The Sad facts of Psychology in Australia since 2006

Based on no evidence the board of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), the peak professional body, presented a formal submission to the then Health, Minister Tony Abbott in 2006, recommending that only clinical psychologists receive Medicare rebate.

It will come as no surprise that the Society’s executive had been dominated by members of the College of Clinical Psychology since 2001.

The APS submission led to the now famous two-tier Medicare rebate system that has torn the profession apart for the past eleven years. It has devalued alternative psychology approaches which have been reduced to almost nothing at Australian universities – such as counselling psychology, health psychology, education psychology, sports psychology, etc. – all because of the higher rebate for clinical psychology.

Thousands of psychologists have been disenfranchised and struggling to survive because their own Society has not acted in their best interests. Inexperienced clinical psychology graduates, fresh out of University, have been able to offer 40% higher rebates than psychologists with ten or more years experience in the field.

Naturally for the past twelve years students have followed the money and almost exclusively signed up for clinical psychology courses. This division in rebates are not happening anywhere else in the world.

The only comprehensive study comparing the outcomes of clinical psychologists to other psychologists showed that the non-clinical actually did slightly better than clinical – the Evaluation of the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule Initiative (2011).

Despite 70% of its 24,000 members being non-clinical, the APS board has done little to improve their situation with health authorities and the general public and their members continue be discriminated against and lose services, such as Centre Link etc.

Until two years ago APS Members were unaware of the fatal 2006 submission, when it was finally posted on RAPS’ website. Since then thousands have left the Society disillusioned and disgusted by their leaders. You can find the relevant documents here. You can find some other related documents (via cryptome) here:

RAPS mounted a spill of the APS board last September, which failed due to our lack of ability to reach all members. The Society would only provide postal addresses – yet promoted their own campaigns via members’ email addresses – and postage costs were in the tens of thousands.

Another breakaway group called Australian Association of Psychologists Inc. (AAPI) have been working tirelessly for several years to correct the government’s perception that clinical psychology is the superior to other psychological approaches. They currently have 7000 members.

Why are our taxes being spent on paying 40% more for the same services?