Reform APS case for the No vote

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Reform APS case for the No vote – Vote AGAINST  the Governance Changes on June 6th

About Reform APS

Reform APS (RAPS) is a growing group of concerned APS members, which began in November 2016.

Their aim is to bring about:

  • the revitalisation of the Australian Psychological Society to promote the expertise of all its members, regardless of training pathway taken and to successfully advance the discipline and diversity of the profession of psychology for the benefit of all Australians.

APS Governance Review

  • Reform APS believes the recommended governance changes will not unite members of the society, but will clause further division because of the privileging of clinical psychology at the expense of all other psychological approaches.
  • This is against the Objects of the APS Constitution (1.a) “ …to enhance the contribution of psychology to the promotion of the public welfare by encouraging the development of all branches of psychology”
  • Reform APS has provided its own review of proposed APS governance changes, which is laid out in the following slides
  • We argue that the proposal does not address the real issues in the society, that the APS board continues to support the two-tier system.
  • The GRC did not conduct an independent review as its committee was over represented with clinical psychologists.
  • We strongly recommend members to vote AGAINST the special resolution on June 6th.

Proposed Governance Structure  

  • A new board with up to 13 directors
  • A Nominations Committee
    • To advise who should be co-opted to provide “advice to the Board on geographical spread and financial competency
  • Advisory Council for Psychological Matters

Overview of the Potential Issues with proposal

  • It will favour a few and disadvantage the many
  • Members have not been fully informed – a No case has not been provided to members
  • The election process has been undemocratic and heavily biased in the direction of one outcome
  • Lack of detail leaves the implementation open to abuse once passed
  • No costs/benefits analysis provided of the entire proposal
  • High cost of adding another large committee (54) to the current list of 230 members groups
  • Unacceptable number of unelected positions on all levels of the new structure – the new Board, Nominations Committee and Advisory Council

Specific Potential Issues with Proposal

  • The reason for the change is confusing – will the new board be representational or not?
  • But the APS has warned that directors should not represent particular sections of the society – yet they are changing the structure so that directors are voted in by particular sections of the society.
  • Does this mean that in future, board members will represent the interests of their particular sections, rather than of the society as a whole?
  • This would go against the legal definition that Directors should govern on behalf of all the shareholders?
  • How many members will have the time to scrutinize all these Constitutional changes?
  • What other changes to the APS constitution will be included in this vote?
  • Are we moving us towards a American presidential style leadership of the society?
  • Are members from the same group expected to vote for ‘their’ candidates (like a political party)? In this case only two positions are elected by the entire membership – the President elect & the early career.
  • This year’s board represented a broader range of members than any other board in 17 years – why change it?

1.Proposed New Board Structure

  • National Executive: 3
    • President
    • President-Elect (in a year when the President-Elect is elected)
    • Executive Director (appointed by the board, not elected by members)
  • General Directors: 6
    • Two are elected from and by the Colleges (one is exclusively clinical)
    • Two are elected from and by the Division of General Psychological Practice (DGPP)
    • One is elected from and by the Division of Psychological Research, Education and Training (DPRET) (academics)
    • One is elected from Early Career members by all the “voting” membership
  • Additional Directors: 4selected by the Nominations Committee

Potential Issues with the Board

  • Clinical College will continue to dominate the board holding 8 /13 positions. This will only get worse as time goes on as the colleges diminish


  • National Executive: 3 out of 3 expected to be clinical
    • President and Executive Director remain (both clinical)
    • President elect likely to be clinical (historical)
  • General Director positions – 3 out of 3 expected to be clinical
    • One is a guaranteed clinical
    • The early career & academic are expected to be clinical (as no other courses available)
  • Two of the four additional directors expected to remain clinical

Other Board Issues

  • The Executive Director role should have been removed from the board as that positon has become too powerful and should be split into two.
  • Advocacy should be done by a professional independent lobbyist, not the Executive Director
  • The board requires an independent secretary, not the Executive Director’s secretary
  • The Corporations Act (2001) warns against any directors holding tenure longer than 9 years (Sec.2.4) as they can no longer be “…considered 
  • The current Executive Director’s term has been 17 years.
  • There is only one (1) position for eight (8) non-clinical colleges, who represent 17% of the membership.
  • There are only two (2) positions for the general psychologists, who represent over 50% of the membership
  • There is a full position (1) for an academic, who represents only 11% of the membership
  • The early career position is tokenistic and a pretense (because it is likely to be clinical). Directors should be nominated and elected on the basis of their expertise and competence not their age/inexperience. (Early career members also have 3 seats on the Council).
  • There is no representation for regional, rural and remote members on the board.
  • A new review is required with an independent Governance Review Committee (GRC) with greater representation of all members.

2. Proposed Nominations Committee

  • To assist the Board to identify the most appropriate and qualified nominees for additional Directors
  • It would perform two main functions
    • provide advice to the Board on priority areasrelevant to Board composition e.g. geographical spread and financial competency
    • Identify suitably qualified additional Directors who could add value to the functioning of the Board at the relevant time.

Potential Issues with the Nominations Committee

  • The selection of the four additional directors has traditionally been performed by the board.
  • This has become very controversial as the additional directors can hold the balance of power (like this year’s board).
  • This year the three additional directors were all clinical, including a neuro-clinical director
  • The Nominations Committee appears to be an attempt to control the selection of the additional directors off line.
  • The proposed governance changes do not capture what is really problematic about the APS board.
  • Why remove this function from the board?
  • Why is the President on this Committee if it is to be truly independent?
  • What if the board doesn’t want to accept their recommendations?
  • No one on the Nominations Committee will be elected. How will they be selected?
  • There is not enough information on how this powerful, invisible group would function

3. Proposed Advisory Council

  • There will be 54 people on this Council, including the President, as Chair
  • Nine College Chairs
  • Eight State Committee Chairs
  • Nine DGPP representatives
  • Nine DPRET representatives
  • Nine Interest Group Conveners
  • Three Early Career representatives
  • Three Indigenous psychologists
  • Three Rural and Remote members

Potential Issues with the Council

  • It is a large unwieldy body of 54 members from across Australia, who will meet twice a year to discuss and formulate advice and policy recommendations.
  • It will add another layer of  bureaucracy to the 230 member groups and committees that already discuss and formulate advice and policy recommendations.
  • Such a large number of people meeting together is not only inefficient but also extremely expensive for the Society if they meet twice a year each year.
  • The composition of the Council is unclear and we are being asked to vote to accept this without enough detail.
  • If passed in its current form, the composition could easily be changed afterwards as they have only put forward a proposed make up of the Council.
  • Based on current information, twenty seven (27) of the proposed Council members – or 50% – would not be elected by members, but hand picked by National Office.
  • If the Board must accept the recommendations from this Council then it makes the Council a very powerful body.

Potential Issues with DPRET

  • DPRET representatives – 9 members

It is unclear who the DPRET representatives are. On the APS website there are 12 DPRET            Forum members (of which Lyn Littlefield is one and also the Co-Chair).

DPRET is over represented on the Council – With approximately 2000 members – or 11% of        the membership.

Potential Issues with DGPP

  • DGPP representatives – 9 members
    • There is no concrete information on who these 9 will be but it is presumed that the 9 will be the current 9 state/territory DGPP representatives.
    • These members have been selected by national office
    • With approximately 12,000 members – or 54% of the membership – they are seriously under represented on the Council.

Potential Issues with Early Career

  • Early career representatives – 3 members
    • There is no concrete info on who these 3 will be, but it is presumed that they will come from the Early Career Advisory group.
    • The current Early Career Advisory group has 5 members, all of whom were selected by National Office. This group is seriously over represented.
    • No reason for them to have a position on the board

Potential Issues with Rural and Remote Members – 3 members

  • There is no concrete info on who these 3 will be, but it is presumed that they will come from the Rural and Remote Advisory group.
  • We understand that all the current members of the Rural and Remote Advisory group have been selected by National Office. (Not to be confused with the Rural and remote Interest Group)

Potential Issues with Indigenous  Psychologists – 3 members

  • There is no concrete information on who these 3 will be.

Summary of Potential Issues with the Council:

  • If the Council has the power to propose policy to the Board and the Board are obliged to follow and accept their recommendations, then it makes a mockery of the board.
  • We recommend strongly voting against the introduction of these changes.
  • A summary of the governance proposals can be found in the August 2016 of InPsych magazine 

Final conclusions:

  • Proposal is too far reaching and outcomes are unknown.
  • The rationale for the new structure is confusing and unclear
  • Members have not been provided with enough information to be able to make an informed decision
  • It is unwieldy and expensive without costings and projections
  • It is advantages clinical college over all other colleges and divisions
  • The process of putting it forward has been biased and one-sided

RAPS recommends you vote ‘No’ to the special resolution at the general meeting on June 6th to change the governance of the APS. There is too much doubt about it proceed.

Thank you for your attention


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