AAPi Update

Posted on 20 September 2022

Last week we launched an extensive advocacy campaign with the new government culminating with a trip to Canberra and numerous critical political meetings. We met with key MPs, Ministers, Assistant Ministers, chief of staff and advisors. Our aim is simple - to ensure psychologists can deliver the best possible care and that vulnerable Australians have access to quality care whenever and wherever they need it.

AAPi strongly supports the recommendations of the final report of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, including the suggestion that the Government should evaluate the two-tier system impacts on treatment access, appropriateness and affordability of psychological care. We are seeking support from the Government to implement these recommendations.

Our crucial advocacy items include:

  1. A one-tier profession, including Medicare rebates and other fee schedules for the clients of all registered psychologists in Australia. This one-tier advocacy extends further than just rebates, it includes not restricting career opportunities or scope of practice limited solely on endorsement status. 
  2. The need to raise the Medicare rebate to $150 per session to allow for greater access.
  3. Implementing the Productivity Commission recommendation for up to 40 Medicare rebated sessions per annum, for those who need it.
  4. Establish a Provisional Psychologist Medicare rebate.
  5. Further support and incentives for rural and remote practices.

I also wanted to discuss an article that appeared in The Oz last week. This article quotes the Australian Psychological Society (APS) requesting that the Federal Government extend the extra 10 Better Access sessions established during the pandemic. While advocacy regarding retaining the extra sessions is welcome, it would be neglectful not to highlight the differences between what the APS and AAPi are calling for with regard to client access to extra Medicare psychology sessions. The stakes are too high to remain silent. 

AAPi has been advocating to raise the Medicare rebated sessions to up to 40 for the clients of ALL psychologists, rebated at the same higher amount of $150. 

Conversely, the APS not only supports a two-tier funding system but also advocates for a two-tier system for the number of sessions that clients can access under Better Access, all based on the endorsement status of the psychologist. In the APS White Paper, published in 2019 and referred to in pivotal submissions including their 2021-22 Pre-Budget submission and their 2021 submission to the Select Committee into Mental Health and Suicide Prevention (submission 140), the APS advocated directly to the Federal Government to continue the two-tier system for psychologists (lower tier for psychologists without endorsement, the higher tier for psychologists with endorsement and who are working within their area of advanced competency as determined by the Psychology Board) but also recommended that only 'higher tier psychologists' be able to offer their clients more Medicare rebated sessions, up to 40 annually. This proposal not only discounts the experience and expertise of the majority of psychologists across the country but limits equitable access to clients.

Where you choose to be a member matters. Your membership dollars contribute to your chosen association's advocacy and lobbying as well as implying your support of their policy positions and government campaigns. AAPi unwaveringly advocates for the value and worth of all psychologists. If you are not yet an AAPi member, I encourage you to carefully considerwhich future for the profession you choose to support.