Members frustrated by lack of healthy dialogue with APS executive

An example of the long history many APS members have had in trying to establish healthy collaborative dialogue with the APS executive.

By Clive Jones PhD MAPS

Attached is a letter I sent to the APS Executive Director Prof Lyn Littlefield on 6th April 2006. It is a clear example of the way in which the APS executive seems to disengage from the proper address of legitimate concerns raised by its membership.

It is also a clear example of the length of time a significant cohort of the membership have been respectfully voicing concern, seeking clarity and encouraging open and honest discussion over the APS agenda on key issues faced by the APS membership.

I wrote this letter to the Executive Director and the APS board in April of 2006. That’s six months prior to the 2-tier Medicare Better Access Initiative being introduced. I was prompted to write in response to the growing hype around the initiative and the language and underpinning inference made through an InPsych article around the same time from Littlefield on the soon to be implemented Initiative in November of 2006.

I did not receive a reply.

This letter is one of probably hundreds, if not thousands of letters the APS executive would have received in the lead up to the Medicare Better Access Initiative in 2006 and thereafter over the proceeding 11 years up to and including the present day.

And still no clarity given, or practical solutions of resolve implemented.

RAPS: AN INEVITABLE BY-PRODUCT OF THE JOURNEY TAKEN AND THE JOURNEY SHARED

It is clear to see that the formation of RAPS is an obvious by-product of the indifference and/or contempt the APS executive seems to have shown towards key concerns that have continued to be raised by the membership well before the Medicare Better Access Initiative and associated developments were introduced and over the many years after their implementation.

From my perspective the APS did not and continues not to engage the membership in the process. It is the ‘closed shop’, ‘top down’ decision making process that also needs to be reformed in the APS.

The most recent InPsych address from the APS President is, from my perspective, a clear demonstration of contempt for those members who have chosen to express more openly and publicly their long-term concerns.

It’s unfortunate to say that our own team Captain, (the APS President) in his most recent message to his team (the APS membership) via InPsych, has chosen to degrade the intent of his own players by calling RAPS sympathisers, associates, supporters as “self-serving”.

By the tone of Mr Cichello’s message I am not surprised the formal mediation with RAPS did not come to bear any fruit.

PICKING A FIGHT RATHER THAN WORKING A SOLUTION

The fact is, thousands of psychologists who are APS members have for many years expressed grave concern over the growing developments in our profession that undermine their practice domain, and those of their colleagues, through a slow erosion of their credibility to practice across the many areas of expertise they have acquired.

It is unfortunate that the APS president, in his formal public address on the matter through the most recent edition of InPsych, could only offer a derogatory comment towards those who express such concern, rather than speak directly to those concerns. RAPS supporters and sympathisers are Mr Cichello’s team mates, colleagues, who share in APS membership with him and who want the best for Australian Psychologists and the community we all serve.

If we were serious about a unified voice, the APS executive would continue to openly and overtly promote and sell the expertise of ALL APS colleagues as they present in their practice expertise regardless of the pathway they have chosen.

Unfortunately, for over 11 years now, this has not occurred in a way that unambiguously demonstrates a commitment to all members and their expertise. And to top it all off now; in November of 2017, 11 years on from the commencement of the 2-tier issues; the APS president has chosen the tactic of playing the persons in the public allegation of some APS members being “self-serving” instead of offering a clear solution to the legitimate concerns raised.

As president of the APS this language does only serve to divide, not unite. Unfortunately, I personally consider this most recent statement from the APS president an unfortunate development that will only serve to trigger more unrest and distrust between colleagues.

I implore everyone – Don’t take the bait.

HOW TO RESPOND TO OUR PRESIDENT’S ACCUSATION OF SOME COLLEAGUES BEING SELF SERVING?

Start from the position of ACCEPTING and RESPECTING the expertise of ALL your colleagues. Regardless of the officially recognised and legislated pathway they have taken to acquire their expertise! Whether from a 4+2, 5+1, masters or any other pathway to registration and practice your colleagues have taken; accept the expertise they have and respect them for it.

Quite simple really. Nothing self-serving about this at all.

I will be following up directly with a letter to Mr Cichello to share the concerns I have raised here.

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Dr Clive M Jones Dipt, DipCouns, DipLC, BEd, MEd, GradDipPsych, PhD (psych), MAPS, MCSEP, MCCOUNSP

Psychological Services

 

Asst Professor – Bond University Faculty of Health Sciences & Medicine