• 28th Sep 2022

College advocacy elicits review of ANZSCO professional classification for paramedics

The College’s advocacy efforts, among others, on behalf of paramedics as part of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ recent review of the Australia and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) has resulted in their capabilities being accepted for comprehensive review and updating by December 2024 in time for the 2026 census.

This provides a much-needed breakthrough in redefining the ANZSCO classification to better reflect the reality of the Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand professional environment.

In our submission to the review, we argued that the current job description for paramedics was simplistic and conflated technician-level tasks with the contemporary professional roles of paramedics who assess, diagnose, administer restricted medicines, perform procedures, and establish/implement treatment and referral plans.

Paramedics across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand are registered as paramedics, not as “ambulance paramedics” or any other title; that is, they are registered as individuals in their own right consistent with medical practitioners, dentists, nurses, and all other health practitioners. The continued link to an employment setting creates confusion and issues of presentation and perception both for the public and the data community.

The reality is that a registered paramedic does not need to be employed by or associated with an ambulance service to call themselves a paramedic. In addition, it is estimated that there are currently more than 6,500 paramedics in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand who do not work for jurisdictional ambulance services.

“The decision to review the ANZSCO classification for paramedics is a great opportunity to improve the understanding of and data collection for the profession to better reflect the reality of the modern role of paramedics. Ideally this should have occurred before now, but we welcome the focus on paramedicine with a comprehensive review in 2024.”

Under the current ABS descriptor, paramedics are consigned to a technical support role in which they are described as operating under protocols and direction from other medical professionals. And while that might have been the case 30+ years ago, it is not the situation now. Paramedics are autonomous registered health professionals bound by a code of practice and professional standards of practice. We submitted that paramedics should be removed from the current classification and placed within a new health professional category on the basis that they are registered health professionals and should be classified as such. Rather than try to annex them into existing groups where they don't easily fit, they should be placed in a completely new minor group in their own right.

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