2012

Registration renewal for postgraduate students who transferred provisional registration from State/Territory Registration Boards

Posted 13 December 2012

The APS is aware of a provisional registration renewal problem that has affected a number of Victorian professional psychology third year Doctorate students who are likely to be representative of a wider group of postgraduate psychology students (both Doctorate students and Masters students who have been undertaking their studies for more than two years). This matter has been brought to the attention of the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) but at this stage an alternative, more satisfactory solution has not been offered. The APS wants to ensure that affected students are aware of the steps the PsyBA has stipulated they must take to maintain their provisional registration and be able to continue their training without interruption.

The students affected are those that were previously registered as provisional psychologists with State/Territory Registration Boards and where this was subsequently transferred to the national registration scheme under the Psychology Board of Australia. Those students who have renewed their registration on two occasions since it was transferred to the national scheme are now required to reapply for registration at the end of their current registration period in order to maintain their provisional registration. Many students are not aware of this requirement to reapply for registration, and the APS is aware of a number of cases where students have not been alerted to this requirement by the PsyBA or the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Authority (AHPRA). In the case of the Victorian students, their provisional registration will expire on 31 December 2012 and they have not been informed of the requirement to reapply for registration. Failure to reapply will result in the postgraduate student no longer being provisionally registered, with major implications for the students' continuing training.

Postgraduate psychology students who have already renewed their registration twice with the PsyBA/AHPRA should therefore check the expiry date of their current provisional registration and ensure they reapply for registration before their current registration expires. A new form has recently been developed by the PsyBA and must be used by students in this situation. The form (Application for provisional registration after three years of provisional registration for psychologists- ARPT-76) can be downloaded from this link: http://www.psychologyboard.gov.au/Registration/Provisional/Higher-Degree/Forms.aspx  Individual students' registration expiry dates can be checked by searching the National Register from this link: http://www.ahpra.gov.au/Registration/Registers-of-Practitioners.aspx

The PsyBA has advised that students who have queries in relation to this matter should contact the Professional Officer for Psychology at the relevant Regional Board of the PsyBA by phoning 1300 419 495.

The APS has strongly recommended to the PsyBA that students affected by this renewal issue should be able to renew their registration rather than being required to go through the onerous task of reapplying for their provisional registration (and resupplying supporting documentation), and believes this should be able to be accommodated as part of transition arrangements to the national registration scheme. The APS has also objected to the high provisional registration fees for postgraduate students and believes this is not justified given that university and placement supervisors take full responsibility for monitoring standards during students' training. The APS believes the current processes are disenfranchising students and represent a significant disincentive to completing postgraduate studies.

The APS will continue to try to have these processes altered, but in the meantime postgraduate students need to ensure that they maintain their provisional registration by following the prescribed steps so that their training is not interrupted.


Reduction in the Better Access session allowance due to start from 1 January 2013

6 December 2012

Although the APS will continue its advocacy and negotiations with the Federal Government over the reduction in the number of allowable sessions of psychological treatment under the Better Access initiative, members need to be aware that the ‘exceptional circumstances’ sessions will no longer be available from 1 January 2013. The maximum number of sessions of psychological treatment that a client can receive in the 2013 calendar year will be 10 sessions. Members should therefore plan for these changes and ensure their clients are informed.

What the changes entail
The cap of 10 allowable sessions per calendar year is applicable from 1 January 2013. Following the initial course of treatment (up to a maximum of six sessions), a review by the referring medical practitioner will determine the need for further treatment. A client may only access a maximum of 10 sessions in total for the calendar year. There are no ‘exceptional circumstances’ that allow additional sessions on top of the 10 allowable sessions per calendar year.

The cap of 10 allowable sessions also applies to group sessions delivered under the Better Access initiative. From 1 January 2012, clients are eligible for a total of 10 group sessions per calendar year in addition to their 10 individual sessions.

Arrangements for treatment spanning the 2012-13 calendar years
Clients who are currently receiving psychological services under Better Access and are currently eligible for exceptional circumstances sessions must access these sessions before 31 December 2012. Any remaining sessions from the referral may be used up in the 2013 calendar year and will be counted towards the new maximum allowance of 10 sessions per year. A new referral would be required for the client to access any additional psychological services beyond those remaining from the referral in the previous year. The client would be eligible for a maximum of 10 individual sessions and/or 10 group sessions in the 2013 calendar year and treatment needs to be provided in a set of six sessions followed by a set of four sessions.

 


 

PsyBA 5+1 internship program for 2013

29 November 2012

Students who have this year completed a Graduate Diploma in Professional Psychology (GDPP) as part of the 5+1 route to general registration have been waiting to find out how they can get their sixth year internship program organised for next year given that the guidelines for the 5+1 internship are yet to be released by the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA). The APS has been advocating strongly for this situation to be rectified as soon as possible. In its latest Communiqué, the PsyBA announced transitional arrangements for 5+1 internships, where graduates of a GDPP who have attained provisional registration can commence the one year internship using the existing 4+2 Guidelines. The PsyBA's guidelines for the 5+1 internship are currently under development and will be released for public consultation in 2013.


Summary of recent changes to arrangements for Medicare bulk bill claim forms

8 November 2012

The APS provided advice to members in October 2012 on changes to arrangements for Medicare bulk bill forms. This advice has now been superseded as a result of recent consultation and feedback from Medicare Australia. The following changes have been made to assist providers transitioning to the new arrangements.

  • The end date of 31 December 2012 for use of existing carbon copy forms no longer applies.
  • Providers who have existing stock of the carbon bulk bill forms can continue to submit these forms for processing, until their existing stock is exhausted.
  • Only those providers who do not have access to a computer or printer, or who undertake consultations outside of consulting rooms, can request additional carbon copy forms from Medicare Australia.

All enquiries about the new arrangements for bulk bill forms can be made to bulk.bill.forms.feedback@medicareaustralia.gov.au

Read more about bulk bill form arrangements

 


 

New PsyBA online application for provisional registration

7 November 2012

The Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) has announced a new online application process for students exiting 4th year who are going on to further training in psychology and require provisional registration status in order to do this. Students and graduates are eligible to use the service if they intend to continue training to become a psychologist and require provisional registration to undertake the fifth and sixth years of psychology training through one of the three approved pathways (4+2, 5+1 or higher degree) leading to General registration as a psychologist. After applying online, applicants need to mail their supporting documentation to AHPRA. To become a registered provisional psychologist, eligible students must also meet the PsyBA's registration requirements relating to criminal history, English language skills and professional indemnity insurance.


Increase in Medicare schedule fees and rebates from 1 November 2012

31 October 2012

As of 1 November 2012, the schedule fees and rebates for services provided under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) will increase in line with indexation. A table of the indexed fees and rebates for all Medicare items that can be provided by psychologists under the MBS has been prepared for members.

 


 

Finalised APS education and training model presented for new APAC Standards

18 October 2012

The finalised proposed APS model of education and training was presented to the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) in a submission to the pre-consultation phase of the Review of Accreditation Standards for the Psychology Profession in Australia 2012. Following the pre-consultation phase of the review, APAC has now entered a consultation phase on the proposed new Standards, which were released in a consultation paper in late September 2012. It is very pleasing to observe that many of the structural elements of the APS model are contained in APAC's revised Draft Accreditation Standards.


APS response to anti-homosexuality comments in the media

24 September 2012

Significant concern has been generated in response to prominent media articles over the last few days where discriminatory comments about homosexuality have been attributed to an ACT election candidate who is also a consultant psychologist.  As a result of these comments, the APS has been asked to clarify the expectations of psychologists when working with lesbian and gay clients, and the position of the APS in relation to homosexuality.

In December 2011 the APS issued a statement supporting the full recognition of same-sex relationships on the basis of psychological evidence showing the mental health benefits of marriage, and the harm caused by social exclusion and discrimination arising from not having the choice to marry.

The APS Guidelines for psychological practice with lesbian, gay and bisexual clients clearly identify the ethical obligations of psychologists when working with homosexual clients, which include avoidance of discrimination, and communication of respect through actions, language and conduct. These obligations are reflected in the APS Code of Ethics, which requires psychologists to demonstrate an understanding of the consequences for people of unfair discrimination and stereotyping related to their age, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, or disability, and in the course of their conduct to communicate respect for other people through their actions and language.


Notice of the 2012 Annual General Meeting of the APS

30 August 2012

The 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of The Australian Psychological Society Limited is being held at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, 21 Mounts Bay Road, Perth, Western Australia, on Saturday 29 September 2012 commencing at 11.00am (Western Standard Time). The AGM is being held in conjunction with the 2012 APS Annual Conference.
 
All APS Honorary Fellows, Fellows, Members and Associate Members are eligible to vote at a general meeting of the APS and are reminded that they may appoint a proxy. Instruments of proxy are required to be lodged at the National Office of the APS no later than 11.00am (Eastern Standard Time) on Thursday 27 September 2012.

Further information about the AGM including the agenda, proxy forms and details about voting by proxy, is available here.


2012 APS Annual Report available online

30 August 2012


Members are advised that the 2012 APS Annual Report is now available to download online.  Members may be interested to read the 2011–2012 Year in review, which forms part of the Annual Report, and details the work of the APS during the last financial year.


Extension of deadline for completion of PsyBA mandatory supervisor training

15 August 2012

The Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) has announced that there will be an extension of the date by which supervisors of trainee psychologists are required to have completed the new mandatory supervisor training requirements. The PsyBA has extended the transition arrangements for completion of mandatory supervisor training to the new deadline of 30 June 2018, but supervisors must be on the PsyBA’s list of approved supervisors by 30 June 2013 for this to be applicable.

The PsyBA’s mandatory supervisor training requirements to enable approved supervisor status apply to psychologists providing supervision to:

  • Provisional psychologists undertaking a 4+2 internship program or a 5+1 internship program
  • Postgraduate students undertaking placements as part of an APAC-accredited professional psychology training program
  • Psychologists undertaking a registrar program leading to endorsement in an approved area of practice.

Previously the PsyBA had stated that after 30 June 2013 all existing supervisors would be required to complete a PsyBA-approved supervisor training program and reapply (or apply in the case of supervisors of postgraduate students) for supervisor status before they could be approved to supervise.

The new transition arrangements announced by the Board in August 2012 are as follows.

  • Supervisors who are currently on the list of PsyBA-approved supervisors will now have until 30 June 2018 to undertake mandatory PsyBA-approved supervisor training in order to maintain approved supervisor status. These current PsyBA-approved supervisors are now not required to reapply for approved status by 30 June 2013.
  • Supervisors who are not currently PsyBA-approved supervisors will need to apply to the PsyBA for approved supervisor status by 30 June 2013 in order to have until 30 June 2018 to complete the mandatory supervisor training
  • Supervisors who are not currently PsyBA-approved supervisors and do not apply to the PsyBA for approved supervisor status by 30 June 2013 will have to complete the mandatory supervisor training requirements before approval is subsequently granted.
  • Supervisors of postgraduate students on placement have not previously been required to have PsyBA approval in order to provide this supervision. These supervisors can continue to provide supervision of postgraduate students until 30 June 2013 but will need to apply for PsyBA approval and be added to the list of PsyBA-approved supervisors by 30 June 2013. These supervisors will then have until 30 June 2018 to complete the mandatory supervisor training requirements. Those who do not apply for approved supervisor status by 30 June 2013 will need to complete the mandatory training requirements before being approved to supervise.

Psychologists who wish to be added to the PsyBA list of approved supervisors must apply to the PsyBA via the Application to act as a Board approved supervisor of provisional psychologists and registrars (Form ABAS-76), which is available from the PsyBA website.

Further information on the arrangements for mandatory supervisor training can be found in the PsyBA Fact sheet on supervisor training–August 2012 and Fact sheet for supervisors–August 2012,  which are available from the PsyBA website.


Update on new mandatory reporting requirements for school psychologists in Queensland

18 July 2012

Queensland psychologists working in schools are alerted to a recent change to their mandatory reporting requirements regarding sexual abuse of students under 18 years of age.  The amendment to the Education (general provisions) Act 2006 was enacted on July 9th 2012 and requires that any psychologist employed at any public or independent school (both primary and secondary) who becomes aware of, or has a reasonable belief that a student has been sexually abused, must immediately report this information to their principal.

 


APS submission to the DSM-5 revision

3 July 2012

Publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), scheduled for May 2013, has become a controversial and much anticipated event for both the mental health professions and the field of psychology. The British Psychological Society (BPS) and a Division of the American Psychological Association (APA) have both taken a strong stance on the revisions for the DSM-5 to date. Given the level of controversy, rather than simply endorse the submissions by the APA and the BPS, the APS formed an Expert Reference Group of members with expertise in particular aspects of mental health and in the use of taxonomies to provide an informed and strategic response to the revisions from the APS.

The final consultation period for input into the DSM-5 revision was open for six weeks, placing significant constraints on the ability of the APS Expert Reference Group to provide a comprehensive submission that reviewed all diagnostic categories. In addition, some information about the revised DSM (e.g., introductory material including any caveats, assessment system) is not yet available and the ability to comment was therefore limited by the information provided on the DSM-5 website. However, the Group has still developed a considered response to the DSM-5 revisions which cover a significant number of diagnostic categories and represent the APS contribution to the process.

The APS submission highlights a number of positive changes proposed for DSM-5 but also identifies some areas of concern, including the ongoing focus on a biomedical paradigm of mental health and a focus on problems or deficits at the expense of personal achievements, resources and preserved aspects of functioning or wellbeing. The submission provides feedback on many of the proposed diagnostic categories, identifying some positive changes from the DSM-IV in the draft criteria, outstanding concerns and recommendations for consideration by the DSM-5 Taskforce.

 


False claim from the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc.

19 June 2012

The Australian Association of Psychologists Inc. (AAPi) has this week circulated a news bulletin claiming that “the APS is currently lobbying hard to have Medicare rebates reserved for ONLY PBA endorsed psychologists, ie. APS College Members”. This claim is completely false and members would be aware of the APS sustained efforts and advocacy on behalf of all psychologists for the Better Access initiative to be maintained in its current form. Members should be reassured that there is absolutely no basis for this scurrilous claim.

Information about the APS advocacy on behalf of ALL psychologists who provide services under the Better Access initiative, and the vital contribution they make to the mental health of the community, can be found on the Better Access campaign pages of the APS website. The Better Access campaign page is regularly updated  and provides an account of the APS advocacy since the cuts were first announced in last year's Budget. Information provided includes details of the APS Better Access research studies that have been undertaken to provide data to inform the APS campaign, and a large number of media releases, radio interviews, submissions and articles about APS advocacy for maintenance of the Better Access initiative over recent months.


APS supports health and wellbeing check for three year olds

14 June 2012

The APS supports the new Australian Government initiative of a health and wellbeing check for three-year-old children on the basis of a substantial body of research indicating the benefits of early identification and intervention for emerging developmental, social, emotional and behavioural problems in children. The APS Executive Director, Professor Lyn Littlefield, is a member of the Expert Advisory Group for this initiative and has assisted with developing the social and emotional wellbeing items for the three-year-olds’ health check and mapping the available early intervention services where GPs can refer children who have been identified as being at risk. 

There has been considerable misinformation and fear mongering about the initiative in public discussions in recent days. The initiative does NOT seek to diagnose mental health disorders in children, pathologise normal behaviour or encourage the prescription of medication. Rather this is about identifying children showing early signs of developmental, social, emotional and behavioural problems to enable effective interventions to be put in place, such as social and communication skills training and parenting and family interventions. The aim is to maximise normal development and resilience in children, and to deal with problems before children go to school. The initiative involves a Medicare-funded voluntary check that parents can request if there are concerns about their children’s development or that GPs can undertake if they have concerns. The Government should be congratulated on providing funding for an early intervention initiative that is aimed at increasing the number of Australian children who emerge as healthy and happy adults.


Reminder of 30 June CPD deadline for Medicare FPS providers

24 May 2012

Members providing Focused Psychological Strategies (FPS) Medicare items under Better Access are reminded that the deadline for completion of the required 10 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) for the current cycle to maintain FPS Medicare provider status is 30 June 2012. This means that 10 hours of FPS-related CPD activities must have been undertaken between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012. CPD activities undertaken need to enhance the skills required to deliver the FPS treatments allowable under the Better Access initiative (as listed in the Medicare Benefits Schedule). In addition to the skills to effectively deliver FPS treatments, practitioners also require skills to undertake a full assessment of the client to form a diagnosis and commence treatment planning. Relevant training in psychopathology can therefore be counted towards the CPD requirements. CPD activities can also include training in different modalities and delivery such as working with groups.

Relevant CPD that has been undertaken to meet the Psychology Board of Australia requirements can be counted towards meeting the Medicare FPS provider requirements, as long as it is FPS related and has been completed within this annual CPD cycle for Medicare FPS providers (1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012). CPD activities do not need to be formally approved but the relevance to delivering FPS Medicare items must be able to be justified. Acceptable CPD activities where the content is related to FPS can include formal postgraduate education, workshops, seminars, lectures, journal reading, writing papers, receipt of supervision and peer consultation, and online training programs. FPS-related CPD can be across peer consultation and active CPD types.

Click here to find more information about acceptable CPD activities which may assist Medicare FPS providers to meet the CPD requirements.

Please note that there is no requirement to log the FPS-related CPD undertaken, although a record of completed CPD must be kept in case of an audit. However, if the FPS-related CPD is also being counted towards meeting Psychology Board of Australia requirements, a log of all completed CPD must be kept. The APS online CPD logging system can be used to assist members to self-monitor compliance with CPD requirements and can also generate logging records which can be used if a member is audited.

APS 2012 Better Access study

27 March 2012

A new APS study of Better Access clients seen by APS psychologists is being undertaken to inform the campaign for permanent reinstatement of the Better Access sessions under ‘exceptional circumstances’.

To assist the APS campaign, the study aims to collect information about:

  • The adequacy of treatment options for people affected by the reduction in Better Access sessions who required more treatment in the window of November and December 2011 (before the new calendar year commenced) when the maximum allowance of Better Access sessions was reduced to 10 sessions.
  • The nature and severity of the mental health conditions of people requiring additional sessions under exceptional circumstances when these were reinstated from 1 March 2012, and any change in their mental health status as the result of receiving these sessions.

Read more

Email scam alert

19 March 2012

Members' attention is drawn to a recent elaborate email scam targeting psychologists. There may well be variations of this type of scam.

The scam involves a person from overseas contacting a psychologist by email to inform him or her that she is coming to Australia for a one month holiday as part of her leave arrangements after a difficult divorce. The person is already making good progress seeing a therapist and wants to consolidate her gains by having “regular therapy sessions” with the psychologist. After negotiating the level and type of services required in further emails to the psychologist, the person undertakes to pay the psychologist but is only able to do this through traveller’s cheques, sometimes via their employer. Ultimately the traveller’s cheques will be received by the psychologist, but are likely to be bogus. Once the psychologist receives the traveller’s cheques, the person then cancels the appointments and ask for a refund of the payment – most likely to another bank account, often via Western Union.

Members should be extremely cautious if they are requested to make any arrangement that sounds like this, and they are strongly advised not to process such payments. To attempt to do so could potentially implicate the psychologist in the scam itself.

If you are suspicious of an email or any other unsolicited communication refer to the following websites:

www.scamwatch.gov.au or www.419scam.org

Important changes to Better Access from 1 March 2012

1 March 2012

The interim arrangements to reinstate the ‘exceptional circumstances’ sessions under the Better Access initiative commenced on 1 March 2012, enabling eligible clients to access up to a total maximum of 16 sessions of treatment from a psychologist in the 2012 calendar year. The interim arrangements only apply for a transitional period from 1 March to 31 December 2012.

Read more

Government announces reinstatement of sessions under Better Access

1 February 2012

The additional six sessions of Better Access treatment under exceptional circumstances will be reinstated for a transitional period, a decision announced by the Federal Government on 1 February.  The increased allowance, available from 1 March until 31 December this year, aims to protect clients with complex needs who have been left without support following the 1 November 2011 changes to the Better Access initiative. The Government’s rationale for the decision is to provide time for capacity to be built into alternative mental health services where people with greater needs can be treated.

This decision is a direct reflection of the strong and persistent APS advocacy efforts, as well as those of individual members, since the cuts were first announced in last year’s Federal Budget. The reinstatement of the sessions is extremely important for vulnerable people with more complex mental health disorders who have been left without access to appropriate treatment as a result of the funding cuts. The APS will continue to press for the reinstatement  of sessions to be made permanent.

Under the interim arrangements announced by the Government, the maximum standard number of rebatable sessions per calendar year under Better Access will remain at 10 (provided in groups of 6+4 sessions). However, during the transitional period, eligible clients where ‘exceptional circumstances’ apply can receive up to a maximum of 16 sessions (6+4+6) per calendar year.  Clients will be eligible for the additional six sessions under exceptional circumstances during the transitional period from 1 March 2012 until 31 December 2012.

The definition of ‘exceptional circumstances’ is the same as that which applied before the 1 November 2011 changes were brought in. As stated by the Department of Health and Ageing: “Exceptional circumstances are defined as a significant change in the patient’s clinical condition or care circumstances which makes it appropriate and necessary to increase the maximum number of services. As was the case previously, it is up to the referring medical practitioner to determine that the individual meets the requirements for ‘exceptional circumstances’ and to provide a referral for the additional services.”

Further details of the reinstated sessions can be found in the Department of Health and Ageing’s Fact Sheet and set of Questions and Answers.

The Government’s announcement about the reinstatement of the sessions can be read here.

2011

APS endorses APA marriage equality resolution (22 December 2011)

22 December 2011

 The Australian Psychological Society has endorsed a recent resolution of the American Psychological Association calling for marriage equality for those in same-sex relationships, on health and wellbeing grounds.
 
The unanimous resolution of the APA, endorsed in August 2011, called for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, on the basis of psychological evidence showing the mental health benefits of marriage, and the harm caused by social exclusion and discrimination arising from not having the choice to marry.
 
More information on the APA resolution – and the psychological research that underpins it – is available on the APA website:

The APA resolution has now been endorsed by the Board of the APS, a body representing 20,000 members.
 
Professor Simon Crowe, President of the APS, said: “Decades of psychological research provides the evidence linking marriage to mental health benefits, and highlighting the harm to individuals’ mental health of social exclusion. The APS supports the full recognition of same-sex relationships, on the basis of this evidence.”
 
Dr Damien Riggs, convenor of the APS Gay and Lesbian Issues in Psychology Interest Group, said: “Marriage discrimination has a flow-on effect on same-sex attracted Australians, their loved ones, and the wider community. Psychologists must work to ensure that all Australians are supported to achieve positive mental health and full social inclusion.”

More information on the Interest Group is available at http://www.groups.psychology.org.au/glip/

Problems with Medicare rebate claims since 1 November 2011

10 November 2011 

The APS has received a significant number of reports from members regarding difficulties their clients have experienced in claiming Medicare rebates since 1 November 2011 when the changes to the Better Access initiative were introduced. It appears that some Medicare Australia offices are interpreting the new rules in ways that are not correct. For example,  there are instances where Medicare rebates have been refused since 1 November under the following circumstances:

  • Claims lodged after 1 November for more than 10 sessions that were received PRIOR to 1 November
  • Claims lodged after 1 November for services received PRIOR to 1 November that were referred under the old GP Mental Health Care Plan item numbers
  • Claims lodged for a set of 6 sessions, whereas Medicare has stated that it should be in sets of 5+5 under the new rules

The APS has brought this to the urgent attention of the Department of Health and Ageing and the matter is being investigated. We are awaiting advice as to remedial action and will let members know when this is received. In the meantime, any client who is affected by this incorrect interpretation of the new rules should be advised that it will be rectified.

Correction of inaccurate information disseminated by AAPi

Posted 8 November 2011
 
The Association of Australian Psychologists inc (AAPi) continues to publicise misleading and inaccurate information through its emailed newsletters. The latest newsletters contain inaccurate information that requires correction, as the newsletters are widely circulated to psychologists who are APS members and it is vital to ensure members have access to correct information.

  1. Changes to the Better Access session allowance
    The AAPi has incorrectly claimed that “psychology services under the Better Access scheme are to be reduced to 6 consults per year, with a maximum of 10 under special circumstances”. This is incorrect, as people do not have to demonstrate special circumstances in order to receive the maximum of 10 services. Following the first six sessions, the additional four sessions can be accessed after review by the referring medical practitioner. Further information on the changes to the Better Access session allowance, and how these affect existing clients, can be found from this link.
  2. APS position on the two-tier Medicare rebate system
    The AAPi continues to disseminate inaccurate information in relation to the origins of the establishment of the two-tier Medicare system. In August this year the APS provided members with a briefing paper on the two-tier Medicare rebate structure, which includes some historical facts about the APS role in the establishment of the system.  This information can be found on page 2 of the document.

    In its latest newsletter, the AAPi presents false information regarding the recent APS research on the impact of the cuts to the number of sessions of psychological care under the Better Access initiative. The APS research did not collect data on the type of psychology provider as it was focused on the impact of the cuts on the clients of psychologists and on ascertaining the nature and severity of their mental health disorders. It is therefore entirely false to say the APS has research data comparing the outcomes of clients seen by the different types of psychology providers and is withholding it.
  3. Nature of the APS relationship with the Psychology Board of Australia
    The AAPi has persisted in publishing misleading and inaccurate claims that there is an “alliance” between the Psychology Board of Australia and the APS. The APS does not have an alliance nor any formal relationship with the Psychology Board of Australia. As with all other competent professional organisations representing health professionals in Australia at the present time, the APS does its best to understand and work with the requirements of the Psychology Board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and to do so requires ongoing communication and cooperation with these bodies. The APS has challenged the Psychology Board’s policies and the manner in which the national registration scheme has been implemented when this has been appropriate, and will continue to advocate for fair conditions for psychology practitioners under the scheme. Notwithstanding this, the APS attempts to negotiate requirements for the profession and protection of the public to ensure the requirements are realistic and practical to implement, and in this way works alongside the Psychology Board.

Release of report from the Senate Inquiry into Commonwealth funding and administration of mental health services

2 November 2011

The Senate Committee conducting the Inquiry delivered its final report on 1 November 2011. Overall the recommendations resulting from the Inquiry are very positive. The Better Access initiative was recognised as being a highly successful and effective program, which is something the APS has been promoting since its inception.

The key recommendations urge the Government to delay the introduction of the cuts to Better Access until adequate alternative programs are available, acknowledging that a large number of people will otherwise miss out on effective services. This supports the APS position. Of concern, last week the APS learnt from the Government that the funding allocated for the planned expansion of ATAPS to support people with severe mental illness has been redirected to Care Coordination services without any psychological treatment component, thereby removing this potential treatment alternative for people affected by the cuts.

The Senate Inquiry recommended that the Government consider putting in place an interim program under Medicare that would allow access to six additional sessions for Better Access consumers who meet tightened criteria based on the severity of their condition. The APS will argue, in the light of the change of funding to ATAPS alluded to above, that this recommendation should be considered as a long-term arrangement rather than an interim option.  

In relation to the two-tiered Medicare rebate system, there was no recommendation to change the current arrangement. However, the recommendation was for the new Mental Health Commission to undertake ongoing monitoring of the two-tier rebate to ensure access to appropriate practitioners and workforce balance across the mental health sector.  

The APS has continued its advocacy through the media and negotiations with the Federal Government since the release of the Senate Inquiry report. The APS has highlighted the dramatic impact of the cuts on many thousands of Australians with moderate to severe mental health problems who will be denied effective treatment under the changed arrangements.

A summary of the recommendations from the Inquiry which includes a link to the full report can be found here.

The APS media release following the delivery of the Senate Inquiry report can be found here.

Important changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 November 2011

1 November 2011

There are a number of changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) that are applicable from 1 November 2011 and affect psychologists providing services under Medicare.

Reduced annual session allowance under the Better Access initiative

As previously advised, from 1 November 2011 the number of services a person can receive from a psychologist per calendar year has been capped at 10 sessions and the provision for additional sessions under exceptional circumstances has been removed. These changes apply to clients who are already receiving treatment as well as new clients (see link below for more details). The APS has received some advice from the Department of Health and Ageing in response to queries about the arrangements for rolling over sessions into the new year and further advice is pending. Details of the session allowance changes can be found here.

ATAPS is not an alternative source of treatment for Better Access clients

The APS last week received clarification from the Department of Health and Ageing that services provided under the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program should NOT be used in addition to services provided under the Better Access initiative. This is a change to previous arrangements. Therefore, ATAPS is not an alternative source of treatment for clients who have reached their 10 session limit and clients should not be referred to that program if they have already received services under Better Access in that calendar year. The APS has conveyed its serious concerns about the inadequate arrangements for alternative sources of treatment for clients affected by the Better Access session cuts.

New MBS item numbers for GP Mental Health Treatment Plans under the Better Access initiative

From 1 November 2011, new items for GPs to develop a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan (2700, 2701, 2715 and 2717) have been introduced to replace the current items 2702 and 2710. Therefore, where psychologists are providing services to a client referred by a GP, the client must have had one of these MBS item numbers (2700, 2701, 2715 or 2717) processed indicating that he or she is being managed under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan.

Please note that although there are changes to the session allowance for psychological services provided under Better Access, there is no change to the psychologists’ Medicare item numbers.

Annual increase in Medicare schedule fees and rebates

As of 1 November 2011, the schedule fees and rebates for services provided under the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) have been increased in line with indexation. A table of the indexed fees and rebates for all Medicare items that can be provided by psychologists under the MBS has been prepared and can be downloaded here .

Better Access funding cuts – members should plan for changes to the Better Access session allowance

10 October 2011

Although the APS will continue its advocacy and negotiations with the Federal Government over the reduction in the number of allowable sessions of psychological treatment under the Better Access initiative, members need to be aware that these changes are due to be implemented from 1 November this year and will affect existing clients. Members should therefore plan for these changes and ensure their clients are informed. Members will be informed of any developments or changes to arrangements through APS Matters and these web pages.

Read details of the Better Access changes from 1 November 2011

Results of APS Board of Directors election 2011

6 October 2011

An election for the President-Elect and two General Director positions on the APS Board of Directors was held by postal ballot and electronic voting using the preferential voting method, and the result was declared at the Society’s AGM on 6 October 2011.

The successful candidate for the President-Elect is Mr Tim Hannan FAPS. Following a 12-month term as President-Elect, Tim Hannan will assume the office of President of the Society from the AGM in 2012 for a term of two years.

As Tim is currently a Director on the APS Board, his election to President-Elect has produced a third vacancy for a General Director on the Board. Therefore three successful candidates have been elected to General Director positions on the Board and they are Associate Professor Erica Frydenberg FAPS, Professor Mike Kyrios FAPS and Mr Alan Plumb FAPS. Erica Frydenberg and Mike Kyrios will each serve a three-year term and Alan Plumb’s term will be for two years (to fill the vacancy caused by Tim Hannan’s election to President-Elect).

We congratulate each of these members of the Society on their election and look forward to their contribution to the APS Board – as the ultimate decision making and policy setting body of the Society – in the coming years.  

At the first meeting of the new APS Board of Directors following the AGM, two additional Directors were appointed to provide greater Board diversity. The two appointed Directors are Ms Sue Carter and Dr Nick Reynolds MAPS, whose terms as Directors will end at the conclusion of the 2012 AGM. 

The full composition of the new 18th APS Board of Directors is:

  • President
    Professor Simon Crowe FAPS
  • President-Elect
    Mr Tim Hannan FAPS
  • Executive Director
    Professor Lyn Littlefield FAPS
  • General Directors
    Ms Sue Carter
    Associate Professor Erica Frydenberg FAPS
    Emeritus Professor Gina Geffen FAPS
    Professor Mike Kyrios FAPS
    Mr Alan Plumb FAPS
    Dr Nick Reynolds MAPS
    Dr Bob Rich MAPS
    Emeritus Professor Trang Thomas FAPS

Email scam alert

25 August 2011

We draw your attention to a recent elaborate email scam targeting psychologists. There may well be variations of this type of scam.

A person from overseas (perhaps purporting to be from an off-shore company) contacts a psychologist by email and informs him or her that a group of company workers will be coming to Australia to work for an extended period of time or as part of their leave arrangements. They will want to make “regular mental health check-up appointments” with the psychologist.

The email further states that some members of the group will need “an interpreter” which the contact will organize. After negotiating the level and type of services required in further emails to the psychologist, the scamster undertakes to pay a sizeable deposit to the psychologist but is only able to do this by credit card. The psychologist is also told that the interpreter is not able to be paid by credit card. Instead, the scamster then requests the psychologist to deposit the interpreter’s fee into the interpreter’s bank account on behalf of the group.

Credit card details are provided by the scamster to the psychologist. The credit card is likely to be stolen. Unless the card is blocked or declined, any payments accepted by the psychologist in accordance with this arrangement will be processed. Subsequently the psychologist would then transfer the relevant amount of money from their account into the account of the interpreter to cover the interpreter’s fee.

The actual owner of the stolen credit card would then notice the unauthorized transactions and notify his or her financial institution. The card owner has up to three to four months to take this course of action. If the transaction is facilitated by the psychologist using stolen credit card details, he or she may be the subject of further investigative inquiry or even potentially liable for the amount in question.

Once in receipt of funds from the psychologist, the initial contact would then cancel the appointments and ask for a refund of the deposit – most likely to another bank account rather than a credit card reversal.

Be extremely cautious with any arrangement that sounds like this and we recommend that you do not process such payments.

If you are suspicious of an email or any other unsolicited communication refer to the following websites:

www.scamwatch.gov.au or www.419scam.org  

Senate Inquiry and the APS position on the Better Access Medicare rebate structure

5 August 2011

Updated 15 August

The Government announced in the 2011 Federal Budget that there would be a funding cut to the Better Access initiative, involving a reduction in the yearly maximum allowance of sessions of psychological treatment a client can receive from 18 to 10 sessions. A Senate Inquiry was established in June to investigate these Budget funding cuts, according to the APS understanding, and the scope of this Inquiry was subsequently broadened to include other aspects of the Better Access initiative. This development has brought a broader focus of attention and inflamed the divisions within the profession over the two-tier Medicare rebate structure.

The APS has submitted a response to the Senate Inquiry focusing on the impact of the Better Access funding cuts on consumers. As the Senate Inquiry Terms of Reference also included an examination of the two-tier Medicare rebate system for psychologists, the APS also responded to this in its submission. The APS Board extensively discussed the strategic implications of the inclusion of the two-tier matter in the Senate Inquiry to inform the APS response. The Board is very aware of the highly divisive nature of the two-tiered Medicare rebate, the wide variety of views of APS members, and the sensitivities associated with issues of status, valuing of psychological work and reimbursement for this. The APS submission to the Inquiry presents the APS position in relation to the Medicare rebate structure, which is consistent with that originally proposed by the APS in 2006 when Better Access was being established.

The APS submission to the Senate Inquiry can be downloaded below.  Members are also encouraged to read the briefing paper for APS members which provides the APS position on the Better Access Medicare rebate structure.

Correction of inaccurate information on Medicare CPD requirements disseminated by the Australian Association of Psychologists inc.

31 March 2011

The Australian Association of Psychologists inc. (AAPi) has continued to publish completely inaccurate information in its email newsletter. The latest false claim is that the continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for psychologists who provide Focused Psychological Strategies (FPS) items under the Better Access initiative is an APS requirement rather than a Medicare requirement.

The Australian Government announced in the 2009 Federal Budget that CPD requirements would be introduced for FPS providers, as per the following extract from the Expense Measures for the 2009-2010 Federal Budget.

Medicare Benefits Schedule - Better Access Initiative - continuing professional development

The Government will introduce additional mandatory mental health training requirements for general psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists, under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and GPs through the MBS initiative. In addition, one‑off support payments of $200 will be provided to allied health professionals providing mental health services in rural areas to assist them in undertaking the new training requirements.

Allied mental health professionals who do not undertake the required professional development will not be able to access Medicare items after 30 June 2011. This will help ensure high‑quality services to patients as providers will be required to maintain their skills in order to continue to provide services eligible for the Medicare rebate. It is estimated that 80 per cent of all allied health professionals who currently access these items have already completed the required training.

No further details on the exact requirements were provided in the Budget at that time, but the details of actual CPD requirements were finalised by the Department of Health and Ageing late last year. The APS provided its members with this information as soon as it was available (December 2010 InPsych and subsequent APS Matters, website information and CPD mail-out). It has not been possible for the APS to alert non-APS psychologists, as Medicare Australia will not release contact details of Medicare providers due to privacy constraints - Medicare Australia is the only organisation that can communicate directly with Medicare providers.

The irresponsible dissemination of false information by AAPi is likely to cause further anxiety and confusion among psychologists when it is vital that the message is spread that FPS providers must meet these deadlines or will lose their billing rights to provide FPS items under Medicare, a situation which will result in serious implications for client care.

For further information, see .

Further information on matters associated with renewal of registration in Queensland and Victoria

30 March 2011

The APS has received advice that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) will be writing to all psychologists who have been affected by the registration renewal problems, making an offer of a process to re-establish continuity of registration status. The APS was able to negotiate this outcome in collaboration with other professions, which is a significant concession from the government agency. Psychologists need to respond to the letter from AHPRA by Monday 2 May 2011 with a statutory declaration and other supporting documentation. It is possible that some members will not receive this letter due to AHPRA having incorrect contact details (the basis of the renewal problems in the first place). AHPRA has set up a Lapsing Hotline to answer specific queries on registration renewal problems (phone: (02) 6195 2618), which members should call if the AHPRA letter has not been received by early April.

To redress matters associated with loss of Medicare provider status resulting from lapsed registration, the following process should be followed. Psychologists should submit the necessary statutory declaration to AHPRA, after which their registration status will be backdated to the first date of lapsing. Evidence of restored continuity of registration can then be used to support re-claiming on Medicare. Medicare Australia has a Provider Hotline for MBS queries (phone: 132 150). Callers will hear a menu of options, one of which will include AHPRA queries. Callers selecting that option will be directed to a dedicated team prepared to answer these queries. The APS encourages members to take advantage of this process even if Medicare claims did not appear to have been disrupted, as a lapse in continuity of registration might be interpreted differently in the future. 

Further questions can be addressed to the APS Professional Advisory Service on 8662 3300 from Melbourne or 1800 333 497 from elsewhere, or by emailing professionaladvisory@psychology.org.au.  

Response to further misinformation circulated by the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc.

2 March 2011

The Australian Association of Psychologists Inc. (AAPi) has continued to circulate information in emailed newsletters to members of the psychology profession that includes entirely inaccurate claims about the APS position and actions. It is important that APS members are provided with accurate information regarding the position of the APS. The December 2010 item posted below addresses the scaremongering about the dire consequences for psychologists who do not have an area of practice endorsement under the new national registration scheme, and restates the APS position in relation to advocacy for continued Medicare funding for all psychological services provided under the Better Access initiative. This item will address the misinformation about the APS role in the establishment of the two-tiered system of Medicare rebates.

Even though the APS was not the architect of the Better Access initiative, it has borne the brunt of criticism regarding the perceived injustices of the system. It is important to understand the historical context in which the Government introduced the Better Access system that distinguished between clinical psychology providers and general psychology providers. When the Better Access implementation plan was first presented, the then Howard Government stipulated that only clinical psychologists would be eligible to provide services given it was a scheme to deliver services to people with mental disorders. The APS argued vigorously that there were many non-clinical psychologists who could provide effective psychological treatments to mental health consumers, and was able to successfully negotiate for these psychologists to provide ‘general' psychology services to boost community access to affordable psychological care.

The AAPi has based its entirely inaccurate claims about the APS position on ‘evidence' that has been procured from the Australian Government through the Freedom of Information avenue. One of the reasons the APS objected to the release of information was precisely because any material accessed could be taken out of context and used to create division and unrest. The APS prepared the documents that have been released under FOI in response to the Government's requests for specific information. However, most of the APS negotiations about the Better Access initiative were undertaken in direct face-to-face meetings for which there was no documentation.

The introduction of the two-tiered system of psychology Medicare providers under the Better Access initiative in 2006 has stimulated much debate and has been a very divisive issue within the psychology profession since that time. The gaining of access by psychologists to service provision under Medicare, although a highly successful mental health initiative for the Australian community, has indeed been a double-edged sword for the profession. The APS is doing everything possible to advocate for ongoing funding for all psychological services provided under Medicare and believes that continued public commentary about the issue, argument within the psychology profession, and scaremongering do not attract the sort of attention that assists in this advocacy.

Problems with Medicare rebate claims since 1 November 2011

10 November 2011 

The APS has received a significant number of reports from members regarding difficulties their clients have experienced in claiming Medicare rebates since 1 November 2011 when the changes to the Better Access initiative were introduced. It appears that some Medicare Australia offices are interpreting the new rules in ways that are not correct. For example,  there are instances where Medicare rebates have been refused since 1 November under the following circumstances:

  • Claims lodged after 1 November for more than 10 sessions that were received PRIOR to 1 November
  • Claims lodged after 1 November for services received PRIOR to 1 November that were referred under the old GP Mental Health Care Plan item numbers
  • Claims lodged for a set of 6 sessions, whereas Medicare has stated that it should be in sets of 5+5 under the new rules

The APS has brought this to the urgent attention of the Department of Health and Ageing and the matter is being investigated. We are awaiting advice as to remedial action and will let members know when this is received. In the meantime, any client who is affected by this incorrect interpretation of the new rules should be advised that it will be rectified.

Correction of inaccurate information disseminated by AAPi

Posted 8 November 2011
 
The Association of Australian Psychologists inc (AAPi) continues to publicise misleading and inaccurate information through its emailed newsletters. The latest newsletters contain inaccurate information that requires correction, as the newsletters are widely circulated to psychologists who are APS members and it is vital to ensure members have access to correct information.

  1. Changes to the Better Access session allowance
    The AAPi has incorrectly claimed that “psychology services under the Better Access scheme are to be reduced to 6 consults per year, with a maximum of 10 under special circumstances”. This is incorrect, as people do not have to demonstrate special circumstances in order to receive the maximum of 10 services. Following the first six sessions, the additional four sessions can be accessed after review by the referring medical practitioner. Further information on the changes to the Better Access session allowance, and how these affect existing clients, can be found from this link.
  2. APS position on the two-tier Medicare rebate system
    The AAPi continues to disseminate inaccurate information in relation to the origins of the establishment of the two-tier Medicare system. In August this year the APS provided members with a briefing paper on the two-tier Medicare rebate structure, which includes some historical facts about the APS role in the establishment of the system.  This information can be found on page 2 of the document.

    In its latest newsletter, the AAPi presents false information regarding the recent APS research on the impact of the cuts to the number of sessions of psychological care under the Better Access initiative. The APS research did not collect data on the type of psychology provider as it was focused on the impact of the cuts on the clients of psychologists and on ascertaining the nature and severity of their mental health disorders. It is therefore entirely false to say the APS has research data comparing the outcomes of clients seen by the different types of psychology providers and is withholding it.
  3. Nature of the APS relationship with the Psychology Board of Australia
    The AAPi has persisted in publishing misleading and inaccurate claims that there is an “alliance” between the Psychology Board of Australia and the APS. The APS does not have an alliance nor any formal relationship with the Psychology Board of Australia. As with all other competent professional organisations representing health professionals in Australia at the present time, the APS does its best to understand and work with the requirements of the Psychology Board and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and to do so requires ongoing communication and cooperation with these bodies. The APS has challenged the Psychology Board’s policies and the manner in which the national registration scheme has been implemented when this has been appropriate, and will continue to advocate for fair conditions for psychology practitioners under the scheme. Notwithstanding this, the APS attempts to negotiate requirements for the profession and protection of the public to ensure the requirements are realistic and practical to implement, and in this way works alongside the Psychology Board.

Release of report from the Senate Inquiry into Commonwealth funding and administration of mental health services

2 November 2011

The Senate Committee conducting the Inquiry delivered its final report on 1 November 2011. Overall the recommendations resulting from the Inquiry are very positive. The Better Access initiative was recognised as being a highly successful and effective program, which is something the APS has been promoting since its inception.

The key recommendations urge the Government to delay the introduction of the cuts to Better Access until adequate alternative programs are available, acknowledging that a large number of people will otherwise miss out on effective services. This supports the APS position. Of concern, last week the APS learnt from the Government that the funding allocated for the planned expansion of ATAPS to support people with severe mental illness has been redirected to Care Coordination services without any psychological treatment component, thereby removing this potential treatment alternative for people affected by the cuts.

The Senate Inquiry recommended that the Government consider putting in place an interim program under Medicare that would allow access to six additional sessions for Better Access consumers who meet tightened criteria based on the severity of their condition. The APS will argue, in the light of the change of funding to ATAPS alluded to above, that this recommendation should be considered as a long-term arrangement rather than an interim option.  

In relation to the two-tiered Medicare rebate system, there was no recommendation to change the current arrangement. However, the recommendation was for the new Mental Health Commission to undertake ongoing monitoring of the two-tier rebate to ensure access to appropriate practitioners and workforce balance across the mental health sector.  

The APS has continued its advocacy through the media and negotiations with the Federal Government since the release of the Senate Inquiry report. The APS has highlighted the dramatic impact of the cuts on many thousands of Australians with moderate to severe mental health problems who will be denied effective treatment under the changed arrangements.

A summary of the recommendations from the Inquiry which includes a link to the full report can be found here.

The APS media release following the delivery of the Senate Inquiry report can be found here.

Important changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 November 2011

1 November 2011

There are a number of changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) that are applicable from 1 November 2011 and affect psychologists providing services under Medicare.

Reduced annual session allowance under the Better Access initiative

As previously advised, from 1 November 2011 the number of services a person can receive from a psychologist per calendar year has been capped at 10 sessions and the provision for additional sessions under exceptional circumstances has been removed. These changes apply to clients who are already receiving treatment as well as new clients (see link below for more details). The APS has received some advice from the Department of Health and Ageing in response to queries about the arrangements for rolling over sessions into the new year and further advice is pending. Details of the session allowance changes can be found here.

ATAPS is not an alternative source of treatment for Better Access clients

The APS last week received clarification from the Department of Health and Ageing that services provided under the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program should NOT be used in addition to services provided under the Better Access initiative. This is a change to previous arrangements. Therefore, ATAPS is not an alternative source of treatment for clients who have reached their 10 session limit and clients should not be referred to that program if they have already received services under Better Access in that calendar year. The APS has conveyed its serious concerns about the inadequate arrangements for alternative sources of treatment for clients affected by the Better Access session cuts.

New MBS item numbers for GP Mental Health Treatment Plans under the Better Access initiative

From 1 November 2011, new items for GPs to develop a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan (2700, 2701, 2715 and 2717) have been introduced to replace the current items 2702 and 2710. Therefore, where psychologists are providing services to a client referred by a GP, the client must have had one of these MBS item numbers (2700, 2701, 2715 or 2717) processed indicating that he or she is being managed under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan.

Please note that although there are changes to the session allowance for psychological services provided under Better Access, there is no change to the psychologists’ Medicare item numbers.

Annual increase in Medicare schedule fees and rebates

As of 1 November 2011, the schedule fees and rebates for services provided under the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) have been increased in line with indexation. A table of the indexed fees and rebates for all Medicare items that can be provided by psychologists under the MBS has been prepared and can be downloaded here .

Better Access funding cuts – members should plan for changes to the Better Access session allowance

10 October 2011

Although the APS will continue its advocacy and negotiations with the Federal Government over the reduction in the number of allowable sessions of psychological treatment under the Better Access initiative, members need to be aware that these changes are due to be implemented from 1 November this year and will affect existing clients. Members should therefore plan for these changes and ensure their clients are informed. Members will be informed of any developments or changes to arrangements through APS Matters and these web pages.

Read details of the Better Access changes from 1 November 2011

Results of APS Board of Directors election 2011

6 October 2011

An election for the President-Elect and two General Director positions on the APS Board of Directors was held by postal ballot and electronic voting using the preferential voting method, and the result was declared at the Society’s AGM on 6 October 2011.

The successful candidate for the President-Elect is Mr Tim Hannan FAPS. Following a 12-month term as President-Elect, Tim Hannan will assume the office of President of the Society from the AGM in 2012 for a term of two years.

As Tim is currently a Director on the APS Board, his election to President-Elect has produced a third vacancy for a General Director on the Board. Therefore three successful candidates have been elected to General Director positions on the Board and they are Associate Professor Erica Frydenberg FAPS, Professor Mike Kyrios FAPS and Mr Alan Plumb FAPS. Erica Frydenberg and Mike Kyrios will each serve a three-year term and Alan Plumb’s term will be for two years (to fill the vacancy caused by Tim Hannan’s election to President-Elect).

We congratulate each of these members of the Society on their election and look forward to their contribution to the APS Board – as the ultimate decision making and policy setting body of the Society – in the coming years.  

At the first meeting of the new APS Board of Directors following the AGM, two additional Directors were appointed to provide greater Board diversity. The two appointed Directors are Ms Sue Carter and Dr Nick Reynolds MAPS, whose terms as Directors will end at the conclusion of the 2012 AGM. 

The full composition of the new 18th APS Board of Directors is:

  • President
    Professor Simon Crowe FAPS
  • President-Elect
    Mr Tim Hannan FAPS
  • Executive Director
    Professor Lyn Littlefield FAPS
  • General Directors
    Ms Sue Carter
    Associate Professor Erica Frydenberg FAPS
    Emeritus Professor Gina Geffen FAPS
    Professor Mike Kyrios FAPS
    Mr Alan Plumb FAPS
    Dr Nick Reynolds MAPS
    Dr Bob Rich MAPS
    Emeritus Professor Trang Thomas FAPS

Email scam alert

25 August 2011

We draw your attention to a recent elaborate email scam targeting psychologists. There may well be variations of this type of scam.

A person from overseas (perhaps purporting to be from an off-shore company) contacts a psychologist by email and informs him or her that a group of company workers will be coming to Australia to work for an extended period of time or as part of their leave arrangements. They will want to make “regular mental health check-up appointments” with the psychologist.

The email further states that some members of the group will need “an interpreter” which the contact will organize. After negotiating the level and type of services required in further emails to the psychologist, the scamster undertakes to pay a sizeable deposit to the psychologist but is only able to do this by credit card. The psychologist is also told that the interpreter is not able to be paid by credit card. Instead, the scamster then requests the psychologist to deposit the interpreter’s fee into the interpreter’s bank account on behalf of the group.

Credit card details are provided by the scamster to the psychologist. The credit card is likely to be stolen. Unless the card is blocked or declined, any payments accepted by the psychologist in accordance with this arrangement will be processed. Subsequently the psychologist would then transfer the relevant amount of money from their account into the account of the interpreter to cover the interpreter’s fee.

The actual owner of the stolen credit card would then notice the unauthorized transactions and notify his or her financial institution. The card owner has up to three to four months to take this course of action. If the transaction is facilitated by the psychologist using stolen credit card details, he or she may be the subject of further investigative inquiry or even potentially liable for the amount in question.

Once in receipt of funds from the psychologist, the initial contact would then cancel the appointments and ask for a refund of the deposit – most likely to another bank account rather than a credit card reversal.

Be extremely cautious with any arrangement that sounds like this and we recommend that you do not process such payments.

If you are suspicious of an email or any other unsolicited communication refer to the following websites:

www.scamwatch.gov.au or www.419scam.org  

Senate Inquiry and the APS position on the Better Access Medicare rebate structure

5 August 2011

Updated 15 August

The Government announced in the 2011 Federal Budget that there would be a funding cut to the Better Access initiative, involving a reduction in the yearly maximum allowance of sessions of psychological treatment a client can receive from 18 to 10 sessions. A Senate Inquiry was established in June to investigate these Budget funding cuts, according to the APS understanding, and the scope of this Inquiry was subsequently broadened to include other aspects of the Better Access initiative. This development has brought a broader focus of attention and inflamed the divisions within the profession over the two-tier Medicare rebate structure.

The APS has submitted a response to the Senate Inquiry focusing on the impact of the Better Access funding cuts on consumers. As the Senate Inquiry Terms of Reference also included an examination of the two-tier Medicare rebate system for psychologists, the APS also responded to this in its submission. The APS Board extensively discussed the strategic implications of the inclusion of the two-tier matter in the Senate Inquiry to inform the APS response. The Board is very aware of the highly divisive nature of the two-tiered Medicare rebate, the wide variety of views of APS members, and the sensitivities associated with issues of status, valuing of psychological work and reimbursement for this. The APS submission to the Inquiry presents the APS position in relation to the Medicare rebate structure, which is consistent with that originally proposed by the APS in 2006 when Better Access was being established.

The APS submission to the Senate Inquiry can be downloaded below.  Members are also encouraged to read the briefing paper for APS members which provides the APS position on the Better Access Medicare rebate structure.

Correction of inaccurate information on Medicare CPD requirements disseminated by the Australian Association of Psychologists inc.

31 March 2011

The Australian Association of Psychologists inc. (AAPi) has continued to publish completely inaccurate information in its email newsletter. The latest false claim is that the continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for psychologists who provide Focused Psychological Strategies (FPS) items under the Better Access initiative is an APS requirement rather than a Medicare requirement.

The Australian Government announced in the 2009 Federal Budget that CPD requirements would be introduced for FPS providers, as per the following extract from the Expense Measures for the 2009-2010 Federal Budget.

Medicare Benefits Schedule - Better Access Initiative - continuing professional development

The Government will introduce additional mandatory mental health training requirements for general psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists, under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and GPs through the MBS initiative. In addition, one‑off support payments of $200 will be provided to allied health professionals providing mental health services in rural areas to assist them in undertaking the new training requirements.

Allied mental health professionals who do not undertake the required professional development will not be able to access Medicare items after 30 June 2011. This will help ensure high‑quality services to patients as providers will be required to maintain their skills in order to continue to provide services eligible for the Medicare rebate. It is estimated that 80 per cent of all allied health professionals who currently access these items have already completed the required training.

No further details on the exact requirements were provided in the Budget at that time, but the details of actual CPD requirements were finalised by the Department of Health and Ageing late last year. The APS provided its members with this information as soon as it was available (December 2010 InPsych and subsequent APS Matters, website information and CPD mail-out). It has not been possible for the APS to alert non-APS psychologists, as Medicare Australia will not release contact details of Medicare providers due to privacy constraints - Medicare Australia is the only organisation that can communicate directly with Medicare providers.

The irresponsible dissemination of false information by AAPi is likely to cause further anxiety and confusion among psychologists when it is vital that the message is spread that FPS providers must meet these deadlines or will lose their billing rights to provide FPS items under Medicare, a situation which will result in serious implications for client care.

For further information, see CPD requirements for Medicare Focused Psychological Strategy (FPS) providers.

Further information on matters associated with renewal of registration in Queensland and Victoria

30 March 2011

The APS has received advice that the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) will be writing to all psychologists who have been affected by the registration renewal problems, making an offer of a process to re-establish continuity of registration status. The APS was able to negotiate this outcome in collaboration with other professions, which is a significant concession from the government agency. Psychologists need to respond to the letter from AHPRA by Monday 2 May 2011 with a statutory declaration and other supporting documentation. It is possible that some members will not receive this letter due to AHPRA having incorrect contact details (the basis of the renewal problems in the first place). AHPRA has set up a Lapsing Hotline to answer specific queries on registration renewal problems (phone: (02) 6195 2618), which members should call if the AHPRA letter has not been received by early April.

To redress matters associated with loss of Medicare provider status resulting from lapsed registration, the following process should be followed. Psychologists should submit the necessary statutory declaration to AHPRA, after which their registration status will be backdated to the first date of lapsing. Evidence of restored continuity of registration can then be used to support re-claiming on Medicare. Medicare Australia has a Provider Hotline for MBS queries (phone: 132 150). Callers will hear a menu of options, one of which will include AHPRA queries. Callers selecting that option will be directed to a dedicated team prepared to answer these queries. The APS encourages members to take advantage of this process even if Medicare claims did not appear to have been disrupted, as a lapse in continuity of registration might be interpreted differently in the future. 

Further questions can be addressed to the APS Professional Advisory Service on 8662 3300 from Melbourne or 1800 333 497 from elsewhere, or by emailing professionaladvisory@psychology.org.au.  

Response to further misinformation circulated by the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc.

2 March 2011

The Australian Association of Psychologists Inc. (AAPi) has continued to circulate information in emailed newsletters to members of the psychology profession that includes entirely inaccurate claims about the APS position and actions. It is important that APS members are provided with accurate information regarding the position of the APS. The December 2010 item posted below addresses the scaremongering about the dire consequences for psychologists who do not have an area of practice endorsement under the new national registration scheme, and restates the APS position in relation to advocacy for continued Medicare funding for all psychological services provided under the Better Access initiative. This item will address the misinformation about the APS role in the establishment of the two-tiered system of Medicare rebates.

Even though the APS was not the architect of the Better Access initiative, it has borne the brunt of criticism regarding the perceived injustices of the system. It is important to understand the historical context in which the Government introduced the Better Access system that distinguished between clinical psychology providers and general psychology providers. When the Better Access implementation plan was first presented, the then Howard Government stipulated that only clinical psychologists would be eligible to provide services given it was a scheme to deliver services to people with mental disorders. The APS argued vigorously that there were many non-clinical psychologists who could provide effective psychological treatments to mental health consumers, and was able to successfully negotiate for these psychologists to provide ‘general' psychology services to boost community access to affordable psychological care.

The AAPi has based its entirely inaccurate claims about the APS position on ‘evidence' that has been procured from the Australian Government through the Freedom of Information avenue. One of the reasons the APS objected to the release of information was precisely because any material accessed could be taken out of context and used to create division and unrest. The APS prepared the documents that have been released under FOI in response to the Government's requests for specific information. However, most of the APS negotiations about the Better Access initiative were undertaken in direct face-to-face meetings for which there was no documentation.

The introduction of the two-tiered system of psychology Medicare providers under the Better Access initiative in 2006 has stimulated much debate and has been a very divisive issue within the psychology profession since that time. The gaining of access by psychologists to service provision under Medicare, although a highly successful mental health initiative for the Australian community, has indeed been a double-edged sword for the profession. The APS is doing everything possible to advocate for ongoing funding for all psychological services provided under Medicare and believes that continued public commentary about the issue, argument within the psychology profession, and scaremongering do not attract the sort of attention that assists in this advocacy.

 

Actions to redress the Queensland psychologists' registration renewal problem

28 February 2011

After the APS sought urgent remediation of the serious problems associated with renewal of registration for APS members in Queensland, the significant nature of the injustice was conveyed to AHPRA, the Psychology Board of Australia and the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA - responsible for Medicare policy). Since that time, the APS has been awaiting some clear response to redress the injustice to those affected by this bureaucratic error.

In the last few days the APS has received confirmation of two courses of action that will be made available:

  1. AHPRA will accept a letter of complaint from psychologists about the failure to receive registration renewal forms. Those members who were in this category should write to the Queensland office of AHPRA (G.P.O. Box 9958, Brisbane QLD 4001) and put their case that the renewal of registration notice was never received despite having been previously registered in Queensland. AHPRA has undertaken to check their records and if it can be seen that the error was theirs, they will re-issue the registration certificate dated from the beginning of January rather the date of re-registration. This goes some way to managing the discontinuity issue.
  2. Medicare is a DoHA responsibility and it has agreed to institute the "Act of Grace" provisions that allow hardship to be remedied.The details of the process are yet to be released but it will, when instituted, allow Medicare to provide the rebates for the period when they were denied to psychologists whose Medicare provider number was cancelled due to the failure to renew their registration. The quote from the Ministerial Communiqué on this matter reads: "The Commonwealth will consider ex-gratia or Act of Grace payment for a period of time so that patients are not disadvantaged by lapsed registration of their health care practitioner who is still practising."

If any member in another State or Territory has been affected by registration renewal errors under the national scheme, please contact the APS. We will ensure that the arrangements that have been made available to affected Queensland psychologists will apply to members residing elsewhere in Australia.

Registration renewal problems in Queensland

24 January 2011

A number of APS members in Queensland have reported a very distressing situation where they have been informed that they have been deregistered because they have "failed" to pay registration renewal fees. This situation seems to have followed a failure on AHPRA's part to successfully send out renewal of registration forms to all psychologists in Queensland. Similarly alarming are reports by some of these affected psychologists that AHPRA has informed Medicare Australia of their deregistered status at the same time. This has resulted in their Medicare Provider numbers being cancelled and clients have not been able to claim rebates for Medicare-funded services received from these psychologists. The APS is not sure how widespread this problem is.

The APS contacted the PBA last week to request urgent remediation of these serious matters. We have subsequently been informed that AHPRA has set up a special contact point for psychologists in Queensland to fast track the registration renewal process.  To gain access to the fast track renewal process psychologists should email (not ring) the AHPRA office in Queensland and the fast track renewal form will be sent by return email. The email address is: QLD-URGENT-RENEWALS@ahpra.gov.au.  AHRPA  has appointed a dedicated person to ensure a prompt response.

The PBA has advised that the administrative problem may have occurred because the data transferred from the Queensland Registration Board was not accurate in terms of up-to-date addresses. It has requested that psychologists go to the online register (available from the PBA website - www.psychologyboard.gov.au/) and check their details.

The PBA has undertaken to investigate the problems associated with Medicare Provider status being affected by this administrative problem.

2010

Inaccurate information circulated by the Australian Association of Psychologists Inc.

8 December 2010

 The Australian Association of Psychologists Inc. frequently circulates information in emailed newsletters to members of the psychology profession, that, in the opinion of the APS, is inaccurate, misleading and  at times entirely without foundation.

Recent material circulated by this group claims that there will be dire consequences for ‘generalist’ psychologists who do not have an area of practice endorsement under the new national registration scheme. The APS refutes the claims that are being made in relation to the threats posed by national registration. The APS has provided members with extensive information on national registration and there is no evidence that the endorsement system to recognise specialist practitioners threatens existing arrangements for those general psychologists who do not have an area of practice endorsement.

The circulated material also makes a number of entirely inaccurate claims about the APS position and actions, and suggests that as a result of this generalist psychologists’ Medicare provider numbers may be lost. Members should be reassured that the APS is engaged in ongoing advocacy on a number of fronts, including at very high levels of government, for continued Medicare funding for ALL psychological services provided under the Better Access initiative. This has been the APS position since the implementation of the Better Access initiative. The APS was instrumental in gaining access to delivery of Medicare-rebated services for all registered psychologists.  

APS advocacy has continued in the context of ongoing comment in the media from prominent critics of the Better Access initiative. The APS is doing everything possible to advocate for ongoing funding for services from all psychologists, but this is not something about which the APS can obtain a guarantee from the Government.  The APS position is that continued public commentary about the issue, argument within the psychology profession, and scaremongering do not attract the sort of attention that assists in this advocacy.

Members are urged to check that the claims made by other groups regarding the APS position and activities are based in fact.

National Psychology Week 2010 in the news

18 November 2010

From Orange, NSW, to Ireland, EU, the Australian Psychological Society has been in the news discussing the findings of the online social networking survey for National Psychology Week.

The story has appeared in many of the major Australian metropolitan newspapers, major regional publications and rural publications, and has been picked up around the globe through AAP. Two international radio requests have been received as well, which is quite unprecedented.

2010 APS Annual Oration delivered by Professor Richard Bryant FAPS

13 October 2010

APS members gathered to hear world-renowned expert, Richard Bryant, present the 2010 Annual Australian Psychological Society Oration at The Westin Sydney on 13 October 2010.

Professor Bryant presented up-to-date knowledge about the psychological impact of disasters as well as the latest evidence-based and evidence-informed approaches to assisting those affected by disasters.

Scam alert

26 August 2010

There has been a recent email scam targeting psychologists where someone from overseas approaches a psychologist to make an appointment for their child because they can't access the necessary treatment in their own country. After making detailed enquiries about the proposed fees, the fraudsters then pay the psychologist with a bouncing cheque or traveller's cheque. Before the cheques can be cleared by the bank, they then contact the psychologist requesting them to urgently refund the payment leaving the unsuspecting psychologist out of pocket. If you are suspicious of an email or any other unsolicited communication refer to the following websites: www.419scam.org OR www.scamwatch.gov.au.

Yellow Pages application updates

It has come to our attention that at least one member has entered erroneously into an agreement for advertising with a company that the member believed to be the Yellow Pages. The APS sent out a glossy Sensis brochure to APS members in metropolitan Sydney and Melbourne, an application form and reply paid envelope with a letter from APS in March, and an email reminder in May 2010. The APS has not sent any other information to members regarding Yellow Pages advertising.

If any members are concerned about requests for advertising or inclusion in directories, please check the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's Scamwatch website at http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/ or contact your state or territory Office of Fair Trading or Consumer Affairs.

Please note that if members in Sydney and Melbourne have submitted their Yellow Pages application form to be included in the 2011 APS Yellow Pages listings, these applications are currently being collated by Sensis Yellow Pages, with payments being processed by APS National Office over the coming weeks. If you missed out on submitting your application form for the 2011 Melbourne or Sydney Yellow Pages directories, you can still do so by submitting your form by Friday 6 August 2010.

21 May 2010: Changes to the Generic Rules for Colleges passed at the General Meeting of Members on 20 May 2010

Thanks to the attendance of 51 dedicated Members at the General Meeting of Members held on 20 May 2010, a quorum of Members was reached and the Members were able to vote on the proposed amendments to the Generic Rules for Colleges.

There were 768 votes (including proxies) in favour of the proposed amendment and five votes (including proxies) against, resulting in the following changes to the Generic Rules:

International Affiliates

With the introduction of International Affiliate College membership in Rule 6.4, the APS Colleges now have the opportunity to encourage greater involvement and participation of psychologists from other countries.

College National Committee elections

The changes to Rules 12 and 13 mean that APS Colleges can now use an electronic voting process for APS College National Committee elections, enabling all eligible voters, no matter where they are located and regardless of whether they are able to attend the College AGM, to easily participate in the elections.

APS College National Committee elections will also now be held annually with only half of the Office Bearers retiring each year; providing Colleges with some continuity in their National Committees.

These changes mean that the procedures for APS College National Committee elections are now similar to those used for elections to the APS Board of Directors.

To view the Constitution and Generic Rules and Generic Rules for Colleges, see Governance.

18 May 2010: Services provided by social workers and occupational therapists to be removed from the Better Access initiative

Last week's Federal Budget announced that, from 1 July 2010, social workers and occupational therapists will no longer be eligible to provide Medicare-rebated services under the Better Access initiative. Access to these allied health practitioners will transfer to a new government program under the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) initiative to deliver new packages of care to people with severe mental illness living in the community. The Budget papers state that "the transfer of social worker and occupational therapy services to this new funding arrangement will make better use of the workforce in supporting individuals with severe mental illness, who often receive inadequate or fragmented care".

The APS does not support these cuts to the Better Access initiative and believes that mental health care is far too critical to be shifting funds between programs when new investments are desperately required to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in the our community.

Medicare-rebated services provided by psychologists will remain available under the Better Access initiative. The 2010 Budget papers state that "access to early intervention mental health care will be maintained for people with common mental disorders (like anxiety and depression) by continuing Medicare funding for clinical and registered psychologist services on referral by a GP under the Better Access initiative". The APS will continue its work in advocating for ongoing funding for this highly successful government initiative.

STOP PRESS 20 May 2010
The government has just announced that it will defer the plans to remove social workers and occupational therapists from the Better Access program. The government is currently evaluating the provision of mental health services through the Medicare Benefits Schedule under the Better Access program. To ensure that the Better Access reforms are informed by the evaluation, and the detailed design of new care packages can be developed in consultation with professional groups, the government will defer the introduction of the care packages and any associated changes to fee-for-service Medicare arrangements until 1 April 2011. Until then, current arrangements will remain in place.

6 June 2010: Australian Centre for Child Protection’s Professionals Protecting Children Report

The Australian Centre for Child Protection's Professionals Protecting Children Report is now available to download.

6 May 2010: Alert regarding email from new association

Many psychologists have received an email this week from the Australian Association of Psychologists, a new association formed in March 2010 claiming to be a peak professional organisation representing the interests of all registered Australian psychologists. It is important that APS members are aware that this email is not from the APS, nor is the APS associated in any way with this organisation. Members should also be assured that their email addresses have not been provided by the APS for distribution of the email. The Society has a strict privacy policy and does not release its members' email addresses.

April 2010: Psychology education and training in the spotlight February

Controversy about education and training standards for psychology practitioners has recently been aired in the media and has involved criticism of the APS. There have been accusations that the APS has presided over lower standards for psychology practitioners, particularly those in the specialisation of clinical psychology. The following information sheets have been prepared to ensure accurate details of the APS' position and actions are available.

The APS position on education and training for psychologists

The APS position on specialist registration

Assessment of eligibility for membership of the APS College of Clinical Psychologists since 2006

28 January 2010: Scam warning

The APS has become aware that the new National Registration Scheme is providing opportunistic individuals with the chance to try and fool people into spending money on effectively worthless services.

There are two scams that we are currently aware of, one involving emails being sent to APS members chasing up outstanding membership payments and the other being an application for inclusion in a national register, with no undertaking as to the privacy of that information or the value of being included in its register.

The email purporting to be from APS Membership seeking membership renewal payment was sent from the address callitris2@bigpond.com under the name Merle Thompson.
Do not respond to the email. It is spam and has no link to the APS at all.

APS members are reminded to be cautious about unsolicited emails they receive. Official emails from the APS National office will have an address which ends ...@psychology.org.au.

Any emails identified as being from the APS but sent from an email address not ending ...@psychology.org.au should be treated as spam.

Warning signs

  • You receive an invoice from a company you have not previously dealt with
  • You receive an official looking application form from a company that you have not previously heard about, but it sounds legitimate
  • You receive an official sounding call or enquiry chasing payment of an outstanding invoice or application for a product or service that you have not requested

What you can do

  • Don't give out any information or pay any money without checking the validity of the company requesting it and what it is for
  • Check the ACCC Scan Watch service at http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/
  • Check the ASIC scam site www.moneysmart.gov.au/scams
  • Check the Consumer Affairs/ Fair Trading sites in your state or territory for information regarding current scams

2009

13 Nov 2009: 2009 Annual Australian Psychological Society Oration

Professor Barry McGaw
Professor Barry McGaw

APS members gathered to hear Professor Barry McGaw present the 2009 Annual Australian Psychological Society Oration at the Sofitel on Wednesday 11 November 2009 in Melbourne.

Professor McGaw presented evidence on the current standing of Australian education in international comparisons and identifed its strengths and weaknesses. He described the new curricula that are being developed and indicated the contribution made by psychological research. He also outlined the case for psychology to be included as a subject across the National Curriculum.

Professor Barry McGaw is a Fellow and former President of the Australian Psychological Society. He is half-time Professorial Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne where he is Executive Director of the Cisco-Intel-Microsoft Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project.

Large file warning: To download, right-click on the link and select 'Save Target As...' 

27 Aug 2009: National Roundtable on Research on Racism towards Indigenous Australians and the Boatshed Declaration

On June 1st and 2nd 2009, over 40 researchers from across Australia met at the University of Western Australia Boatshed in Perth for a Roundtable discussion focused on research concerning racism towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. The APS, together with the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association (AIPA), co-hosted the Roundtable alongside several other key organisations - the Human Rights Commission, the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association, the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, WA, the School of Indigenous Studies UWA, and the University of Notre Dame Australia. The Roundtable was initiated by AIPA Chair and APS Fellow Dr Pat Dudgeon, who saw it as one way to renew the momentum for combating racism that was generated a decade ago by the APS Position Paper Racism and prejudice: Psychological perspectives (1997).

Among the immediate outcomes of the two-day gathering were a group submission to the National Human Rights Consultation, a ‘Boatshed Declaration' and letters to government ministers. The Boatshed Declaration is reproduced below:

The Boatshed Declaration 

We, the undersigned make this Declaration to reassert the rights of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to be:

  • Acknowledged as the First Nations peoples of Australia; and
  • Recognised as the legitimate people to take real responsibility for their education, health and wellbeing, with the respectful support of Australian governments.

We believe that for Australia to fulfil its considerable potential for future generations, it must acknowledge the terrible injustice done to its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - an injustice that continues to disadvantage all our futures.

We believe that this recognition will be the basis for re-strengthening the Australian national identity to the benefit of all and future Australians.

We believe that a strong and confident national identity is one that begins with its First Nations peoples, their knowledge, heritage, and spiritual connection to the land and seas.

We propose four areas for action:

  1. Constitutional - that there be a preamble to the Constitution that recognises the rights of First Nations peoples, followed immediately by the establishment of a treaty that details a formal agreement between the Australian Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and a framework for national action.
  2. Policy - that policies that affect and impact on Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must be based on their full involvement and engagement to ensure appropriate agendas and appropriate levels of resourcing are applied.
  3. Practice - that effective and genuine partnerships with governments and capacity building agendas be recognised as essential pathways to improving the outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' education, health and wellbeing.
  4. Standards - that all actions must be based on, and be an expression of, the articles in the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, particularly Article 3 (the Right to Self Determination) and Article 42 (calling on the states and agencies of the United Nations to implement the Declaration).

The Roundtable, in reviewing research data and evidence, identified some key factors and issues that act as barriers to the progress of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples towards improved futures.

  1. Racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples exists in various forms and in all systems in Australia today.
  2. Racism has a destructive impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' education, health and wellbeing, well beyond its immediate impact.
  3. Racism works strongly against all agendas which aim to close the gaps in health and other outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

We call upon the Prime Minister and the First Ministers of Australia to initiate a new national plan of action beginning with:

  1. Constitutional protection against racial discrimination;
  2. The reconsideration of the methods of the Northern Territory intervention to better reflect the aspirations for, and of, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, while maintaining any gains that have been made; and
  3. The formal recognition of the capacity and the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to self-determine their futures.

Our key principle for a plan of action is simple:

We believe that the future happiness and wellbeing of all Australians and their future generations will be enhanced by valuing and taking pride in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - the oldest living cultures of humanity.

University of Western Australia Boatshed, Perth
1st and 2nd June 2009
Click here to view signatories 

To download a copy of The Boatshed Declaration, please click here - Acrobat icon - small (833kb)

 

5 Mar 2009: Fed Square Skype conversation: Victorian Bushfires

The APS was invited to participate in a Skype conversation as part of a public event about the Victorian Bushfires called ‘The City Cares' hosted by Federation Square on Friday 27 February 2009.

The Skype conversation focused on talking to the public about what to expect, from a psychological perspective, following the recent Victorian bushfires.  

The discussion was faciliated by Dr Susie Burke, Senor Researcher from the APS Communications and Public Interest team and included the following speakers:

  • Professor Bob Montgomery, APS President 
  • Professor Mark Creamer, Director of the Australian Centre for Post-Traumatic Mental Health
  • Dr Rob Gordon, Consultant Psychologist to the Victorian Emergency Recovery Plan and to Red Cross
Fed Square Skype conversation  Fed Square Skype conversation 
Fed Square Skype conversation  Fed Square Skype conversation 
Fed Square Skype conversation  Fed Square Skype conversation 

 

16 Feb 2009: 2009 Branch Chairs Forum

The elected Chairs of the 40 APS Branches from every State and Territory in Australia came together for the annual APS Branch Chairs Forum from 9-10 February at the Medina Grand in Melbourne. This important two-day event brought all the Chairs together with the APS Board of Directors and National Office managers to discuss pertinent issues facing the Society.

The Branch Chairs dinner was held on at Bokchoy Tang in Federation Square where the Chairs were treated to a banquet and a game of charades.  

2009 Branch Chairs Forum 
 
2009 Branch Chairs Forum 
 
2009 Branch Chairs Forum
 
2009 Branch Chairs Forum 
2009 Branch Chairs Forum
2009 Branch Chairs Forum 
 2009 Branch Chairs Dinner
2009 Branch Chairs Dinner 
2009 Branch Chairs Dinner 
 2009 Branch Chairs Dinner 

 

15 Jan 2009: APS purchases Greenfleet future offset

The APS has purchased a Greenfleet future offset to sequester greenhouse gas. Greenfleet will plant 2,398 native trees to establish a biodiverse forest and offset 642.6 tonnes of greenhouse gas generated by the APS from October 2008 to September 2009.

As well as offsetting greenhouse gas, this action is helping to improve water quality, reduce soil degradation and provide essential habitat for native species.

7 Jan 2009: APS Letter to Deputy Prime Minister: Violence in the Middle East

The APS has expressed its concerns for urgent action on the current crisis in Gaza in a letter from the Acting President of the Australian Psychological Society to the Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon Julia Gillard MP.

2008

19 November 2008

Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN): Call for Expressions of Interest

The Mental Health Professionals Network (MHPN) has been funded by the Australian Government to support interdisciplinary mental health collaboration in the primary care sector with the aim of improving consumer outcomes by fostering a collaborative clinical approach to the provision of mental health care.

MHPN is seeking expressions of interest from primary mental health care clinicians interested in participating in, or facilitating a small local network. The role of facilitators is to guide the collaboration process within the local clinical network using relevant clinical case studies provided by MHPN. MHPN offers private practice psychologists remuneration for participating in or facilitating an initial workshop. These workshops are an APS endorsed professional development activity (two points) and will also attract two specialist points for Health College members.

To express your interest, or for more information about MHPN, please click here - Acrobat icon - small (197kb)

13 November 2008  

The Inaugural Australian Psychological Society Oration  

The Inaugural Australian Psychological Society Oration was delivered by Hugh Mackay FAPS. Hugh is a psychologist, social researcher and novelist who has made a lifelong study of the attitudes and behaviour of Australians. He is the author of eleven books, including five bestsellers in the field of social analysis and four novels.The second edition of his latest book, Advance Australia ... Where? was published in September 2008, and his fifth novel will be out in May 2009.

To listen to the oration, click on the following link:

Instructions: Right-click on link and select "Save Target As ..." to save file to your computer.

 

30 September 2008

Farewell from Amanda Gordon   

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12 September 2008

President's update

In this broadcast, APS President Amanda Gordon urges members to vote in the 2008 Board of Directors election. Those members eligible to vote may do so online at www.psychology.org.au/about/board_elections_2008/ or by postal ballot. Voting closes at 10.00am on Wednesday, 24 September 2008.

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22 August 2008

Call for member contributions - InPsych December 2008 cover feature  

Enhancing the functioning of aged people in care

The December 2008 InPsych cover feature will focus on enhancing functioning in aged care. The APS invites members with expertise in this area to submit a 200-word abstract of a proposed article on this theme for consideration by the InPsych editorial committee. The committee will then select abstracts and invite those authors to submit a full article for publication.

Articles proposed by members should present a practical application of the cover feature, with an ‘on-the-ground' focus relevant to the theme. Articles will be selected to complement the lead article, which will provide a more theoretical state-of-the-art overview of the area. In addition, selected abstracts will be chosen to appear as articles in the cover feature based on suitability (e.g., if a number of abstracts are received proposing similar articles, only one will be chosen). The word length of final articles will be confirmed upon selection. However, no selected article will have a word length in excess of 1,600 words in length (including references, in APA format).

All articles must be written specifically for APS members, but in a non-technical and easy-toread style. A 'conversational' tone of writing is appropriate for InPsych (similar to what you would expect to read in a weekend broadsheet newspaper magazine supplement but, of course, written specifically for psychologists). The deadline for all abstracts is Friday, 12 September 2008. Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified soon after the abstract deadline and final articles will be required by Friday, 24 October 2008.

 

For more information or to submit an abstract for the December 2008 issue, please contact InPsych production editor Roslyn Crosswell: r.crosswell@psychology.org.au

 

 

13 August 2008

Redress WA

On 17 December 2007, the State Government announced a $114 million redress scheme, to be known as Redress WA, for those who as children were abused while in State care in Western Australia. The State Government deeply regrets that abuse has taken place. Key priorities of Redress WA will include an apology and acknowledgement to those who in the past have suffered when the State did not provide a proper level of care.

Many people continue to suffer as a result of the abuse they experienced as children in State care. To assist them, including with the distress associated with the process of making an application under Redress WA, a range of support services including personal support, financial counselling and independent legal advice will be made available, as well as funding of non-government consumer advocacy and self-help groups.

Eligible individuals will be able to apply for an ex gratia redress payment. Applicants who are eligible will receive an ex gratia payment of up to $10 000 if they show they experienced abuse while in State care, or up to a maximum of $80 000 where there is medical or psychological evidence of loss or injury as a result of that abuse.

Applications to Redress WA open for 12 months from 1 May 2008 and must be lodged by 30 April 2009.

For further information, contact the Redress WA information line on 1800 617 233.  

31 July

Public forum: Suspicions of the Apocalypse – global threats, sustainability and human wellbeing  

APS members are invited to attend a public forum featuring Richard Eckersley speaking on the topic “Suspicions of the Apocalypse: global threats, sustainability and human wellbeing.” The forum will be held at 1.00 pm on 12 August 2008 at the McCaughey Centre, University of Melbourne. This event is co-hosted by the APS, the McCaughey Centre, VicHealth Centre for the Promotion of Mental Health and Community Wellbeing, the University of Melbourne, and other university and climate change centres.

17 July 2008

Applying to provide ASD/PDD early intervention program services  

Psychologists involved in the provision of multidisciplinary interventions for children and families of children with ASD/PDD can now apply to be on a panel of early intervention service providers. This is the second arm of the new Helping Children with Autism package and is separate from the new ASD/PDD Medicare items. For more information, please click here, and see your metropolitan and major regional newspapers on July 19 and 26.   

4 July 2008

President's update 

In this broadcast, APS President, Amanda Gordon, urges members to consider nominating for two General Director positions on the 15th APS Board of Directors. The term of office for each of these General Director positions will be three years commencing from the 2008 AGM until the 2011 AGM.

Amanda also reminds members to register for the 2008 APS Conference in Hobart. (More information is available at http://www.apsconference.com.au/.)

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26 June 2008

APS and NZPsS sign Memorandum of Understanding 

In this broadcast, the Australian Psychological Society and the New Zealand Psychological Society sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU affirms that the APS and NZPsS share the objective of advancing the discipline and profession of psychology in the public interest. The MoU also affirms the working relationship between the two Societies and commits to regular communication to discuss issues of common concern.

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29 May 2008

Reconciliation Week Statement

The APS would like to acknowledge that this is Reconciliation Week, an important anniversary for all Australians. Reconciliation Week celebrates the 1967 referendum allowing Indigenous Australians the vote, and reminds us that there is still a long way to go to acknowledge and take action on the large gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in health, finance, employment and other determinants of wellbeing.

The Australian Psychological Society acknowledges the unique position of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first Australians of this country. The APS recognises that the colonisation/settlement of Australia has involved the loss of land, children and kin, languages and traditional cultural practices of Indigenous people, and that colonisation led to the dispossession, alienation and impoverishment of Australia's Indigenous peoples.

The Australian Psychological Society recognises the negative consequences that colonisation has had upon Indigenous health, mental health and well being, and that Australian Indigenous peoples continue to face social and economic disadvantage accentuated by ongoing prejudice and racism.

The Australian Psychological Society is committed to a process of reconciliation between Australian society and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people based on a respect and appreciation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, history and achievements. 

The APS meanwhile is endeavouring to contribute to national reconciliation in a number of ways:

  • The APS is managing an Australian government-funded project aimed at identifying services which are using innovative approaches to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to raise mental health awareness and deliver positive messages about help-seeking.
  • Indigenous-specific peak professional bodies are an effective way to represent the needs of Indigenous health professionals, and to provide expert advice on education, policy and other matters. The APS is supporting the establishment of AIPA, which will work to set and achieve benchmarks for Indigenous participation in the profession.
  • The APS is represented on an expert reference group formed to provide clinical and cultural advice to the Australian Government's Office of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health (OATSIH). The group will influence the Indigenous-specific components of the COAG Mental Health Action Plan 2006-2011.
  • The APS is a partner with the University of South Australia and Victoria University in a two-year Carrick Institute-funded project Disseminating strategies for incorporating Australian Indigenous content into psychology undergraduate programs throughout Australia. The group is organising its second conference Psychology and Indigenous Australians in Adelaide, July 14-15. For more information, see www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au/pia.
  • As a result of the APS Bendi Lango initiative, the following opportunities are being offered for Indigenous psychology students in 2009:
    • 1. Study bursaries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders undertaking a postgraduate psychology degree
    • 2. Financial Assistance for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander psychology students in necessitous financial circumstances.
  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Psychology Interest Group provides ways for Indigenous and non-Indigenous APS members to come together to promote best psychological practice for working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Interest Group will have a close relationship with the new association of Indigenous psychologists.

22 May 2008

President's update

In this broadcast, Amanda Gordon discusses a new APS initiative to send certificates to members acknowledging cumulative membership of the APS for 10, 20 and 30 years. Amanda also speaks about a new membership drive in which the Society will give a $50 APS PD voucher to an Associate Member or Member of the Society for each person they recruit as an Associate Member or Member.

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21 May 2008

Review into child abuse for former wards of the State of Tasmania  

If you consider you were abused while in State Care and you were over the age of 18 in July 2003, now is the time to come forward. The Tasmanian Government has reopened the scheme for claims from people who were abused while in State Care. Children abused while in State Care in Tasmania are entitled to compassion, justice, and may also be eligible for an ex gratia payment of up to $60,000. If you, or someone you know, suffered abuse while in State Care and a claim has not been made before, please obtain an information package by calling 1300 654 583 or alternatively visit www.dhhs.tas.gov.au. Applications close 30 June 2008.

3 April 2008

Australian Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society sign a Memorandum of Understanding

 

Download APS and BPS Memorandum of Understanding - Acrobat icon - small (1.4mb)

 

 

31 March 2008

President's update 

APS President, Amanda Gordon, speaks about the meeting of Indigenous psychologists at APS National Office to discuss how the APS can support Indigenous psychologists and help to meet the mental health needs of all Australians.

At the last meeting of Branch Chairs, it was suggested that it is time to do a review of the structure of APS Branches, Colleges and Interest Groups. At the recent Board meeting it was determined to accept this recommendation and to establish a Governance Review Working Group to look at how the APS is structured.

Amanda also discusses how Fellows and Honorary Fellows can become more involved in the society. Current fellows are happy to support people who are nominating either themselves or others in their fellow applications.   

Comments and feedback on the issues raised in this broadcast are welcomed and should be directed to a.gordon@psychology.org.au  

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27 March 2008

National Office hosts formal gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists 

Friday 28 March 2008 will be a historic day for Australian psychology. The APS will host the first ever formal gathering of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists. There are approximately 40 registered psychologists nationally who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Of these, thirteen will be in Melbourne this week as part of a Commonwealth-funded project to identify innovative models and resources that increase mental health awareness and help-seeking in urban, regional and remote Indigenous communities. There was a meeting of 30 Indigenous psychology students at the APS Conference Wollongong in 1994, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Psychology Interest Group has continued to provide a focus for Indigenous issues within the APS, but this is the first meeting of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists in their own right. Indigenous psychologists meet in Melbourne

As part of a series of COAG initiatives in Indigenous mental health, professional bodies like the APS are being strongly encouraged to set some benchmarks for equitable workforce participation, and to implement a range of Indigenous-specific programs to attract, support and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander graduates in the health sciences, including allied health. So when the thirteen psychologists come together on Friday from as far as Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Wollongong, Sydney and Warrnambool, they will be kick-starting a process to ensure that the psychology profession is more proportionally reflective of Indigenous people, who constitute 2.4% of the Australian population. If your arithmetic is up to the task, you will have quickly worked out that the APS as a Society of more than 15,000 should have 300 Indigenous members! We still have a long way to go.

Psychological knowledge and practice across all specialisations has much to offer to address the disadvantage experienced by our nation's first people. The APS Public Interest team is working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and Psychology Interest Group, and with representatives of other areas such as science, training and standards, professional development and professional practice to enhance psychologists' cultural competence and to promote Indigenous health, safety and wellbeing across urban, rural and remote communities.

28 February 2008 

Call for applications for participation in the first APS Strategic Leaders Programme 

This is an opportunity for APS members in mid-career (indicative, age 35-50) who have made a substantial contribution as leaders to the APS and/or to the discipline of psychology and/or to the wider community, and have the potential to develop further and extend themselves to lead into the next decade.

Participation in the programme will require significant commitment over a six month period, beginning in April 2008 with a residential weekend in Melbourne (12-13 April) preceded by some self-assessment material and reading.

During the course of the weekend, participants will form into syndicate groups and develop a project which they will lead collaboratively over the subsequent six months. Participants will present the results of their project at the APS National Conference in Hobart in late September 2008.

As part of the Leadership Programme, there will be a two day skills development workshop presented for APS members around Australia at a series of venues. Programme participants would be expected to attend the workshop which will attract PD points.

In addition, the programme will comprise a series of up to 10 web-based seminars, which will be available for professional development for all APS members.

It is believed that the combination of reading, self-assessment, two day workshop and web-based seminars will assist participants to develop and execute their projects in an effective manner and assist them in developing leadership skills that will enhance their ability to contribute to the Society, the discipline and the wider community.

Participants are sought from around Australia, including rural and remote psychologists, and from those who may be interested in working with the most disadvantaged in the community. Applicants will be considered on merit but selection will aim to ensure a diverse group. A&TSI members are particularly encouraged to apply.

Please submit:

  • a resume, including particular interests
  • a background statement regarding your leadership to date in the APS, the discipline and the community
  • the names and contact details of two referees
  • an essay of no more than 600 words on yourself and leadership, where you would see yourself as the result of such a programme, as well as your aspirations. 

 

Note: Participants will receive significant financial support for the programme, including travel and accommodation costs associated with attending the April residential weekend and the final day of the program at the APS National Conference in Hobart, but they will be expected to pay for the PD workshop and the web-based seminars. There is a fund available to support otherwise outstanding candidates who are unable to fund their own study, i.e. no one will be excluded through financial considerations.

Applications must be received by 10 March 2008.

For further information and to submit applications, please contact Christine Simpson at c.simpson@psychology.org.au or Ph: 03 8662 3300.

12 February 2008

President's update 

APS President, Amanda Gordon, announces the Presidential initiative for 2008 in this broadcast. The APS Strategic Leaders Program has been designed to create a better society by assisting APS members to develop better leadership skills. This program has been developed from the immense contribution psychologists have made to the community through supporting behavioural change and creating a better environment. The program will allow APS members to take this support to the next level.  

APS Units are encouraged to invite individual members to put themselves forward if they are interested. Participants should expect to be involved for a six-month period in a series of workshops and lectures, and be involved in a project that will be presented at the National Conference in Hobart. The call for nominations will appear on the website soon.

For more information, please contact a.gordon@psychology.org.au

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25 January 2008

President's update 

In the following broadcast, APS President, Amanda Gordon, discusses the changes to APS governance over the past two years. Since 2006, directors are no longer assigned portfolios but are elected as general members of the board for a three-year term. In 2007, members voted for a president-elect for the first time – Bob Montgomery who will take on the role of president in late 2008. Amanda also provides an update on the Society’s organisational structure and speaks about the evolving relationship between APS directors and managers. She emphasises the growth in the Society to meet the mission statement, namely to enhance community wellbeing through the use of psychological association.

Comments and feedback on the issues raised in this broadcast are welcomed and should be directed to a.gordon@psychology.org.au  

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, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

2007

22 November 2007

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women 

The Australian Psychological Society is encouraging its members to support the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on Sunday November 25, also known as White Ribbon Day. The day marks the beginning each year of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign.

“The APS is gravely concerned about the level of violence against women in the community. Many of our members find themselves picking up the pieces from family violence and sexual assault, while others are involved in advocacy and prevention projects. It is an issue that deserves special attention from government and the community at large,” says APS President Amanda Gordon.

One third of Australian women who have been partnered would have experienced some form of violence in their life time. One third of women would have experienced some form of sexual assault by the time they are eighteen.

APS President-elect Professor Bob Montgomery is inviting his fellow male psychologists to support White Ribbon Day. “I will be wearing a white ribbon on Sunday. What we need is a culture change that sees men standing against violence in all its forms. Just as it’s no longer cool to drink alcohol and drive, it’s no longer ok to behave like a bully in your own home. Do you really want your partner and children to be constantly fearful of what you’ll do next?”

For more information, see the White Ribbon Day website

The APS Women and Psychology Interest Group will highlight family violence as one of the themes for its residential conference in Sunbury from December 6-8. There will be a panel on family violence, papers on women’s experience of mediation and family law, and keynote speakers including Tania Jones, Indigenous Family Violence Program Coordinator, South Western Victoria. For more information, please contact RaeLynn Alvarez Wicklein at Raelynn.Wicklein@rmit.edu.au or see
http://www.psychology.org.au/Events/EventView.aspx?EventID=2784&Highlight=1

 

31 October 2007

Mark your diaries! 43rd APS Annual Conference 2008 

The 43rd APS Annual Conference will be held:

Tuesday 23 to Saturday 27 September 2008
Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 

 

25 October 2007

APS Declaration on Torture 

The APS Board of Directors passed the following resolution on 24 September 2007:

The Australian Psychological Society, as a member of the International Union of Psychological Science, fully endorses the United Nations Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1997.

The Australian Psychological Society regards all forms of torture, as defined in Article 1 of the United Nations Declaration and Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1997, as breaches of the Society’s Code of Ethics (2003) General Principle III Propriety.

DECLARATION

Psychologists shall at all times comply with the Society’s Code of Ethics.

Psychologists shall not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, in any situation, including armed conflict and civil strife.

Psychologists shall not provide any premises, instruments, substances or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or to diminish the ability of the victim to resist such treatment.

Psychologists shall not be present during any procedure in which torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is used or threatened. 

Psychologists must have complete professional independence in deciding upon the care of a person for whom they are responsible. 

2 October 2007  

Submissions to the International Congress of Psychology 2008  

The International Congress of Psychology is the largest international conference in psychology and covers all areas of psychological science. The conference takes place only once every four years in a different country under the auspices of the International Union of Psychological Science (www.iupsys.org). From July 20 to 25 2008, more than 6.000 psychologists from over 70 countries will meet in Berlin, Germany, for ICP 2008.
 
Submission of Abstracts
Please submit your abstract for an oral presentation, a symposium, or a poster via the congress website at www.icp2008.org. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is October 31, 2007.
 
Invited Program
The Invited Program of ICP 2008 has already been finalised and contains Invited Addresses and Invited Symposia from more than 300 renowned international colleagues. The Invited Program can be obtained from the congress website.
 
Controversial Debates
One of the many highlights of ICP 2008 will be the Controversial Debates. Controversial Debates are a new presentation format that will be introduced in Berlin, and will stimulate discussion during the meeting. Controversial Debates will focus on topics that are both inherently important and interesting to all psychologists, and are intended to capture exciting recent developments in the field. The debates will take place once a day at a prominent time slot and will be chaired by some of the best psychological scientists in the world (for more information, please see www.icp2008.org). 
 
Final Announcement
The Final Announcement and Call for Abstracts for ICP 2008 can also be obtained as pdf files from the congress website. If you would like to receive printed copies of the announcement or ICP 2008 posters, please send a short message with your postal address.
 
If you have any questions about ICP 2008, please contact:

31 August 2007

Chronic Conditions Prevention and Self-Management Project  

The APS, in partnership with Flinders University, is currently involved in a Government-funded review of Chronic Conditions Prevention and Self-Management (CCSM) skills in the current workforce of health professions. The project is aimed at investigating the continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities of health professions to develop skills in CCSM client support.

As part of the project, allied health professionals are being invited to complete an online survey. The aims of the survey are to investigate chronic condition prevention and self-management in relation to:

  • the professional’s perceived skills
  • their use of their skills in their work with clients
  • the current training opportunities for their profession
  • the future training needs.

The online survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. The survey will be available to complete online from Monday 3 September and can be accessed via the following link:

If you have colleagues that do not have access to the electronic survey, please make them aware of the survey by printing it off for them. Likewise, if you do not wish to complete this survey online you can print it off and send the completed survey to: c/o PHC Survey, FHBHRU, PO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA, 5001.

We look forward to receiving your response. Please note that the final date for return of the survey is 3 October 2007.

The results will be available from the unit at the completion of the project. If you would like further details of the ethics guidelines for this project you may find them by following the link in the survey website.

Your time and involvement is greatly appreciated.

30 August 2007

Notice of APS Colleges Annual General Meetings 

The Annual General Meeting of the APS College of Clinical Neuropsychologists will be held on 22 September 2007 at Mantra Mooloolaba Beach (formerly Outrigger), Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba, QLD.

The following College Annual General Meetings will be held during the 42nd APS Annual Conference, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia.

  • APS College of Forensic Psychologists
    Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 1 – 2pm
  • APS College of Community Psychologists
    Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 1 – 2pm
  • APS College of Educational & Developmental Psychologists
    Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 1 - 2pm
  • APS College of Health Psychologists
    Thursday, 27 September 2007, 1 - 2pm
  • APS College of Counselling Psychologists
    Thursday, 27 September 2007, 1 - 2pm
  • APS College of Clinical Psychologists
    Friday, 28 September 2007, 1 - 2pm

The agenda for each AGM will be:

  • Welcome
  • Apologies
  • Proxies
  • Confirmation of the Minutes of the 2006 AGM
  • Business Arising from the Minutes
  • Reports from Office Bearers of the National Executive
  • Reports from State Sections
  • General Business
  • Close

In addition to the above agenda, the College of Clinical Neuropsychologists, the College of Community Psychologists, the College of Counselling Psychologists, the APS College of Educational & Developmental Psychologists and the APS College of Forensic Psychologists will have the following item:

  • Declaration of Elections for Office Bearers for 2007-2009 (National Executive)   

24 August 2007

Call for editorial contributors: InPsych December 2007 cover feature 

The fallout of family breakdown

The December 2007 InPsych cover feature will focus on 'the fallout of family breakdown'. The APS invites all members with expertise in this area to submit a 200-word abstract of a proposed article on this theme for consideration by the InPsych editorial committee. The committee will then select abstracts and invite those authors to submit a full article for publication.

Articles proposed by members should have a practical, 'on-the-ground' focus OR provide current research relevant to the theme. Articles will be selected to complement the lead article, which will provide a state-of-the-art overview of the area. In addition, selected abstracts will be chosen to appear as articles in the cover feature based on suitability (e.g., if a number of abstracts are received proposing similar articles, only one can be chosen).

The word length of final articles will be confirmed upon selection. However, no selected article will have a word length in excess of 1,500 words in length (including references, in APA format). All articles must be written specifically for APS members, but in a non-technical and easy-to-read style. A 'conversational' tone of writing is appropriate for InPsych (similar to what you would expect to read in a weekend broadsheet newspaper magazine supplement but, of course, written specifically for psychologists).

The deadline for all abstracts is Wednesday, 12 September 2007. Authors of accepted abstracts will be notified soon after the abstract deadline and final articles will be required by Friday, 26 October 2007.

For more information or to submit an abstract for the December 2007 issue, please contact InPsych production editor Roslyn Crosswell: r.crosswell@psychology.org.au

 

24 August 2007 

Professionals Income Protection Plan  - ing_logo_thumbnail

APS members will be pleased to hear about the Professionals Income Protection Plan* which has been developed in alliance with ING Life, exclusively for our members.

The Professionals Income Protection Plan can pay up to 75% of your monthly income (up to $20,000 per month) if you are unable to work due to illness or injury for up to 2 years. On top of the income benefit, the Plan also includes a special rehabilitation benefit of up to $50,000, and a special care benefit – designed to help members with the cost of home care.

Where would you be without your income?
Considering that we spend more than half of our income on necessities such as food, transport, and housing it’s easy to appreciate that the loss of income due to illness or injury could be financially devastating.

Protect for your income – just as you would protect your home and car
This exclusive plan has been designed to be as easy as organising insurance for your home or car. In fact, current APS members who have been employed full-time for at least 12 months and are working at least 30 hours per week can get immediate cover on the phone, without a medical and without the need to complete a time consuming health questionnaire. The Plan also requires that you are aged between 21 and 55 years of age and a permanent resident of Australia.

Please note that this insurance is not for everyone as claims relating to pre-existing medical conditions occurring in the last 5 years will not be covered.
 
Plus your opportunity to be the lucky winner of a Renault MéganeRenault Mégane
APS members considering this cover, or the Professionals Life and Living Benefit Plan, shouldn’t delay as there is an opportunity to be the lucky winner of a fabulous Renault Mégane Cabriolet Coupé Dynamique valued at over $50,000. Your entry will go into the draw as soon as ING receive your acceptance this important cover†, but acceptance must be received by the 26th October.

Go to www.ing.com.au/mail/aps.html to find out more or call 1800 658 679.

* The Professionals Income Protection Plan is issued by ING Life Limited (ABN 33 009 657 176, AFSL 238341) (ING). Any advice provided by ING in this letter or the accompanying material is of a general nature and is not based on any consideration of your objectives, financial situation and needs. Please read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to make sure the product is right for you and call ING if you have any questions.
† The competition is open to new approved policies only, not renewals. Terms and conditions of entry apply and are available at
www.ing.com.au. The promoter is ING Australia Limited ABN 60 000 000 779. Licensed under NSW Permit No. TPL07/01758, ACT Permit No. TP07/00673, SA Licence No. T07/781, VIC Permit No. 07/677.

23 August 2007  

Survey of psychologists providing services under new MBS items

In response to questions regarding the new COAG Mental Health initiative and its uptake by the community, the Australian Psychological Society sought the input of its members who are delivering the new Medicare Benefit Schedule items. The APS received responses from 623 Clinical Psychologists to a range of questions. Additionally, two separate groups of Registered Psychologists (not Clinical Psychologists) were surveyed through email-based questions and an on-line survey, respectively, gaining 812 responses. These responses from the samples of Clinical Psychologists and Registered Psychologists are presented and explained in the following document. Members can access the full report at the link indicated below:

 

17 August 2007

Proposed APS Code of Ethics

Members will be asked to adopt the proposed revised APS Code of Ethics by way of vote at next month's 2007 Annual General Meeting at the APS Annual Conference in Brisbane.

The proposed Code has had several revisions incorporated in response to feedback from members and external bodies such as university Departments of Psychology and Psychologist Registration Boards. As a consequence, the proposed revised Code is a more ordered, coherent and robust document. A summary of the substantive changes from the 1997 Code of Ethics will be included in the AGM papers, and the proposed Code of Ethics will be available on the APS website.

Members of the APS responded in high numbers to the opportunity to give feedback about the draft revised Code of Ethics. The Society received more than 65 submissions, several of which were from Branches, Colleges and Interest Groups, meaning that even more members had offered their comments and improvements to the document. Comments ranged from brief general feedback to an almost line-by-line critique of the draft. The Code Review Committee wishes to express its deep appreciation for the way in which members engaged with the revision process. The Committee feels confident that it is not acting in isolation when compiling this significant document that greatly affects the field of psychology.

The feedback on the draft Code was predominantly positive, and, of the requests for amendments, most focused on specific subsections of the Code. The Committee accepted the bulk of suggestions, which at times prompted related changes elsewhere in the document.

The Society wishes to acknowledge the contribution of members, university Psychology Departments and Psychologist Registration Boards to the review of the APS Code of Ethics. The Society also wishes to thank the members of the Code Review Committee for the countless hours they volunteered over the 18 month review period. The combination of the above has generated a thorough, effective and valuable resource to guide the profession and practice of
psychology.

 

6 July 2007  

APS Statement - Federal Government intervention on safety in NT Indigenous communities
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) wishes to lend support to the concerns expressed by a number of Aboriginal community leaders in response to the Federal Government’s intervention on safety in Northern Territory Indigenous communities.

The APS believes that child-safe and child-friendly communities must be built on a basis of partnership and trust with those most affected. We welcome the Government’s attention to the urgency of the problems of child abuse, violence, poverty and demoralization that exist in many remote communities. We are concerned, however, that insistence on an interventionist short-term approach risks reinforcing these very problems by promoting widespread fear and distrust. Indigenous people have had too many experiences of harmful intervention on one hand and unfulfilled promises on the other, by a succession of governments and well-intentioned professionals over the years. We are also alarmed by the dominant media images of Indigenous people as problematic – psychological research on racism and prejudice warns of the negative effects of loaded representations of already marginalised groups.

We need to focus on prevention as well as crisis responses. We need to learn from those communities that are currently working well, and support them in their efforts to care for themselves. In addition to policing and medical teams, other professionals such as psychologists have the expertise to assist in community level education and prevention as well as service delivery. Where communities are struggling with the effects of historical and ongoing dispossession and cultural trauma, psychologists can be part of a process of empowerment, asking community leaders what they need most, and providing the supplementary services to promote healing, repair the damage and prepare for the next generation.

Psychologists who work in indigenous communities have found that utilizing resources such as traditional healing practices that exist within those communities can promote the most long-lasting healing and collective self-esteem.  The Government’s focus on policing highlights an important part of community safety and child protection, but it is only part of the picture, especially when relationships between police and local communities have been problematic for so long. To really protect the children and ensure that they grow up in the optimal environment, major long-term investment is needed to develop the resources that any community needs, such as health, education, housing and basic infrastructure. Most Indigenous communities lack these fundamental social resources and middle-level structures and services that most Australians take for granted. 

Our members would like to be part of solutions rather than problems. There is immense goodwill in the psychology profession, as in the wider community, but we also acknowledge our limitations. Current training models are not well geared to developing a culturally competent professional workforce. Professionals must have an understanding of working appropriately with the communities they seek to serve. They need adequate context-specific training, support and remuneration, whether as visiting professionals or on a live-in basis; or via a connected referral service. All of this requires resources that go beyond bandaid solutions. The APS has taken steps over the past 15 years to lift its game where its responsibilities to Indigenous Australians are concerned. We recognize that we have to listen to communities to hear what they need and want. We want to offer what we can and learn what we can, by working with, not on, communities via sustainably funded programs.

The drastic emergency response to the commissioned report on child sexual abuse in Aboriginal communities has ignored the recommendations of that report. The Government actions to date risk further traumatizing significantly traumatized people. Creating fear will be counterproductive to any measures that might be implemented. The APS believes that the short and long-term focus needs to be on addressing the infrastructure gaps, funding shortages, and limited resources for living that characterise Aboriginal communities, to our national shame.

21 June 2007  

Review of National Standards for Mental Health Services
The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) is currently reviewing the National Standards for Mental Health Services (NSMHS), under contract with the Commonwealth Department of Health & Ageing.
 
Dr Peter McGeorge, Chair of the NSMHS Steering Group commented that “that it is vital that the consultation is as broad as possible and we welcome comments from consumers, the community, the industry and other interested groups and individuals.” He also said that “the mental health sector must not only be able to align with the standards but have a sense of ownership of them. For this reason as many clinicians, consumers, carers and administrators as possible across the public, private and NGO sectors need to be involved in shaping them”.
 
Dr McGeorge said “that an extensive consultation process will be undertaken over the next six to nine months to test and further develop a revised draft set of standards.” He urged all those who wanted to participate in the ongoing process to take part in the current web-based survey.
 
Initial comments are sought under nine topic areas. The online survey requests comments on the issues that will shape the framework of the standards.

Taking into account these initial comments, the first draft of the revised standards and criteria will be available for review in July 2007. At this time another survey will be conducted seeking comment on the draft standards.  Using feedback received, a second draft of the standards will be developed and will be available for comment in late September 2007. Thorough piloting testing of the standards will also occur during this period.
 
To ensure the revised standards are appropriate for mental health services and beneficial to improving the quality of care and service, the ACHS has undertaken a scoping study involving consultation with: 

  • state and territory health departments 
  • consumers and carers and their associations
  • private hospitals
  • mental health service providers from a range of settings
  • professional bodies
  • relevant peak bodies.
To contribute to the review, click here for the online survey 

 

If you or your colleagues would like to receive further updates on the review of the national standards for mental health services, please contact:
 
ACHS Development Unit
Phone: +61 2 9281 9955
email: achs@achs.org.au
website: http://www.achs.org.au/StndsMentalHealth/

25 May 2007

Australian Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Guidelines launched
Australian guidelines are now available to help people with acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder (ASD and PTSD).

The Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Adults with Acute Stress and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (ASD and PTSD) were launched on 23 May by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the Honourable Bruce Billson, MP, at Parliament House, Canberra.

Endorsed by the National Medical Health and Research Council, these new Guidelines assist all health practitioners to determine when is the right time for professional intervention and what's the best approach for helping people affected by trauma.

The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health developed the Guidelines in consultation with trauma experts from a range of disciplines, as well as people affected by trauma.

APS was part of the Guidelines development group and the Board of Directors has endorsed the final product.

Further information is available in the Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder brochure - Acrobat icon - small (397kb).

How do you get a copy?

There are four versions of the Guidelines to suit different needs:

  1. The full guidelines
  2. A brief practitioner guide for easy use
  3. A summary of the key treatment recommendations for practitioners
  4. A guide to treatment for people diagnosed with ASD or PTSD, their families and carers

The Guidelines are available to download at: www.acpmh.unimelb.edu.au

Putting the Guidelines into practice

ACPMH is collaborating with APS on the potential for delivering information and skills development workshops to ensure that practitioners' practices are consistent with those recommended in the Guidelines. 

25 May 2007  

Historic agreement signed with key professional bodies in mental health
The APS, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses this week signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding committing our organisations to work together on programs that aim to promote the mental health and welfare of people with mental health issues.

The MoU is particularly timely given the recent Australian Government reforms in mental health and the increasing trends towards team-based care. The MoU will help to strengthen existing relationships between the signatories, and the APS looks forward to working even more closely with the key professional bodies and colleagues in psychiatry, general practice and mental health nursing.

— Executive Director, Australian Psychological Society


Memorandum of Understanding signing   Group photo of Memorandum of Understanding signing

Photos of the Memorandum of Understanding signing

10 May 2007

Pregnancy Counselling Services - be informed and aware!
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is keen to address the damage that can be done to vulnerable women, and to the reputation of the counselling professions, as a result of the confusion surrounding the various levels of 'pregnancy counselling' currently available. We wish to clarify the nature of the four kinds of services that are the focus of discussion, and to ensure that women seeking support in relation to any aspect of pregnancy are fully aware of their options.

(i) Currently in Australia, the Australian Federation of Pregnancy Support Services (AFPSS) has 27 agencies Australia-wide which advertise as providers of 'pregnancy counselling services'. These volunteer-operated services have been accused many times of deceptive advertising in refusing to state that they do not provide information or referrals on the full range of pregnancy options (broadly, continuation, adoption, termination), and in promoting highly judgemental positions in the guise of 'non-directive' counselling. These 'helplines' are the target of the Stott-Despoja 'Pregnancy Counselling (Truth in Advertising) Bill 2006'.

(ii) The newly-launched Federal Government telephone counselling National Pregnancy Support Helpline, run by Centacare, is staffed by paid counsellors whose brief is to offer 'non-directive counselling' but not to provide concrete information or referrals - for example, some callers were told to look up adoption services in the phone book if considering that option; and another counsellor was unable to tell a caller the likely cost of a termination, or the Centrelink benefits available to single mothers.

(iii) The new Medicare item for face-to-face Pregnancy Counselling, for which the APS provides compulsory online training before a provider can accept GP referrals, is available to women expressing concerns about any aspect of a current or recent pregnancy. Accredited providers can be psychologists, social workers or mental health nurses.

(iv) A number of other family planning and pregnancy advice services run by hospitals and community health agencies have been operating reputable professional training programs and information/counselling services for many years and continue to do so.

We are concerned that the considerable confusion surrounding these service options risks bringing the counselling/psychology profession into disrepute, and more importantly, places at risk the mental and physical health and welfare of members of the public towards whom we have a duty of care. APS psychologists are bound by a Code of Ethics and related Guidelines that apply to members' conduct when offering services in both their regular professional and any pro bono/voluntary contexts. These standards are consistent with those proposed by the Truth in Advertising Bill, in that members are always expected to carefully explain the terms and conditions of the services they provide, and/or issues that will not be dealt with.

The guidelines make it clear that a psychologist/counsellor should recognise a woman's right to development as an autonomous and psychologically healthy person, and recognise and support a woman's capacity to define her own problems. 'Non-directive' counselling does not preclude provision of comprehensive information about available options. Regardless of a service provider's personal views about reproductive choices, ethical service provision requires both informed consent to what is involved in the counselling process itself, and accurate information about the ranges of services available that are relevant to the problem being addressed.

— President, Australian Psychological Society

3 April 2007

Code of Ethics review - Feedback due by 11 May 2007
The Code Review committee has reviewed the APS Code of Ethics and compiled a draft Code which is available on the APS website. The Society welcomes members' feedback so please take the time to consider the document and send your comments by Friday 11 May 2007, preferably in electronic format, to codefeedback@psychology.org.au. When providing feedback, please include your name and the number of the ethical standard you wish to comment on. 

*Feedback submissions have now closed.

23 March 2007

43rd APS Annual Conference
Please note in your diaries that the 43rd APS Annual Conference will be held:

Date: Wednesday 24 to Sunday 28 September 2008
Venue: Hotel Grand Chancellor