It is important that all APS members read the latest article from Mr Anthony Cichello in InPsych. It is especially important for the hundreds of APS members who are supporters of the Reform APS groups (RAPS). It is unpleasant to read the article partly because a significant proportion has a regrettably self-congratulatory and self-approbationary tone. APS members are assured by Mr Cichello that the Board has acted “sincerely, diligently, and in the best interests of the Society”. Many APS members who are supporters of the RAPS group will remain unconvinced. The following quotes are taken from Mr Cichello’s article for analysis.
“Ongoing Pattern of Divisions”
The APS Board has institutionalised divisions within the membership. The two-tiered system divides the membership. The APS Board is responsible for this division and determinedly fights for its preservation. Neither RAPS, nor any of its supporters created this division in the APS; the responsibility lies solely with the APS Board. The Reform APS movement seeks to heal this division by unifying the profession of all registered psychologists, recognising the expertise and skills of all. The emergence of RAPS is a consequence of the division created by the APS Board; RAPS may be the remedy for that division.
“Interests of a particular group”
The two-tier system clearly provides an advantage for Clinical Psychologists, that is, it promotes the interests of this particular group above the interests of all other registered psychologists. Clinical Psychologists, both before the recent election and now as a result of the election, form an overwhelming majority of Board members. The practices of the APS Board have cemented the influence of this particular group. It is the Board, and not RAPS which is effectively acting in the interests of a particular group.
“Duly and Democratically elected”
While Mr Cichello acknowledges that APS members have the right to remove directors, his whole article is a condemnation of those members for attempting just that! Participating in a democratic process has attracted Mr Cichello’s diatribe against APS members having the temerity to exercise this right. Furthermore, serious reservations exist about the degree to which Board elections are democratic. Some APS members can vote for a number of Board positions, other APS members are restricted to only one. This kind of gerrymander is a travesty of a democratic system. It is the APS Board that has created that system, not the APS members who are supporters of the RAPS movement.
On 16th June, 2014, writing as the National Chair of the College of Clinical Psychologists, Mr Cichello (with Ms Ros Knight) made a submission to the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council on APS letterhead, stating
“Australia has the lowest standards of training of professional psychologists in the Western World…”. This statement has achieved notoriety among many APS members who have been so insulted and traduced. This statement alone indicates that the hollowness of his claim that “The Board has an ongoing commitment to support all members of the Society.” All members of the Society were betrayed by this statement. This statement alone justifies a call for the position of chair to be spilled.
Many APS members who attended the Extraordinary General Meeting in Melbourne were appalled at the procedural irregularities. Votes in favour of motions were acknowledged, while votes against were not requested. Because of overcrowding, some participants were in an adjoining room making vote counting problematic. Several vote counters moved through the crowd, trying to count raised hands, inevitably coming to different results. Absurdly, their different numbers were averaged to decide outcomes. On the basis of these irregularities, important decisions were mandated. The EGM was a prominent example of Board incompetence, more than adequately justifying the call for a spill.
“Self-Serving Policies and Agendas”
Clearly APS Board decisions benefit one sector of the membership, submissions are made to undermine the status of some psychologists, and meetings are manipulated to promote the policies and agenda of the existing Board. An examination of the decisions and policies of the existing APS Board reveals a persistent bias in favour of Clinical psychologists, to the detriment of all other registered psychologists who are APS members.
Mr Cichello’s article is prefaced by a quote from Dan Millman in the 1980’s, misattributed to Socrates:
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”
The very name of the Reform APS group indicates that its supporters are focussed on constructive reform. The entrenched authorities within the APS are resisting reform calls from their members with all available resources. While Mr Cichello appears to be leading the attack, we supporters of Reform APS should be cautious and recall that, eventually, the historical Socrates was executed by the Athenian authorities.