November 2020

Connections

Issue 29 - November 2020


From the Chair

Rachel Phillips

The Psychology Board of Australia recognises the importance of psychologists providing culturally safe and responsive psychological services. With psychologist registration renewal due by 30 November 2020, we encourage you all to reflect on your cultural learning needs as you plan your continuing professional development for the next 12 months.

Rachel Phillips

Chair, Psychology Board of Australia

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Board news

Online renewal for psychologists is now open

Psychologists are due to renew their general or non-practising registration by 30 November 2020.

Look out for an email from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) providing access to online renewal; the quickest and easiest way to renew.

If you do not renew your registration by 30 November 2020, or within the following one-month late period, your registration will lapse. Your name will be removed from the national register of practitioners and you will not be able to practise without making a new application for registration.

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Supporting health practitioners during COVID-19

Ahpra and National Boards are working with government, health services and others to support health practitioners during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have adapted our regulatory approach to support you in these exceptional circumstances. Your registration fees go directly to funding this work and regulating for safety in your profession. We sincerely thank you for your continuing commitment and professionalism.

What if I can’t meet the CPD requirements for this registration period because of COVID-19?

We encourage you to continue to do continuing professional development (CPD) that is relevant to your scope of practice and your current work environment. However, we understand that some health practitioners may have trouble meeting the CPD requirements during this challenging time. If you can't meet the CPD standard because of the COVID-19 emergency, then we won't take any action for the registration period during which the COVID-19 emergency is in force.

What about recency of practice?

You are also strongly encouraged to meet the recency of practice requirements. If you are unable to meet the recency of practice standard due to COVID-19, we will not take action. Recency of practice requirements will need to be met when practitioners apply for renewal in 2021. More information is published on the COVID-19 updates All profession information page.

We also expect practitioners to comply with their professional obligations, including to recognise and work within the limits of their competence and scope of practice and to maintain adequate knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care.

You should answer all renewal questions honestly and accurately and tell us whether you did or didn't meet the CPD and recency registration standards' requirements. Ahpra and the Board will not take action if you could not meet the requirements of either of these two standards in 2020 because of COVID-19.

COVID-19 financial hardship payment plan available

A payment plan is available for health practitioners experiencing genuine financial hardship due to COVID-19. If you meet the criteria, you will be eligible to pay half your registration fee now and make a second payment in the first half of 2021.

The payment plan has been developed in response to the exceptional circumstances that the COVID-19 pandemic presents. When making decisions about financial hardship applications, Ahpra and National Boards will consider the financial sustainability of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) to continue to protect the public balanced with the circumstances of individual applicants and access to the workforce.

How to apply for the financial hardship payment plan:

  • You’ll need to complete the financial hardship form and wait to hear the outcome before renewing your registration – we can’t consider an application for the financial hardship payment plan if you have already renewed.
  • Information on the financial hardship payment plan and how to apply is on the Board’s Registration renewal FAQs page.
  • A financial hardship payment plan is also in place for renewing provisional psychologists and provisional psychologists moving to general registration. Further information is available on our Provisional registration page.

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What’s different about registration this year?

Advertising declaration and audit

You will be required to complete a new declaration that your advertising complies with Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (National Law) advertising requirements.

This is part of a risk-based approach to enforcing the National Law’s advertising requirements and compliance by registered health practitioners who advertise their services. It will include auditing of health practitioners to check advertising compliance.

Download your registration certificate and tax invoice

Paper certificates are no longer issued but you can print a registration certificate from your online services account after you’ve renewed. You can also download your tax receipt.

The online register of practitioners is updated every day making it the safest way for practitioners and employers to check registration status.

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Supervisor training update: online and face-to-face training

Board-approved supervisor training providers have been delivering master classes and full training programs online since March 2020. Due to ongoing public health restrictions in some jurisdictions, the Board will continue to approve training to be provided online until June 2021. Providers may choose to give training face-to-face in jurisdictions where the relevant public health advice permits them to do so.

Supervisors looking to complete a master class or psychologists wanting to become a Board-approved supervisor can find a list of all 16 Board-approved training providers and their contact details on the Board’s Supervisor training page. The list shows which providers have been approved for online (videoconference) delivery. Please contact individual providers for information on workshop topics and dates.

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Regional board vacancies: express your interest

Practitioner member vacancies are arising on the following regional boards of the Psychology Board of Australia:

  • NT/SA/WA Regional Board – two practitioner members from South Australia.
  • Queensland Regional Board – four practitioner members (including Chair) from Queensland.

To be eligible for appointment as a practitioner member, you must hold current registration as a psychologist and reside in the state or territory in which you are applying for appointment.
The National Scheme has a commitment to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ leadership and voices. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are strongly encouraged to apply, as are people from rural or regional areas of South Australia.

Appointments are made by the Minister for Health in each jurisdiction. Appointments can be for up to three years, with eligibility for reappointment.

More information about the roles, eligibility requirements and the application process can be found in the online application form on Ahpra’s Statutory appointments page.

Applications close 5.00pm AEDT, Friday 27 November 2020.

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National Scheme news

Lend us your ears

Have you tuned into Ahpra’s podcast, Taking care?

Listen to conversations with practitioners, patients, advocates and thought leaders discussing current issues, innovations and how the healthcare system works to keep the public safe. Tune in to episodes about topics such as telehealth, practitioner wellbeing, the impact of the pandemic, and rural and remote practice.

Now is a great time to download and listen to the latest Ahpra Taking care podcast, or pick any episode from our catalogue! You can also listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and by searching ‘Taking care’ in your podcast player.

Taking care podcast image July 2020

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Appropriate use of social media during the pandemic

Ahpra and the National Boards appreciate the importance of a vigorous national debate on public policy during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we remind all registered health practitioners that their obligation to comply with their profession’s Code of conduct applies in all settings – including online.

The codes of conduct emphasise that practitioners must always communicate professionally and respectfully with or about other healthcare professionals.

We have received concerns about the conduct of some health practitioners engaged in online discussion, including in semi-private forums. 

Community trust in registered health practitioners is essential. Whether an online activity can be viewed by the public or is limited to a specific group of people, health practitioners have a responsibility to maintain professional and ethical standards, as in all professional circumstances.

In using social media, you should be aware of your obligations under the National Law and your Board’s Code of conduct. For more information see: Social media: How to meet your obligations under the National Law.

Anyone with concerns about the online conduct of a health practitioner can contact 1300 419 495 or make a notification.

 

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New guide to increase transparency in regulatory decision-making

We have published a new guide explaining how National Boards and Ahpra apply the National Law in the management of notifications about a practitioner’s performance, conduct or health. The guide aims to make it easier to understand how and why decisions are made.

The Regulatory guide and an executive summary are available on the Corporate publications page on the Ahpra website.

Review of confidentiality safeguards for notifiers 

In June, we welcomed the independent review by the National Health Practitioner Ombudsman and Privacy Commissioner of the confidentiality safeguards in place for individuals making notifications about registered health practitioners.

The Review of confidentiality safeguards for people making notifications about health practitioners was conducted at Ahpra’s request following the conviction of a general practitioner for the attempted murder of a pharmacist who had made a notification about his prescribing practices.

It examined Ahpra’s current management of confidential and anonymous notifications and whether there were ways in which safeguards could be strengthened to ensure the safety of notifiers.

The review found that Ahpra’s practices for managing confidentiality and anonymity were reasonable and consistent with the practices of other regulators internationally. However, there were improvements that could be made.

The review makes practical recommendations for strengthening the protection of notifiers while recognising the importance of fairness for health practitioners who are the subject of a notification.

We have accepted all 10 recommendations and outlined a timeline to adopt these changes. For more information and links to the documents, read the media release.

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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 13/11/2020