Chief Services Officer Update 

Posted on 31 January 2022

2022 has arrived with a bang! For some it has meant additional stress, the arrival of COVID-19 in high numbers in their state for the first time, vaccination issues, concerns about safe delivery of face-to-face services, access to PCR or RAT testing to ensure client and practitioner safety, as well as getting back into business after a considerable Christmas break for many. We have provided a great deal of support to members already and our amazing Executive Director Tegan Carrison has gone into action mode, gaining access to tens of thousands of RAT multi-test kits and organising distribution to members. I for one am grateful for her tireless work to ensure that the association meets the needs of its members.

While I don't want to be overly negative, we are living in COVID-19 times and it would be remiss of me to not stress the importance of having your Professional Will completed. I have spoken with many psychologists who have contracted COVID-19 infection and the reality for many was a significant period of time off work, with this stretching for months for some and leading into Long-Covid. If you are unwell, you do not need to be worrying about your clients and if they are ok, your energy and reserves will need to be spent on your recovery. This is why planning ahead is so important! You can find a link to our guide here so that you can get prepared, just in case.

Along with these challenges, we have also seen some very positive events happening that indicate that this year may be a game changing year for psychology. We have seen more interest than ever in mental health, by nearly every political party in Australia. This election is proving to be a big platform for highlighting just how important the mental health of our nation is and what steps need to be taken to ensure it. Meeting with all parties prior to the election to ensure they understand our perspective is one of the main goals of AAPi in the first half of the year. So far, we have been met with an extremely positive reception and some have made public declarations of support.  

It is also shaping up to be a year with a focus on disability, disability rights and improving the health and well-being of NDIS participants with Athlete and Disability Advocate Dylan Alcott being named Australian of the Year. He has already kicked off his role by making public statements about NDIS funding issues, participants access to Rapid Antigen Testing, inclusion of lived experience in all areas of employment and representation, including the NDIS and addressing the high unemployment rate for those with disabilities (46%, double the Australian average). I, for one am watching closely to see what he can do to shake up the sector. 

AAPi has had massive growth so far this year, so for those of you that are new, welcome! We are so happy to have you here with us. AAPi prides itself on being member led and love our communication to be two way, not just us speaking out to the masses. Please engage with us, jump on the member forum and interact with your colleagues. Our community is one of a kind, you won't find a more supportive and encouraging group of people!

2022 is shaping up to be a massive year with many key events kicking off and many opportunities for advancement of the association and our members. Here is a brief overview;

  • Launch of our supervision directory is imminent - this will allow you to be matched with supervisors with the expertise and experience that you need. This service can be used by provisional, early career and advanced practitioners.
  • Significant legal updates are expected in the next month. We will share this detail with members when we have the full update.
  • Better Access Evaluation continues, with AAPi being involved in the Stakeholder Engagement Group. Surveys for practitioners who are delivering Medicare services will start in the next week with AAPi assisting with distribution. Please keep an eye out for this email in your inbox. It is imperative that your voice is heard.
  • The Psychology Board of Australia Education and Training Reform continues in February, with AAPi invited to participate in the new Professional Associations Stakeholder Working Group (PASWG). We know that many members have concerns about this review so please rest assured that you will be represented and your concerns will be raised. We will update you as more information is available. 
  • A new code of ethics is set to be finalised this year. It is expected that this will be similar to that of the other Ahpra boards. AAPi will be involved in the development and provide extensive member education when the code is launched.
  • The Senate Inquiry into Ahpra is almost complete and we expect the report to be released very soon. We thank our members who agreed to be case studies for our submission, and all those who contributed to the inquiry. We are hopeful this will mean changes to the way health professionals are dealt with by Ahpra and will provide more information to members as it becomes available.
  • A Select Committee has been formed to investigate the mental health of Queensland residents. We would encourage all of our Queensland members to make a submission. Find more information here.
  • The National Budget is due to be released in March. AAPi will be making a submission outlining the funding needs for mental health for consideration of the Government. We have been privileged to be invited to the pre-budget release for several years now and will have a full summary available for members following this.
  • The Federal Election in May this year provides an opportunity for Mental Health to be appropriately provided for. We have had years of strain upon the mental health of all Australians, but those that have been affected disproportionally need to be provided for. Our Election Pledge Campaign will begin in full force soon.

Thanks for bearing with me on such a big update, it is such an important year and it is our privilege to serve you!