Psychology Board of Australia - 2021 annual summary
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2021 annual summary


  • 41,817 psychologists
    • Up 3.2% from 2019/20
    • 5.1% of all registered health practitioners
  • 0.7% identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • 80.4% female; 19.6% male


Age: <25 = 3.1%, 25 to 34 = 24.9%, 35 to 44 = 27.0%, 45 to 54 = 21.2%, 55 to 64 = 14.1%, 65 to 74 = 8.3%, >75 = 1.5%



  • 655 notifications lodged with Ahpra
    • 903 registered psychologists Australia-wide, including HPCA and OHO data, had notifications made about them
    • 2.2% of the profession

Sources of notifications

Sources of notifications: Patient, relative or member of the public 65.8%, Other practitioner 15.0%, HCE 6.6%, Employer 4.1%, Board’s own motion 1.2%, Other 7.3%

  • 33 immediate actions taken

  • 67 mandatory notifications received
    • 35 about professional standards

Most common types of complaints

Most common types of complaints: Clinical care 23.1%, Communication 11.5%, Documentation 11.0%, Boundary violation 10.1%, Confidentiality 8.9%, Health impairment 5.6%, Behaviour 4.9%, Other 25.0%

Notifications closed

Notifications closed: 715 notifications closed, 10.8% conditions imposed on registration or an undertaking accepted, 8.3% received a caution or reprimand, 0.3% registration suspended or cancelled, 7.1% referred to another body or retained by a health complaints entity, 73.6% no further action


  • 221 practitioners monitored for health, performance and/or conduct during the year
  • 235 cases being monitored at 30 June:
    • 66 for conduct
    • 18 for health reasons
    • 44 for performance
    • 20 for prohibited practitioner/student
    • 87 for suitability/eligibility for registration

Criminal offence complaints

  • 119 criminal offence complaints made
    • 101 about title protection
    • 3 about practice protection
    • 14 about advertising breaches
    • 1 other offence
  • 121 were closed

Referred to an adjudication body

  • 6 matters decided by a tribunal
  • 2 matters decided by a panel
  • 8 appeals

A report from the Chair

Issues this year

Developing a code of conduct

This year we started developing a code of conduct to apply to all registered psychologists. Codes of conduct are used as regulatory instruments to protect the public. Our code will be based on the shared code that is used by most other healthcare professions.

Developing a code of conduct will be a priority for us over the next two years. We have planned a rigorous development process that will involve engagement with code experts, key stakeholders, psychologists and the public. Our aim is to develop a contemporary, evidencebased code that reflects the standards expected of psychologists by the Australian community and peers.

The Board will no longer adopt the Australian Psychological Society’s Code of ethics once we have implemented a code of conduct. Until then, complying with the Code of ethics will continue to be a requirement for registration as a psychologist.

Education and training reform

Our education and training reform work continued this year, with the aim of reviewing and clarifying the competencies for general registration and area of practice endorsement (AoPE) for psychologists in Australia. This is the first time that competencies have been thoroughly reviewed since the beginning of the National Scheme. We are reviewing the competencies for general registration first.

Over the last 12 months our work has included:

  • Seeking views – we conducted a series of stakeholder engagement webinars to understand stakeholder views on our Green paper. A wide range of stakeholder groups was represented at the webinars, including key industry and employer groups, psychology professional bodies, national and international regulators, and government.
  • Competency mapping – we appointed consultants with expertise in education, accreditation, higher education reforms and competent writing to carry out an objective and impartial review of our current competencies, and to map these against international comparisons and the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) standards.
  • Psychology-specific advice – we appointed a Psychology Expert Reference Group (PERG) to work with the consultants and provide advice on competencies for general registration. PERG members were selected for their expertise in training and supervising provisional psychologists, psychology regulation and psychology accreditation.

We will shortly be considering a draft of the revised general registration competencies before sending it out for consultation.

Regulatory response to COVID-19

We continued to modify some of our regulatory requirements for psychologists due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This included continuing to deliver the national psychology exam by online proctoring (rather than sitting the exam in a testing centre) and permanently allowing psychologists to complete Board-approved supervisor training online.

A hardship policy was also put in place for psychologists and provisional psychologists who are experiencing genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19.

The temporary pandemic sub-register for psychologists was closed in April.

Ms Rachel Phillips

Page reviewed 22/11/2022