Protecting consumers by improving professional standards.
Professional Standards Schemes

The scheme application process

Applying for a Professional Standards Scheme is an intensive process that takes most associations around 12 months. The exact process varies depending on the nature of your association and the information you need to provide, but the basic steps are as follows.

Step 1: Start working with us

Contact us and we’ll assign you a dedicated Professional Standards Scheme Manager. He or she will work with you throughout the process to answer any questions you may have, and help you complete your application successfully.

Step 2: Download our application documents

Our application guidelines explain what information we need from you. It also includes a number of sample reports and templates showing the format you’ll need to follow to make sure your application can be properly and fairly assessed.

Once you’ve read through and understood these guidelines, you should complete your application using our application template.

Download these application documents.

Step 3: Complete your application

You’ll need to supply us with the following documents:

  • A cover letter listing the Professional Standards Councils to which your association is applying for approval of its Professional Standards Scheme
  • Three copies of your draft application with relevant supporting documentation, including your association’s:
    • Codes of ethics and professional standards
    • Register
    • Membership requirements
    • Corporate governance model
    • Risk management strategies
    • Insurance standards
    • Insurance claims data covering the last ten years
    • Evidence of professional standards integrity systems, such as resources dedicated to complaints and disciplinary procedures
    • Other relevant information.
  • Three copies of your draft Professional Standards Scheme. See the model in our application guidelines and current Professional Standards Schemes for guidance with this, or contact your Professional Standards Scheme Manager.
  • Three copies of the two-page summary of your proposed scheme, which will be published on our website with your full scheme if it’s approved.

When you apply for your Professional Standards Scheme, you should also specify if you want it to be prescribed, and if mutual recognition should apply.

  • Prescription is the mechanism by which the Commonwealth Government recognises and exempts Professional Standards Schemes under the Competition and Consumer Act andthe Australian Securities and Investment Commission Act. This means that, if any of your participating members are taken to the Federal Court under one of these acts, their limited liability will be recognised in relation to certain claims under these laws. The decision as to whether a scheme is prescribed is made by the Commonwealth Treasury.  
  • Mutual recognition provisions are in place in professional standards legislation in all states and territories. These provisions allow for the recognition of Professional Standards Schemes across jurisdictions.

Your Professional Standards Scheme Manager can work with you to help you complete your application correctly.

Step 4: We’ll review your application

Your Professional Standards Scheme Manager will go through your application and let you know if there’s anything else you need to provide or clarify for the Councils. We’ll seek independent legal advice if necessary, and work with actuaries to help the Councils to assess appropriate civil liability limits for your proposed scheme.  Your application will then be presented to the Councils.

Step 5: We publish a Notification of a Scheme

When the Councils have reviewed your application and are satisfied that it should be put up for public comment, we’ll publish a Notification of a Scheme in newspapers and on this website. Members of the public will then have up to four weeks to make a submission about your proposed Professional Standards Scheme.

Step 6: Your application is considered by the Councils

Following the public notification period, the Councils will review your application and any submissions received, and consider how your proposed civil liability limits could affect consumers and others.

Other matters the Councils will consider under professional standards legislation include:

  • The nature and level of claims against your association
  • Your risk management strategies and how you plan to implement them
  • Your standards of insurance
  • The cost and availability of insurance.

The Councils meet regularly throughout the year. Only applications received at least three weeks prior to a meeting will be eligible for presentation, but the actual time it takes for your application to be presented will depend on how much analysis needs to be carried out on it.

We’ll notify you of the Councils’ decision within three working days of the meeting. If your application is approved, you’ll go on to Step 7. If not, your Professional Standards Scheme Manager will work with you to address the Councils’ queries or concerns, so you can revise and re-submit your application.

Step 7: Your scheme is submitted to the attorney general

If your Professional Standards Scheme is approved by the Councils, it will be submitted to the attorney general (or relevant minister) for authorisation in the jurisdiction(s) listed in your application.

If your Professional Standards Scheme is authorised, you’ll go on to Step 8. If not, we’ll tell you why, so you can revise and re-submit your application.

Step 8: Your scheme is gazetted and in force

Once the attorney general or relevant minister has authorised your Professional Standards Scheme, it will be published in the relevant government gazette and on this website. We’ll let you know as soon as this happens.

Your Professional Standards Scheme will then be in force from the date you’ve specified, or as may be required under the relevant legislation. And your association and its members will be able to enjoy its benefits, providing you continue to meet your ongoing statutory obligations.