The decision by the Australian Health Ministers Council to now include health and community psychology in the list of approved areas of practice endorsement under national registration is a win for the health of Australians, according to the Australian Psychological Society (APS).
Executive Director of the APS Professor Lyn Littlefield said the ruling would ensure that Australians had access to psychologists in these speciality areas and that they would be able to confidently identify psychologists with the specialist expertise they required.
Health and community psychologists play an important role in the health of Australians. Health psychologists can effectively assist people to manage chronic disease and avoid costly hospitalisations.
They also play a key role in preventative health by helping people change and manage lifestyle factors that affect their health, such as smoking and being overweight. Community psychologists provide expertise on population-wide community and preventative health initiatives and work with vulnerable groups including Indigenous people and those affected by poverty, homelessness and disasters.
“With the public health crisis currently facing our community, with hospitals unable to cope and rising rates of disease created by unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, it is imperative that appropriate psychological expertise to tackle these areas can be accessed within the health workforce,” Professor Littlefield said. “The public and referring medical practitioners can now be confident that they can identify these specialist psychologists who are a critical component to improving health outcomes in the community.”
After months of intensive advocacy by the APS and its Colleges of Health Psychologists and Community Psychologists, the Ministerial Council has announced that these two specialist areas of psychological practice would be recognised under the Psychology Board of Australia (PBA) system of endorsement of specialist psychologists on the national register.
This decision also brings Australia in line with the UK and the US where both health and community psychology are recognised as prominent specialities.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Karen Coghlan or Judith Heywood on 0435 896 444.
The APS is the largest professional association for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 19,000 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.