I'm writing to you at the conclusion of another extremely busy fortnight. From my perspective, what sets AAPi apart is our advocacy work focused on the most significant issues that impact our members and the individual communities they serve. Working towards beneficial, systemic change is at the core of all we do. The highlight of this period was that as a result of our advocacy work, questions about the two-tier system, how to improve access and equity for mental health care and the cessation of the additional 10 Better Access sessions were raised at Parliament House with further questions focused on other AAPi advocacy issues to be included as Questions on Notice for the Community Affairs Legislation Committee.
Regarding the two-tier system, Senator Tammy Tyrell asked the following question.
"Under the Better Access scheme, only the clients of endorsed clinical psychologists are rebated at a higher level, around $40 more per session. There is a lower rebate for the eight other endorsement areas in psychology. The lower rebate applies to people who have undertaken the same amount of education and training and psychologists with general registration. My first point is: why is there a lower rebate? My second is: is the government planning to review the two-tier system?"
Unfortunately, the Government ducked and weaved in its verbal response. Still, we are continuing to apply pressure on all sides to achieve the removal of the two-tier system which we know is harmful to clients and psychologists. You can read the full transcript here from page 87.
We have also continued to promote our 'Help Us Help More' advocacy campaign ahead of the May Federal Budget. This week, Help Us Help more has been featured on the 2SM Radio Network, Kiddipedia, and our extensive media coverage on ABC television and radio last week. Help Us Help More is focused on achieving the following:
- Provide access to additional subsidised psychology sessions for those with more complex mental health needs.
- Increase the Medicare rebate to $150 for the clients of all psychologists to enable more bulk billing and decrease out-of-pocket expenses to ensure that mental health services are more accessible.
- Offer incentives to rural and regional mental health practitioners to support practitioners to service more regional and rural areas and alleviate the build-up of demand currently faced by regional and rural practitioners.
- Expand MBS eligibility to provisional psychologists to support early career psychologists and improve access and timeliness of services to clients.
- Improve career pathways for psychology students to be practice-ready when they finish. One way to achieve this would be to reinstate the 4+2 internship program - an intensive supervised training program for those who have completed the university component of their education.
- Provide more Commonwealth Supported Places for psychology students. This would mean places with no or reduced fees would be earmarked for those wanting to train as psychologists. The number of these places would align with and be determined by workforce demands and job vacancies.
To ensure the success of this campaign, the entire AAPi community must take action. Please visit the take action page today and take 5 minutes to write to Minister Butler and your local MP. You can also print signs to include in your workplace or download social media tiles to help spread the word. We can achieve our shared goals if we all join together.
Other vital activities this fortnight included:
- Meeting with WorkSafe Victoria to work collaboratively on new systems and processes
- Consultation with SIRA and strong advocacy for member concerns
- NDIS Allied Health Working Group Meeting
- Joint submission with the Disability Advocacy Network Australia on the New Act to Replace the Disability Services Act 1986