In Australia today we have three training pathways (4+2, 5+1 and six years) that satisfy the qualification requirement for registration as an independently practising psychologist. Increasingly, the pathways favoured by ‘psychologists in training’, employers and other users of psychology services are the accredited higher degree pathways. The higher degree pathways have now become the main route, replacing the traditional 4+2 internship.
The 4+2 pathway involves a two-year individual supervised practice program undertaken after the completion of a four-year Bachelors degree. This pathway has a long history and has served the profession and employers well. It had many positive aspects and has produced high quality psychologists.
However, more and more questions are now being asked about its currency. The pathway was developed in the 1940s and 1950s before postgraduate professional training (prevalent since the 1980s and 1990s) was available. The 4+2 internship program is below any other current international standard for psychology training and differs markedly from the training models of all other regulated health professions. The 4+2 program places excessive burden on interns, supervisors and employers facilitating this training. It also places significant burden on the regulator. Under the National Law1, the Psychology Board of Australia is responsible for ensuring that registered psychologists are appropriately trained and safe to provide professional services to the community.
The huge growth in the evidence base of psychology over the past 50 years means that it is very difficult for most individual supervisors, employers and workplaces to provide appropriate curriculum at a standard expected of a registered psychologist. Consequently the two-year internship 'on the job' training is making this pathway increasingly unsustainable.
The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme) has paved the way for regulatory reform in the psychology profession. Much has been achieved in the past six years to meet the National Scheme’s objectives and the regulatory principles of protecting the public, upholding professional standards and maintaining public confidence in the regulated professions. To facilitate the provision of high quality education and training of psychologists, the Board worked with the profession, the accreditation council and the higher education sector to introduce the 5+1 internship program as a new higher degree pathway to registration – a significant enhancement to professional training – that is now very popular with provisional psychologists and employers. The fifth year training pathway continues to grow, with 11 higher education institutions across five states developing this pathway, another three starting, and a further 10 in development. Some universities are considering the merits of a three-year Bachelor + two-year Masters structure, compared to a Bachelor Honours + one-year postgraduate structure. The Board welcomes these developments, as the growth in these five-year postgraduate programs will increasingly create sufficient training places to sustain and grow the profession. This will allow the next generation of psychologists greater access to accredited postgraduate professional psychology training.
Professor Brin Grenyer
Chair, Psychology Board of Australia
1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory.
back to top
The Board is deeply saddened at the passing of Trevor Waring on 13 August 2016. Professor Waring was a clinical psychologist who contributed to his clients and the profession for over 40 years. In 2004 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his outstanding work in mental health and psychology.
He served on the NSW Psychologists Registration Board for 14 years, with 11 years as President, and was Head of the Council of Psychologists Registration Boards for four years. He was a foundation member (with six years as Chair) of the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council serving up until December 2015. He was the recipient of the 2011 APS President's Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology. From 2004–2012 he was Chancellor of the University of Newcastle.
Trevor was an outstanding leader and those who knew him will recall his sense of good humour and enjoyment of life, and the pride he had in his family and those who worked closely with him. The Board acknowledges his outstanding contribution to the registration and accreditation of psychologists in Australia, and his broader contribution to the community which he served.
The Board was pleased to welcome over 250 members of the profession and students to a public forum held in Sydney on 29 September.
Members of the Board presented on a number of topics, including psychology regulation and workforce reform, online communications with clients, the complexities of private practice and reconciliation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
You can read the transcript and review the slides from the forum on our website.
The Board has launched its 2016 renewal of registration campaign for psychologists and AHPRA has sent email reminders to psychologists who have provided an email address.
Act now and update your information if your contact details have changed, to not miss future reminders to renew. To update your contact details visit the Board’s website and use the appropriate link under Access online services. A user ID and secure password is necessary. If you have forgotten your user ID you can complete a web enquiry form. Select Online services - Practitioner as the category type.
The registration renewal date for psychologists with general or non-practising registration is 30 November 2016. The quickest and easiest way to renew registration is online.
Renewal applications received during December will incur a late payment fee.
Under the National Law practitioners who do not renew their registration within one month of their registration expiry date must be removed from the Register of Practitioners. Their registration will lapse and they will not be able to practise psychology in Australia. A fast-track application can be made, only during January. The practitioner cannot practise until the application is processed and the register is updated.
You should read the Board’s registration standards carefully before applying to renew, as information in support of declarations made in an application could be requested.
A renewal FAQ is available on the Board’s website.
The Board invites applications from experienced psychologists seeking appointment to the National Psychology Examination Committee (NPE Committee).
The Board is seeking members of the psychology profession who have experience and knowledge in the core competencies required for general registration in the profession, including experience in training, teaching, and assessment of professional competencies. Expertise is required in the following areas:
Committee appointments are made by the National Board, under the National Law. Members include psychologists with different areas of practice (practitioners and academics; private and public sector psychologists).
The NPE Committee consists of nine senior members of the psychology profession and includes members of the Board and members appointed through an expression of interest process. Appointments are for up to three years, with eligibility for reappointment. New appointments are expected to begin in January 2017.
The functions of the committee are to develop the National Psychology Examination multiple-choice questions and to contribute to policy and curriculum frameworks and the development of resources (such as the reading list and NPE orientation guide).
The committee meets in Melbourne four to six times a year over two business days.
For more information on the role and the application process, please download the application guide and application form from the vacancies page on the Board website, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your application will be assessed by a selection advisory panel.
Applications close 5.00pm AEST on 7 November 2016.
The Board has released an application pack for individuals and organisations interested in becoming Board-approved providers of supervisor training of master class training only.
The Board has determined to hold an expression of interest (EOI) process to become a Board-approved supervisor training provider every five years. The Board has stated that a mid-cycle EOI will be conducted only if further supervisor training providers are needed. The current approval cycle is 2013-2018.
The recent annual review of the supervisor training program indicates that there are a sufficient number of workshops and Board-approved supervisor training providers for the full training (component 1, 2 and 3). However, there are around 8,000 Board-approved supervisors (BAS) who transitioned and became BAS in 2013. All Board-approved supervisors are required to update their training every five years by doing a master class (at minimum). The 2013 cohort of BAS will need to refresh their training by June 2018.
In order to manage a potential shortfall of master class training workshops and providers for BAS who require refresher training by 2018, the Board will hold an EOI for Board-approved training providers mid-approval cycle (i.e. before 2018).
This application is for approval for provision of master class training only, and approval is to be granted until 2018 to align with the current 2013-2018 approval cycle.
In 2013, the Board introduced a competency-based training framework for supervisors to ensure provisional psychologists and psychologists receive quality supervision that is consistent with the Board’s standards. More information about the framework and the requirements for the training is available in the Guidelines for supervisors and supervisor training providers (the guidelines).
The Board is committed to ensuring national coverage of workshop delivery in both metropolitan and regional areas, and is particularly interested in applicants who are located in regional areas, and applicants who can deliver workshops in regional locations.
Individuals and organisations (applicants) interested in becoming a Board-approved training provider may apply for approval to provide one or more master classes by using the application pack above.
For the purpose of fairness and transparency, all individual questions and the answers provided will be made available to all applicants. All questions and the answers will be published on the Board’s website seven days after the close of the allocated question time. Applicants may submit requests for additional information or clarification up to 17 days after the release of the application (i.e. 21 October 2016).
The Board will assess and approve applicants based on their:
Multiple training providers may be selected to facilitate delivery of supervisor training nationally (in both urban and regional areas) and ensure a complete range of training components.
For further information and the application pack, see the media release. Applications close on 10 November 2016.
A revised registration standard for recency of practice was published by the Board in February 2016. It comes into effect on 1 December 2016 and will replace the registration standard that is currently in place.
You will need to meet the obligations of the revised standard by the first time you renew your registration after 1 December 2016. If you renew on time this year (by 30 November 2016) you will not need to meet the obligations of the revised standard until you renew your registration in 2017.
The key change to the Board’s recency of practice requirements is that a requirement for minimum hours of practice has been introduced. To meet the new standard, psychologists must practise within their scope of practice for a minimum of minimum of 250 hours in the previous five years.
A revised policy for recency of practice requirements also comes into effect on 1 December 2016. It replaces the current version of the policy and introduces new individualised return-to-practice programs for psychologists who do not meet the recency of practice requirements. The new programs will significantly increase flexibility, allowing psychologists returning to practice to undertake re-entry training that is most suitable for their individual circumstances and scope of practice.
More information about the new registration standard and policy can be found on the Board’s website at:
The Board’s revised registration standard for continuing professional development (CPD) and revised CPD guidelines came into effect on 1 December 2015.
The new standard and guidelines apply to the current registration year (1 December 2015 to 30 November 2016), so when you renew your registration this year, you need to declare that you have met the requirements of the new standard.
The core CPD requirements for psychologists have not changed, so you should not need to do anything differently to meet the Board’s requirements; but you do need to make sure you have read the new standard before making a declaration about it when you renew.
The core requirements are:
Please also remember that the new requirement to maintain your CPD portfolio for five years now applies. Therefore, you must keep your CPD records for this registration year, 1 December 2015 to 30 November 2016, until 1 December 2021. You can keep your records in hard copy or electronic format – which may include online CPD logging with the APS – as long as they are able to be provided to AHPRA in a printed or accessible electronic format if required for an audit.
Further information including copies of the standard and guidelines, FAQ and other information is available on the CPD resources page.
The Board completed public consultation on proposed revisions to the registration standard and guideline for area of practice endorsements in March 2016. The consultation paper and submissions received are available under Past consultations.
The consultation submissions highlighted areas where further work was necessary and this work has been progressing well. The Board plans to submit a proposed revised registration standard for area of practice endorsements to the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council in 2017.
The Board also plans to undertake further work on area of practice endorsements and area of practice competencies in the future, taking into account the anticipated new accreditation standards for psychology programs and reforms to the education and training pathways for psychologists.
The Board completed public consultation on a proposed guideline for transitional programs in September. The consultation paper and submissions received are available under Past consultations.
The Board has been working to finalise the new guideline, taking consultation feedback into account, and plans to publish the new guideline soon.
On 1 September 2016, AHPRA released the first stage of a new online notification portal that will simplify and streamline the process for notifying complaints and concerns about health practitioners to AHPRA.
You can view Make a complaint online.
The Board has developed a brief orientation guide to the National Psychology Exam. The aim of the guide is to assist candidates sitting the exam to understand the depth and scope of the curriculum. It includes example areas to consider in exam preparation. The guide is to be read in conjunction with the National Psychology Exam guidelines, the exam curriculum, the exam reading list, and the assessment domain additional resources. Candidates sitting the exam are encouraged to review the guide.
Board-approved supervisors of provisional psychologists and registrars are required to complete an approved supervisor training program at least every five years in order to maintain their approval. All supervisors will be required to complete an approved training program and apply to extend their approval before their supervisor approval expiry date.
The application form to maintain approval is: Application to maintain Board-approved supervisor status - MBAS-76 (290 KB,PDF). The MBAS-76 is available on the Forms page of the website. There is no fee for this application.
Supervisors are required to provide evidence of completion of Board-approved supervision training, as follows:
Your supervisor approval expiry date is five years from the date you last completed an approved supervisor training program.
If you transitioned to the National Scheme as an approved supervisor in 2010 and you have not completed a supervisor training program and provided the certificate of completion to AHRPA, your expiry date is 30 June 2018.
To check when your approval is due login to the AHPRA online services portal. Click on Supervisor services and then Supervision information. Your user name and password are the same ones you use when renewing your registration in November each year.
You have just over two years to complete a Board-approved supervisor training program. The minimum requirement is completion of a one-day master class. For more information on the minimum requirement to maintain Board-approved supervisor status please see the Supervisor FAQ.
Board-approved supervisor training providers are listed on the Supervisor training page along with the links to the provider’s websites that indicate the workshop topics and training dates. You are encouraged to review the available training options and choose the one most appropriate to your needs and CPD learning plan.
There are a large number of supervisors whose expiry date is 30 June 2018. The Board encourages supervisors to enrol in the master class training early and not wait until the deadline is approaching to enrol in the training. This will ensure that you have the widest choice in the provider, the timing and the topic of the master class.
When you have completed your refresher training you should notify AHPRA by applying to maintain your approval for another five years. The application to maintain Board-approved supervisor status – MBAS-76 is available on the Forms page of the website. There is no fee for this application. Once the application is approved your Board-approved supervisor expiry date will be extended for another five years from the date you completed your training program.
Please note that the training provider does not notify AHPRA for you – they provide information about how many psychologists have completed training for annual and outcome reports, but not your individual details or certificate of completion.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has reprimanded registered psychologist Mr Ross Anderson and suspended his registration for three months for professional misconduct, effective from 1 September 2016.
The allegations related to Mr Anderson’s relationship with a former patient that occurred over 20 years ago, before the National Law came into effect in July 2010. Regulation 30 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Regulations enabled the Board to refer the matter to VCAT.
Between 1993 and 1994, Mr Anderson treated a patient initially in respect to a personal injury claim, and then to provide counselling. During this period, Mr Anderson acknowledged he was aware the patient had significant mental health issues. He admitted that in December 1995 he had sexual intercourse with the patient on two occasions. Mr Anderson made admissions at an early stage of proceedings.
The tribunal hearing took place on 16 August 2016. The Board relied on expert evidence that Mr Anderson’s conduct was in breach of the Code of conduct for psychologists in force at the time of his conduct in 1995, with the expert making reference to a ‘great many alarm bells which he chose to ignore’.
Read more in the media release.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has found that Mr Mark Tunstall engaged in professional misconduct and reprimanded him, disqualifying him from applying for registration for 18 months. Mr Tunstall had previously let his registration lapse in November 2012.
The Board referred the matter to the tribunal in October 2015, after a notification was received by AHPRA concerning Mr Tunstall's conduct as a registered psychologist, namely entering into a relationship with a client.
The tribunal found that Mr Tunstall, while working as a psychologist, engaged in professional misconduct in relation to all five allegations made by the Board, which included: practising outside scope of professional competence, failing to seek professional supervision, personal relationship with the client, sexual relationship and failure to disclose to other health professionals.
VCAT took into account Mr Tunstall’s admissions, the changes in his life, and the time that has elapsed since the offending behaviour. It, however, pointed out the he had not taken any further education in the field of psychology, nor sought professional help to analyse his own shortcomings that would be required to support any application for future registration.
AHPRA and the National Boards hosted more than 220 delegates at the 2016 Research Summit when everyone came together in August to talk about the next frontier for developing our partnership’s evidence base to improve the way we regulate.
The theme of the summit was ‘patient safety through risk-based regulation’, and presenters discussed a range of topics. At the heart of the discussion was how to contribute to safer care for patients and health consumers. Also discussed was how data collection and evaluation can help find new and innovative ways to improve regulatory processes for health practitioners and the public.
The inaugural summit provided an opportunity for the exchange of expertise and ideas between regulatory staff, experts in safety and quality in healthcare, health practitioners and leading health and medical researchers.
Mr Paul Shinkfield, AHPRA National Director of Strategy and Research, said there was broad consensus at the end of the summit on key themes and areas for future work. ‘The clear desire to form strong partnerships is critical to achieving sustainable and effective outcomes; in how we work in regulation, and how they work in the health service delivery and a range of related sectors,’ he said.
AHPRA and the National Boards’ joint submission to the Queensland Parliamentary Committee’s inquiry into the performance of the Queensland Health Ombudsman’s (OHO) functions has been published on the Queensland Parliament website.
The current health service complaints management system has now been in operation in Queensland for just over two years. It was intended to introduce a better system for health complaints management with greater transparency and accountability and improved timeliness in achieving an outcome.
While there are strengths to be found in the current model, there are significant areas that require urgent attention and improvements that cannot be achieved without change.
The Boards and AHPRA have identified key concerns supported by data and case studies:
Therefore, in our joint submission, AHPRA and the National Boards recommend that specific changes be made to the model in Queensland.
If our recommendations are acted on, Queenslanders, through the health minister and Queensland Parliament, would be assured that our regulatory expertise and that of the OHO as an ombudsman and health complaints authority, is applied in the best possible way to protect the Queensland public. Our respective resources would be used more effectively as the unnecessary delays and duplication in our roles would be addressed.
To read the full statement including the recommendations, visit AHPRA’s website, where you can also download it in PDF.