The main distinction is between professions that are regulated through the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme and professions that are self-regulated. Individual professions may use different terminology to reflect this e.g. registered practitioners vs accredited professionals.
Regardless of the scheme, each allied health profession has a system in place to ensure that practitioners are appropriately qualified, undertakes ongoing professional development, and adheres to professional standards.
Many of Australia’s allied health professionals are registered under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) for health practitioners, which was launched in 2010. This scheme is the primary source of certification for health professionals in Australia, providing registration for all medical and nursing professionals as well as some allied health professions.
The NRAS is maintained by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority (AHPRA) and aims to ensure that only suitably trained and qualified practitioners are registered. The allied health professions currently registered with AHPRA are:
Each profession has a National Board which is responsible for overseeing education standards, managing complaints against practitioners, verifying that practitioners have met the educational standards for practice and more. National registration through AHPRA is currently limited to those health professions that were already regulated or partially regulated prior to 1 July 2010, meaning that many allied health professions are not included.
Some allied health professions not covered by NRAS are acknowledged as self-regulating health professions. For each of these professions, the accreditation process is managed by the relevant professional peak body. The professional associations provide similar functions to AHPRA including certifying qualifications, setting and maintaining standards, and overseeing professional development. For allied health professionals in self-regulating professions, accreditation by the peak body is typically required by Medicare, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, private health insurers and other funders of health services.
The National Alliance of Self Regulating Health Professions (NASRHP) is the national peak body representing self-regulating health professions in Australia. NASRHP members i.e. the professional peak bodies, are responsible for providing certification to individual members of their profession.
Member professions must meet the NASRHP practice standards, closely modelled on AHPRA standards. This ensures consistent regulation and accreditation of practitioners across self-regulating professions, and compliance with national and jurisdictional regulatory requirements, including the National Code of Conduct of health care workers.
A self-regulating profession may not be a member of NASRHP. However, they will still have processes in place to ensure that their allied health members are appropriately qualified, meet professional standards and maintain ongoing professional development.
For professions regulated by AHPRA, assessment and accreditation of professionals with overseas qualifications is through the relevant National Board.
For self-regulating professions, accreditation of professionals with overseas qualifications is often through the professional peak body. Please contact the relevant professional association for more information.