Australian Association of Psychologists Inc

True Voice of Australian Psychology

News and Updates

Latest news and updates from AAPi

Medicare Quick Reference Guide- This easy to navigate guide provides an overview of all the current MBS item numbers available to psychologists.

Download a copy here.

 

Updated Private Health Telehealth Codes- This is your go to resource for all the current telehealth codes for private health claiming. Current as of 27 April.

Download a copy here.

 

Updated Informed Financial Consent for Clients

Download a copy here.

 

Staying Mentally Well Through COVID-19 Infographic

AAPi has developed the a infographic for members of the public for staying mentally well during COVID-19. This can be downloaded here.

 

AHPRA has released telehealth guidance for practitioners. These can be viewed here. 

 

Government Update

On 22 April Professor Kidd was joined by CEO of the National Mental Health Commission Christine Morgan, and First Assistant Secretary in the Mental Health Division Mr Mark Roddam. This webinar can be viewed here.

 

The Science of Happiness- Free Course from Berkeley 

Click here to access.

 

AAPi has made all COVID-19 related resources freely available, so please share these widely with anyone who would benefit. 

 

Removal of Mandatory Bulk Billing for COVID-19 Telehealth from Monday 20 April

 

I am proud to be able to announce that as of Monday 20 April, psychologists will no longer be required to bulk bill in order to access the MBS COVID-19 telehealth items. 

 

This replaces the previous directive that certain groups (concession card holders, under 16 and 'vulnerable' clients) needed to be bulk billed. As of Monday, this condition will be removed for psychologists, along with specialist and consultant physicians, nurse practitioners, midwives and other allied health professionals. GP's and medical practitioners in general practice are still required to bulk bill certain client groups.

 

This is a welcome result, and one that AAPi has been fighting for on behalf of our members since mediatory bulk billing was announced. Mandatory bulk billing was un-necessarily restrictive. We believe that individual psychologists are best placed to determine their own billing arrangements, in consultation with their clients and taking into account their individual circumstances. The removal of required bulk billing is an acknowledgement of the lack of viability this would have long term to the vital mental health services that psychologists provide. We thank the government for listening and acting.

 

This decision from government is a result of the dedication from a number of stakeholders and we thank every individual, group, association and organisation for their contribution. This has been a combined effort and one that AAPi has been fighting for on a number of fronts.

 

While this is another step forward, AAPi is still actively working towards a number of improvements including:

  • The removal of the two tier Medicare system. We are asking for all psychologists to have access to the one, higher Medicare tier. This is about improving access to vital mental health services. If all psychologists had access to the one higher tier, then more clients could be bulk billed or out of pocket expenses minimised without risking the financial viability of services.
  • We are asking for a doubling of the rebatable sessions covered by Medicare. Australians need more help to get through COVID-19 than currently available.
  • Allowing clients to self refer to psychologists. Again this is about improving access for clients to get the help they need, when they need it. The government lifted this restriction for the Bushfire Recovery Items to encourage access, we are asking for clients to be able to self refer directly to a psychologist during COVID-19, while still being able to access Medicare rebated sessions.
  • Telehealth item numbers for group psychology sessions. As of April 20, psychiatrists will have access to COVID-19 telehealth group item numbers. It is important that psychologists can provide group sessions, especially at this time of increased social isolation for the wider community.

 

AAPi will continue to keep our members up to date with information as it becomes available. We thank all our members for their support, so we can continue to work towards improvements that will benefit all psychologists and increase access to those in need.

 

Take Care,

Tegan Carrison

Executive Director

 

Download our COVID-19 March 27 Update- Telehealth Special 

This contains loads of resources and a comprehensive answers to your most common questions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Full Update March 20

A update for psychologists regarding COVID-19 can be downloaded here

Coronavirus Downloadable Flyer

We have been receiving a large volume of requests for a printable flyer that can be displayed in workplaces, so we thought we would share this with our whole community.

Please see below a flyer you may choose to use regarding Coronavirus.

Download Flyer Here

Please note, this is based on current advice from government and may change depending on the spread of the virus. We will update this if any major changes occur.

We are in regular communication with state and federal governments regarding Coronavirus and will continue to advocate for access to Telehealth.

 

 

AAPi Advocacy for increased access to Telehealth in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Australian Association of Psychologists Incorporated (AAPi) would like to advocate for a proactive approach through increased access to Medicare rebated Telehealth services by the Australian Government due to the current threat and increased prevalence of Coronavirus in Australia. 

Whilst we do not wish to be alarmist, AAPi strives to be forward thinking and have systems in place in case of a ‘worst case scenario’. It is for this reason, that AAPi is lobbying the Australian Government to provide Medicare rebated Telehealth services for all psychologists in the below circumstances. AAPi requests that the Australian Government establish new telehealth item numbers, without the need for a Mental Health Care Plan so that immediate access to vital psychological support can be provided without the barrier of seeking out a GP, during this time of self-isolation, risking the spread of the virus and without placing a further burden on our overstretched health care system. AAPi respectfully requests that the suggested Coronavirus Telehealth item numbers be set at the same rate for all psychologists and at an amount that will allow for a higher likelihood of bulk billing, to remove the barrier of a gap fee payment being a deterrent to those who need mental health services at this challenging time, especially for those clients who are unable to work due to illness or the need to self-isolate.  

Suggested circumstances for access to psychological services via Telehealth:

  • When a diagnosis of Coronavirus has been made for a client of the service, or a new client to a service.
  • Access to psychology telehealth services when a client or new client who is required to self-quarantine due to national guidelines. 
  • Those choosing to self-isolate due to fear or concern of the virus.
  • Due to the nature of their work, many health professionals, including psychologists, are at an increased risk of exposure, and therefore the need to self-quarantine. Thus being the case, AAPi would like to appeal to the government to allow all psychologists to provide Telehealth services when they, as practitioners, are unable to see clients in person. This will allow psychologists to continue to provide support to their clients, as well as ensure they are not financially penalised.

AAPi also requests the government to consider increased psychological sessions (Telehealth or in person) over and above the current Better Access, Eating Disorder or Bushfire recovery session allowance when a client’s mental health diagnosis or status has been effectively setback by the psychological impact caused by Coronavirus either through the diagnosis of, exposure to, need to self-isolate or the vicarious effect of media reporting and social concerns about the virus.

Why the importance of access to psychologists at this time:

Outbreaks such as Coronavirus and the intense media reporting surrounding it, can significantly and negatively impact the mental health of individuals and our communities, especially those already experiencing mental illness. High levels of stress and anxiety about oneself or loved ones contracting the disease and the concerns about employment and financial stability if required to self-isolate, can culminate in a perfect storm of conditions to create or exacerbate mental ill-health. We know that early intervention in mental health is important.

Continued, and where appropriate, increased, access to psychologists is essential at this time.  

Extra message to our members and the psychology community:

Whilst we do not want to overwhelm or contribute to the fear surrounding a Coronavirus outbreak in Australia, we did want to provide our members with the assurance that AAPi is taking the Coronavirus threat seriously and taking the proactive approach in advocating for access to psychologists.

If you would like information on the steps you can take to protect yourself personally from the spread of the virus, you can access this via the World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public 

There is also useful visual downloadable documents that you can display in your workplaces, such as coping with the stress of Coronavirus (adult and child version) and the importance of good hand hygiene, that can be accessed by the above link. 

AAPi will continue to keep our members informed of any developments.

 

Bushfire Recovery- Free Resources for Mental Health Professionals 

The Australian bushfire crisis has impacted millions, putting individuals, families and entire communities at higher risk of trauma and psychological/emotional distress.
 
In response, many mental health professionals across the country are putting their hands up to assist those impacted by the disaster. AAPi members have volunteered in droves and we thank each and every one of you.
 
To support the recovery efforts, AAPi has partnered with the Mental Health Academy to bring a collection of freely accessible educational resources focusing on disaster mental health topics, including:

  • Psychological First Aid
  • Understanding the Traumatic Effects of Disasters
  • Suicide Prevention with Disaster- and Trauma-affected Clients
  • Working with Traumatised Clients and,
  • Early Intervention for Children Who Experience Trauma.

These resources are entirely free and available here:
 
https://www.mentalhealthacademy.com.au/bushfire-resources
 
We hope this collection will reach as many mental health professionals as possible and assist in their endeavours to provide to our struggling communities. So, we encourage you to share the link with your peers – and encourage them to do the same.  
 
If you are currently involved in helping those affected by the bushfire crisis, we would like to express our gratitude for the much-needed support you are providing. Thank you.

PS If you have any questions about our free educational resources, don’t hesitate to email Mental Health Academy on help@mentalhealthacademy.com and they will respond as soon as possible.
 
PPS Below are some useful links to some other leading industry organisations providing additional resources and services related to the current bushfire crisis: