What is unprofessional conduct?
Unprofessional conduct is defined in the Veterinary Practice Act 2003 (VP Act) to include the following:
- improper or unethical conduct in relation to professional practice;
- incompetence or negligence in relation to the provision of veterinary treatment;
- a contravention of or failure to comply with
- a provision of the VP Act; or
- a code of conduct or professional standards prepared or endorsed by the Board under the VP Act; and
- conduct that constitutes an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or more under some other VP Act or law.
Please note that the VSBSA has no power under the VP Act to assess reports that relate to professional fees or charges for veterinary medicines or products. In addition, the VSBSA has no power under the VP Act to order veterinary surgeons to pay compensation to any party.
How to notify us of your concerns
To notify VSBSA of a concern, please complete a notification form and submit it on this website. If you cannot complete and submit the form, you can call us on 8359 3334.
Once we receive your notification:
- the Registrar of the VSBSA will consider whether your notification raises concerns about the conduct or competence of a veterinary surgeon
- The Registrar will confirm receipt of your notification and, if required, will seek further information from you
- The Registrar will provide a copy of the notification to the veterinary surgeon and ask the veterinary surgeon to respond to the issues raised. If other veterinary surgeons were involved, the Registrar will request relevant information from those veterinary surgeons. Copies of patient records will also be requested.
- You may be contacted by VSBSA staff to provide further information or relevant documentation.
If there is assessed to be a proper reason for disciplinary action:
- The matter may be resolved with the veterinary surgeon (for example, the veterinary surgeon may complete a course of continuing education)
- The Registrar may lay a complaint before the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) alleging that the veterinary surgeon is guilty of unprofessional conduct
If a complaint is laid before SACAT, you will be told, and you may be asked to attend a hearing to give evidence.
If SACAT determines that the veterinary surgeon is guilty of unprofessional conduct, sanctions may be imposed under the VP Act. Sanctions could range from a formal censure to disqualification from registration
Information to note
The confidentiality provision within the VP Act means the VSBSA will not be able to share with you information about the progress of assessment of a notification.
We will be unable to provide details of and reasons for the outcome of assessment, information about any subsequent investigation into the matter or the details or contents of any disciplinary action taken against a veterinary surgeon. However, if conditions are imposed on a veterinary surgeon’s registration or a veterinary surgeon is removed from the register(s), that information can be disclosed as a matter of public record.
South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT)
The VSBSA is here to help, and we urge you to contact us if you have concerns about the conduct of a veterinary surgeon. If for any reason you do not wish to lodge a complaint directly with the VSBSA or you are unsatisfied with the outcome of the VSBSA’s investigation, you can personally lay a complaint before South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT). To lodge a complaint with SACAT, you will need to explain why you believe there is cause for disciplinary action against a veterinary surgeon.
If you lay a disciplinary complaint against a veterinary surgeon before SACAT, SACAT will consider your complaint. If SACAT pursues your complaint, you will be asked to attend the disciplinary hearing and present evidence in support of your complaint.
Information about lodging a professional disciplinary application (complaint) to SACAT is available at https://www.sacat.sa.gov.au/applications-and-hearings/how-to-apply-to-sacat .