Specialist registration and area of practice endorsement are both mechanisms under the National Law that identify practitioners who have undertaken additional qualifications. The Ministerial Council is responsible for approving specialties and protected specialist titles, and for approving areas of practice for endorsement and their relevant protected titles, for each health profession.
The difference between area of practice endorsement and specialist registration as regulatory tools is about the level of risk to the public. The main differences are:
In 2014 the Ministerial Council issued guidance to National Boards about the criteria for the approval of specialties for the purpose of specialist registration in a health profession. The Ministerial Council guidance makes it clear that approval for specialist registration is a 'regulatory instrument' within the meaning of the Council of Australian Governments Best Practice Regulation. It requires a robust regulatory assessment process be carried out before Ministerial Council decision with oversight by the Office of Best Practice Regulation. This assessment must prove that:
In considering this guidance, the Psychology Board of Australia determined that the ‘case for action’ had not been made for submitting the psychology profession and the public to the increased regulatory burden of specialist recognition under the National Law. Endorsement has provided a legal mechanism within the National Scheme to regulate psychologists with additional training in a proportionate way without unnecessarily restricting scope of practice.