Recognition of Medical Specialties from 2018


In 2018, the Medical Board of Australia (the Board) and the Australian Medical Council (AMC)  published guidelines on the process for organisations to apply for recognition of new or amended medical specialties under the National Law[1].

Specialist registration applies to the medical profession. Under the National Law, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Health Council decides whether to approve a medical specialty, on the recommendation of the Medical Board of Australia (the Board).

Specialist registration can only be granted in a specialty that has been approved by the COAG Health Council. The COAG Health Council has approved a list of specialties, fields of specialty practice and specialist titles for the medical profession that is published on the Board’s website.

Under the National Law, practitioners with specialist registration can use the protected title associated with their specialist registration in a recognised specialty or field of specialty practice. It is a breach of the National Law for practitioners to use a protected specialist title if they do not have specialist registration in the relevant recognised specialty.

The Board and the AMC have published the Guidelines for the Recognition of Medical Specialties and Fields of Specialty Practice under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the Guidelines) to support applications for recognition and approval of new or amended specialties. The Guidelines describe the application process and the criteria that applications must address.

The Board considers the advice of the AMC and other stakeholders, including specialist colleges, when deciding whether to recommend that a new or amended specialty be approved by the COAG Health Council.

The COAG Health Council will only consider a recommendation for a new or amended speciality after a public benefit has been demonstrated. That is, applicants must establish a need for government intervention (regulation) in the interests of the public and that existing arrangements or other alternative non-regulatory options are unsatisfactory. For this reason, the application process involves a robust regulatory assessment, with extensive stakeholder consultation.


Download the guidelines, Guidelines for the Recognition of Medical Specialties and Fields of Specialty Practice under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.


For more information about the process and criteria for applying for recognition of a new or amended specialty, see

  • Frequently Asked Questions for the recognition of a new or amended specialty
  • Guide for preparing an initial proposal for recognition of a new or amended medical specialty under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law(Application)


  • [1] Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory