If you have been following the media this week, you will have been bombarded with talk of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, and Medicare reform. Terms like fee-for-service, blended models, block funding, voluntary enrolment, wraparound services, and team-based care have been thrown around like confetti. Whether this latest Taskforce will result in tangible outcomes or just another report gathering dust is anyone's guess. What I do know is that without implementing the changes recommended by the health professionals on the front lines and then putting necessary funding and practical systems in place, any reforms are doomed before they begin. Until then, those in the trenches will continue to do what they have always done, provide expert and compassionate care to the communities they serve.
We are heading to Canberra on Monday to participate in the Mental Health Equity and Access Forum. This forum, hosted by Minister Butler and Assistant Minister McBride, will delve into Better Access and broader mental health services.
The first theme of the forum relates to key access barriers such as cost and workforce issues and ways to improve equity of access, particularly for at-risk and underserviced groups. The second theme will focus on how to ensure people have access to the right type of treatment and support through Better Access and other parts of the mental health system.
AAPi will be reinforcing our advocacy items and solutions at this critical forum. Underpinning all of this, we must cease the discrimination or categorisation of psychologists based on endorsement status. We must allow each psychologist to work at the very top of their individual scope of practice which considers the totality of their education, training, interest and experience. There is absolutely no justification for limiting rebates, job opportunities or diagnostic ability purely based on title. Psychologists are psychologists. Our strength lies in diversity and unity.
In addition to this and practical recommendations for the enhancement of Better Access, such as reducing the red tape and administrative burden, we will also recommend:
- Reinstate the additional 10 Better Access sessions and provide additional access and supports to those with more complex needs
- Increase the Medicare rebate to $150
- Offer more incentives to mental health practitioners working in regional and rural areas
- Expand MBS eligibility to provisional psychologists
- Improve career pathways for psychology students and reinstate the 4+2 Pathway
- Provide more Commonwealth Supported Places for psychology students.
We look forward to updating you on the outcomes of the forum.