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How are Dietitians qualified?

Although there are no legal requirements for registration of dietitians in Australia, for most employment and professional situations you will be expected to have qualifications that meet the eligibility requirements for membership of the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) and accreditation as an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD). The APD Program is conducted by DAA as a means of self-regulation by the profession to obtain and maintain high levels of professional practice.

To become a dietitian you need to complete a tertiary level course accredited by DAA.  Currently there are courses in ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia. Courses vary depending on the university. Some examples of current courses include: a one to two year post-graduate diploma or master degree following a bachelor of science degree (including physiology and biochemistry), or a four year integrated undergraduate course. Courses cover food, nutrition, health and diet-related medical conditions, and skills in communication, counselling, education, health promotion, management, research and critical analysis of literature.

Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs)
APDs are recognised professionals who have the qualifications and expertise to provide expert nutrition and dietary advice. APDs need to meet detailed criteria developed by DAA. These include ongoing education to keep up to date with advances in health and food sciences and a commitment to a Code of Professional Conduct. All APDs can be identified by the APD title and logo, and are listed on a national APD register.

Dietitians must have graduated from a DAA accredited dietetics program or be from a country where there is Mutual Recognition, or sit and pass the Examination in Dietetics for Overseas Educated Dietitians, to be eligible for full membership of DAA and to participate in the APD Program. All DAA accredited dietetic programs are required to reapply for accreditation on a regular basis.

National Competency Standards
Accreditation reviews are based on the DAA National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians.

The National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians are statements that describe the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for successful performance as a dietitian in Australia. The standards are set at a level of acceptable performance for an entry level dietitian.

The National Competency Standards for Entry Level Dietitians are made up of nine units of competency. The three dominant areas of entry level practice are: individual case management, community and public health nutrition, and food service management. The units of competency encompass the required knowledge, skills and attitudes of a qualified entry level dietetic practitioner.

In Australia all dietitians are considered to be nutritionists however, nutritionists without a dietetics qualification cannot take on the specialised role of a dietitian.

There is no industry specific assessing authority that assesses the qualifications of nutritionists who are not dietitians.

DAA is unable to provide advice regarding tertiary training, assessment of qualifications or employment opportunities to nutritionists who are not dietitians.

Recognition of Dietetic Qualifications for Overseas trained and Australian trained dieticians who require migration skills assessments.

The information below is intended as a guide only.

Mutual recognition with New Zealand
The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) and the New Zealand Dietitians Board (NZDB) have entered into a Voluntary Relationship Charter for Mutual Recognition of Dietetic Standards.

This Charter means that Australian Accredited Practising Dietitians and New Zealand Registered Dietitians with an Annual Practising Certificate will now be eligible to work in either country by completing a simple application process.

Mutual recognition with other countries
At present, New Zealand is the only country that DAA has a mutual recognition of dietetic standards arrangement with. However, following on from the success of the mutual recognition agreement with New Zealand DAA has opened discussions with a number of other countries regarding the mutual recognition of dietetic standards. These are generally countries where there are similar dietetic training standards and processes already in place.

Despite DAA’s commitment to mutual recognition members should note that mutual recognition arrangements can be complex and negotiations can be lengthy.

DAA is certainly very supportive of pursing mutual recognition agreements with other countries but they cannot guarantee that they will happen.

Please note that even if they enter into a mutual recognition agreement with other countries at some stage in the future members will still need to secure the appropriate visa/work permit that will enable them to practise dietetics in that country.

Dietitians educated outside Australia, who do not meet the current criteria for Mutual Recognition, will need to sit the DAA Examination in Dietetics for Overseas Educated Dietitians in order to be eligible for full membership of DAA and the APD program.

Overseas Educated Dietitians – Assessment Stage
Recognition of overseas qualified dietitians
The APD credential is the recognised requirement for provision of a provider number for rebates from the Australian government for Medicare and Department of Veterans Affairs. A number of state/territory governments now include eligibility for APD status in their selection criteria for employment as a dietitian.

If you have an overseas dietetic qualification, employers will normally require you to have completed the procedures that enable you to apply for membership of DAA, participate in the APD Program and achieve APD status. These procedures include the Assessment of Eligibility to Sit Professional Examinations in Dietetics and the Professional Examinations in Dietetics (Written and Oral). (This may not apply if they meet the requirements to be eligible for mutual recognition).

Assessment Procedures
The assessment and recognition of dietetic qualifications in Australia is the responsibility of the DAA. The procedure involves two stages.

The first stage is a desktop review. This includes assessment of the following to determine eligibility to sit an examination in dietetics:

  • Recognition as a dietitian in country of training
  • Tertiary dietetic qualifications
  • Language proficiency
  • Currency of dietetic practice, see below for more explanation.

The second stage is a two-part examination consisting of both written Case Studies and Oral components. The purpose of the examination is to assess the competence of overseas-educated dietitians to practise dietetics in Australia. Dietitians who pass both the oral and the written components of the examination will be eligible to apply for membership of DAA and to become a provisional APD.

Assessment of eligibility criteria
These are the criteria for applications received by DAA from 1 February, 2011.

Applicants must satisfy ALL the following minimum criteria to be eligible to sit the DAA Professional Examinations in Dietetics (overseas educated dietitians) or to apply for an Assessment of Dietetics Qualifications and Skills for Migration Purposes (Australian educated dietitians).

ALL the necessary evidence must be supplied with the application to ensure the application can be processed without delays. If the application is complete the assessment should be completed within six (6) weeks from the time the application is received. Please note all Assessments of Eligibility must be finalised by the Registrar within 6 months of the date of receipt of application at the latest. Failure to supply evidence of meeting these criteria within this time frame will result in the application being rejected.

Recognition as a Dietitian in Country of Training
You must be registered or credentialed as a dietitian in the country of tertiary education or practice, or be able to demonstrate eligibility for registration/credentialing in that country.

Tertiary Training Program
You must have completed a tertiary education program of at least four years (or equivalent) leading to a degree or post-graduate diploma in dietetics or related field acceptable to DAA. Acceptable programs will match the criteria specified for general course content as outlined in the DAA Manual for Accreditation of Dietetic Education Programs.

English Language Proficiency
All dietitians who are applying for Skilled Migration or an Assessment of Eligibility to Sit Professional Examination in Dietetics must prove English Language Proficiency. Either complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination (Academic Module) and achieve a minimum score of six and a half (6.5) in each of the four components (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking) with an Overall Band Score of seven (7) or complete the Occupational English Test (OET) in Dietetics and achieve a minimum score of B in each of the four components (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). The English Language Proficiency Test is waived where applicants have met the education requirements for English language.

Currency of Practice
You must be able to demonstrate currency of practice through employment in a dietetics position OR tertiary studies in dietetics within the last three years.

Skilled Migration Programs
If you are a New Zealand Registered Dietitian with an Annual Practising Certificate you may be eligible to work in Australia by completing a simple application process. Further details are available on the Mutual Recognition with New Zealand page.

There are a number of visa options for residents of overseas countries who wish to work in or migrate to Australia. Information on these visa options is available on the website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

The Australian Government’s skilled migration programs are implemented through a partnership between government and industry. DAA has been specified by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship in accordance with the Migration Regulations 1994 as the assessing authority for the occupation of Dietitian – ANZSCO Code: 251111. Dietetic education and skills are assessed as “suitable” or “not suitable” for Dietetics against the requirements established by DAA.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) grants approval to professional bodies which meet established criteria, including a commitment to support the objectives of the government’s skilled migration programs and the provision of an appropriate assessment service to prospective migrants.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship and DEEWR work with DAA to ensure that policies and procedures for assessing the skills of prospective migrants are appropriate, transparent and do not pose unreasonable barriers to migration.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Dieticians are required to maintain 30 hours of CPD annually.

Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
DAA is committed to ensuring members have access to professional liability insurance and refers members to Guild Insurance Limited.

More Information
For further information and assistance, email the Nursing and Allied Health recruitment team.

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