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2018/19 annual summary

Psychology in 2018/19

Snapshot of the profession

  • 37,783 psychologists
  • Up 3.9% from 2017/18
  • 5.1% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.6% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 80.0% female; 20.0% male


Under 25 years old: 2%, 25-34 years old: 24.4%, 35-44 years old: 27.2%, 45-54 years old: 21.1%, 55-64 years old: 15.2%, 65-74 years old: 8.7%, Over 75 years old: 1.3%

Audit outcomes

Audit outcomes pie chart

  • 96.9% compliant: fully compliant with the registration standards
  • 0.6% non-compliant: non-compliant with one or more standards
  • 2.5% no audit action required: during the audit period, practitioners changed their registration type to non-practising, elected to surrender their registration or failed to renew their registration

Regulating the profession

  • 535 notifications lodged with AHPRA1
  • Australia-wide, including Health Professional Councils Authority (HPCA) in NSW and Office of the Health Ombudsman (OHO) in Queensland data, 741 registered psychologists – or 2.0% – had notifications made about them
  • 518 notifications closed
    • 10.0% had conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted
    • 10.8% received a caution or reprimand
    • 1.2% registration suspended or cancelled
    • 8.5% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity (HCE)
    • 0.2% surrendered registration
    • 69.3% no further action taken
  • Immediate action taken 20 times
  • 69 mandatory notifications received
    • 50 about professional standards
  • 142 psychologists monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 144 cases were being monitored at 30 June
    • 28 on grounds of conduct
    • 16 for health reasons
    • 31 for performance
    • 18 prohibited practitioner/student
    • 51 for suitability/eligibility for registration
  • 123 criminal offence complaints were made and 109 closed
    • 105 new matters related to title protection
    • 3 to practice protection
    • 13 to advertising breaches
    • 2 to other offences
  • Matters decided by a tribunal: 13
  • Matters decided by a panel: 3
  • Decisions appealed: 5

1Unless stated otherwise, all notification data is AHPRA data.

Sources of notifications: 65.6% Patient, relative or member of the public, 13.5% Other practitioner, 7.9% HCE, 4.3% Employer, 1.9% Board’s own motion, 6.9% Other

Most common types of complaint: 24.7% Clinical care, 12.7% Documentation, 11.0% Confidentiality, 10.7% Communication, 10.3% Behaviour, 30.7% Other

A report on the year from the Chair

This year, the Psychology Board of Australia farewelled its inaugural Chair, Professor Brin Grenyer, and I started as the new Chair in October.

We acknowledge the significant contributions of Professor Grenyer and the four other retiring members – Professor Alfred Allan, Mr Radek Stratil, Mr Chris O’Brien and Ms Joanne Muller – who have led the consolidation of psychology regulation from eight states and territories into one national scheme.

Strategic projects

In early 2019, the Board finalised the first stage of its Education and Training Reform Project and announced the retirement of the 4+2 Internship pathway to registration.

The announcement represents the culmination of three years of collaborative efforts from the Board and key stakeholders including the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council, the Heads of Departments and Schools of Psychology Australia and the Australian Psychological Society. The Board consulted extensively with the profession, students, industry and government during the project.

Now that the pathways to general registration as a psychologist have been simplified through the retirement of the 4+2 pathway, the Board turns its attention to Part 2 of the Education and Training Reform Agenda. We anticipate this will be another multi-year initiative that will focus on ensuring that the registration categories of general and area of practice endorsement are being used effectively to promote safe practice and community access.

The Board also completed a quality assurance project to improve the national psychology exam’s reliability and use.

The Board is committed to ensuring the exam gives the best possible assessment of the competencies required for general registration as a psychologist in Australia and has agreed to regularly review and evaluate the exam content, effectiveness, processes and policies. The quality assurance project was a major step in this commitment.

Standards, codes and guidelines

The Board undertook a number of scheduled reviews of its standards, codes and guidelines. The Board completed its review of the Professional indemnity insurance registration standard, which was approved by Ministerial Council.

The Board also completed public consultations on:

  • Area of practice endorsement registration standard and Guidelines on area of practice endorsements, and
  • Guidelines for the national psychology exam and candidate manual.

The Board continues to participate in a review of the Australian Psychological Society code of ethics, which the Board has adopted for the profession.

Focus on cultural safety

The Board has started a journey to better understand how health regulation standards and guidelines can best support access to psychological services. The Board has completed an introduction to cultural capability training by the Australian Indigenous Psychology Association (AIPA). Board members are also participating in the National Scheme’s health equity strategy and have started developing a psychology-specific health equity strategy.

The Board has met with the senior leaders of AIPA and with a group of Indigenous psychologists and other psychologists working in Darwin and surrounding communities. We heard about their commitment to influencing change in local communities and listened to the opportunities to change health and education policy. Consequently, the Board understands the need for more culture-informed psychology education and training across Australia, to improve the supply of psychologists working with Aboriginal communities. Actions speak louder than words, and the Board looks forward to working in partnership to create positive and enduring change for First Nations Peoples.

Ms Rachel Phillips, Chair

Page reviewed 12/11/2020