The National Association of Testing Authorities celebrates World Accreditation Day by showcasing Why Accreditation Matters
June 9, Sydney – To celebrate World Accreditation Day, today The National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) reminds all Australians its role in making their daily lives better by showcasing compelling stories of accreditation in action.
- How accredited testing is putting Australia on course to become the first country to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035.
- How new standards in emerging technologies will require accreditation.
NATA is the authority responsible for the accreditation of laboratories, inspection bodies, calibration services, producers of reference materials and proficiency testing scheme providers throughout Australia. It provides assurance that the testing is being performed competently and that the results are accurate and reliable.
One accredited test that started just five years ago, is getting a major update from July 1 as Australia becomes to first country to offer self-collection kits for cervical screening universally to anyone with a cervix from the start of next month.
Marion Saville, Executive Director of Australian Centre for Prevention of Cervical Cancer, said: “Five years ago, Australia was one of the first countries in the world to introduce Human Papillomavirus (HPV) testing as a screening test for cervical cancer – and built a robust framework for combining HPV vaccination and cervical screening, which has positioned Australia to be the first country to eliminate cervical cancer.
“Without an accredited test to ensure results were reliable and the testing could be scalable, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Australia can potentially eliminate cervical cancer within the next five or six years.”
Karen Canfell, Director at the Daffodil Centre, a partnership between Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney, added: “There’s still work to be done, as many communities, for example First Nations people, have historically experienced structural barriers to screening. New models of cervical screening, co-designed with the communities involved, will be facilitated by the introduction of universal access to self-collection. If the successes in Australia can be replicated in other countries, we could save 62 million lives over the course of the next century.”
Every day Australians take for granted that the water we drink, the food we eat, the houses and buildings we live and work are reliable and safe. It is NATA that sits in the background, providing a secret safety net for all Australians through accredited testing of products and services.
Often referred to as Australia’s best kept secret, this year NATA marks its 75th anniversary.
The theme for World Accreditation Day 2022 is sustainability in economic growth and the environment. Jennifer Evans, NATA CEO, said: “To share NATA’s history is to trace Australia’s growth as a nation.
“Many of the products that affect us in our daily lives need to be tested to ensure that they are safe, fit-for-purpose and work as intended. But being tested is only a part of the picture. We need to be able to rely on that testing and more particularly, in those test results,” Evans added.
Beyond the ways accreditation is being used to save lives in the health space, accreditation of testing will also be used increasingly as our world becomes more digitised – even if the way it’s being used is changing.
A recent Standards Australia Iconic Nations Report found that in the next 10 years up to 4,000 new Standards will be needed across the emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and smart cities. While standards provide a framework and benchmark of what international best practice looks like, accreditation is the rigour behind ensuring these standards are met.
Jennifer Evans outlines: “Not only does accreditation help to improve systems, grow the economy, and save lives. It keeps pace with change and innovation. Accreditation is more agile and adaptable than regulation. When governments regulate – there’s often no flexibility and laws can quickly become out-dated.
“NATA has been the secret weapon in Australia’s rise to the sophisticated, globally connected nation it is today.”
Head of International Strategic Partnerships at Standards Australia, Jesse Riddell, added: “Consensus-based international standards are globally recognised benchmarks that promote harmonisation and interoperability across markets.
“Importantly for emerging technologies, they also promote responsibility, trustworthiness, security, and confidence in emerging systems and technologies. In seeking to mitigate those risks governments are increasingly favouring the speed and flexibility offered by accredited voluntary standards.”
According to a recent report compiled by the University of Technology, Sydney, NATA contributes between $315 and $421m to the Australian economy every year. That is over $1m a day. Yesterday NATA held an event to mark World Accreditation Day at EVENT Cinemas on George St in Sydney, find more information from the day here.