In 2011 the Australian Government introduced mandatory CPD requirements for all allied mental health professionals delivering services under the Better Access initiative, including psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists. The mandatory CPD is a requirement of maintaining Medicare provider status.

Mandatory CPD requirements are now applicable to psychologists providing Focused Psychological Strategy (FPS) items. Psychologists providing clinical psychology Medicare items are already required to meet CPD requirements to maintain Medicare provider status, and these requirements are those to maintain eligibility for the APS College of Clinical Psychologists.

The CPD requirements are designed to ensure that government funding for the Better Access initiative supports best practice standards. The requirements provide a quality assurance mechanism that Commonwealth-funded mental health services are delivered by practitioners who have maintained their skills and knowledge base.

CPD requirements for Medicare Focused Psychological Strategy (FPS) providers

10 hours of FPS-related CPD activities per annual cycle must be undertaken to maintain Medicare provider status. These hours can be counted towards meeting the annual mandatory CPD requirements for national registration. This is an Australian Government requirement so please note that the annual cycle for this measure aligns with the financial year, meaning the cycle ends on 30 June each year. All FPS-related CPD must be undertaken by 30 June each year in order to meet the mandatory requirements.

FPS-related CPD activities are those that enhance the skills required to deliver FPS treatments allowable under the Better Access initiative, or the skills required to undertake a full assessment of clients to form a diagnosis and commence treatment planning.      

FPS-related CPD activities to maintain Medicare provider status

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), which are:

  • Psychoeducation
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy, including:
    • Behavioural interventions
    • Cognitive interventions
    • Relaxation strategies
    • Problem-solving skills training
    • Anger management
    • Stress management
    • Communication training
    • Social skills training
    • Parent management training
  • Interpersonal therapy (especially for depression)
  • There is also flexibility to include narrative therapy for clients of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

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.

CPD activities do not need to be formally approved but the relevance to delivering FPS Medicare items must be able to be justified in the event of an audit.

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.

Annual cycle and pro rata arrangements

The first annual cycle for FPS provider CPD requirements closed on 30 June 2011. The FPS CPD requirements for that cycle were applicable from the time the psychologist is registered with Medicare Australia or from 1 July 2009, whichever is the later.

Subsequent cycles will run from 1 July to 30 June each year. The 10 hours of FPS-related CPD is an ongoing annual requirement.

Part-time FPS providers are required to meet the same CPD requirements as full-time FPS providers (10 hours per annual cycle).

Psychologists who gain their Medicare Provider number with Medicare Australia part-way through the course of a Medicare CPD cycle will have their CPD requirement adjusted on a pro rata basis. The amount of CPD will be calculated from the 1st of the month immediately after the month the psychologist first obtained his or her Medicare Provider number. The CPD requirement will be one-twelfth of the yearly requirement for each month.

CPD requirements for Medicare clinical psychology providers

16 hours of clinical psychology-related CPD activities per annual cycle must be undertaken by psychologists to maintain Medicare provider status. These are the same requirements as those to maintain eligibility for membership of the APS College of Clinical Psychologists and PsyBA area of practice endorsement in clinical psychology. These hours can be counted towards the annual mandatory PsyBA and APS CPD requirements.

The annual cycle for this requirement is the PsyBA and APS annual cycle, which ends each year on 30 November.

Clinical psychology-related CPD activities to maintain Medicare provider status

Clinical psychology-related activities are those that enhance the specialist clinical psychology skills. Specialist clinical psychology CPD activities do not need to be formally approved, but the relevance to the specialist area of must be able to be justified in the event of an audit.

Acceptable CPD activities where the content is related to clinical psychology can include formal postgraduate education, workshops, seminars, lectures, journal reading, writing papers, receipt of supervision and peer consultation, and online training programs. Proof of participation in CPD activities (for example, receipts, participation certificates) must be retained and will be required to be submitted if the psychologist is audited. Psychologists who are selected for an audit will also be required to justify how the CPD activities undertaken are specialist clinical psychology in nature.

CPD monitoring and auditing arrangements

The Australian Government Department of Health (formerly The Department of Health and Ageing) had previously contracted the relevant professional organisations to monitor compliance with the Medicare CPD requirements. For psychologists, the APS was contracted to undertake this monitoring, but as of 17 May 2011 this monitoring arrangement has been altered due to constraints associated with legislation. The new CPD requirements for Medicare providers will now be monitored by Medicare Australia.

Psychologists must keep a record of the required Medicare CPD activities and provide this if requested for audit purposes. Records of CPD activities must be retained for two years. The Department of Health has advised that further information on the audit process will be provided to Medicare providers prior to the commencement of audits.

Psychologists who are audited and found to have not complied with the CPD requirements for Medicare providers will lose their Medicare billing rights to provide Medicare items. A reconsideration mechanism will allow providers to request either a further 28 days to complete the required hours of CPD or apply for internal review of a decision that the provider has not achieved the required Medicare CPD.

Psychologists can have their Medicare provider status reinstated once they meet the Medicare-related CPD requirements for the previous cycle (total of 10 hours for FPS providers and registration with endorsed area of practice in clinical psychology for Clinical Psychology providers). They will still be required to meet the full requirements for the new cycle by the end of that cycle.

More information on CPD requirements, deadlines, Medicare Australia notification, auditing processes and logging requirements can be found in the APS detailed CPD guidelines.