09 Jan 2018
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) upheld a decision by the Psychology Board of Australia (the Board) to refuse an application for provisional registration as a psychologist because the applicant did not meet the English language registration standard (ELRS).
On 1 July 2016 Ms Han applied for provisional registration as a psychologist with the Board. The process for registration is managed by AHPRA on behalf of the Board.
Ms Han undertook her primary and secondary schooling in Turkey and tertiary level education in Australia. Ms Han was obliged to meet the English language competency requirement through one of a set number of pathways. In her application, Ms Han indicated that she met the extended education pathway. This pathway requires her to undertake six years of continuous, full-time equivalent education, taught and assessed in English within a recognised country (including Australia). Ms Han’s supporting documents showed she had studied three tertiary level education programs in Australia, where she maintained a continuous enrolment from 1997-2003. However, in 2001 while enrolled in her tertiary level education program, she took a one year break and she was not enrolled in any subjects.
On 4 August 2016 Ms Han was informed by AHPRA that she did not meet the extended education pathway. The decision was made because her education could not be considered ‘continuous’ due to the one year break taken in 2001. AHPRA advised Ms Han that an exemption from compliance with the ELRS was extremely unlikely to be successful. Ms Han was advised that she could sit one of the Board approved English language tests as an alternate pathway to satisfy the ELRS.
Ms Han made written submissions to the Board outlining why she should be granted an exemption from sitting the Board approved English language tests. On 4 October 2017 the Board indicated its proposal to refuse Ms Han’s application for registration and exemption from meeting the ELRS on the basis that she did not meet a mandatory registration standard. Ms Han made further written submissions and the Board made a decision on 7 March 2016 to refuse registration.
On 13 April 2017 Ms Han filed an appeal with the tribunal seeking a new determination of the Board’s refusal to grant her registration.
The tribunal dismissed the appeal on the basis that the ELRS was validly made and neither the Board nor the Tribunal has the power to grant Ms Han an exemption from complying with the ELRS. The tribunal also considered and found that conditions could not be imposed on her registration to avoid compliance with a registration standard
The tribunal was unable to grant Ms Han the registration she sought and encouraged Ms Han to consider meeting the ELRS by undertaking the English language examination.
The decision is published on the tribunal website.