Earlier this week, AAPi was in Canberra attending the Mental Health Equity and Access Forum. This forum discussed Better Access as well as broader mental health care.

We were very pleased to see an enhanced focus on the lived experience of mental health, with people needing care being given a voice in partnership with those who provide that care. 

However this crisis persists and there are clients who are now rationing care, anxious that they can’t get the services they need because of the recent session cuts.  

AAPi recommended the need for some stopgap measures to be introduced so those who are already in the system can get evidence-based treatment, can get well again and exit the system to make way for new clients.  

Psychologists are stuck in an impossible situation where they are not ethically able to provide treatment within the current funding framework.

AAPi is calling for the following immediate stopgap measures: 

1) An increased number of sessions (more than 10) available for special circumstances, which could be managed by a GP. 

2) Increasing the rebate to the value of the schedule fee (this was previously done in psychiatry) - this would mean an increase of approx. $15-25 per session.

3) Reinstating the bushfire item numbers under Medicare but for use with all natural disasters that we have experienced in recent years.

Further recommendations included:

  • Reinstate the 4+2 pathway until the university sector is reviewed and changes made to psychology training
  • Putting into place supported government placements into rural and remote regions for provisional psychologists
  • Medicare item numbers for provisional psychologists to increase the workforce
  • Rural and remote loading for all allied health providers in rural and remote regions
  • Bulk billing incentives for all allied health providers

We will keep members informed of the outcomes of this forum.

Mental Health Equity and Access Forum 

Posted on 3 February 2023