Today’s correspondent is a:
… UK born and trained Paramedic. In 2008-2010, NSWA directly employed Paramedics from the UK as Intensive Care Paramedics. NSWA sponsored us for visas and assisted with emigration. This process over the last few years has seen me complete UK Police checks for my temporary visa, permanent visa and most recently Australian Citizenship.
It seems that the AHPRA Overseas Criminal History check is aimed at Australian born Citizens who have lived/ worked overseas for greater than 6 months, and then returned to Australia. These citizens would not have been police checked on return due to the very nature of already being a citizen.
Since emigrating to Australia in 2009 and being UK Police checked x3 by the Australian Government, I haven’t travelled, lived or worked outside of Australia. Surely as long as I can prove this by way of Australian Citizenship Certificate and scanned pages from my passport, it should be acceptable to skip this check, of an already expensive process?
There is a number of Intensive Care Paramedics within NSWA that this effects so your input would be greatly appreciated.
This is akin to the issue of English language skills and I do note that the Paramedicine Board has adjusted it’s procedures to take into account currently practising paramedics – see English language skills for paramedic registration (October 14, 2018). Perhaps they will do the same with criminal history checks? Pending anything from the Paramedicine Board we can consider the position in light of current law.
The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, s 38, says that a national board (in this case the Paramedicine Board) must:
… develop and recommend … registration standards about the following matters…
(b) matters about the criminal history of applicants for registration in the profession, and registered health practitioners and students registered by the Board, including, the matters to be considered in deciding whether an individual’s criminal history is relevant to the practice of the profession;
An application for registration (s 77) must require the applicant to
(c) to disclose the applicant’s criminal history; and
(d) to authorise the Board to obtain the applicant’s criminal history.
Section 79(2) says:
For the purposes of checking an applicant’s criminal history, a National Board may obtain a written report about the criminal history of the applicant from any of the following—
(b) a police commissioner;
(c) an entity in a jurisdiction outside Australia that has access to records about the criminal history of persons in that jurisdiction.
The ACC is ‘the Australian Crime Commission’ (s 5). The Board may also obtain a criminal history check at any time (s 135).
The Paramedicine Board’s Criminal History registration standard has been approved – Paramedicine Board of Australia, Registration Standard: Criminal history (17 May 2018). The standard deals with ‘matters to be considered in deciding whether an individual’s criminal history is relevant to the practice of the profession’. It says nothing about obtaining a criminal history check.
The Board, in its publication of Frequently Asked Questions (Paramedicine Board of Australia, Frequently asked questions – Criminal history (ud)) says:
A domestic check is automatically undertaken as part of the registration process, but if you have lived or worked in one or more countries other than Australia for six consecutive months or longer, when aged 18 years or more, you will need to organise your own international criminal history check using one of the approved providers.
It also says:
An Australian police check is included in the application fee, but if you are required to obtain an international criminal history check, you will need to do so through on of the two AHPRA approved providers at your own expense.
Finally a Fact Sheet published by AHPRA (ie not by the Paramedicine Board) talks about the ‘new’ approach to criminal history checks. That new approach is to require applicants for registration to pay for their own international check. The Fact Sheet says (emphasis added):
The new approach applies to all individuals when they apply for registration in Australia (if they are currently unregistered in Australia) and have declared an international criminal history and/or have lived, or been primarily based, in any country other than Australia for six consecutive months or more when aged 18 years or over.
The AHPRA website says:
There are limited circumstances where a National Board may accept a statutory declaration in place of an international criminal history check. This includes:
- when the country check is not available from either of the approved vendor, or
- by Australian Military/Defence personnel who have served overseas, or
- by applicants who have served overseas on an Australian Diplomatic or Official passport as prescribed on the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
It is up to the Board to decide the process for obtaining criminal history checks. The paramedicine Board appears (not surprisingly) to be adopting the generic procedures set out by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or AHPRA.
I don’t think one can infer that
… the AHPRA Overseas Criminal History check is aimed at Australian born Citizens who have lived/ worked overseas for greater than 6 months, and then returned to Australia. These citizens would not have been police checked on return due to the very nature of already being a citizen.
I’m sure it is intended to apply to those that have come from overseas as the time between their arrival and seeking registration and their visa status could be subject to an infinite number of variables.
I would anticipate however that the Board simply has not considered the sort of circumstances raised by my correspondent. Given my correspondent has engaged with the Department of Home Affairs (replacing the former Department of Immigration) it may be that a check with the ACC will identify a clear UK criminal history. Alternatively, a ‘Freedom of Information’ type request to the Department may produce the relevant criminal checks.
The Board would be free to accept those clearances and a statutory declaration to the effect that the applicant has not travelled overseas for more than six months since the checks were done. But the Board does not say it will accept those.
What follows is that under current registration procedures my correspondent will have to obtain an international criminal check unless it is possible to persuade the Board (as happened with the English Language Standards) that there is a group of applicants that are affected by the policy but that haven’t been properly considered. The Board may be persuaded to adopt an interim measure for those currently working in Ambulance who can show that they have been vetted as part of the recruitment and immigration process. Whether they will do that or not I cannot say.
What I would suggest is writing to the Paramedicine Board in terms similar to the email sent to me and ask them to review their processes.