Employing or Contracting a Private Practitioner
Information for the general public
Employing or engaging the services of a private speech pathologist
Speech Pathology Australia frequently receives enquiries from prospective employers wishing to obtain information and / or guidelines related to the employment or engagement of a private speech pathologist.
This information is to be used as a guide only and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you require specific advice, you should speak to a lawyer.
SPA recommends the following minimum requirements when employing / contracting a private speech pathologist:
The speech pathologist must:
- be a Practising member of SPA with CPSP status,
- have current (and anadequate level of) Professional Indemnity insurance, and
- if working with children, have a current Working With Children Check.
If providing Medicare rebated services the speech pathologist would also be required to have a valid Medicare provider number. If providing early intervention services funded by the Helping Children with Autism or Better Start for Children with Disability programs the speech pathologist would be required to be a FaHCSIA approved provider.
Speech Pathology Australia
Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) is the national peak body for the speech pathology profession in Australia. SPA currently has 4800 plus members with approximately 2700 of those working in private practice. Speech pathologists pay an annual membership fee to be a member of SPA. There are different member categories: Practising, Non Practising, Full-time Postgraduate Student, Student, Alumnus, and Associate. Speech pathologists who work in private practice would join as Practising members of SPA.
Speech Pathology Australia’s Code of Ethics (2010)
Speech pathologists are only registered in Queensland
In all states andterritories (except for Queensland which has a Speech Pathologists Board) speech pathology is not a registered profession.
Speech pathology is not part of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme
Speech pathology is not a member of the Australian Health Professions Regulation Authority (AHPRA). At this stage, the government does not plan to include speech pathology in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme.
Membership of SPA is the only way of ensuring a speech pathologist has current and essential qualifications to work as a speech pathologist
Applies to all states / territories except QLD.
Because speech pathology is not a registered profession membership of Speech Pathology Australia is the only way of ensuring a speech pathologist has current and appropriate qualifications to be working as a speech pathologist. Some employers require speech pathologists they employ to be a member of Speech Pathology Australia as a way of ensuring that the speech pathologist has met the minimum standards to work as a speech pathologist. To be a Practising member of SPA a speech pathologist must have obtained the appropriate qualification from an Australian accredited university course. (If they have trained overseas there is an approval process for ensuring that they have metthe same criteria as SPs trained in Australia). To maintain practising member status the speech pathologist must demonstrate that they have been employed as a speech pathologist in the previous 12 months.
SPA’s Professional Self Regulation (PSR) program enhances a speech pathologist’s credentials
The PSR program is a voluntary program for Practising members of SPA. The PSR program provides an objective means of measuring and acknowledging a speech pathologist’s commitment to continuing professional development. The speech pathologist is required to accrue a minimum number of points, each year, over athree-year period, in clinical practice.
Speech pathologists who meet the requirements of the PSR program earn Certified Practising Speech Pathologist status. Certified Practising Speech Pathologists can be identified in the following ways:
- The speech pathologist’s “Certificate of PSR Recognition” that states they have met the requirements ofthe program and are eligible to use the title Certified Practising Speech Pathologist (CPSP) for the year stated in the certificate.
- CPSP status is listed in the search results on the Association’s online directory ‘Find a Speech Pathologist’.
- By contacting Speech Pathology Australia.
Medicare provider requirements
If a speech pathologist is providing a service to clients rebated by Medicare (e.g., theChronic Disease Management Program, Helping Children with Autism or BetterStart for Children with Disability Medicare items) they must have a Medicare provider number. To obtain and maintain Medicare provider status Medicare requires the speech pathologist to be a financial Practising member of SPA (except for QLD where they need to be registered with the Speech Pathologists Board). Medicare conducts an annual audit to check that the speech pathologist is a financial Practising member of SPA. For more information about Medicare provider numbers go to www.medicare.gov.au or phone 13 21 50.
FaHCSIA provider requirements
Speech pathologists who wish to provide services to children eligible for the HCWA and Better Start for Children with Disability programs need to apply through FaHCSIA to be a Panel Provider. FaHCSIA requires speech pathologists to be practising members of SPA (ifworking as part of a consortium) and a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist if working as sole providers. For more information about FaHCSIA programs go to www.fahcsia.gov.au or phone 1300 653 227.
Professional Indemnity insurance
Speech pathologists working in private practice are encouraged to take out Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance.Guild Insurance is SPA’s preferred provider of PI insurance. For more information about Guild PI insurance go to www.guildinsurance.com.au, phone 1800 810 213 or see the Guild brochure attached.
Working With Children Check
There is no single national framework setting out the requirements for obtaining Working With Children Checks or Police Checks. Each state and territory has their own procedures and it is necessary to fulfill the requirements in the jurisdiction(s) in which the speech pathologist is working. For more information about the requirements in each state/territory please go to:
Employee vs. independent contractor
You may wish to employee a private practitioner to provide a service or engage them as anindependent contractor. You can hire independent contractors to work for you in a variety of situations. They can be engaged on a fixed term contract, they can be engaged to perform a specific task or they can be engaged to provide aservice under a contract of indefinite duration. As a hirer your obligations and responsibilities towards independent contractors relating to tax, superannuation, intellectual property ownership and insurances will differ from those you have toward employees. A well planned contract allows independent contractors and hirers to identify the working relationship, rights and responsibilities, and expected outcomes before starting work. It’s important for independent contractors and hirers to understand their rights, obligations and what is expected of them in the business relationship to prevent misunderstandings. SPA would encourage hirers to have a well-planned written contract when engaging a speech pathologist as a contractor.
Alternatively youmay wish to engage a private speech pathologist as an employee. In this instance SPA encourages you to write a position description with Key Selection Criteria (KSC). An interview should be conducted where by the speech pathologist provides evidence of their ability to meet the KSC. It is highly recommended that a speech pathologist be a part of the interview panel and that the references provided be substantiated.
Health Professional and Support Services Award (2010)
The Health Professional and Support Services Award (2010) came into effect on 1 January 2010. This industry and occupational award covers employees working in private industry in the health sector (this includes speech pathologists). For more information about the Award, or to obtain a copy of the Award, phone 13 13 94 or go to
Health Professionals and Support Services Award (2010) Guide/Wage Calculator
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) in conjunction with the Fair Work Ombudsman has produced a Health Professional and Support Services Award 2010 Guide and Wage Calculator. The Guide and Wage Calculator are free to all employers and employees. To access a copy of the Guide or Wage Calculator go to www.ama.com.au/node/6647
SPA’s Job Board
SPA operates a national Job Board as a service to members and employing bodies.
The Job Board lists details of speech pathology positions, giving professional experience required, work, and location preferences. Details remain on the Job Board for a maximum of 30 days at a cost of $99 (incl GST). Prospective employers can obtain information about the Job Board by phoning 03 9642 4899, or submit a job using the submission form on SPA’s website
Additional information from SPA
- About SPA
- Join SPA
- SPA News & Events
- Information for Members
- Information for the Community
- Lobbying & Advocacy
- SPA Discussion Boards