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Tribunal upholds Board’s decision to grant provisional registration with conditions

27 Aug 2020

An applicant had applied for general registration and then appealed the Board’s decision to only grant provisional registration with conditions.

The Australian Capital Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) confirmed the decision of the Psychology Board of Australia (the Board).

In September 2019, after considering Ms Nadira Pardo’s application for general registration as a psychologist, the Board granted her provisional registration subject to conditions. The Board considered that Ms Pardo was not eligible for general registration as she did not hold an approved, or substantially equivalent qualification.

However, the Board determined that Ms Pardo was eligible for provisional registration via the 4 + 2 internship program and that conditions were necessary to ensure she fulfilled the requirements of the program and to meet its recency of practice standard and policy.

In October 2019, Ms Pardo filed an application in the tribunal to review the Board’s decision. The matter was heard on 27–28 February 2020.

The tribunal confirmed the Board’s decisions to grant Ms Pardo a type of registration other than that for which she had applied. The tribunal also left the conditions imposed by the Board undisturbed. The tribunal found that Ms Pardo was not eligible for general registration because:

  • the Australian Psychological Society Ltd’s statement that her qualifications amounted to a six-year Australian Psychology Accreditation Council accredited sequence of study were relevant in relation to membership of the Society, but not in respect of the requirements for general registration
  • it was not satisfied that she had completed postgraduate qualifications accredited as fifth and sixth years of study in psychology
  • the 4 + 2 internship program applied to her situation and she met the four-year sequence of study component
  • in an earlier attempt to complete the 4 + 2 internship program between 2010 and 2012, she was not declared competent in two competencies and did not complete a required additional six months of supervised practice, and that her provisional registration had expired, and
  • there wasn’t evidence that she had submitted the four case reports to the Board or sat the National Psychology Examination, which are both required in the 4 + 2 internship program and couldn’t be avoided.

The tribunal also found that Ms Pardo was not suitable for general registration as she did not meet the Board’s recency of practice standard. The tribunal rejected submissions that a period of unregistered practice in the USA should be taken into account, because this practice related to activities of an academic nature and not direct clinical care and that her practice was unregistered because Ms Pardo’s circumstances attracted an exemption – not that registration is not available in that country. The tribunal was also of the view that evidence of her acting as a faculty mentor and co-authoring papers was not evidence of ‘practice’.

The tribunal reviewed the conditions imposed on Ms Pardo’s provisional registration and found that:

  • the conditions addressed the completion of the final year component of the 4 + 2 internship program and the Board’s recency of practice standard
  • the conditions were unremarkable
  • the 1,500 hours of supervision was half the hours required under the internship program, and, while it was outside the standard range of 500–1,000 hours set out in the recency of practice policy, it was not excessive
  • the requirement to submit four case reports was consistent with the goal of successfully completing the internship program, and was also a feature of remedial action under the recency of practice policy
  • the requirement to complete 60 hours of CPD, was in line with the recency of practice policy, being 40–60 hours a year and the internship program which required 120 hours, and
  • it was necessary for her to complete the National Psychology Exam, as it was a requirement of the 4 + 2 internship program, it could be required if someone hadn’t practised for more than five years and is required for those persons with training overseas or in non-accredited pathways.

The tribunal found the conditions reasonable and that they would address her eligibility for general registration. Ms Pardo did not have to re-start the two-year component of the internship program again, but only complete half the required supervision and CPD hours and, as with all expectant registrants, sit the exam and submit four case reports.

The full findings are available on the Austlii website.

Page reviewed 27/08/2020