Applying for a Professional Standards Scheme is an intensive process. And should your application be approved, your association and its members will have ongoing statutory obligations to meet under professional standards legislation.
For most associations, being recognised with a Professional Standards Scheme requires a significant step up in their professional standards systems and self-regulatory capacity.
The following questions can help you decide if your association is eligible and ready to apply for a Professional Standards Scheme. We also recommend you download and read the application guidelines, so you can understand exactly what will be required if you decide to proceed.
If you need more assistance, one of our Professional Standards Scheme Managers would be happy to discuss these guidelines with you and help you through the application process. Contact us to find out more.
To be eligible for a Professional Standards Scheme, your association must fall within the definition of an “occupational association” as set out in the professional standards legislation.
This means you must:
- Be a body corporate – that is, a single entity for legal purposes
- Represent the interests of persons who are members of the same occupational group (or related occupational groups in NSW, NT and WA only)
- Have a membership limited mainly to members of that occupational group (or groups in NSW, NT and WA only).
Individual companies and professionals cannot apply for a Professional Standards Scheme. However, they can take part in one if they belong to an association that has a scheme.
If you’re still not sure if you’re eligible, contact us.
The professional standards legislation that exists throughout Australia authorises the operation of Professional Standards Schemes, and specifies how they can be approved, monitored and enforced.
You should familiarise yourself with the acts and regulations that apply in your state or territory, as they outline the legal rights and responsibilities of associations with a Professional Standards Scheme.
Professional Standards Schemes come with statutory rights and responsibilities that will affect how you and your members do business. We recommend you seek independent legal advice before you apply to determine what these effects will be, so you can decide if a scheme is right for you.
Associations and their members must have certain processes, programs and practices in place before their Professional Standards Schemes can be approved. We typically identify these in the framework of the 5 Es – that is:
- Education: The specific technical and professional requirements to practice in your discrete professional area. This includes both entry-level formal qualifications or certification, and ongoing continuing professional development and education.
- Ethics: The prescribed professional and ethical standards clients can rightfully expect your members to exhibit. This includes your specific expectations of practice and conduct, and should do more than just reiterate statutory expectations.
- Experience: The personal capabilities and experience required to practice as a professional in your discrete professional area.
- Examination: The mechanism by which all of the elements above are assessed and assured to the community. This extends beyond qualification or certification requirements into expectations of regular assurance of practice, such as your compliance programs and professional audits.
- Entity: Your association must be an entity capable of overseeing and administering professional entry, professional standards, and compliance expectations on behalf of the community.
You can find information about these systems in our application guidelines. Other guides in our resource centre may also help you. And if you need more help, speak to one of our Professional Standards Scheme Managers.
Under professional standards legislation, there are two types of fees for Professional Standards Schemes: application fees and annual fees.
An application fee of $5,000 is due when you submit your application documents. Further application fees may also be applicable if your Professional Standards Scheme is to apply across multiple states. Annual fees are charged at $50 per participating member. Learn more about scheme fees.
Many associations cover all or part of these costs by incorporating them into their annual membership fees. We recommend you consider how your association will cover these fees before you apply for your scheme.
Do you have the time and resources you need?
It takes most associations at least 12 months to complete the application process. This is due to:
- The large amount of information you need to submit. You’ll need to gather and analyse a wide variety of information about how you and your members work, including comprehensive insurance claims data for a 10-year period. This process can take weeks or even months.
- The intensive reviews we carry out. The Councils will only approve Professional Standards Schemes if associations have satisfied all the requirements under professional standards legislation, so we can be certain new schemes will improve professional standards and increase consumer protection.
- Independent third-party reports we may need to obtain. This includes legal and actuarial opinions and any other information we may seek as part of a quality-assured process.
- Public notification of proposed Professional Standards Schemes. This is required under professional standards legislation, and the comments received are considered by the Councils when assessing and approving applications.
- Independent ministerial reviews. These may be required in some states or territories.