The lessons of APS history

The APS must account to members for its failure to address the shattering loss of diversity in the profession since the introduction of the two-tier system.

That’s the only conclusion that we can draw from a column in InPsych magazine written by then acting president, Professor Simon Crowe, way back in February 2009. Read it and weep!

There could have been no clearer warning of today’s crisis than the one delivered in Professor Crowe’s article, and its prescient heading, “Where are all the flowers going?’

The article revealed the radical transformation of the society in little more than two years as a result of the increase in clinical psychologists and neglecting all other disciplines of the profession as a direct consequence of the two-tier Medibank rebate.

While Professor Crowe suggested in the article that the APS was still a garden of diversity, the figures he presented were a stark rebuttal of any such thing. Those figures revealed the enormous shadow that had fallen across academic courses as a direct result of the higher rebate. Professor Crowe blamed that on “years of chronic underfunding of the higher education sector and the costs of adequately resourcing their programs”.

We can only speculate on whether that funding crisis was the motivation for the enthusiasm of academics at the top of the APS for the introduction of the two-tier system. Some solution!

Professor Crowe’s figures showed that virtually overnight, 51 courses had been discontinued while at the same time the government had provided targeted funding to introduce 200 new clinical psychology training places “as part of the mental health reforms that also brought the Medicare rebates for psychology services”.

Professor Crowe noted a “significant decrease in courses providing specialty training in community, education and developmental, clinical neuropsychology, forensic, health, organisation and sport psychology.(What about counselling psychology?)

He claimed that “the board believes it is essential to address the threat to the diversity of the society, and that there must be adequate recognition of the broad spectrum of psychological expertise and the far-reaching applications of the discipline of psychology.”

No one with the best interests of psychology at heart could have argued with that, but what exactly did the board do about it?

Is there any evidence at all from the long and painful eight years that followed, that this was anything more than paying lip service to what psychology in this country was about to lose?

Wittingly or unwittingly, had the APS leadership already sprayed all those pretty flowers with weed-killer?

3 thoughts on “The lessons of APS history

  1. The really annoying further aspect to the clinical faction killing off diversity is the arrogant assumption I occasionally encounter from a clinical psych that they can be all things to all people and engage in the areas of specialisation of other colleges without the training! I know a number of clinical psychs who work in health, counselling, educational and organisational psychology specialised areas – without the training or endorsement that those who qualified in post-graduate degrees in those areas! Imagine the fuss and fury if those specialised in any of those other areas started to work in areas clinicals like to think only they can service! For example, the vast bulk of the ACT Department of Education “school psychologists” (replacing generations specifically trained in that specialised area) are now clinical psychs!

    1. Us versus Them… would be great if we could spend more time pointing to what the better outcome would be rather than pointing fingers at people and trying to assign blame – there will be no way to hold individual people accountable for what has happened in the past so can we please try and focus more on the future and the better outcomes that may be achievable for all?

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