Mutual recognition

At its meeting of 10 February 2006 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to new measures to enable people with trade qualifications to move more freely around Australia, without undergoing additional testing and registration processes.

COAG requested the implementation of full and effective mutual recognition of occupational licences for priority occupations by 30 June 2007.

At its meeting of 26 March 2008 COAG agreed that mutual recognition for all other vocationally trained occupations is to be completed by 30 September 2008.

Achieving full and effective mutual recognition
Implementing the new arrangements
Advantages of the new arrangements
Decisions made by registration authorities
Update and review process

Achieving full and effective mutual recognition

Under existing mutual recognition arrangements, a person registered in one state or territory is entitled to registration in another jurisdiction where the registered occupation is substantially the same. More information on how mutual recognition works can be found on the COAG website.

As a result of the COAG decision, all jurisdictions agreed to improved arrangements that would enhance labour mobility across the country. The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (section 32) enables ministers from two or more states or territories to jointly declare that specified occupations are equivalent, and also to declare any conditions necessary to achieve equivalence.

Implementing the new arrangements

The first ministerial declaration made in February 2007 reflects the joint agreement of states and territories on what licences will be recognised in each jurisdiction for a number of occupations:

  • electricians
  • electrical fitters, lineworkers, and cable jointers
  • tradespeople with restricted electrical licences
  • plumbers and gas-fitters
  • carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, and builders
  • refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanics
  • auto-gas installers.

By September 2008, the new arrangements will be extended to cover other vocationally trained occupations. However, not all occupations are regulated in all jurisdictions.

The mutual recognition of licences not included in the first and in future declarations, including licences held by New Zealand applicants, will continue to be a matter for decision by the relevant registration authority.

Advantages of the new arrangements

The new arrangements provide certainty for workers considering moving between jurisdictions. Information on equivalent licences is publicly available. People considering working in another jurisdiction will be able to find out the licence for which they are eligible, before they make a decision to move.

Registering authorities benefit from the new arrangements because equivalent licences are set out clearly. Previously, applications for mutual recognition were determined on a case-by-case basis. The tables of equivalent licences have been developed in close consultation with all relevant registration authorities.

National employers with mobile workforces will also benefit from the transparency provided by the new arrangements and the greater ease with which registration authorities will be able to assess mutual recognition applications.

Decisions made by registration authorities

Where, for various reasons, an equivalent licence has not been identified in the ministerial declaration, the statement 'No equivalent declared' is indicated. In these cases, a decision on licence recognition will be made by the relevant registration authority in accordance with the other provisions of the Mutual Recognition Act 1992.

If a registration authority makes a decision to refuse an application for mutual recognition of a licence, the applicant may seek a review of that decision by applying to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Contact details for the Tribunal and information about the review process are available on its website.

Update and review process

COAG has established protocols to ensure that declarations remain current and that any future amendment or development of occupational regulation seeks to maximise national consistency. The new arrangements will be evaluated as part of the regular review process for the mutual recognition scheme.

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This page was generated on 04 March, 2011