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InPsych 2014 | Vol 36

Cover feature : Psychology in non-government organisations

APS support for psychologists working in NGOs

The APS provides a number of resources to support members who are working in NGOs.

Reference Group and National Office advisor

The APS Public Sector and Non-Government Organisation Reference Group was established in 2007 and is comprised of members with relevant expertise and experience within the sector. The Reference Group identifies issues and priorities affecting professional practice in NGO and public sector workplaces and provides advice on matters affecting psychologists working in these settings.

The APS also employs a part-time advisor based at the National Office to act as a link between members working in NGO settings and the APS. Through consultation with the Reference Group, the advisor develops resources that benefit and support the work of NGO psychologists and liaises with government and employer bodies to effect positive change for the profession. At times, the NGO advisor may take on an advocacy role, to support members or to promote psychology within NGO settings. The current NGO advisor is Graham Clue who can be contacted by email at g.clue@psychology.org.au.

A number of issues affecting the roles of NGO psychologists have been identified by the Reference Group and the advisor, and are currently being addressed, including:

  • Professional identity
  • Career progression
  • Remuneration
  • Access to professional development and supervision
  • Recruitment
  • Retention.

Framework for effective delivery of psychological services

The APS has developed a framework document that promotes the value of what psychologists can provide in NGO (and public sector) settings and the conditions they require to effectively undertake psychological work. The Framework for Effective Delivery of Psychological Services in the Public Sector and Non-Government Organisations aims to provide employers and psychologists with the principles and standards for the provision of effective psychological services, including information on ethical requirements, file management, supervision and professional development matters.

Recruitment and retention matters

A survey of psychologists working in NGOs and the public sector conducted by the APS in 2010 found that a significant proportion intended to leave their roles within a year. The ability to attract and retain staff in NGOs is a complex issue of supply and demand, and in order to flourish in the future organisations will need to develop strategies to support the career journeys of their psychology workforces. This is not a simple process, as each individual psychologist brings personal goals and expectations as well as a unique set of skills, values, interests and experiences to the process of designing and managing his or her career.

To assist with issues of recruitment and retention, the APS has prepared a discussion paper which examines the career development of psychologists in NGOs (as well as in the public sector). This paper aims to highlight for NGOs the issues for psychologists who may be considering employment, or are already employed, in an NGO in order to assist the development of strategies for recruitment and retention. The discussion paper examines recruitment issues, graduate programs within NGOs, the reasons that a psychologist may leave an organisation, and the career goals based on life span factors which individuals use to plot their career pathways.

The framework and discussion paper can be requested by emailing g.clue@psychology.org.au


Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on February 2014. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.