NATA actively promotes its accredited facilities both within Australia and internationally. It is a founding member and active participant in the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC), and liaises with other major international bodies. NATA's Mutual Recognition Arrangements are crucial to the recognition of Australian test, inspection and calibration data overseas, and to the acceptance of Australian goods in foreign markets.
NATA provides both the ILAC and APLAC secretariats. (For more information on NATA's involvement in APLAC, please see Regional Activities).
NATA's competence as an accreditation provider is regularly evaluated by ILAC and APLAC for continued inclusion in Mutual Recognition Arrangements. Evaluation teams comprise individuals from accreditation bodies in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region. This ensures NATA's operations remain consistent with international practices. (NATA similarly undertakes audits of its mutual recognition partners).
It also provides a range of training and consulting services to overseas accreditation bodies. These range from individual courses to playing a key role in the establishment of new bodies, such as the Gulf Accreditation Center in the Middle East.
Where required, NATA is able to provide accreditation to organisations outside Australia, provided this does not conflict with its obligations under the APLAC and ILAC MRAs.
NATA's international involvement also includes participation in the OECD Working Group on Good Laboratory Practice and various international standards committees including those of ISO/CASCO and ISO/REMCO.
How do NATA's Mutual Recognition Arrangements benefit my accredited organisation?
To facilitate the acceptance of test, calibration and inspection reports, as well as reference material certificates between Australia and other economies, NATA is a signatory to the APLAC regional Mutual Recognition Arrangement (download current list of signatories) and the global ILAC Arrangement. It also maintains a bilateral arrangement with the European cooperation on Accreditation (EA) with respect to testing, calibration and inspection.
These mutual recognition arrangements have proved invaluable in helping to overcome technical barriers to trade between Australia and other economies. They also provide Australian accredited organisations with an opportunity to attract additional work from international sources as NATA endorsed reports and certificates are recognised in many overseas economies.
It is, however, important to realise that, while NATA and its MRA partners promote equivalence of endorsed reports and certificates, they are not able to compel their regulators and other domestic clients to accept overseas endorsed reports and certificates.
To meet regulatory requirements in the importing economy, the overseas facility must be accredited for the procedure or regulation prescribed by that economy's regulator.
For a more detailed explanation of NATA's MRA network, see NATA Information Paper No. 3.
To meet regulatory requirements in the importing economy the overseas facility must be accredited for the procedure or regulation prescribed by that economy's regulator.
NATA currently has mutual recognition arrangements with more than 60 organisations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas.This list is steadily expanding as NATA establishes further arrangements. NATA-endorsed reports and certificates are also recognised unilaterally in many countries. A summary list of these MRA partners and the date of signing the MRA is available in the Publications & Endorsements section of the site. The publication also lists the website address of each partner where the accreditation symbol and list of accredited organisations for each partner can be accessed.
Does NATA offer training outside Australia?
NATA Training Services offers internationally a wide range of training courses relevant to ISO/IEC 17025, ISO 15189, OECD Principles of GLP, and lead assessor training. NATA has recently presented a number of these in various economies including Canada, USA, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong China.
NATA will tailor its training courses to suit the needs of individual organisations. All courses are available on request to overseas organisations, and can also be organised in collaboration with an economy's own training organisations.
Most courses are of one to two days' duration, with the more intensive courses lasting four to five days as required. Courses include practical exercises to maximise participation and learning.
Can NATA accredit overseas organisations?
Where required, NATA is able to provide accreditation to organisations outside Australia, provided this does not conflict with obligations under the APLAC and ILAC MRAs. These organisations may be located in economies without their own national accreditation system, or they may specifically require NATA accreditation for trade-related or other reasons.
When the organisation's domestic accreditation body is a signatory to the APLAC and/or ILAC MRA, NATA strongly encourages the organisation to seek accreditation from its domestic accreditation provider.
If the organisation requires NATA accreditation for trade or regulatory reasons, NATA recommends the domestic accreditation provider.
What is NATA's policy on acceptance of traceability of overseas calibrations?
NATA's policy on traceability to national and international standards of measurement, whether in Australia or overseas, is detailed in NATA's Policy Circular No. 11.
Does NATA offer any assistance to overseas organisations?
NATA's major type of assistance is helping develop the infrastructures of foreign accreditation or GLP recognition programs. These projects have been funded by a number of sources including AusAID, the World Bank and UNIDO.
Such programs have been undertaken in economies such as: Brazil, People's Republic of China, Fiji, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates.
NATA's projects have ranged from short term (2 to 6 weeks) to multi-year projects.
A number of NATA's projects have been conducted in conjunction with the National Measurement Institute (NMI) of Australia.
On behalf of APLAC, NATA staff have undertaken a study tour of laboratory accreditation bodies in the Asia-Pacific region, to establish their needs and priorities in developing their accreditation systems. Economies included in this study tour were Brunei Darussalam, People's Republic of China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.
NATA has also participated in a review of standards, quality, accreditation and metrology in the Republic of South Africa. The NMI and Standards Australia International (SAI) were sub-contractors to NATA for the project.
On behalf of APLAC, NATA has undertaken a project to promote the use of the APLAC MRA to support the various APEC MRAs (telecommunications; electrical safety; etc). Regulators in the People's Republic of China, Japan, Chinese Taipei, the Republic of Korea, Canada and the US were visited.
NATA welcomes the opportunity to tender for projects offered by agencies such as AusAID, the World Bank, UNIDO.
Does NATA offer attachment training?
NATA conducts specially tailored attachment training programs in Australia that cover the implementation of accreditation programs.
Personnel involved in such training have been from economies as diverse as Canada, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, United States of America, and Vietnam.
What impact has heightened world tensions had on NATA's overseas activities?
NATA's Board has stated that staff and assessors may not travel to any economy where the travel advisory from the Australian Government's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) recommends that non-essential travel not be undertaken because of a high risk of threats against Australians and Australian interests or because of heightened health risks (for example, swine flu).
For all other economies the staff are told of the current DFAT advisory and staff (and assessors) themselves advise whether they are prepared to travel there or not.
The discussions about DFAT travel advisories consider whether the travel advisory applies to all of the economy or only some parts. Travel can be undertaken to those areas to which an adverse travel advisory does not apply. Members of staff may be asked to consider undertaking the travel if the activity (for example, provision of training courses) could be relocated to a safer venue within the economy.
If staff opt not to travel to these areas they will not be expected to travel. NATA does, however, have to balance client requirements against staff travel concerns. Other members of staff (and assessors) who are able to travel to these areas may undertake the activity after consultation with the International Relations Manager.
The International Relations Manager advises all NATA clients in the economies for which there are DFAT advisories against travel of NATA's travel policy. The advice includes the information that these advisories may change from time to time and that NATA will advise of any changes that have an impact on NATA staff ability to travel to that economy.
The International Relations Manager is also responsible for advising individual clients affected.
For any queries about current DFAT travel advisories and their impact on NATA international activities, please contact NATA's International Liaison Manager.
Where can I get further information?
If you have any further questions about any of NATA's international activities, please do not hesitate to contact your nearest NATA office or NATA's International Liaison Manager on (08) 8179 3400.