Professional Standards FAQs

Why does Speech Pathology Australia have professional standards?

The Professional Standards detail the minimum standards for the speech pathology profession in Australia. This assures the public of the minimum standard they can expect from all practising speech pathologists in Australia from 1 January 2021.

See also: Use of the Professional Standards, page 6 of the Professional Standards.



Why are there new standards?

Speech Pathology Australia is committed to ensuring the standards for the profession reflect current practice. The Association has undertaken a review of the Standards as per its policy and in alignment with requirements of the National Alliance of Self-Regulating Health Professions (NASRHP).

The new Professional Standards reflect the voice of the profession and acknowledge that speech pathology practice has continued to change in Australia. The new Professional Standards articulate the breadth of speech pathology practice and support a broader definition and scope of practice for the profession.

See also: Pages 8 and 17 in the Professional Standards.

How are the Professional Standards different from CBOS?

The Competency Based Occupational Standards for Speech Pathologists: Entry level (CBOS) were first developed in 1994, revised in 2001, 2011 and updated in 2017. Their purpose was to detail the competencies for entry level speech pathology practice in Australia.

The most recent review of CBOS has resulted in new standards and a new framework to describe the standards. The standards are now titled Professional Standards for Speech Pathologists in Australia (Professional Standards). The Professional Standards describe the knowledge, skills and attributes for all practising speech pathologists throughout their career.

The Professional Standards are structured under three Domains and have 20 Standards. Each Standard has its own set of Elements.

There are no performance criteria or cues, but rather, Elements written as ‘we’ statements.

Standards that address services and professional practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities are integrated into each Domain.

The Professional Standards recognise the breadth of speech pathology practice, and consequently broadly define the work of speech pathologists in terms of communication and swallowing across the lifespan, rather than specifying distinct range of practice areas. Speech pathology practice encompasses work with communities and individuals and can occur in a range of settings.

Refer: The Speech Pathology Role, page 6 in the Professional Standards.

When will the Professional Standards replace the CBOS?

The Professional Standards were socialised with stakeholders between August and December 2020. This period enabled stakeholders to familiarise, discuss and ask questions about the Professional Standards, and speech pathologists could consider how the Professional Standards will apply to their context and role.

The Professional Standards apply to practising speech pathologists from 1 January 2021.

The Competency Based Occupational Standards (CBOS) are currently used as a reference document for many core functions of Speech Pathology Australia. This includes university accreditation, overseas qualification assessment and the re-entry program. For now, all these functions will continue to reference the CBOS, as CBOS provides entry level descriptors of competency.

There are currently projects underway that will address how to implement the Professional Standards in areas where defined measures of competency are required. The Association will liaise with relevant parties as the various projects progress.

My specific area of practice isn’t listed in the Professional Standards?

During the CBOS review, consultation with speech pathologists revealed that ‘range of practice areas’ (speech, language, voice, fluency, swallowing and multi-modal communication) were generally considered to be limiting when describing the diversity and breadth of contemporary speech pathology practice. Speech pathology practice has now been described as that which supports every individual’s right to optimal communication and swallowing.

All areas of practice are therefore encompassed in the description of communication and swallowing needs.

See also: The speech pathology role, page 6 of the Professional Standards.

Will there be any changes to the annual renewal requirements for membership of Speech Pathology Australia?

As in previous years, when you renew or join Speech Pathology Australia for the first time, you will sign a declaration to say you will abide by the Association’s policies, professional standards and the Code of Ethics. As the Professional Standards come into effect on 1 January 2021, there is an expectation that at the time of renewal you are familiar with the Professional Standards and know how the Standards relate to your context and role.