Centrelink Absurdity

Has this, or Similar Happened to You?

RAPS has recently received the following communication via email about a generalists experience with Centrelink and their client.  What follows is verbatim, other than our addition of Alan Jones’ email address.
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I had Bulk-Billed a client for 10 Psychology sessions under Medicare. She asked me if I could help her complete a Disability Support Pension Application Form for her.

No problem, I thought, because I had actually even worked in a real paid job as a Job Capacity Assessor at Mission Australia doing outsourced Centrelink Work during my 4 + 2 Internship, and have worked at the coalface full-time for almost a decade, in one of the most diverse LGA’s Socio/Economically in Sydney.

The client was told by Centrelink Staff that my assessment report was not valid because it had to be done by a “Clinical” Psychologist or Psychiatrist, despite the fact that I had worked as a Job Capacity Assessor and my reports were acceptable then.

I trained and did real work in a Clinical setting from Day 1 after leaving University.

I learned more post-University because I was trained daily doing real work under a real psychologist with real clients – not mostly career academic University Staff with no teaching qualifications and seemingly little experience working as Sole Traders in private practice, doing imaginary role plays and writing copy and paste reports ad nauseam.

Working in private practice is a hell of a lot different to working in relatively sheltered academic and government related postings.

I believe academics should at least be required to have Qualifications in Teaching and at least 5 years full-time work as a sole trader in a private practice.

One of us “Generalist’s” harshest critics, appears to fit the above criteria to a tee, given their online resume.

I pass the Pub and Duck Test and I believe, like others, I should be able to call myself a Clinical Psychologist, because that is what I do and what the public see that I do.

We are really just talking semantics here with that “protected” term Clinical.

Anyway, the client could not afford to pay for further sessions with a “Clinical” Psychologist or Psychiatrist, so she was very distressed.

We had built up a solid rapport over time and she just could not understand why Centrelink would not accept my report.

She understandably questioned my Registration to Practice as a Psychologist and I felt my integrity and professionalism was being undermined by Centrelink;  and felt I should not have had to try and justify myself.

The client was very upset with all the inconvenience and had to go back to Centrelink to explain that she had used up her full quota of 10 sessions.

Centrelink then referred her to a “student” psychologist in training at the Psychology Clinic at U.W.S.

Centrelink accepted that student report over mine!

I was so outraged I asked her if I could have her written permission to disclose this situation to whoever/whenever; and she agreed.

It also inspired me to start up the following petition, because I just felt at the time, enough is enough:

https://www.change.org/p/malcolm-turnbull-one-medicare-rebate-for-all-psychologists

This is not an isolated case and I have several other signatories who have agreed to help me, having faced the same frustrating situation as this client.

This has cost me, the government, psychologists, taxpayers and clients a lot of unnecessary distress, time, money, inconvenience and personal cost since 2006 when effectively the dubious, Medicare Endorsed 2 Tier Rebate came about.

Psychology is the  only Allied Health Profession that has a 2 Tier Rebate mind you, too. Why?

Nobody seemingly wants to know; and where will this nonsense end?

2GB Alan Jones told me there must be another side to the story, but there isn’t.

I suppose I seemed like a lone wolf way back then.

However, maybe you can all write and set him straight. -> alanjones@2gb.com

Regards,

Harold