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2 June 2011

Dear {Preferred Name},

Welcome to APS Matters, your fortnightly alert to the latest news and information from the APS. Please note that any queries or comments relating to information in this edition of APS Matters should be directed to the APS Member Assistance Centre at memberassistance@psychology.org.au. Please do not reply to this email as it is an unattended mailbox.

Prof Lyn Littlefield, APS Executive Director From the Executive Director

Campaign against Budget cuts to Better Access
Members will be aware of the Federal Budget measure announced last month that the annual allowance of sessions of psychological treatment for clients referred under the Better Access initiative has been reduced to 10, with no ‘exceptional circumstance’ arrangements enabling additional sessions.

To support the APS campaign against the reduction in the number of allowable sessions, the APS is in the process of gathering data from members who provide services under the initiative. We have had a huge response from members to the audit survey (data has been provided on over 8,900 clients so far) and I would like to personally thank all those who have contributed their client data, providing information on the nature and severity of presentations for clients seen for more than 10 sessions of treatment in an episode of care for the 2010 calendar year. The survey will close at 4.00pm tomorrow (Friday 3 June) to enable time to analyse the data before a meeting that the APS has scheduled with the Government next week. The data that is available from Medicare does not provide any information on the nature and severity of disorders of clients treated under Better Access, so the data gathered from APS members will certainly strengthen the evidence for the APS’ opposition to the cuts.

Armed with the evidence from the audit survey, the APS will mount a concerted campaign for the existing session allowance to be maintained, arguing that the cuts will affect those with severe mental health disorders who are more likely to require a greater number of services for effective treatment. This campaign will involve formal discussions with the office of the Minister for Mental Health, advocacy with the Independents and Greens, communication with all Members of Parliament, further media releases and media interviews. A media release will be prepared early next week based on the results of the audit survey and will be available from the APS website for members to read. 

Please see the additional item in this edition of APS Matters providing further details on changes to the Better Access session allowance, made available by the Department of Health and Ageing this week.

Lyn Littlefield, APS Executive Director

In this edition:
  1. Details of changes to Better Access session allowance
  2. Deadline reminder: CPD for psychologists providing FPS Medicare items under Better Access
  3. Key conference dates
  4. APS Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Inquiry into the economic, social and cultural impacts of migration in Australia
  5. Pregnancy Support Counselling Medicare items
  6. Psychology Board of Australia public forum in Melbourne
  7. Expressions of Interest: Queensland Board of the Psychology Board of Australia
  8. Research opportunities

1. Details of changes to Better Access session allowance

The Department of Health and Ageing has provided the following details on the reduction in the number of allowable sessions of psychological treatment under Better Access.

The cap of 10 allowable sessions (6 + 4) per calendar year is applicable from 1 November this year. Following the first six sessions, the additional four sessions can be accessed after review by the referring medical practitioner, as per existing arrangements. 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 Better Access. From 1 November 2011, clients are eligible for a total of 10 group sessions per calendar year in addition to their 10 individual sessions.

Clients who are currently receiving psychological services under Better Access will be able to access their annual allowance of up to 12 individual sessions and/or up to 12 group sessions, plus six additional individual services under exceptional circumstances, if services are provided before 1 November 2011. From 1 November 2011, clients who have already accessed 10 or more individual sessions and/or 10 or more group sessions this year will not be eligible for any further services until 1 January 2012.

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2. Deadline reminder: CPD for psychologists providing FPS Medicare items under Better Access

Members who have provided Focused Psychological Strategies (FPS) Medicare items under the Better Access initiative (MBS items 80100 to 80120) are reminded that they must undertake 10 hours of FPS-related continuing professional development (CPD) activities by 30 June 2011 in order to retain their billing rights to provide these items. A 10-hour online CPD activity, ‘CBT Fundamentals: Processes and techniques in cognitive behaviour therapy’, has been developed to assist FPS providers to meet the 30 June deadline. For more information, click here.  For more information on the CPD requirements for FPS providers including monitoring and auditing arrangements:

View website

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3. Key conference dates
  • 9th Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference
    Online registration for the 9th Industrial and Organisational Psychology Conference closes 12 June 2011. After this time delegates will still be able to register on site. The conference will be held from 23 to 26 June 2011 at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre in the unique South Bank riverside precinct, the city's cultural and entertainment hub.
    Visit the website.

  • 2011 APS College of Clinical Psychologists Conference
    Don’t miss out on registering at early bird rates for the 2011 APS College of Clinical Psychologists Conference to be held from 15 to 17 July at the Hyatt Regency Coolum, Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Early bird registration closes 12 June 2011.
    To register online, visit the website.

  • 2011 APS College of Forensic Psychologists National Conference
    The preliminary program for the 2011 APS College of Forensic Psychologists National Conference is now available. Early bird registration for this conference closes 6 June 2011. For more information or to register online, visit the website.

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4. APS Submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration Inquiry into the economic, social and cultural impacts of migration in Australia

The APS Public Interest team, in collaboration with a selection of members who have expertise and experience working in culturally diverse settings, recently made a submission into the Joint Migration Standing Committee’s Inquiry into Multiculturalism. The submission argued that psychology has much to offer to community understandings and the promotion of a positive multiculturalism, with a view to embracing the rich diversity in Australian society. Drawing on psychological research into social inclusion, including sense of belonging, identity and the importance of cultural maintenance to migrants and refugee individuals and communities, the submission makes a range of recommendations including the need for a national multicultural agenda that is inclusive and wide-reaching in its notion of ‘multiculturalism’.

Download a copy of the submission.

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5. Pregnancy Support Counselling Medicare items

Non-Directive Pregnancy Support Counselling Medicare Items are available to women who have personal, social or health decision concerns about a current or recent pregnancy (within the last 12 months). These pregnancy support counselling sessions cover broader areas than mental health and only require a referral note from a GP.

A recent review of these Medicare Items found that there is a low rate of provision of pregnancy-related counselling by psychologists. Therefore, we greatly encourage members to complete the online training and be available for services in Pregnancy Support Counselling.

In order to be eligible to use Pregnancy Support Counselling Medicare Items, psychologists must complete an online training program. The program takes approximately 3 hours to complete and provides training in non-directive counselling skills, pregnancy-related counselling issues, and pregnancy-related information resources. The successful completion of the 3-hour online training program has been endorsed by the APS for a total of 3 CPD hours. These hours can be recorded as generalist CPD or specialist CPD for the Colleges of Health Psychologists and Counselling Psychologists.

To register for this training program, or to find out more information about the training:

View website

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6. Psychology Board of Australia public forum in Melbourne

Professor Brin Grenyer, Chair, Psychology Board of Australia will address a public forum in Melbourne on 23 June 2011 to discuss the transition of Victorian practitioners to the national registration and accreditation scheme.  All psychologists and students are invited to attend. For more information go to the website.

View website

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7. Expressions of Interest: Queensland Board of the Psychology Board of Australia

Expressions of Interest and nominations are being sought from practitioner and community members for appointment on the Queensland Board of the Psychology Board of Australia. Applications close on 10 June 2011. 
For more information click here.

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8. Research opportunities
  • Effects of meditation on therapists and the therapeutic relationship
    Would you like to learn meditation? Would you be willing to participate in research on the impact of meditation training? This study provides you with the opportunity to learn meditation at no cost from an experienced instructor and seeks to examine the effects of learning meditation on therapists themselves and on their relationship with their clients. For more information, see:
    View details
  • Adequacy of APAC accredited postgraduate psychology programs in providing training for working with clients’ spiritual and/or religious worldviews 
    Participants are required for an anonymous web-based survey aimed to assess the perceived significance of incorporating religious and/or spiritual domains in clinical practice. It will also examine the adequacy of postgraduate psychology programs in imparting knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the provision of culturally sensitive clinical practice that integrates clients' religious and/or spiritual worldviews. For more information, see:
    View details
  • Co-habiting couples in Australia: Are you unmarried and living with your partner?  
    Researchers are seeking participants for a study examining the different reasons that couples choose to live together and how this relates to a range of relationship and psychological variables. For more information, see:
    View details
  • Attitudes towards male and female sexual offenders 
    Psychologists are invited to take part in research that is attempting to explore, and understand, the current attitudes held by Australian psychologists towards male and female sexual offenders. For more information, see:
    View details
  • The predictors of psychology specialty choice and practice location  
    Psychologists and masters students are invited to participate in a study investigating the role of career values and personality traits in predicting psychology specialty choice and practice location preference (i.e. urban or rural). For more information, see:
    View details

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View the latest recruitment and business opportunities for psychologists.
Upcoming events and CPD

16-17 June 2011 (ACT):
Psychological treatment of eating disorders in adults and older adolescents


24 June 2011 (NSW):
Psychological formulation

24 September 2011 (NT):
Treating behavioural sleep problems in children: What psychologists need to know

15 July 2011 (QLD):
Cyber bullying: Definition, incidence, impact and methods of prevention and intervention
27 August 2011 (SA):
Treating behavioural sleep problems in children: What psychologists need to know
8 July 2011 (TAS):
People who work with male survivors of sexual abuse
30 July 2011 (VIC):
Change a universal human experience: Managing the impact of loss, grief and trauma
31 August 2011 (WA):
Using emotion and attachment to work with couples


Search online for CPD activities and events at APS Events Calendar

News and media releases

20 May 2011:
Psychologists call for prompt end to restrictive practices in disability sector

 

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