This comment was made in response to my earlier post –Paramedic registration if you are “working as a paramedic”? (August 6, 2018).

Following in from this, even after the consultation process, it would seem someone has decided to change the goal posts. Now you need 1700 hours with the jurisdictional ambulance service.

By what I am being told, military and private paramedical roles, careflight etc are not regarded as JAS hours.

I recall there is a federal law which states that a person has a right to earn a living. If employment requires someone to be a paramedic and loses their job because of a procedural change, the federal law comes into play. I wished I could remember the law the lawyer used to successfully defend a change to registration in another industry.

Your thoughts would be appreciated on these new unsolicited grandfather clause changes.

My response was so long I thought it warranted its own post.

The issue is that today, 18 August 2018, we don’t know what it means to be a paramedic (ignoring those provisions in Tasmania, SA and NSW that have paramedic title protection legislation).  The Board has to decide who is a ‘paramedic’.  I would suggest that there is an archetype” the paramedic working for the ‘jurisdictional’ ambulance services.  People who want to be registered but who don’t have an ‘adequate qualification’ have alternative paths to demonstrate that they have the skills and experience sufficiently akin to the archetype to warrant registration.

One path is the ‘Combination of qualifications/training and further study or a period of supervised practice’.  Under this pathway an applicant has to demonstrate, amongst other things ‘at least 1700 hours of supervised practice in a JAS or under a registered paramedic or passed a Board approved assessment’.  You can see that the ‘1700 hours with the jurisdictional ambulance service’ is one of three options.  It’s impossible at the moment to show practice ‘under a registered paramedic’ as today there is no such thing (at least not in Australia). But this may be applicable to people who seek registration during the next three years.

There is also a third pathway, the ‘Hours of practice pathway’ where an applicant has to show ‘5 years practice as a paramedic in the past 10 years’ and provide evidence of the ‘your competence as a paramedic’.  The suggested evidence for this pathway does not refer to hours of practice in the same way as pathway two.

The first comment is that registration under the grandparenting provisions does not require ‘1700 hours with the jurisdictional ambulance service’, that is one, but not the only, piece of evidence that may be used to support a claim for registration under the grandparenting provisions.

The second comment is that there has to be such a process. Your argument ‘a person has a right to earn a living. If employment requires someone to be a paramedic and loses their job because of a procedural change, the federal law comes into play’ implies that people who currently call themselves a paramedic should continue to do so.  Consider for example someone who works in a factory and they have an occupational first aid certificate.  Assume further that they are given the title ‘Paramedic’ by their employer – so the first aid procedures tells people to contact someone from the list of ‘paramedics’ and the first aid room is labelled ‘Paramedic room’.  In states other than Tasmania, NSW and SA there is nothing wrong or illegal in that. That person now says ‘I will lose my job as with registration my employer will now know that there is a difference and will, for all the reasons in favour of registration, change the job to require a person to be a registered paramedic.  I have been working as a paramedic for five years (that’s how long I’ve had the title) so I want to be registered. If that’s not accepted then the Board isn’t recognising non-JAS service and I’m being disadvantaged’.  That’s the same argument but probably no-one would suggest that a factory first aider is or should be a registered paramedic.

Equally a person may be a volunteer with an event first aid service. They may be trained in and respond with some scheduled pain relief drugs, oxygen, salbutamol, adrenaline and a defibrillator.  They may have 20 years’ experience and believe that they are as well trained and competent as any newly employed university graduate.  They too could argue that they deserve registration and under pathway 3 may be able to get registered given ‘practice as a paramedic’ is still an unclear issue. In fact, the Board will have to determine if that sort of practice constitutes ‘practice as a paramedic’. As those decisions are made, we will learn what that concept means.

That is why I say it’s inappropriate of the Board to say ‘Students, medics, volunteer ambulance officers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) do not need to apply for registration’ (; See also  Are St John volunteers paramedics? Should they be? (July 19, 2012)).  It’s inappropriate as it assumes that there is a clear line between those that practice as a paramedic and others; there isn’t and there won’t be until the Board starts making decisions on who gets registration and who does not. People who are employed under the title ‘medics, volunteer ambulance officers and emergency medical technicians (EMTs)’ or any other title don’t need to register if they don’t want to use the title ‘paramedic’ but that doesn’t mean that they won’t discover that their training, experience and practice means they can register.  Equally people who currently use the title ‘paramedic’ do need to register if they want to continue to use that title and they may discover that even though they’ve been called a ‘paramedic’ before the commencement date, that what they have been doing is not paramedic practice or paramedicine.

Employers may well say ‘we’ve employed someone and called them a paramedic but that title didn’t really mean anything, now it does mean something we’ve either got to change the title of our employee or we now see that the person we had in the job wasn’t actually the person we wanted to have in the job and so now we’re going to employ a registered paramedic for all the benefits that registration requires’. To do that presumably there would be industrial issues involved in regarding the position so that the job description of ‘factory paramedic’ has to be rewritten and the person currently in that job finds that they are no longer qualified for the job.  But that sort of thing happens all the time – jobs get redefined and people get ‘spilled’ and have to reapply for their own job and if the requirements have changed they may not be qualified for the new job.

The third comment then is that the transition to registration will necessarily require determinations as to who is a paramedic and what it means to practice as a paramedic.  The decision maker is the Board.  No doubt some people who currently call themselves a paramedic will find that they are not a modern paramedic.  And some people who perhaps did not use the title or thought they were not a paramedic will discover (or be able to establish) that the qualifications and experience mean they are able to register as a paramedic.  A person’s current job title – that they are currently called a paramedic – will not determine the matter.  And that may mean that some employers who thought they were employing a paramedic will discover that the person in the job is not a paramedic and if they want to employ a paramedic, that person will not be able to keep their job if they can’t get registered.  That is one of the advantages of paramedicine, it will mean employers won’t have to try and work out what qualifications an applicant has, they will be able to look to their registration, you either are a registered paramedic or you are not.

I have no idea what ‘federal law’ is being referred to (there are indeed laws about restraint of trade) but this won’t breach them.  A person who has used the title ‘paramedic’ but can’t get registered could keep their job if the employer says ‘we don’t need a paramedic, we’ll just change the job title’ but can’t if the employer says ‘we won’t a paramedic, we thought you were one, but now we know you’re not so we’ll have to go through the industrial process that may involve changing the job description, terminating your employment and readvertising’. The fact that this would be horrible for that person is not sufficient to allow them to register as a paramedic.


It’s taken time for the term ‘paramedic’ to develop meaning and it’s an ongoing process. Like all definitions as it develops some people will be clearly ‘in’ or ‘out’ and for others it will be less clear.  Some will get registered, some won’t. The process will give the concept and the profession meaning but no doubt will disappoint some people who think they are or should be considered paramedics but find they are not.  That is an essential process.