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July 2023


Issue 37 - July 2023

From the Chair

Rachel Phillips

By the time you read this newsletter the Psychology Board of Australia will be midway through the consultation period on our Board-authored Code of conduct for psychologists. We are consulting on adopting the framework that is used by all other professions within the National Scheme, while also ensuring that the Board's expectations for psychologists' conduct continue to protect the public. We encourage you to have your say: see our Consultations page.

Rachel Phillips
Chair, Psychology Board of Australia

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Priority news

Have your say on our Code of conduct for psychologists

We are consulting on updating the code of conduct that applies to all registered psychologists in Australia and welcome your feedback.

Since the start of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) in 2010, we have adopted the Australian Psychological Society Code of ethics (2007) as the code of conduct and ethics for the profession. After our previous announcement that we have started work on a Board-authored code of conduct, we are now inviting you to provide feedback on our proposal.

Our proposed code of conduct does not add additional regulatory requirements and maintains current standards of practice for psychologists. The key changes proposed include:

  • setting clear and specific standards of safe and effective practice for psychologists
  • improving patient safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and priority groups within the community
  • updating and clarifying the section on maintaining proper professional boundaries, and
  • aligning the profession with recent developments in regulation.

You can read more about our review and proposal in the consultation paper published on our website, which includes information on how to provide your feedback. Submissions must be received by close of business on Monday 14 August 2023.

On the same page, we have also published a Guide to the review that outlines the key aspects of the consultation and how the proposed changes will affect you.

We invite you to attend one of our webinars to find out more about the consultation. Board Chair Rachel Phillips will provide background and context to the proposed changes and answer questions from attendees.

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Board news

Updating the general registration competencies

We would like to thank the many individuals, organisations and professional associations who recently provided feedback to our public consultation on the proposal to update the general registration competencies. We are carefully reviewing this feedback.

During the consultation, Board Chair Rachel Phillips spoke to stakeholders about the proposal at two national webinars held by the Board and at several events hosted by professional associations. A copy of the webinar presentation, the Guide to the review (a resource that outlines the key aspects of the consultation) and the consultation documents remain public on our Past consultations page.

Once we have reviewed and incorporated the feedback we received, we will publish an advance copy of the Professional competencies for psychologists on our website at least 12 months before they come into effect.

This transition period will give the current psychology workforce time to plan and complete any continuing professional development relevant to their professional role and context or work, and give higher education providers time to incorporate the updated competencies into their programs of study.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 31 March 2023. At this date, there were 46,215 registered psychologists, including 36,121 with general registration, 8,244 with provisional registration and 1,850 with non-practising registration.

For further data breakdowns by division, age, gender and principal place of practice, visit the Board’s Statistics page to read the report.

Additional English language tests for registration applicants

The Board has agreed to accept additional English language tests to provide further flexibility to people applying for registration. The tests are:

  • OET Computer Based Test 
  • IELTS One Skill Retake.

Applicants for registration should visit the test provider’s website directly to find out more about these tests. Information about test providers is available on the Ahpra website.

All other requirements set out in the Board’s English language skills registration standard still apply.

Read more in the news item.

Regulation at work

Latest tribunal summaries

We publish summaries of court and tribunal cases for their educational value to the profession.

Provisional psychologist penalised for providing false details and breaching supervised practice rules

A provisional psychologist who provided false details about her employment when applying for registration has been reprimanded and had supervision and education conditions imposed on her registration.

Read more in the news item.

What’s new?

Public protection is the focus of new National Law reforms

Public protection is at the forefront in the latest round of reforms to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (the National Law).

The changes started on 15 May, in all states and territories except Western Australia (where the changes will start on a later date).

Better protecting the public from serious risk

One significant change gives Ahpra and the National Boards a new power to issue a public statement to warn the public about a serious risk from an individual – either a registered health practitioner or a person who does not hold registration but is providing a health service. Issuing a public statement means we can warn the public about a serious risk at an early stage, while we continue to investigate. There is a high threshold that must be met to use the power, which we anticipate will be used sparingly and only in exceptional cases to better protect the public.

Read more in the public statements warnings FAQs.

Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme

Other changes will help us improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Scheme and help create a fairer system. These changes include:

  • an update to our complaints process which introduces the ability to compel practitioners to provide information at an earlier point in the assessment process. This will mean we can deal with complaints more efficiently and improve the experience for both the notifier and the practitioner
  • more suitable options for National Boards to respond to practitioners who continue to practise after their registration has lapsed, and
  • improved information-sharing abilities for National Boards with relevant parties such as registered practitioners’ former employers, when necessary to alert them to potential harm to the public.

More information

Some of the changes do not apply in NSW, because of differences in how concerns are managed in that state. For example, the power to issue a public statement and the power to require information at an earlier point in the assessment process are already held by the Health Care Complaints Commission. Read more about the NSW regulators.

The changes are the latest in a wide range of reforms outlined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022, which came into law last October.

For more information, read the news item and see the resources on Ahpra’s National Law amendments page.

Measures announced to safely welcome more international practitioners

Ahpra and the National Boards welcome moves to safely introduce more trained practitioners into the nation’s health system sooner, as recommended by an independent review into Australia’s health regulatory settings. The main changes will be:

  • Assessment red tape to be cut, allowing more international practitioners to enter and work in Australia safely and sooner.
  • Greater recognition of international qualifications from comparable health systems to fast-track some approvals.
  • Reviewing current standards, including English language and recency of practice requirements.

Interim findings of the Kruk review endorse measures put forward by Ahpra to cut the red tape and costs faced by qualified internationally trained practitioners wanting to work in Australia’s health system.

For more information, read the news item.

Check out the latest podcasts

Ahpra’s Taking care podcast series covers a wide range of current issues in patient safety and healthcare in conversation with health experts and other people in our community. Listen and subscribe by searching for 'Taking care' in your podcast player (for example Apple Podcasts or Spotify), or listen on our website.

Recent episodes include The challenges for our overseas workforce: Why the system needs to keep adapting to better support a safe, diverse and appropriate health workforce.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter.

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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 9125 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Rachel Phillips, Chair, Psychology Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958 Melbourne VIC 3001. 
Page reviewed 4/07/2023