The idea for presenting this cover feature grew out of a special forum held in July 2007 at The Alfred hospital, which was initiated by a group of senior psychologists in public health settings acrossmetropolitan Melbourne (the Heads of Psychology Group). The forum was convened for psychologists employed in public mental health services and focused on the impact of the introduction of Medicare rebates for psychological treatment on psychologists and psychology services in the public mental health sector. The introduction of the Medicare rebates has increased the attraction and feasibility of private practice for psychologists, representing a potential threat to the workforce of psychologists in public sector mental health services.

The Melbourne forum explored both the challenges and the opportunities for the public mental health psychology workforce resulting from the introduction of Medicare-funded psychological treatment, and canvassed some of the possible concerns in relation to the needs of consumers with severe mental health problems. The meeting generated a high degree of interest and discussion within the forum and beyond. Because the issues were of obvious national relevance, we were motivated to work with the APS to compile this cover feature of InPsych. Although we are mindful that not all of the data and perspectives here will be applicable beyond Melbourne, our hope is that this cover feature will stimulate discussions, collaborations, and new initiatives across Australia which will enhance the public sector psychology workforce that provides services to individuals with the most severe, complex and enduring mental health disorders.

Associate Professor John Gleeson MAPS and Associate Professor Warrick Brewer MAPS on behalf of the Heads of Psychology Group*

* Members of the Heads of Psychology Group are Dr Priscilla Yardley (Acting Chair), Dr Patricia Miach, Dr Anne Arnott, Sonia Thomas, Angelika Bastin-Popp, Tessa Jones, Trish Altieri, Deb Leighton, Margaret Foulds, Grey Searle, Professor Paul Martin, Dr Felicity Whitworth, Gail Bradley, Peter Brann, Dr Lesley Bretherton, Richard Bell, Elizabeth Mullaly, Annabel Pollard, and Professor Jeanette Milgrom