Today’s correspondent is a paramedic

… working for Ambulance Victoria.  I’ve been offered a spot as a medic for a group of 20 x 17yo … to do the Kokoda track. Unpaid venture but all expenses sponsored…

Would you have any ideas about professional indemnity insurance in such instances?

I have insurance for my role at AV but doubt that would cover an overseas venture.

Organizer has public indemnity insurance … but unsure of that covers any of my interventions whilst in PNG.

The answer is in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Vic) and the Paramedicine Board’s Professional indemnity insurance arrangements registration standard.

The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law s 129says:

A registered health practitioner must not practise the health profession in which the practitioner is registered unless appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements are in force in relation to the practitioner’s practice of the profession.

Section 5 says:

“appropriate professional indemnity insurance arrangements”, in relation to a registered health practitioner, means professional indemnity insurance arrangements that comply with an approved registration standard for the health profession in which the practitioner is registered.

One could argue that if the patients and the paramedic are all in PNG the paramedic is not practicing their profession in Australia but I do not think anyone would take that argument seriously. The paramedic is there because they are an Australian registered paramedic, to treat people from Australia and if he or she fails to engage in appropriate practice it will be the Australian authorities that will review his or her fitness to practice and the quality of the care provided.  Even if there was an allegation of negligence it would be the Australian courts that would judge the matter based on Australian standards as that is what the paramedic was there to practice. It would be different if the paramedic resided in PNG and met the adventurers there, but that is not the case here. There would be sufficient connection to Australia to vest the Australian (and the Victorian) courts in particular with jurisdiction to resolve any legal issue arising between the paramedic and the Victorian students.

I think therefore the paramedic has to have PII that meets the Paramedicine Board’s requirements. The say (at [2]):

Your PII [Professional Indemnity Insurance] cover must include:

a. civil liability cover

b. appropriate retroactive cover for otherwise uncovered matters arising from prior practice,


c. automatic reinstatement, or an equivalent approach which ensures that the amount of cover will not be exhausted by a single claim.


the equivalent of 2a to 2c above under third-party PII arrangements.

A document – Frequently asked questions – Professional indemnity insurance arrangements (also published by the Paramedicine Board) says:

Does my employer have the PII I need?

If you are employed, and you only work for an employer(s), your employer(s) is likely to have arrangements that will provide appropriate cover for your practice and the risks involved in your work. An employer’s PII arrangements may only provide cover for activities you carry out as part of your duties during your employment. The arrangements may vary between different employers, so if you are not sure about what is covered by your employer’s PII arrangements, you should always check with your employer.

It is almost certain that AV provides the relevant insurance but only when working for AV.  It is also almost certain that the tour operator’s ‘public indemnity insurance’ would not meet the PII Standard. It follows that the paramedic concerned would want to make sure they have their own PII.

There are providers of PII but I do not that:

  1. The Australasian College of Paramedicine (ACP) ‘has established a relationship with Guild Insurance to provide insurance options for members that keep pace with the changing needs of the paramedic profession’ – see; and
  2. The Australian Paramedics Association (APA) includes PII as one of its member benefits –

I note that both the ACP and the APA are sponsors of this blog which explains how I know they both offer PII but this is not an endorsement of either policy. My correspondent would need to read the terms of any insurance to determine if either of those policies would be suitable and would apply when travelling in PNG. 


Professional indemnity insurance is a mandatory professional requirement. It is unlikely that insurance provided by AV would apply when not working for AV and it is unlikely that the organisers insurance would meet the requirements of the Professional indemnity insurance arrangements registration standard. If that is correct my correspondent should make their own inquiries with organisations like the ACP or APA or an insurance broker to obtain appropriate PII insurance.

This blog is made possible with generous financial support from the Australasian College of Paramedicine, the Australian Paramedics Association (NSW), Natural Hazards Research Australia, NSW Rural Fire Service Association and the NSW SES Volunteers Association. I am responsible for the content in this post including any errors or omissions. Any opinions expressed are mine, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or understanding of the donors.