After years of AAPi advocacy, multiple appearances in consultations, submissions, media and Senate hearings, today we have achieved significant change in legislation for the disability support pension for registered psychologists and their clients.

This is a monumental cause for celebration and AAPi will continue to work diligently to bring about the unravelling of many restrictions on the evidence that psychologists can provide to Government systems. AAPi will continue to work to rectify these instances of injustice wherever they appear so that psychology is respected for the specialty that it is, and we can all help our clients to the top of our scope of practice.

For those that are unaware, prior to this new legislation, only the diagnosis and evidence provided by clinical psychologists were accepted regarding mental health conditions that were eligible for a disability pension. Today the new legislation AAPi has worked so tirelessly to bring about was released, and supporting evidence from all psychologists will now be accepted! From the legislation –

The diagnosis of the condition causing the impairment must be made by an appropriately qualified medical practitioner (such as a general practitioner or a psychiatrist) with evidence from a registered psychologist (if the diagnosis has not been made by a psychiatrist).

Psychologists can now provide evidence regarding table 5 - Mental Health, Table 6 – Functioning related to Alcohol, Drug and Other Substance Use, Table 7 – Brain Function, Table 8 – Communication Function, Table 9 – Intellectual Function.

AAPi has advocated for the following to be addressed in submissions, consultations and senate enquiries:

  • the restrictions on practice of psychologists working with their clients to access DSP
  • inconsistencies in the requirements for each impairment table
  • the flow on effect of the restriction of practice of psychologists onto their disabled clients, particularly those in rural and remote areas
  • the low rate of pay for the DSP which inhibits care provision and medication compliance, further reducing the quality of life for Australians with a disability
  • the restrictive nature of the tables does not cover the range of disabilities and chronic illnesses that prevent workforce participation
  • that tables are skewed by focusing on physical disabilities that impact specific body parts and exclude chronic systemic illnesses, circulatory conditions, connective tissue disorders and the after-effects of cancer treatment
  • diagnoses that may be cyclical or fluctuate in severity were also not adequately catered for
  • consumers with several disabilities rather than one that gained enough points on any single table often struggle to be granted DSP
  • we asked that the impairment tables be immediately reviewed and that all practice restrictions on psychologists be removed

It is incredibly heartening that AAPi has achieved a positive outcome on many of these points in the new legislation.

The new Determination will take effect from 1 April 2023. 

Full details of the legislation and new impairment tables can be found here. It is really important to read this legislation in full, so that information you provide to Centrelink is addressing the right information to enable eligible clients to be granted the disability pension. A useful resource that helps with the writing of these reports can be found here

AAPi is working to provide professional development opportunities around this change in the very near future. We will keep you updated.

It is imperative that all psychologists are once again able to provide diagnostic reports for their clients in all areas, as is consistent with their high level of training and competence. AAPi is fighting to restore the rights of all psychologists and to reduce the barriers faced by clients in gaining the supports they need.

We want to give special thanks to the members who contributed case studies of how the previous legislation was causing harm to their clients. Your clients’ stories were incredibly distressing to hear and read, particularly the ones that led to suicide. You have honoured their stories by sharing them and ensuring the legislation was changed. We won’t list these individuals by name to protect the anonymity of their clients. This change in legislation is a great example of how we are stronger together. 

Amanda Curran

Chief Services Officer

Monumental Advocacy Win for Psychologists and Clients 

Posted on 3 March 2023