Psychology Board of Australia - November 2023
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November 2023


Issue 38 - November 2023

From the Chair

Rachel Phillips

In August, the Board farewelled the outgoing practitioner member for Tasmania, Professor Jenn Scott. Professor Scott was a member of the VIC/ACT/TAS Regional Board before being appointed to the National Board in 2014. We would like to thank Jenn for her significant contribution to the regulation of psychologists in Australia during her time in the National Scheme.

If you would like to receive notice of National Board vacancies when they are advertised, please contact Statutory Appointments from your preferred email address, advising which profession or roles interest you. We are also calling for applications for upcoming vacancies on our national committees  read more below.

Rachel Phillips
Chair, Psychology Board of Australia

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Priority news

Renew your registration now and avoid a late fee

Psychologists have until 30 November 2023 to renew their general or non-practising registration on time.

We encourage you to renew early to avoid delays during the busy renewal period. Renewing on time also means you’ll avoid late fees which apply after 30 November.

Look out for an email from Ahpra providing access to online renewal.

Ready to renew?

Head to our Registration renewal webpage to start an online application.

If you submit your application on time, or during the following one-month late period, you can continue practising while your application is assessed.

If you don’t renew by the end of the late period, 31 December 2023, your registration will lapse, you’ll be removed from the Register of practitioners and you won’t be able to use the protected title for the profession.

Got questions?

Read the renewal FAQs on the Ahpra website for helpful tips and information on what you need to do to renew.

We cover common questions on professional indemnity insurance, recency of practice, continuing professional development, and what to do if you have a change in your criminal history or health impairments you need to tell us about.

Fees for 2023-24

The registration fee for psychologists increased by 5 per cent to $436 from 20 September. This will cover the registration period from 1 December 2023 to 30 November 2024.

Psychologists are not immune to the current economic challenges. The Board recognises this and has worked to keep fees as low as possible while ensuring we can perform our vital role to keep the public safe.

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Board news

National Board appointment: meet our new member

The National Board is made up of 12 members who are appointed by the Ministerial Council. Eight members must be registered psychologists − one from each state and territory. Four additional members are appointed as community members and bring a public perspective to the work of the Board. Members are appointed for a three-year term and can serve up to three consecutive terms.

In September we welcomed Professor Kimberley Norris as the practitioner member from Tasmania. Kimberley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Board. Read more about her on our Board members page.

We wish to acknowledge and thank outgoing member Professor Jenn Scott for her significant contribution to the work of the National Scheme during her terms on both the National Board and VIC/ACT/TAS Regional Board.

If you would like to receive notice of National Board vacancies when they are advertised, please contact Statutory Appointments from your preferred email address, advising which profession or roles interest you.

New Board-approved supervisor training providers appointed for 2024 to 2028

Earlier this year we invited expressions of interest from organisations, groups and individuals to act as a Board-approved provider of supervisor training for the next five-year approval period.

We granted approval to 25 providers to deliver supervisor training to psychologists across Australia from 1 January 2024 to 31 December 2028.

If you are looking to obtain or maintain Board-approved supervisor status we encourage you to visit our Supervisor training page for the complete list of providers and their contact information.

Existing Board-approved training providers will continue to deliver supervisor training until 31 December 2023. Training providers approved for the 2024-2028 approval period will start training supervisors from 1 January 2024.

We thank all applicants for participating in the 2023 expression of interest process and look forward to working with approved applicants in the next cycle.

4+2 interns: keep working on completing your requirements

This is a reminder to all 4+2 interns and supervisors to be aware of the key 4+2 retirement dates and to keep working to complete your requirements before the retirement deadline.

Once the 4+2 internship pathway to general registration is retired, we cannot accept applications for general registration via this pathway; this is a hard deadline.

The last day that a person who has completed the 4+2 internship program can apply for general registration is 30 June 2027. This gives interns a maximum of five years to complete the two-year internship, including passing the national psychology exam.

When the last cohort of interns was accepted into the 4+2 internship in June last year, there were 3,370 interns in this pathway. Our current statistics show that over 850 interns have already finished. Congratulations! However, there are still around 2,500 interns who need to complete their requirements before this pathway is retired.

We encourage you to talk with your supervisor to develop a plan so that you will safely finish your requirements well ahead of time. Please note that:

  • The exam dates for 2024 have been published on our website. We encourage you to sit the exam as soon as you are ready and avoid leaving the exam until the last minute. Some exam dates get booked out, and some interns will need to sit the exam more than once to pass it, so planning ahead will help you finish on time.
  • You need to get approval if you want to change your work role, add a work role, or change your principal supervisor during your internship. Only those work roles that have been approved can count towards your internship hours. If you do not submit an updated internship program plan (the SPPR-76 form) within 28 days of the change, we will not recognise the period of practice until the new internship plan is lodged. Submitting this form on time will ensure that your work hours count towards your internship and help you finish on time.

Further information can be found in the Guidelines for the 4+2 internship and on the Board’s 4+2 internship webpage.

Psychology national committee vacancies

The Board delegates responsibility for making registration and notification decisions about individual psychologists to national committees. We encourage interested practitioners to apply for vacancies on the following committees:

  • Psychology Notifications and Compliance Committee
  • Psychology Notifications Committee: Assessment
  • Psychology Registration and Compliance Committee
  • Psychology Immediate Action Committee.

To be eligible for appointment as a practitioner member, you must hold current registration as a psychologist. Practitioners whose principal place of practice is New South Wales are only eligible for appointment to the Psychology Registration and Compliance Committee, due to co-regulatory arrangements.

The National Scheme is committed to increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ leadership and voices. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warmly encouraged to apply, as are people from rural or regional areas.

If you are considering applying for a vacancy, we strongly encourage you to read the information provided on the Committee member recruitment page, which provides further detail about the roles, time commitment, eligibility requirements and the application process. You can also lodge your application on this page.

Applications close 31 December 2023.

Registration news

Latest workforce data released

The Board’s latest quarterly registration data report covers the period to 30 September 2023. At this date, there were 46,465 registered psychologists, including 37,701 with general registration, 7,551 with provisional registration and 1,844 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.

Regulation at work

Latest court and tribunal summaries

Fake psychologist fined after Ahpra prosecution

An Adelaide woman who falsely claimed she was a registered psychologist in two applications for employment was fined after pleading guilty in the Adelaide Magistrates Court. Read more in the news item.

Crossing professional boundaries leads to nine-month suspension for WA psychologist

A West Australian psychologist who engaged in inappropriate conduct and transgressed professional boundaries with two patients has been reprimanded by a tribunal and had his registration suspended for nine months. Read more in the news item.

WA psychologist disqualified for three years for failing to maintain professional boundaries

A tribunal has reprimanded and disqualified a psychologist from re-registration for three years for professional misconduct including failure to maintain professional boundaries or appropriately manage multiple relationships. Read more in the news item.

What’s new?

Cosmetic procedures in the spotlight one year on from surgery review

Cosmetic procedures, including Botox and other anti-wrinkle injections and fillers, will be under the spotlight in an expansion of Ahpra’s year-long crackdown on Australia’s cosmetic surgery industry. Stronger public safeguards are needed because of escalating consumer demand for non-surgical cosmetic procedures and more health practitioners seeking a career in the cosmetics industry.

One year on from the cosmetic surgery review, work is complete on most reforms with higher practice standards and new advertising rules for medical practitioners now in place. Further reforms will focus on the non-surgical cosmetic procedures industry with new guidelines coming for all health practitioners providing these services.

The planned overhauls are likely to place a stronger emphasis on informed consent and pre-procedure consultation, including a patient suitability assessment. There will also be a focus on prescribing and administering prescription-only cosmetic injectables.

Proposed new advertising guidelines are likely to focus on the use of ‘before and after’ images, claims about expertise and qualifications of practitioners, and affirm the ban on the use of testimonials. There will also be clear rules on the use of influencers and social media figures.

Public consultation on the proposed guidelines will open in coming months ahead of their release in the first half of 2024.

Read more in the news item.

Win for patient safety with ‘surgeon’ now a protected title

Only specialist surgeons may call themselves ‘surgeon’ under new legislation to restrict the use of the title by registered medical practitioners. The change means that a medical practitioner will only be able to use the title ‘surgeon’ if they are registered in one of the recognised specialties of surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, or ophthalmology.

The amendment to the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law legally protects the title ‘surgeon' from being used by any doctor without the necessary qualifications and training. Before this, any registered medical practitioner could call themselves a surgeon, even if they were not registered in a surgical specialty or had not completed specialist training in surgery.

The move supports the work of Ahpra and the Medical Board of Australia to clean up the cosmetic surgery industry, with only specialist doctors now able to call themselves a cosmetic surgeon, and complements the Medical Board’s introduction of an endorsement for cosmetic surgery. Both will help patients understand who is qualified and equip them to make informed choices.

Doctors who continue to use the title illegally may face criminal and/or regulatory action.

Read more in the news item.

Work to eliminate racism from Australian healthcare recognised internationally

The Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation (CLEAR) serves and supports the international regulatory community. Its global membership promotes regulatory excellence to improve the quality and understanding of regulation to enhance public protection. At its annual educational conference in the United States, CLEAR presented an award to Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Unit (HSU), highlighting its critical role in dismantling racist behaviours and systems in healthcare.

Established in 2021, the HSU ensures that Indigenous experts lead reforms to make regulatory processes culturally safe and free from racism, and that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples are represented in decision making. The HSU draws on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health professionals, practitioners, peak bodies, and race scholars to shape its transformative work.

Led by Gomeroi woman Jayde Fuller, the HSU drives Ahpra’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health and Cultural Safety Strategy 2020-2025 and its goal of eliminating racism from the health system by 2032. Ms Fuller told the conference that: ‘Culturally safe healthcare for Indigenous people has been a commitment in our organisation for six years – but we've been protecting our communities for 65,000 years and regulators can learn a lot from our survival and ways of knowing, being and doing.’

‘Healthcare should not be harmful. We are taking a strategic approach to dismantling all forms of racism – systemic, institutional and interpersonal. This includes ownership and accountability by providers, practitioners and regulators for creating safe healthcare,’ Ms Fuller said.

The CLEAR award recognises the HSU’s role in driving world-first reform to embed cultural safety and the elimination of racism in healthcare into Australian legislation. The law reforms mean that if Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people receive care that is racist and unsafe and their complaint enters the regulatory system, cultural safety must be considered. As well, registered health practitioners are required to take steps to educate themselves on cultural safety in relation to the accessibility of their services.

The award also highlights the HSU’s work to:

  • include an agreed definition of cultural safety in the codes of conduct for more than 850,000 registered health practitioners
  • create a culturally safe notification process for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people making a complaint, and
  • implement cultural safety continual professional development (CPD) for all registered health practitioners.

For more information, read the news item.

New checklist launched to help practitioners manage complaints

A new Checklist for practitioners has been developed to help resolve feedback or complaints made directly to practitioners or the health service where you are working.

We know that receiving negative feedback or a complaint can be confronting and stressful and as well as this resource we have published a list of general support services.

You might find this checklist helpful when a complaint is first raised with you by a patient, and it may also be relevant to those who have a role in establishing and maintaining complaints systems and processes at a health service.

When feedback or complaints are managed well, they can result in improvements that increase patient and community confidence in you as a practitioner. It can also help prevent a concern escalating to an external complaint body or regulator.

The checklist was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and the 15 National Boards as part of a joint project with the Commission, with work also underway on resources to help consumers navigate the various complaints options available.

The checklist, along with other resources covering a range of topics to support your practice, is available on Ahpra's Resources page.

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.

The latest episode is ‘Coming to a land down under: Australia as a destination for health practitioners’. This ep. examines the path overseas health workers must tread when wanting to work in Australia.

National Scheme news

Click on the image below to read the National Scheme newsletter. The Summer issue comes out this month.

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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 2/04/2024