For the purposes of regulation in Australia, one way of considering whether a group is a profession is to see if they operate under a Professional Standards Scheme.
Because if they do, they have proved their self-regulatory capacity – and been recognised by the combined Australian governments’ Professional Standards Councils.
A Professional Standards Scheme is a legal instrument that binds associations to monitor, enforce and improve the professional standards of their members, and to protect consumers of professional services.
Any Australian professional association that meets the definitions and criteria outlined in professional standards legislation can apply for a Professional Standards Scheme. The Councils decide whether to approve such an application after considering a range of matters related to demonstrating commitment to professional standards and self-regulation.
In return for these commitments, Professional Standards Schemes cap the civil liability or damages that professionals who take part in an association’s scheme may be required to pay if a court upholds a claim against them. Learn more about applying for a Professional Standards Scheme.
Of course, a Professional Standards Scheme is only one indicator of professionalism. Associations may be ineligible for or decide not to under a scheme for a variety of reasons. Taking into account other criteria and considerations, the occupational group the association is overseeing in these cases may still be a profession.
If you represent a professional association that is interested in finding out more about applying for a Professional Standards Scheme, please contact us. We would be delighted to assign a dedicated Professional Standards Scheme Manager to you to help you.