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Australia’s unique approach to professionalism turns 21

Australia is a global leader in regulatory innovation for professions, protecting consumers with professional standards legislation.

A new book, 21 years of regulatory innovation through professional standards, marks the 21st anniversary of professional standards legislation in Australia and celebrates the outstanding contribution it has made to society. 

“I really do encourage you to read this book. It is very succinct and instructive, very powerful. You don’t get that combination that frequently,” said The Hon. Victor Dominello, MP, the NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation, when launching the book on the 3rd of December. 

“This book tells a vital and interesting story about the role that professions and professional standards play in regulatory innovation,” said the Professional Standards Authority’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Deen Sanders, at the book’s launch. 

21 years of regulatory innovation through professional standards traces the history of the ground-breaking legislation and of the Professional Standards Councils – from origins in NSW to adoption and legislative mutual recognition around Australia, as well as some significant milestones along the way. 

The vision for the professional standards legislation was to strengthen consumer protection and raise standards of professional services while ensuring professionals can deliver compensation assurance to their clients through improved professional indemnity insurance. Previously, a lack of availability or affordability of professional indemnity insurance often left both consumers and professionals exposed.

The solution was innovative legislation introduced in 1994 into the NSW Parliament that proposed regulation of professional standards schemes through professional associations – with the reward of limited liability for those professionals who can meet and choose to participate in the regulatory requirements. The Professional Standards Councils approve and monitor these schemes using the regulatory agency of the Professional Standards Authority,. 

Professions and professional services across the globe are facing change. The book also examines the challenges of globalism, digital disruption, changing workplace skills needs and new corporate structures and how they put demands on the way services are delivered. 

It profiles some of the associations that have adopted the model of professional standards regulation, detailing their evolution over the last 21 years and their perspectives on the future.

Furthermore, the book takes an international perspective, exploring how professions are being controlled around the world, with input from distinguished researchers who explore the key drivers of change and the issues professionals are facing.

“In this age of information and agility, professionalism is an important anchor in our community,” said Mr Dominello. “When you think about all the new disruptors in the economy, there is an even greater role for the Professional Standards Councils to play.”

The councils are already more than just regulators; they fund research programs and are thought leaders on policy, ethics and regulation.

21 years of regulatory innovation through professional standards outlines our journey and signals a compelling role for the future.

As Professional Standards Councils Chairman, Mr Brian Rayment, QC said at the book’s launch: “I look forward with real optimism to the legislation playing an increasingly valuable consumer protection role in the future.”

21 years of regulatory innovation through professional standards is now available online. If you would like a hard copy, contact the Professional Standards Authority by calling (02) 8315 0800 or emailing pscinfo@psc.gov.au.

Media enquiries should be directed to the Communications Manager, Vineet Gounder, at vineet.gounder@psc.gov.au, or by phone on (02) 8315 0833.