create unreasonable expectations of beneficial treatment, or encourage the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of a service.

The APA can contact a member to remind them of their obligations. You can also notify AHPRA , or the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) if you are in NSW or the Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) if you are in Queensland to discuss whether it is a matter they should investigate.

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Am I breaching the law against advertising by testimonials by participating on Whitecoat?

Registration on Whitecoat does not breach the law regarding testimonials, and Whitecoat has frequently consulted with a range of industry bodies and stakeholders, including the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to seek their guidance around customer reviews. We are confident that because Whitecoat operates as a forum for patients to exchange their views about their overall service experience, health practitioners will not be considered to be engaging in advertising contrary to the law. Whitecoat seeks feedback from customers in an objective, contemporaneous manner, and as the individual provider does not seek the review this is not a breach of the law. The objective questions are based on customer experience and are not clinical in nature, and all comments are moderated to ensure compliance with all laws, including clinical feedback. All Whitecoat reviews are also moderated to ensure that they remain anonymous and ethical.

Find out more about Whitecoat.

Read the latest Whitecoat media release.

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Another practice is offering physiotherapist services, but no physiotherapist works there.

Only registered physiotherapists may use the title ‘physiotherapist’ or ‘physical therapist’. No advertising may cause a reasonable person to infer that someone is a physiotherapist if they are not.

Please refer to the answer given in the Complaints and Notifications section: “Someone is using a title they are not entitled to use – use and protection of title.”

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