Advocacy update from AAPi Executive Director
We are working around the clock to ensure that Telehealth remains an option for psychologists and clients after September 30. Here are some of the actions we have taken to represent our members:
- AAPi has been featured in an article in The Australian here. We also have a PDF copy here.
- AAPi appeared on ABC TV news Tuesday night- thank you to our new director, Betty Chetcuti, for her excellent representation of the issue.
- We have been featured on several radio stations including ABC Radio National, ABC Sydney, 5AA Adelaide, 3AW, 96FM Perth, Smooth FM and many more.
- We have also been featured discussing the extension of telehealth in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
We know how important the extension of telehealth is for many of you. We will advise our members as soon as we have official confirmation regarding any extensions or changes.
Regarding the Job Ready Graduates Program, thank you to all those members that contributed by writing to MP’s, contacting the media and voicing your concerns. This Bill, that would have resulted in an increase in fees for undergraduate psychology degrees and some postgraduate courses, was successfully blocked and is being investigated and reviewed.
We have been working on an advocacy campaign regarding the NDIS Independent Assessment Concerns. AAPi vice president Amanda Curran, spoke with Crikey about this important topic. You can read a PDF copy of the article here.
After some concerns that The Australian Greens political party were supporting a 3 tier model for Better Access, AAPi immediately reached out to the Greens to clarify the issue. The Greens are supporting a tiered approach to the amount of sessions available under Better Access. What this would mean is that clients could access up to 40 psychology sessions across a three tier system within a 12 month period. Under the Greens proposal the first tier would contain a maximum of 10 sessions, a maximum of 20 sessions in the second tier and a maximum of 40 in the third tier, within a 12 month period. Progression through the tiers would be determined by a GP who has reviewed the clients progress. We have written to The Greens to inform them of the issues with the current two-tier system and to engage in collaborative discussions to improve the future of mental health care in Australia. We thank those members that have also personally written to the Greens on this issue.
AAPi met with the Shadow Minister for Health, Chris Bowen to discuss our many advocacy issues. This was a productive meeting, with follow up meetings planned and demonstrates AAPi's desire to work with all areas of politics in Australia to ensure the concerns of our members are heard and acted on.
Assessment and diagnosis for Centrelink, school verification of disability and access to NDIS funding has been of concern for many registered psychologists. We are actively progressing legal and advocacy options to address this.
A quick summary of the current issue:
- The current restrictions means that the number of psychologists able to perform this task is around 1/3 of all registered psychologists.
- Training for this level of assessment and diagnosis is NOT taught in the training program, so no psychologists are fully competent in this level of assessment and diagnosis at time of registration.
- Skills in this area are generally gained by psychologists that want to concentrate their skills and work in this area, and is usually fulfilled by a mix of PD, targeted supervision and experience by working with these clients.
- Holding an AoPE is not the accurate or applicable criteria to be given the authority to sign off on these reports.
- Due to this restriction, the waitlist for assessments are generally over 6 months and, for psychologists that are both able and passionate about doing this work, can be well over 12 months.
- The wait hinders the effect of early intervention and adequate support for children.
- Due to this wait, children are entering the school system without appropriate support early enough, and do not cope well. Associated impacts include low performance, increased mental health issues, school disengagement, decreased tertiary education and employment opportunities and increased risk of suicide.
Thank you to members Allison Haynes and Jutta Dempsey for their contribution to the above. Input from our members is vital and we appreciate your help and assistance.
We have also helped to highlight the importance of focusing on Mental Health during the pandemic through the media such as this article in The Age, where Amanda Curran discussed the mental health of teens'.
We are also working on advocacy items for provisional psychologists. These including utilising our incredibly competent and qualified provisional workforce in place of 'health coaches'. You can find more information on this in an article further down in this newsletter. AAPi is also progressing the inclusion of provisional psychologists into Medicare to better serve our community during these times of unprecedented need. More on this soon.
And last but not least, we are always working towards a one tier model for all psychologists in Australia, this includes increasing the Medicare rebate for a standard session to $150, claimable by all clients of registered psychologists.
This is just a brief (well brief in respects to just how much we are doing at the moment!) summary of what we are working on. As a not for profit, your membership fees and contributions allow us to continue our work to help psychologists and improve access to the vital services they provide. If you are yet to sign up or renew your membership, now is the time.
Tegan Carrison, Executive Director AAPi