… employed by Ambulance Service of NSW for past 16 years [is] currently experiencing difficulties with National Registration with AHPRA due to English Language standard certification.
My correspondent says:
I’ve continuously worked full time in various roles since my arrival from Ex Yugoslavia in 2002 including excess of 16 years as a on road Paramedic. Should I (and few more fellow officers) just sit and pay for exams or to propose that NSW Ambulance seek for an exclusion for currently fully qualified employees? Does AHPRA provide exemption if we have demonstrated knowledge and ability to perform in this role?
The relevant rules are be found in the English Language Registration Standard published by the Paramedicine Board. This Standard says:
If you are applying for initial registration you must demonstrate your English language competency in one of the following ways:
- English is your primary language and you have undertaken and satisfactorily completed:
a) all of your primary and secondary education which was taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country, and
b) qualifications or training in the profession, which you are relying on to support your eligibility for registration under the National Law, which were taught and assessed solely in English.
- You have a combination of secondary education and qualifications or training in the profession, where you have undertaken and satisfactorily completed:
a) at least two years of your secondary education which was taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country, and
b) qualifications or training in the profession, which you are relying on to support your eligibility for registration under the National Law, which were taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country.
- You have undertaken and satisfactorily completed at least six years’ (full time equivalent) continuous education taught and assessed solely in English, in any of the recognised countries, which includes qualifications or training in the profession which you are relying on to support your eligibility for registration under the National Law.
4. You achieve the required minimum scores in one of the following English language tests and meet the requirements for test results specified in this standard:
a) the IELTS (academic module) with a minimum overall score of 7 and a minimum score of 7 in each of the four components (listening, reading, writing and speaking).
Presumably if my correspondent has been in Australia since 2002 I’ll assume that they did not complete their primary or secondary education in Australia or in English. It follows that they will need to satisfy paragraph (3) or (4) to demonstrate their English language skills. If they have worked for 16 years in Australia and completed training that may well meet the standard in paragraph 3.
In a page of Frequently Asked Questions the Paramedicine Board says, inter alia:
I have completed a Diploma in Paramedical Science through the NSW Ambulance Service. Can this be included as vocational education under the extended education pathway?
Yes this three year training program is an accepted qualification under the National Law, so it can be included under the extended education pathway as long as the education meets the requirements for this pathway.
I have completed a Diploma in Paramedical Science through a Registered Training Organisation in Australia. Can this be included as vocational education under the extended education pathway?
If you are relying on the Diploma in Paramedical Science for eligibility for registration as a paramedic, then yes this can be included under the extended education pathway as long as the education meets the requirements for this pathway.
I can’t see that NSW Ambulance would be successful in getting an exemption from current employees but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t ask. Fundamentally however the rules are reasonably clear and a person who has worked as a paramedic for 16 years may well be able to demonstrate sufficient training in English to meet the extended education pathway (paragraph 3).
The Paramedicine Board has announced an alternative path for current paramedics to meet the English language requirements – see New transitional arrangements policy for English language registration standard (1 November 2018).
The Board says:
The Board has recently identified that there are a small number of paramedics who have been practising for a substantial period of time in Australia who will not meet any of the education pathways in the English language standard and will need to use a testing pathway.
These practitioners are in a unique situation, as they have a substantial history of satisfactory practice in the paramedicine profession in Australia. Accordingly, to prevent any potential adverse effects on the workforce, the Board has developed a specific Transitional arrangements policy for these applicants, which is open for paramedics applying for registration before 28 February 2019.
The transitional arrangement policy allows for an additional English language test consisting of a practical assessment by an approved Employer. This pathway is only open to applicants who have been practising paramedicine in Australia for over five years. You can find out more about the Transitional arrangements policy and the criteria you need to meet on the Board’s website.