AAPi's tagline is 'A true voice for psychology'. This week, our voice became a roar. Not only has AAPi been extremely vocal about our objection to the cutting of Better Access sessions, but this has also been an opportunity to highlight the systemic issues related to the two-tier system and provided a platform for our advocacy for provisional psychologists and regional and rural psychologists.
AAPi's response to the Federal Government's decision not to continue with the 20 subsided psychology sessions in 2023 has received extensive media coverage since Monday afternoon.
We are bitterly disappointed with this decision, and our objection to it has been widely reported across national media, including:
On Thursday, Sahra went head-to-head with Sydney University's Brain and Mind Centre Professor Ian Hickie on Radio National Breakfast on the subject of the Federal Government's cuts to the Better Access psychology sessions.
Sahra expressed her concern for people in ongoing care who will now suffer as a result of the cuts:
"The thing that we as psychologists are concerned about is that people who had been accessing services will now have to be reducing the frequency of the services they are accessing," she said.
Ian claimed that by reducing the number of subsidised sessions, more people would be able to access a psychologist.
However, Sahra argued that people in lower socioeconomic areas can't afford the gap payments at all. "The equitability issue here...is the fact that the Medicare rebate is incredibly low for psychology sessions - and this is what needs to be addressed."
Sahra said AAPi was proposing all psychologists are eligible to provide a $150 rebate for all clients and, most importantly, that a client can choose the psychologist who is the best fit for them.
The debate touched on a number of issues, including workforce supply, training of psychologists, rural and regional incentives, provisional psychologists and the possibility of fully bulk-billed sessions.
You can listen to the full discussion here.
AAPi will keep this momentum going - please lend your voice by contacting your local MP to express your disappointment at the decision and the need to address the underlying issues, not cut services. Further details about how to do this can be found here.
Thank you so much to the 200+ members who have copied us into your communications, many of which have led to meetings with your MPs. Now is the time to take action to correct this mistake and implement vital changes to mental health care in Australia.