6 June 2020 Update

Two Tier Update

As many of you will know, AAPi has been working tirelessly to bring about a one tier Medicare rebate for the clients of all psychologists and through adequate MBS funding to increase community access to psychological support. AAPi is working on a number of different pathways to bring this to fruition. We are using advocacy methods, lobbying, media attention as well as legal channels. In a recent appeal to the Department of Health and to the Hon Greg Hunt MP directly for a provision of evidence to justify a higher tier exclusively for endorsed clinical psychologists, our legal team received the attached letter. 

We are disappointed with the response and will continue to follow all possible legal avenues to provide equal rebates to all psychologists and their clients.

If you support our mission for a one tier MBS rebate for the clients of all psychologists, at no less than the existing higher tier, please join AAPi today. This will not only benefit all psychologists, both endorsed and non endorsed, but most importantly allow more clients to access psychological services. Your membership fees support our work on this important issue and our growing membership numbers are a clear signal to government and other stakeholders that there is strong industry support for this change to occur and psychologists will no longer be silenced. If psychologists continue to support member associations that are not clearly advocating for a single Medicare rebate for psychological services, they are maintaining a system that restricts community access to effective psychological support. Our voice is stronger together.

Thank you,

Tegan Carrison

Executive Director, AAPi


Concerns Regarding NDIA Tender

AAPi is focused on reducing and ultimately eliminating the discrimination faced by the majority of psychologists in Australia. We believe when a small subsect of psychologists, in this case clinically endorsed psychologists, are given preferential status this is detrimental to the majority of psychologists, either with other areas of endorsement or with general registration. This ultimately reduces community access to psychologists. 

Part of the advocacy work of AAPi is to find and take quick action when this discrimination occurs.  

A tender was recently released by Services Australia with a closing date on the 11th of June 2020, for an Independent Assessment Panel for NDIA that only mentioned clinical psychologists as an approved 'Accessor Category'. 

Please read below for a brief summary of the tender details.

Depending on the disability type, Assessments will need to be conducted by an Assessor who holds the relevant experience and qualification for the Assessor Category (the Assessor Category required for an Assessment will be specified in the Referral Form). The Assessor Categories include: 

• speech pathologist; 

• occupational therapist; 

• physiotherapist; 

• social worker; 

• clinical psychologist; and

• rehabilitation counsellor.

The NDIA expects that most Assessors will hold qualifications in one of the Assessor Categories described above, but may consider additional Assessor Categories in certain circumstances, for example in rural and remote regions. Tenderers wishing to tender for additional Assessor Categories must clearly indicate their proposed professions in the Tender Response Forms.

This generated much concern from the team at AAPi. While we were concerned that it appeared to be limiting tender applicants just to endorsed clinical psychologists, we had further concerns that this would have flow on ramifications to other areas of service provision under the NDIS. On this basis, we immediately sought legal opinion as to whether such discrimination could be rectified. 

Further investigation from our legal team showed that non clinically endorsed psychology applications were accepted, despite being excluded from the official ‘Assessor Category’. However, all non-clinically endorsed psychologists, which is the majority of psychologists, would be required to identify themselves as an ‘Other Professional Type’. Despite the fact that registered psychologist services could be considered as appropriate, it’s clear that those services are not one of the limited Assessor Categories, and that inclusion in the Panel would be at the discretion of NDIA, presumably requiring a further layer of consideration, and would need to be addressed in any tender by a psychologist. This is unacceptable to AAPi and continues to perpetuate the myth that all psychologists, other than those with clinical endorsement, are not able to diagnose. AAPi is also looking into the service model proposed by this tender as we have very large concerns that NDIA may be inadvertently restricting access to persons with disabilities by requiring assessments be undertaken by few companies in order to meet access to NDIS. We are looking into this further and will be discussing the matter with the NDIA in order to clarify this. 

AAPi will continue to work on this issue and we have made a complaint to the Procurement Coordinator.  It is important that all psychologists continue to speak up when psychologists are discriminated against.  If we are going to reverse this discrimination, we all need to work together.

Procurement complaints can be lodged with the Procurement Coordinator here.

We will update our members with more information when it comes to hand. 

AAPi is the only member association that is taking action against this discrimination and we urge all psychologists to come together to support us, so we can continue to support you and the community.

The full tender details can be found below:

www.tenders.gov.au

The tender reference number is:

ATM ID: RFT 1000724626

ATM Title: Independent Assessment Panel 

Please note- If you wish to accesses the information or apply you will have to setup an account.


Former APS President Bob Montgomery

If you have been following the news, you may already be aware that clinical psychologist and former APS President, Bob Montgomery has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing children. Many of our members have written to us with concern about this.

The Australian Association of Psychologists Inc (AAPi) is outraged and deeply saddened by the deplorable actions of clinical psychologist, Bob Montgomery. We can confirm that Bob Montgomery has never been a member of AAPi, however we are shocked by the impact of his actions on our profession.  

The AAPi and our members abhor abuse of any kind.  We believe that every child has the right to feel safe and should be free to trust those who are in positions of care and leadership around them. We acknowledge the pain and suffering of his victims, and that of all victims of abuse at the hands of those in power.

While Bob Montgomery is no longer a clinical psychologist and has not been for 18 months since the charges were laid, we are appalled that he would use his position as a scoutmaster to take advantage of children. Psychologists enter the profession with a duty of care and his conduct is not only incompatible with what is expected of a psychologist – even outside of work – but also incompatible with human decency. 

AAPi has zero tolerance of any kind of abuse. We empathise with and support victims of child sexual abuse. We also thank and acknowledge the bravery of the victims reporting these offences. 

Our psychologists remain committed to providing vital support to our community, particularly as the stress and anxiety from the current pandemic continues to add greater strain to the mental health and wellbeing of families and individuals.   

AAPi encourages those needing mental health support to seek help from a psychologist. 

If you are in need of immediate support, please contact: 

Blue Knott Helpline

Ph: 1300 657 380 

Available Monday – Sunday, 9am-5pm AEST

Lifeline

Ph: 13 11 14

Available 24-hours


Member Community Forum Update

Thank you to all those who have logged in and joined our new member community forum! In our first few days, we already have over 100 discussion posts.

If you have yet to make use of this great new member benefit, please visit https://community.aapi.org.au/



New Member Benefit- Power Diary

Power Diary is the practice management software loved by over 27,000 practitioners. It includes calendar management, appointment reminders (SMS + email), telehealth video sessions, online forms, customised clinical note templates, client invoicing, online bookings, 2-way SMS chat, and a lot more! Plus, it integrates with Xero, Mailchimp, Stripe, Medicare, Tyro and others. Power Diary is popular with psychology clinics ranging from solo practitioners to large, multi-location practices. Based in Australia, Power Diary offers a 12-month Money-Back Guarantee, provides very high-quality support, and their specialist data team will happily manage the import of your data to help you get up-and-running quickly.

AAPi Member Benefits

You can start a free trial using this link. 

AAPi members get 50% off your first 6 months

Plus, AAPi Members also get 500 free SMS credits AND we’ll also import your data and provide support and training, free of charge. 

SMS credits can be used for automatic appointment reminders or general communications with clients. These credits do not expire.

After joining Power Diary, just email our team and let them know you are an AAPi member so that we can add the credits to your account.

See what other practitioners are saying about Power Diary here.


Research Project

Researchers at Monash University are currently seeking registered psychologists (general and provisional) to complete a brief survey on their perceptions of psychology training pathways, Area of Practice Endorsement, and the Better Access scheme.

Link to the study.


Have you supervised rural and remote psychologists or have you worked in rural and remote regions?

If this sounds like you, we would like to invite you to participate in a focus group looking at rural and remote supervisor skills. This research will be used to better understand the needs of supervisors and supervisees in rural and remote locations, and guide the development of the full supervisor training for new psychology supervisors. An introduction to the research is attached for your information.

Details about the proposed full supervisor training can be found here.

The focus group will cover the following topic areas:

  • the unique demands of rural and remote practice from the supervisor's and supervisee’s perspectives
  • skills and supports that are critical for a supervisor and supervisee to have
  • knowledge or skills you wish you had of received (but didn’t) when you did your training or started out as a supervisor
  • how to build a successful community of practice to provide ongoing support supervisors of rural and remote practitioners

You can register for this event by following this link to a private/secure Eventbrite page

You will receive a calendar invite with the online zoom details once you have registered your choice of day/time.

 If you aren’t able to attend any of the sessions listed (but want to participate) please contact me directly and I will accommodate as best as I can. Your participation in this research is completely voluntary. 

We would appreciate you sharing this information through your psychology networks.

Warm regards,

Dr Sharon Varela

Supervisor Training Program

Senior Clinical Lead - Mental Health (Psychologist) for North West and Central West Queensland

Centre for Rural and Remote Health and the College of Healthcare Sciences, James Cook University

P: (07) 4745 4500    M: 0428 684 655

E: supervisortraining@jcu.edu.au

W: https://www.crrh.jcu.edu.au/health-professionals/supervisor-training-2e39t6/psychology-and-allied-health/