The Australian Health Ministers Council announced in April this year that only seven areas of practice would be endorsed for suitably qualified psychologists under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS), omitting two areas of specialist practice from the nine well established psychology specialties. The exclusion of health psychology and community psychology from the final list of areas for endorsement on the national register is difficult to fathom given that psychologists in these two specialties have expertise critical to health services and community health promotion, and the NRAS is promulgated under a Health Act. The lack of endorsement status has major implications for the survival of these two important specialties of psychology.
It is understood that the Health Ministers' decision was taken to mirror the seven psychology specialisations that are recognised through specialist title registration in Western Australia, currently the only State with a specialist registration process. However, this decision does not take into account the Australian convention of identifying practice specialisation in the psychology profession with reference to the nine College structures developed and approved within the Australian Psychological Society, and the corresponding university postgraduate professional courses (Masters and doctorate degrees) that are available. Nor does the decision recognise the prominent psychology specialisations in international jurisdictions. In the United States, health psychology and community psychology each have a separate Division within the American Psychological Association and in the United Kingdom health psychology is an endorsed domain of practice on the register of the Health Professions Council. Both specialties are supported by extensive bodies of research literature.
This special report has been prepared to highlight the important contribution of these two psychology specialties to health and community wellbeing, and forms part of a major advocacy campaign to have health and community psychology included as areas of practice endorsement under the NRAS.