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What is a Standard?

Standards are voluntary documents that set out specifications, procedures and guidelines that aim to ensure products, services, and systems are safe, consistent, and reliable.

They cover a variety of subjects, including consumer products and services, the environment, construction, energy and water utilities, and more.

To ensure they keep pace with new technologies, standards are regularly reviewed by Standards Australia technical committees.
There are three categories of standards:

International Standards

These are developed by ISO, IEC, and ITU for countries to adopt for national use. Standards Australia embraces the development and adoption of international standards.

Regional Standards

These are prepared by a specific region, such as the European Union’s EN standards.

National Standards

These are developed either by a national standards body (like Standards Australia) or other accredited bodies. Any standards developed under the Australian Standard® name have been created in Australia or are adoptions of international or other standards.

For more information on Standards Australia products, please refer to our SG-003: Standards and Other Publications.

Standards and the Law

On their own, standards are voluntary. There is no requirement for the public to comply with standards. However, State and Commonwealth governments often refer to Australian Standards® (AS) or joint Australian/New Zealand Standards (AS/NZS) in their legislation.

When this happens, these standards can become mandatory.

Database of Australian Standards in legislation and case law

You can search for Australian Standards® referenced in legislation and case law via the search tool below. The tool will scan for your search query in the the databases of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII). This will allow you to search and access the full text of the legislation and case law. You’ll be able to navigate to each instance where the Australian Standard® is referenced.

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Benefits of Standards

Standards mean better value for all. They ensure the quality and consistency of products and services, giving businesses and consumers greater peace of mind. They also benefit the economy, improve health and safety, protect our natural resources, and improve our quality of life.

Here are six key benefits of our standards:

  • Boost confidence: Thanks to standards, businesses and consumers can feel confident that the products and services they develop and/or use are safe, reliable and fit-for-purpose.
  • Enhance innovation: Standards are a launch pad for exciting new ideas. They can be created, evolved or discarded according to our changing world. New standards are developed to reflect the latest technologies, innovations and community needs.
  • Give products a competitive edge: In the eyes of consumers, products that comply with Australian Standards® offer added value. International Standards give Australian exporters an instant competitive advantage when moving into overseas markets.
  • Reduce barriers to international trade: Regardless of where a product is made, standards mean it can be sold and used around the globe. Opening new doors to international trade, standards help Australian businesses compete globally and to a wider market.
  • Reduce red tape: Standards assist with harmonisation across Australia’s laws and regulations. They offer an alternative to regulation, reducing business costs and decreasing red tape, but still providing security for businesses and consumers.
  • Help businesses thrive: Standards are central to Australian business. They make business transactions simpler and more efficient, assisting with risk mitigation and compliance. Put simply, standards help our businesses thrive.

Net Benefit

What is Net Benefit?

Every standard should demonstrate a positive net benefit. This means each standard has a positive impact on relevant communities.

Net benefit is central to how we operate. The value or benefit of each Australian Standard® must outweigh its costs to society.

To assess net benefit, we look at:

  • Public health and Safety
  • Social and community impact
  • Environmental impact
  • Competition
  • Economic impact

More information can be found in the Guide to Net Benefit.