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August 2014


Issue 11 - August 2014

From the Chair

Professional self-care

Psychologists across Australia as a group report spending about 51 per cent of their time on counselling, mental health interventions, coaching, addiction treatment or on rehabilitation work. The rest of the time includes activities such as assessment, training, and consulting (see Mathews et al, Australian Psychologist Vol 45, 2010, Figure 3 p.160). Although the circumstances for each individual psychologist will be different, counselling and mental health interventions are prominent in the workload of the majority of psychologists (these two alone account for 43 per cent of work per week).

This work of engaging with others to help them change thoughts, feelings and behaviours, brings with it a number of hazards for the practising professional. These effects, when they become severe, have variously been referred to by terms such as 'vicarious traumatisation', 'carer burden', 'negative counter transference' or 'professional burnout'. In short, such psychological work causes emotional strain. The consequences for psychologists can manifest in problems such as sleep difficulties, cynicism or a lack of sensitivity to others, drug or alcohol misuse, exhaustion, social withdrawal, or other difficulties with relationships. There are few other professions that require, as an essential skill, the capacity to fully concentrate on another person for sustained periods of time – usually in one-hour blocks – over the course of a day. Indeed, the effectiveness of the work depends to a degree on developing a good therapeutic alliance and maintaining empathy and compassion.

To sustain a career in psychology requires us as practitioners to ensure we have regular opportunities to engage in professional self-care. Good examples include talking regularly to others about our work, taking breaks, refreshing enthusiasm through training and reading, and attending to personal issues. These help to calibrate our emotional and intellectual equipment. More generally we need to appreciate the inherent rewards of such work, to maintain our sense of humour and balance in life, to recognise that such work has an inevitable impact, and so develop personal strategies for keeping our colleagues and ourselves safe.

Prof. Brin Grenyer

Chair, Psychology Board of Australia

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Assignment of accreditation functions for the psychology profession

In recent months, the Psychology Board of Australia (the National Board) has been establishing new arrangements for the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC), based on the ‘in-principle’ agreement Future of Accreditation, reached late last year.

These arrangements have now been finalised and agreed by APAC’s three new members: the Australian Psychological Society, the Heads of Departments and Schools of Psychology Association (HODSPA) and a nominee of the Psychology Board of Australia (Ms Kaye Frankcom).

As a result the Board has approved the continuation of the current arrangement of exercising accreditation functions through APAC for a period of four years until 30 June 2018. We look forward to continuing to work with APAC in performing our complementary functions in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme).

Psychology Board of Australia Director Nominees for the new Australian Psychology Accreditation Council Board

The National Board sought expressions of interest for the four Director Nominee positions (three psychologists and one non-psychologist community member with expertise in law) for the new APAC Board. The Board considered the expressions of interest at its 28 March and 2 May 2014 meetings and nominated:

  • Associate Professor Caroline Hunt (psychologist)
  • Ms Clare Thompson (non-psychologist community member with expertise in law)
  • Associate Professor Lesley Bretherton (psychologist), and
  • Associate Professor Shirley Morrissey (psychologist).

We were very impressed by the number and quality of responses received. The calibre of the nominations received made our decision difficult. As there were only a limited number of nominations available, we were mindful to balance different applicants’ varied expertise in relation to what the new APAC Board needed to perform its roles and responsibilities. The Director Nominees appointed to the new APAC Board had the best fit of experience across relevant areas of expertise. We are confident that our Director Nominees will make a valuable contribution to the work of the APAC Board over the term of their appointments.

The complete list of all 12 APAC directors can be viewed on the APAC website.  

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National Psychology Examination update

The requirement to pass the National Psychology Examination before applying for general registration came into effect for internship pathway provisional psychologists on 1 July 2014.

Registrations for the examination period starting 1 December 2014 will open from 8 September 2014. To schedule your exam, first register an account in the examination portal. Once you receive notice that your account has been activated (within five working days), you can book in your examination day and time and attempt the Practice Examination.

Through the website, you have access to important examination resources: the examination guidelinescurriculum and reading list as well as other relevant information in the frequently asked questions (FAQ).

If you have a question that is not covered by the FAQ, please contact [email protected] for assistance.

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Reminder for provisional psychologists

You can only renew twice

We remind provisional psychologists that you are only allowed to renew your provisional registration twice under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law). If you need provisional registration for three years or more you must make a new application for provisional registration before your current registration expires.

Section 64(3) of the National Law states ‘Provisional registration may not be renewed more than twice’, so the National Board is not able to grant any exemptions to this requirement. Provisional psychologists who do not complete their training within three years (one-year initial registration plus two renewals) must reapply for provisional registration before the end of the third year.

To ensure currently registered provisional psychologists are not disadvantaged by this requirement, there is a special form and a streamlined application process for registrants who must reapply. The process is similar to renewing your registration. There is no fee for this application – just the annual registration fee is paid, which is the same as the annual renewal fee, so the cost is the same as for renewing.

You can reapply for registration up to six months before your current registration expires, and we recommend that you apply at least two months before your expiry date. This ensures that your new registration will be in place before your current registration expires and there is no disruption to your studies or internship.

AHPRA will send you a reminder when it is time to reapply, so make sure you keep your postal address and other contact details up to date. However, ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure you remain provisionally registered for the duration of your training.

For further information download the Application for provisional registration after three years of provisional registration - ARPP-76 (644 KB,PDF).

You can also update your contact details online.

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National and Regional Boards Retreat

The National Board hosted its first all-boards meeting – the National and Regional Boards Retreat – on 26 and 27 March 2014 in Sydney. All national and regional board members participated, along with members of the Psychology Council of NSW and senior AHPRA staff.

The retreat focused on the work of the national and regional boards of the Psychology Board of Australia in regulating the psychology profession. The retreat provided an opportunity to reflect on the National Board’s role, approach to regulation, relationships with regional and national partners and the broader context of psychology and the community. The retreat also enabled us to discuss the challenges of the coming year.

Participants heard from AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher on organisational redesign, General Counsel Dominique Saunders on the principles of regulation and Director, National Boards Services Chris Robertson on the intergovernmental landscape. Participants also reflected upon the history of regulation and looked at international developments likely to occur over the next 20 years in international mobility and regulatory agreements and processes.

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Snapshot of the psychology workforce

The National Board releases quarterly updates of its national registration data for the interest of practitioners and the community. The June 2014 data update shows that there are 31,717 psychologists currently registered in Australia, an increase of 541 practitioners since the March 2014 data update. Of this total, 1,390 are non-practising. 

Table 1 – Psychologists: registration type by state and territory (June 2014)

Registration type  ACT  NSW  NT  QLD  SA  TAS  VIC  WA  No PPP*  Total 
General  695  8,905  194  4,544  1,320  443  7,076  2,733  309  26,219 
Provisional  100  1,171  32  842  181  61  1,248  468  4,108 
Non-practising  37  499  240  72  23  279  139  97  1,390 
Total Practitioners  832  10,575  230  5,626  1,573  527  8,603  3,340  411  31,717 

*No principal place of practice recorded on the register as practitioner is currently residing overseas, or has not provided a valid PPP. 

Table 2 – Psychologists: area of practice endorsements by state and territory (June 2014)

Area of practice endorsement ACT  NSW  NT  QLD  SA  TAS  VIC  WA  No PPP  Total 
Clinical neuropsychology  131  91  23  263  32  565 
Clinical psychology  165  2,132  29  996  530  151  1,698  957  58  6,716 
Community psychology  33  10  56 
Counselling psychology  11  221  69  478  136  10  941 
Educational and developmental psychology  163  98  36  21  198  69  599 
Forensic psychology  10  215  67  35  143  39  528 
Health psychology  69  51  23  142  312 
Organisational psychology  17  135  77  49  138  42  463 
Sport and exercise psychology  22  27  22  94 
Total  230  3,096  45  1,479  715  205  3,115  1,301  88  10,274 

*Note: The figures in table above show the total number of area of practice endorsements recorded on the National Register. Psychologists who hold more than one endorsement are counted for each endorsement they hold. The number of individual psychologists who hold at least one area of practice endorsement after the close of business on 30 June 2014 was 9,221.

Further information and data are available on our website on the Statistics page.

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Have your say: National Boards consult on practitioners with blood-borne viruses

All 14 National Boards are inviting practitioners, members of the community and other stakeholders to provide feedback on guidelines that will determine how, from a regulatory perspective, health practitioners with blood-borne viruses should be managed.

Under the proposed guidelines, registered health practitioners with blood-borne infectious diseases must comply with the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) guidelines on this issue to ensure their practice does not compromise patient safety.

The CDNA offers strategic advice to governments and other key bodies on public health actions to minimise the impact of communicable diseases, and its Australian national guidelines for the management of health care workers known to be infected with blood-borne viruses are endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council.

The National Boards’ proposed guidelines allow health practitioners infected with a blood-borne virus to practise their profession if they comply with the CDNA guidelines. However, they may have to modify their practice. For example, they will not be able to perform certain procedures such as exposure-prone procedures if the CDNA guidelines stop them from doing so.

The current CDNA guidelines define an exposure-prone procedure as a procedure where there is a risk of injury to the healthcare worker resulting in exposure of the patient’s open tissues to the blood of the worker. These procedures include those where the worker’s hands (whether gloved or not) may be in contact with sharp instruments, needle tips or sharp tissues (spicules of bone or teeth) inside a patient’s open body cavity, wound or confined anatomical space where the hands or fingertips may not be completely visible at all times.

The National Boards have published a consultation paper to support the draft guidelines, accessible under Current consultations. The consultation is open until 26 September 2014.

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National Scheme news

Advertising guidelines: update

The Psychology Board of Australia, along with the other National Boards, has acted on feedback received about the Guidelines for advertising regulated health services (Advertising guidelines) that were released in March and has published an update. The updated guidelines, FAQ and a fact sheet are published under Codes, guidelines and policies on the Board’s website.

Anyone who advertises a regulated health service must meet the requirements of the National Law. This includes registered health practitioners, individuals who are not health practitioners and businesses.

No new requirements have been added.

The updated Advertising guidelines were edited to make them clearer, particularly that:

  • under the National Law, testimonials are not allowed when advertising a regulated health service
  • the obligations of the National Law about advertising only apply when a regulated health service is being advertised, and
  • the National Law is not intended to stop members of the community and patients from discussing their experiences online or in person.

The National Boards would like to thank everyone who provided feedback on the guidelines. Whenever possible, this feedback was taken into account and used to update the guidelines.

Much of the feedback was about the ban on using testimonials in advertising a regulated health service. This is a requirement of the National Law, which is something National Boards are obliged to implement. The terms of reference for the scheduled review of the National Scheme (the scheme regulating registered health practitioners in Australia) include a point relating to advertising, and interested health practitioners and members of the public are encouraged to provide feedback about the legislation. See more below.

Three-year review of the National Scheme

Australia’s health ministers have announced the terms of reference for the scheduled review of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme). The review – to be led by independent reviewer, Mr Kim Snowball – was built into the intergovernmental agreement that set up the framework and governance arrangements for the National Scheme. The agreement stated that the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council (Ministerial Council) will initiate an independent review after three years of the National Scheme’s operation.

The terms of reference for the review are published at Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council website under ‘media releases’ on the right-hand tab.

The independent reviewer, Mr Snowball, has held a variety of senior leadership roles in both the public and private health sectors. He was previously the Director General of WA Health and has also served as the Chair of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC).

The National Board will be participating in the review process and will keep stakeholders informed of opportunities to provide comment and consultation timelines.

Regulatory principles endorsed for National Scheme

The National Boards and AHPRA have launched refreshed regulatory principles that will underpin the work of the Boards and AHPRA in regulating Australia’s health practitioners in the public interest.

The principles are endorsed by all National Boards and the AHPRA Agency Management Committee and will guide Boards and AHPRA when they are making decisions. The principles encourage a responsive, risk-based approach to regulation across all professions within the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme).

Regulatory decision-making is complex and contextual, requiring judgement, experience and common sense. The principles will further support consistent, balanced decision-making.

AHPRA and the National Boards will be seeking feedback on the principles in a formal consultation later in 2014 and will review them based on this feedback and 12 months’ experience. You can read the regulatory principles in a media release on the AHPRA website.

Data Access and Research Committee (DARC)

One of the objectives of the National Scheme is to protect the public by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered. To achieve this objective AHPRA and the National Boards are increasing the use of data and research to inform policy and regulatory decision-making. Specifically, we’re building organisational capacity for analysis, supporting external collaboration on regulatory research, and conducting or supporting high value regulatory research and analysis.

To do this well, we must effectively govern access to data generated by the National Scheme. We can provide access to de-identified data, as governed by the National Law and the relevant privacy laws and policies, but strict limits exist. These limitations are explained on the AHPRA website, which also includes a downloadable data access and research application form (1.11 MB,PDF) for interested researchers.

AHPRA and the National Boards encourage applications from researchers whose projects aim to deliver regulatory improvement and health workforce reform. 

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Upcoming – expression of interest for the National Psychology Examination Committee

In September 2014, the Board will invite senior, experienced psychologists to express an interest in being on the National Psychology Examination Committee commencing February 2015. The committee consists of nine members of the profession and includes members of the Board and members appointed through the expression of interest. Further details on the expression of interest process will be provided in the Board’s communiqué and available on the Board’s website.

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How to contact us

  • Visit our website for information on the National Scheme and for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 8708 9001 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Prof. Brin Grenyer, Chair, Psychology Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne VIC 3001. 

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Page reviewed 21/11/2022