In response to several stories and feedback from our members around the pandemic-induced mental health crisis, AAPi responded by lobbying for more support for psychologists. Our media presence for August has reached almost 2 million people so far. We will continue to work hard to ensure AAPi's messages are heard around the country.
Our standout media piece this week was this article by the ABC advocating for a Medicare rebate for provisional psychologists and raising the Medicare rebate for the clients of all psychologists to $150.
In response to claims by Dr Maria Boulton of AMA Qld that there is a six to nine-month waiting list for psychologists, we issued a statement providing a number of solutions to this problem. This included the use of provisional psychologists; raising the Medicare rebate to $150; and more government financial support for practitioners in regional, rural and remote areas.
AAPi member Clive Jones was interviewed at length in a morning program on Gold Coast radio about the topic, with AAPi mentioned several times. Thank you Clive for your long standing support and advocacy.
In response to a story on the ABC about the declining mental health of tradies, AAPi again advocated for an equal and increased rebate across the board. AAPi director Betty Chetcuti spoke about this in a news story that ran on ABC radio on 18 August. Betty works tirelessly in her advocacy efforts for psychologists.
AAPi member Mark Baxter should be commended for his brilliant interview with the ABC regarding our proposed Medicare rebate for provisional psychologists and increasing the Medicare rebate for all psychologists. You can listen to this interview here. Thank you Mark.
AAPi has been advocating for further support for and greater utilisation of provisional psychologists for a number of years. We have significantly ramped up our advocacy for this as a matter of urgency due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having worked for a major Australian university as a clinical supervisor, overseeing student placements, as well running a student health service, I am passionate about doing more to support those early in their psychology careers by implementing systemic changes that will allow this to occur.
I have written about this previously but to I wanted to reiterate some of the reasons we are advocating for a Medicare rebate for provisional psychologists:
- There is signifiant increased demand for psychological and mental health services in Australia.
- We are concerned about the long waiting lists and burnout of many psychologists. The impact of the pandemic will have implications for many years to come.
- Provisional psychologists are approved to work with clients and they can and do work with clients in the community and in private practice under supervision.
- What we are asking for is a Medicare rebate for provisional psychologists.
- At present there is no Medicare rebate for provisional psychologists, so if a clients was seeing a provisional psychologist in private practice this would be at a cost to the client.
- Provisional psychologists would continue to work under close supervision and clients triaged appropriately.
- We are currently facing a mental health crisis and we need to urgently increase access and funding for all mental health services.
- We hear from provisional psychologists who struggle to gain employment as it is unviable for private practices to employ provisional psychologists without a dedicated funding stream such as Medicare.
- Other valued and important areas such as public service, education and disability have established funding for the employment of provisional psychologists, private practice does not. We will continue to support increased opportunities and supports for all sectors psychologist work in.
- Universities often place caps on the number of students for psychology courses due to lack of placements, particularly in private practice.
- We hear from clients and GPs who have called 10-20 psychologists unable to find availability.
A plan for provisional psychologists to provide supervised care under Medicare is just one strategy. We are also supporting increased funding for psychology courses, increased recognition in all areas and settings psychologists work in, permanent telehealth, reduced red tape and administrative burdens, incentives for rural and remote psychologists and other improvements to existing mental health care systems.
If you have any feedback, ideas or suggestions, you can reach me directly by emailing [email protected].
For anyone who has been impacted by the pandemic, we have assembled a COVID-19 Financial Supports Guide, we also keep all COVID-19 information freely available and updated on our website. Work-induced stress and trauma is a reality many of us face, learn more about how to recognise and prevent this here. If you need support at this time, please reach out to AAPi, we are always here to support you.