January 26th is Australia Day, Australia’s national day, and a public holiday for many. In honour of the occasion, I thought the focus of this week’s post should be Australia. It is after all the birthplace of OET.
The beginning of OET
It surprises many candidates to know that the test has been around since the 1980s. At this time, a lot of overseas healthcare professionals were arriving to work in Australia. It led to the need for an English test which would test English in a healthcare setting and the creation of OET. Since the 1980s, a lot of research, discussion and testing has been carried out on the test format. The result is that the test remains one that can be trusted by healthcare employers and healthcare professionals.
The Australian healthcare system
Australia is a very large country and responsibility for healthcare comes from different levels of government:
- federal (country-wide)
- state and territory
At a federal level, the government promotes good health and funds research into healthcare issues. State and territory governments supply and manage hospitals, maternal and child heath and dental health. Local government level is responsible for sanitation and hygiene, food safety and water quality monitoring
A universal healthcare system
Healthcare in Australia is universal to all who are eligible for it (visa-dependent) through a publicly funded scheme called Medicare. Medicare subsidises payments charged for seeing a doctor and a high proportion of prescription medicines. It also funds public hospital services to provide them free of charge. Tax largely covers the funding of Medicare with individuals, who are financially able to, encouraged to purchase private health insurance. This ensures that those who most need it have access to the treatment they need for free. Private health insurance can cover hospital charges, allied health services (such as physiotherapy and podiatry) and some aids (such as glasses)
Access to the healthcare system
Patients generally first present to the healthcare system through a GP of their choice. Some patients will also access public hospitals through emergency departments where they may present themselves, via an ambulance or from referral from their doctor. Patients arrange and pay for visits to allied health professionals (dentists, physiotherapists, chiropractors etc.) themselves or as part of their private health insurance.
Registering to work as a healthcare professional
To register to work as a healthcare practitioner in Australia, you need to apply for registration with the relevant national board. This registration is handled by AHPRA [Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency]. It will require you to supply proof of your relevant healthcare qualifications and that you have the necessary English language skills. Many healthcare professionals applying for registration with AHPRA will use OET test results to show they have met the English requirements.
Using Nurses as an example, AHPRA require the following OET scores:
- 4 B grades in each of the 4 skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening) achieved within the last 2 years.
- The 4 B grades must have been achieved in either 1 sitting or from a maximum of 2 sittings within a 6 month period.
- When results are being provided from 2 test sittings, all 4 skills must have been taken on each occasion and none of the results from either sitting can include a grade lower than a C.
OET strongly encourages individuals wishing to register with AHPRA to contact them directly to check the requirements for their individual profession and situation.
If you are interested in finding out more about the registration requirements in other countries which accept OET, follow the links for your profession: Who accepts OET?