Psychology Board of Australia - July 2021
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July 2021


Issue 31 - July 2021

From the Chair

Rachel Phillips

Cultural safety is everyone's business - Karl Briscoe, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group Co-Chair

The Board has been participating in the National Scheme's Moong-moong-gak cultural safety training as part of our renewed commitment to embed cultural safety in psychologist regulation. As I reflect on who I am as a white Australian woman and as a psychologist, I also look forward to discovering who I will become as I unlearn the ways of colonisation and learn new ways of walking in partnership with our First Nations Peoples.

Learn more about the work National Boards and Ahpra are doing to ensure culturally safe practice in healthcare: read our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy.

Rachel Phillips

Chair, Psychology Board of Australia

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Board news

Code of conduct update

In 2020 the Board decided to develop a code of conduct that will apply to all registered psychologists. We must use robust governance processes when we develop standards, codes and guidelines so it is important that we develop and review the code that we use. We are also looking to better align our code with the shared code of conduct that is used by most other regulated health professions. More information about the decision to develop a code of conduct can be found on our website.

Since our last newsletter update, work has progressed on this important project.

The Board is following a rigorous development process to produce a code that is contemporary, evidence-based and reflects the standards expected of psychologists. In the last 10 months the Board has reviewed published literature, regulatory data and tribunal decisions to inform development of its code.

The Board has also mapped the current code against the shared code of conduct to identify important similarities and differences. We are consulting with experts to obtain profession-specific and technical advice on the content of the psychology code.

This development process will produce a draft code that will undergo preliminary consultation and user testing. Following this, the Board’s draft code will be released for public consultation and psychologists, stakeholders and the community will be invited to provide feedback. The Board will use the results of the public consultation to determine the final version of its code.

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Dual delivery of national psychology exam for August and November

The national psychology exam will be available through dual delivery for both the August and November 2021 exams in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. This means that you can choose to sit the exam in a test centre (where available) or by online proctoring (OLP) which allows for secure delivery of the exam via the internet in your home or workplace.

The availability of test centres is limited, with businesses not yet returning to their pre-COVID-19 offerings. We are continuing to work with our test provider to increase the availability of test centres (in accordance with public health directives).

National psychology exam: information for candidates and supervisors

How to prepare for OLP: read our FAQs

We have developed FAQs about online proctoring (OLP) to help you understand the rules and requirements for OLP and to help you determine whether it is the best exam option for you.

It is essential to familiarise yourself with our FAQs and the emails from the test provider (Kryterion) on how to launch the OLP exam. This will ensure you meet the technical and environment specifications and reduce any IT-related stress. We strongly advise you to carefully read this information and to seek IT support as needed.

Professional behaviour is expected of exam candidates

Candidates sitting the exam are subject to the usual rules of ethical and professional conduct. You are expected to comply with any rules or instructions given by an exam proctor, adhere to the exam rules and interact with staff in a professional manner. Expectations for professional conduct are outlined in the Exam candidate manual and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Code of ethics.

The Board regards exam misconduct as a serious matter. Fraudulent or dishonest conduct in connection with an exam, or breaching security rules, can lead to practitioners who are not qualified or not otherwise competent and safe to practise being improperly registered. Breaches of exam rules may lead to exclusion from the exam, failure of the exam, or disciplinary action.

Studying for the exam

We are aware that several exam study courses and textbooks have been developed to help candidates study and prepare to sit the exam. While we support you seeking appropriate learning opportunities that focus on developing the core competencies assessed by the exam, we do not endorse exam resources that have not been developed by the Board.

The only resources that are approved to support candidates to prepare and study for the exam are the:

We encourage you to work with your supervisor to devise a personalised study plan based on these resources. For further information on exam resources please visit the Board’s exam page.

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Call for applications for appointment to the Psychology Notifications Committee: Assessment

We are seeking applications from experienced registered psychologists for appointment to the Psychology Notifications Committee: Assessment (the PNCA) to assist us in our primary role of protecting the public.

The functions of the PNCA are to manage assessment matters by carrying out the notification functions delegated by the National Board, including, but not limited to:

  • review and assessment of notifications and complaints about psychologists and provisional psychologists
  • determination of the relevant issues for investigation or assessment, and
  • referral of any matters of concern about individual registrants or matters which are complex to the relevant regional board.

The National Scheme has a commitment to increasing Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ leadership and voices. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply, as are people from rural or regional areas in Australia.

Applications will be assessed by a selection advisory panel and appointments will be made by the Board.

The appointment will be for up to three years with a possibility of extension.

More information about the role, eligibility requirements and the application process can be found on Ahpra’s website.

For enquiries please contact [email protected]

Applications close Sunday 15 August 2021 at 5:00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.

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OAM awarded to our Foundation Chair

The Board congratulates its Foundation Chair, Professor Brin Grenyer, who was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to psychology in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours.

Professor Grenyer was Foundation Chair of the Board from 2009 to 2018. During his time as Chair, Board achievements included introduction of a contemporary set of national standards and guidelines for the profession, implementation of a national psychology examination, reform of the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council and introduction of transition programs for international applicants.

Professor Grenyer is Professor of Psychology at the University of Wollongong and Director of the Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders, and also leads the university’s professional and clinical psychology training.

We congratulate Professor Grenyer on his accomplishment and breadth of work in psychology for the Australian and international community.

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Information for practitioners on voluntary assisted dying law in Western Australia

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (WA) (the Act) came into full effect on 1 July 2021. Registered health practitioners need to be aware of the Act and its requirements. There are some provisions that are relevant to all registered health practitioners (and healthcare workers) and some provisions that are more specifically relevant to medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and paramedics.

Resources, including the WA Voluntary assisted dying guidelines, have been developed by the WA Department of Health and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Leadership Team in collaboration with stakeholders.

The following resource provides a starting point for health practitioners in understanding their obligations, responsibilities and protections under the Act:

For further information, visit the website.

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Information for practitioners on changes to Queensland Criminal Code: Child Sexual Offences

As of 5 July 2021, Queensland’s Criminal Code Act 1899 is amended under the Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 to include two new offences (Criminal Code, Chapter 22 – Offences against morality):

  • ss. 229BB – Failure to protect a child from a sexual offence: will make it an offence to fail to protect a child from a sexual offence in an institutional setting. The offence will be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment for an ‘accountable person’ who fails to protect a child from a sexual offence.
  • ss. 229BC – Failure to report sexual offending against a child to police: will make it an offence for any adult not to report sexual offending against a child by another adult to police. This obligation extends outside of the workplace to our responsibility as members of the Queensland community to protect children. The offence will be punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment for any adult who fails to report child sexual abuse to police.

The new offences recognise the difficulties victims have in disclosing or reporting abuse, the vulnerability of children, and the risk that perpetrators of child sexual abuse may have multiple victims and may continue to reoffend against particular victims over lengthy periods of time.

This advice applies to all registered health practitioners; for further information please visit the Queensland Government website.

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National Scheme news

No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare

There is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and National Boards want to remind registered health practitioners of their professional obligations and encourage speaking up about disrespectful behaviour and unprofessional conduct in healthcare.

Ahpra and the National Boards have published a joint statement, No place for sexism, sexual harassment or violence in healthcare.

Our expectations of practitioner conduct and respectful, professional behaviour, including maintaining appropriate professional boundaries, are set out in the Code of ethics.

Practitioners must always treat patients, consumers, students, employees and colleagues with respect. They must always communicate professionally and respectfully with and about others, including when using social media. Respect is a cornerstone of good, professional practice and it is fundamental to the Australian community’s trust in registered health practitioners.

There is no place for sexism, sexual harassment or gendered violence in healthcare. Ahpra and National Boards explicitly condemn this behaviour by registered health practitioners.

Ahpra and the National Boards encourage psychologists to speak up if they witness or experience disrespectful behaviour or unprofessional conduct. Together, we can all help build and maintain a culture of respect in healthcare that facilitates better patient outcomes and contributes to safer care.

Read our joint statement for more information about where and how to raise concerns about disrespectful behaviour and unprofessional conduct in healthcare. Concerns about a registered health practitioner’s unprofessional conduct, including sexual harassment, should be reported to Ahpra.

For more information, visit the Ahpra website.

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Guidance on reflective practice reports

New guidance is now available for practitioners who are subject to education or mentoring conditions as part of their registration.

The new guidance: Information sheet – Reflective reports (Education) and Information sheet – Reflective reports (Mentoring) is published in the Monitoring and compliance section of the Ahpra website.

National Boards have also approved a new form for review of conditions of undertakings (form ARCD-00) which is published on the Registration Common forms page. Ahpra is also developing guidance for practitioners on the information required by National Boards when considering applications to change or remove conditions or undertakings.

Promotion of COVID-19 vaccinations: further information

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and Ahpra have released a joint statement about the promotion of COVID-19 vaccinations and responsibilities practitioners and others have under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law) when advertising a regulated health service.

On 7 June 2021, the TGA issued updated guidance about the promotion of approved COVID-19 vaccines to clarify the way health practitioners and others can communicate to the public about COVID-19 vaccines.

This updated guidance gives health practitioners greater flexibility to openly discuss vaccination and allows offers of reward to be made to those fully vaccinated under the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

More information

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Improvements made to notifier confidentiality safeguards

All improvements recommended in the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman’s (NHPO) Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners have now been implemented or are underway.

The NHPO recommendations to strengthen Ahpra’s policies, guidance, communications and systems to further mitigate risk of harm to notifiers have now been implemented. These include:

  • updating relevant policies to reflect that possible confidentiality safeguards for the notifier will be considered when assessing each new notification
  • publishing an updated privacy policy and collection statement to clarify how personal information will be used and disclosed, and
  • providing new guidance to staff about how to safeguard confidentiality, including in relation to redacting a notifier’s information and sharing a notifier’s information with the relevant practitioner.

As part of this work, we also recognised the importance of procedural fairness for practitioners. Following consultation with professional associations and professional indemnity providers, we have published a new guide for staff to help them manage complaints that may have insufficient detail to allow practitioners to respond meaningfully.

We have also published a vexatious notifications framework and introduced new training for staff in how to identify and manage vexatious complaints.

For more information, read the news item.

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Keep in touch with the Board

  • Visit the Psychology Board website for information on the National Scheme and for the mandatory registration standards, codes, guidelines, policies and fact sheets.
  • Lodge an enquiry form via the website by following the Contact us link on the bottom of every page.
  • For registration enquiries call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Rachel Phillips, Chair, Psychology Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958 Melbourne VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 21/11/2022