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In a recent online survey conducted by the Australian Association of Psychologists inc. (AAPi) 80% of respondents were opposed to the 2 tier Medicare system, and believed that equitable rebates should be available to clients of all registered Medicare providers.
When asked about the new Psychology Board of Australia’s (PBA) intention to distinguish between “endorsed” and “non endorsed” psychologists 76.2% of respondents believed that this represented an erosion of their qualifications.
“On 7th June the Association wrote to the PBA seeking clarification of the status of “endorsed” and “non endorsed” psychologists” Paul Stevenson, AAPi President said. “We particularly asked for details of the transition arrangements for non APS College practitioners, and if they will be “grandfathered” into “endorsed” status. Regrettably, in its first opportunity to display some leadership for the profession the PBA let down its constituents, and not only failed to respond to our inquiry but did not even pay the Association the courtesy of acknowledging receipt of our letter”
In a stinging rebuke of the system that results in GP’s receiving more than 50% of the Better Access Scheme’s Medicare funding for referring patients to psychologists, 86.2% of respondents indicated that GP’s should be reimbursed for referrals under their consultations funding and not from the mental health funding.
“This survey vindicates the position of AAPi in calling for the abolition of the 2 tier Medicare scheme, and for substantially more funding being made available on an equitable basis for the treatment of psychological conditions in the most vulnerable in our community” Paul Stevenson said.
Further endorsement of the AAPi came in the form of 84.6% of respondents wanting AAPi to promote professional development training programs, and 76.2% wanting the Association to take on a social advocacy role. The majority of respondents wanting the Association to concentrate on social issues in general.
Half of the respondents contributed comments on a variety of issues, many referring to the over prescribing of medication; however the majority of comments could be summarised by the following contribution:-
“Work towards gaining the acknowledgement of relevant bodies (e.g., Medicare) that psychologists who do not have a 'clinical masters' have relevant experience, that the professional development they have completed over the years is relevant study, and that there is no evidence that the clinical masters programmes run by universities provide better skilled aspiring psychologists than other legitimate avenues. It could be that those with a 'clinical masters' are less competent at the completion of their masters than those who have taken the 4 + 2 route, currently we don't know. It is very doubtful that a recent clinical master's graduate is more competent than an experienced 'generalist' psychologist, whatever route they have taken to attain their registration.”
Author Paul J Stevenson OAM, President AAPi
New Board Members to be announced soon.