Speech-language therapy is a self-regulated profession through the NZSTA. Most employers in New Zealand require prospective employees to be registered with the NZSTA before employment.
There are two methods of application for membership in NZSTA:
- Through the Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA)
- The Qualifications Approval Process
The Mutual Recognition of Professional Association Credentials Agreement (MRA) was established in 2004 between six speech-language associations:
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
- Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC)
- Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)
- Speech Pathology Association of Australia (SPA)
- New Zealand Speech-language Therapists’ Association (NZSTA) and
- Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT)
The agreement allows members of signatory associations (trained in that country) to apply for mutual recognition of their credentials from another. The premise of substantial equivalence underlies the agreement, i.e. under certain terms and conditions, an individual’s credentials are deemed substantially equivalent (MRA updated 2022). This is not equality or reciprocity, as each signatory association has specific requirements for applicants.
Before Completing the MRA Application Form
- Please read the MRA Application Procedure.
- Please read the additional requirements that you need to be aware of.
One of these requirements is that you supply a New Zealand criminal conviction record or overseas equivalent. This must be an original document and dated not more than three months before the date of receipt by the NZSTA. The relevant police authority in your country of practice must issue it. This criminal conviction record should be the standard documentation your country would issue for visa applications.
- Read the Dysphagia Competency Guidelines if you are required to provide certified evidence, as per the application checklist on the application form. Please note that you cannot apply under the MRA if you do not meet the dysphagia competency requirements. However, as of 12 June 2023, you may apply under the Qualifications Approval process instead.
- Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions section below for further information on the MRA.
Your application will not be considered until full information and/or evidence, as requested in the MRA Application Form, including a letter of good standing and full payment, is provided. Applicants will be issued an invoice once their application has been submitted.
The fee for an application under the Mutual Recognition Agreement is made up of a processing fee of ($225) and a pro-rated membership for the current calendar year and is non-refundable.
Frequently Asked Questions
The updated 2022 Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) is an agreement between NZSTA and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), Speech-Language & Audiology Canada (SAC), the Irish Association for Speech and Language Therapists (IASLT), the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) and the Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited (Speech Pathology Australia).
This agreement allows eligible members of each association to apply for mutual recognition of their credentials with another signatory association. The premise of substantial equivalence underlies the agreement, i.e. under specific terms and conditions, an individual's credentials are deemed substantially equivalent. This is not equality or reciprocity as each signatory association has specific requirements for applicants, e.g., AHSA requires evidence of passing the ASHA-approved national certification examination for members of IASLT, NZSTA, RCSLT, and Speech Pathology Australia.
The MRA intends to improve the mobility of individuals with approved credentials and to provide an expedited process for applying to become a certified or full member of a signatory association.
It will also facilitate ongoing knowledge in terms of research, professional development, emerging technologies, and other aspects of professional practice, thus benefiting the wider international community.
- ASHA certificate holders
- certified members of SAC
- certified members of RCSLT
- certified members of Speech Pathology Australia
- full members of IASLT
There are some additional requirements; full information on these is contained in the other FAQs.
Overseas-trained therapists who do not hold the specified membership of one of the signatory associations listed above or who do not meet the specific criteria under MRA, as detailed below, and who wish to become a member of the NZSTA may still be able to apply but under a separate process called the Qualifications Approval Process.
The MRA provides certificate holders or members of the signatory associations a means of applying for and attaining certification or membership with any other signatory association.
The Agreement acknowledges that the standards required for certification or membership with one association are substantially equivalent to or meet the requirements for certification or membership with any other signatory associations.
Once members have been certified by or granted membership with a new association, they are subject to the same rights, privileges, responsibilities, obligations, and restrictions as all other members of the new association. This includes adherence to membership and certification reinstatement policies and procedures. Information regarding the policies and procedures for each association is provided on each signatory association's website.
The MRA is based on the equivalency of those trained in the country of an Association, including accreditation of training programmes in that country.
The qualifications approval process in each country is not equivalent, and therefore it is not possible to enter through MRA if you are a member of an MRA country but trained in a non-MRA country. You will need to apply through the qualifications approval process.
For information on alternative membership and certification procedures and the requirements of each association, please visit that association's website.
The signatory associations recognise that the Agreement does not supersede national, state, or provincial licensing or registration requirements.
Applicants are advised to visit each association's website to identify the necessary agencies to contact and their requirements before pursuing certification or membership with the new association.
To attain certification or membership with any other signatory associations, you must submit the required application form and demonstrate that you meet any specified conditions.
The average processing time for applications is about six weeks. Please allow for at least this, as applications need to be approved by a committee of volunteers.
If your application is straightforward and you sent it with all the correct paperwork, the time can be less than this.
Decisions regarding approval of certification are the sole purview of the individual associations.
The appeal process is the same afforded to all applicants of the new association.
The NZSTA is permitted to request a statement of reasons for rejecting an application but cannot serve as an advocate for the applicant.
The founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand, te Tiriti o Waitangi, signed in 1840, is an agreement between Māori hapū (subtribes of Māori people) and the New Zealand Government. Māori are the tribal people indigenous to New Zealand and currently form approximately 16% of the total population.
If you consider practising within Aotearoa New Zealand, you must become familiar with te Tiriti. All employers require applicants to understand the implications of te Tiriti, the principles of biculturalism and how it affects clinical practice as a speech-language therapist in New Zealand. Knowledge of te Tiriti will also help you better understand Aotearoa New Zealand's social dynamic. Te Tiriti provides a framework for ensuring that you implement the principles of self-determination, partnership, equity, options, and active protection of tangata whaiora (clients) and whānau (family).
Check your Pākehā Privilege has a wealth of resources that help us around how colonisation impacts Aotearoa, how antiracism works, reflect on our privileges and uphold our responsibilities to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Resources include links to books, podcasts, essays, films, and groups. There is an opportunity for reflection and ideas for what you can do after learning more about colonisation and racism.
Each signatory member defines the fees, so there will be some variation.
The fee for an application under the Mutual Recognition Agreement comprises a processing fee of ($225) and a pro-rated membership for the current calendar year and is non-refundable.
Electronic payment to NZSTA account number: 38 9012 0192936 00
Swiftcode is KIWINZ22.
Please include your full name in the reference field.