Standards in State Library Victoria

Guide to Australian manufacturing standards, accounting standards, food code, building code and design rules

What this guide is about?

The aim of this research guide is to explain what constitutes a ‘standard', and to identify and differentiate between a range of similar documents produced by Standards Australia and other agencies. 

The guide will also identify and explain what is held in the collections of the State Library of Victoria and how to go about searching for them through the Library’s catalogue and electronic resources.

We will also cover codes of practice and rules, as well as provide links to local and overseas organisations, which may provide more comprehensive information and link to the latest version of standards.

What is a standard?

A standard is a published document which sets out specifications and procedures designed to ensure that a material, product, method or service is fit for its purpose and consistently performs the way it was intended to.

A standard is a means of establishing a common language for manufacturers and producers in defining quality and safety criteria and which can be communicated to users or consumers. Products made or manufactured to an identified or acknowledged standard help to define/ determine the acceptability of a product  for its designed use.

Standards ensure products manufactured in one country can be sold and used in another, they reduce international trade barriers and increase the size of potential markets.

Standards impact on all aspects of our everyday lives and ensure consistency in quality and performance/operability of the goods and services consumers use, such as safety switches, seat belts, bathroom fittings, traffic lights, electrical installations and so on.

Standards can be a range of different types of guidance documents, including:

  • Australian Standards®
  • international standards and joint standards
  • codes
  • specifications
  • handbooks 
  • guidelines

What are the differences between a regulation, code of practice or a standard?

An Australian standard is a national consensus standard which, in itself, is voluntary, but may be adopted into law via a regulation. 

A regulation is an instrument which contains the mandatory obligations under the law.  Failure to comply with the letter of a regulation constitutes an offence. In some instances, some Australian standards are given the status of a regulation.

A code of practice is a non-mandatory evidentiary document. In other words, compliance with a code of practice is only one way of showing that you are meeting your obligations under a particular regulation. 

Online resources