We have been told numerous times by APS representatives that the Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, does not want psychologists to contact him. After the most recent such public statement in a regional meeting, one of our psychologist peers took action and followed this up directly with Greg Hunt. Ironically, this was around the same time that other psychologist peers had met with Greg Hunt and his Advisor.
Here is the reply email from Greg Hunt to our colleague’s query about whether or not he was happy to continue to hear from Australian psychologists.
Many thanks for your email and for raising this matter with me.
It is not accurate at all to say that I am not interested in hearing from stakeholders. All views on this matter are welcome and I would encourage interested parties to continue to make their concerns or views known.
The formal consultation on the MBS review of Medicare rebates for mental health services has now closed, however you are more than welcome to continue to write with your concerns and this will be fed into the review process.
Once again, thank you for raising this issue with me.
Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service & Cabinet
The email is straight forward. Individual, rank-and-file psychologists are stakeholders who are welcome to communicate their concerns and views as part of the MBS Review. Indeed, many of our psychologist peers have met and will continue to meet with Members of Parliament and Ministers, Greg Hunt included.
So, why would representatives of the organisation that claims to be the peak body for our profession state otherwise? What is the motivation behind such misleading public statements?
Will we allow the APS or any other organisation to stop us advocating for our clients and for our profession?
We should not feel restricted, professionally or politically, by a dogmatic and authoritarian organisation with an archaic policy that continues to differentiate between its professional members on the basis of an so-called Area of Practice Endorsement (AoPE).
The APS maintains its policy of differentiation on the basis of AoPE regardless of whom they are meeting or negotiating with, be it Medicare, Bupa or any other funding body or third party. This differentiation continues to restrict and discriminate against the majority of registered psychologists and, more importantly, their clients.
Recent APS figures indicate that their membership numbers have now reduced from 24,000 to 22,000. No surprises there. Congratulations to the -2,000 psychologists who have resigned their APS membership and moved on.
We all do well to remember that we live in a democracy where no unlegislated individual or organisation has the authority to tell others whom they can or cannot talk to, be they (whom we speak to) members of state or federal parliament, ministers or their advisors.
Let us Not be mislead or intimidated into silence or inactivity.
Let the advocacy continue, including meetings with Members of Parliament, Ministers and their Advisors. Every single rank-and-file psychologist has the democratic right to approach their parliamentary representatives.
Continue to do so!
Do not allow this sinking ship to drag you down with it.