Changes to university fees for Clinical Psychology

 

Many of you will be aware of the recent announcement made by the Federal Government of fee changes to university courses, including the reduction in fees of clinical psychology degrees by 46% from 2021. At this time, the only psychology courses to have reduced fees, will be those for clinical psychology. This announcement preferencing clinical psychology programs over all other psychology programs will further destroy our profession. Ultimately, it is the community members in need who are missing out. Australians need all types of psychologists, now and into the future. Isolating clinical psychology as an in-demand field for the university fee reduction will only contribute further to the discord in the industry and add to the burden of the community, who are already penalised and pay more out-of-pocket to see any psychologist who does not hold clinical endorsement.

The Australian Association of Psychologists (AAPi) was incredibly disappointed to note that only the niche Clinical Psychology course attracted a discount while other psychology courses are likely to attract fee increases or remain the same. Ultimately, this does nothing to address the massive and very urgent problem facing Australians, which is a huge spike in mental health challenges and a refusal from the government to prioritise real action that will help flatten the mental health curve. 

We need more mental support today, not just in six years’ time. Australians need an immediate increase to the Medicare rebate available for all psychology services, and an increase in the number of allowable sessions under a mental health plan. 

Tegan Carrison, Executive Director of AAPi, is keen to ensure Australians are aware of the ramifications behind this type of decision. She sums it up as follow: “We already have confusion and a deep disconnect here in Australia between registered psychologists and clinical psychologists, without adding to the perplexity by making the course fees dramatically different, which does nothing to assist the current mental health challenges our nation is facing.

“We take issue with the effect that the system has on Australians who are increasingly in need of mental health support. Registered psychologists make up 70% of psychologists in Australia, but due to the existing Medicare two-tier bulk billing system, it’s the patients that end up having to pay more out of pocket as our majority cohort of psychologists attract lower rebates from the government, so the patients end up footing more of the bill."

“And while more psychologists are going to be needed for our growing population and the unfolding long-term impact of a pandemic on our mental health, the ongoing bias towards only clinical psychologists simply adds insult to injury for the bulk of the industry and creates confusion for access mental health services”.

Those wanting to follow media articles regarding this can start with this article published in the Financial Review.

AAPi is taking action against this further step to reduce diversity in Australian psychology. Why should clinical psychology receive discounted education over all other psychology study pathways?  This, along with the fact that clinical psychologists receive significantly higher wages due to the two-tier Medicare system, makes this more denigrating to most psychologists and the psychology industry. 

We have contacted the Education Minister, Dan Tehan. You can access one of our letters here.

We encourage all psychology students and psychologists to write to Minister Tehan with your concerns.

 

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