Members frustrated by lack of healthy dialogue with APS executive

An example of the long history many APS members have had in trying to establish healthy collaborative dialogue with the APS executive.

By Clive Jones PhD MAPS

Attached is a letter I sent to the APS Executive Director Prof Lyn Littlefield on 6th April 2006. It is a clear example of the way in which the APS executive seems to disengage from the proper address of legitimate concerns raised by its membership.

It is also a clear example of the length of time a significant cohort of the membership have been respectfully voicing concern, seeking clarity and encouraging open and honest discussion over the APS agenda on key issues faced by the APS membership.

I wrote this letter to the Executive Director and the APS board in April of 2006. That’s six months prior to the 2-tier Medicare Better Access Initiative being introduced. I was prompted to write in response to the growing hype around the initiative and the language and underpinning inference made through an InPsych article around the same time from Littlefield on the soon to be implemented Initiative in November of 2006.

I did not receive a reply.

This letter is one of probably hundreds, if not thousands of letters the APS executive would have received in the lead up to the Medicare Better Access Initiative in 2006 and thereafter over the proceeding 11 years up to and including the present day.

And still no clarity given, or practical solutions of resolve implemented.


It is clear to see that the formation of RAPS is an obvious by-product of the indifference and/or contempt the APS executive seems to have shown towards key concerns that have continued to be raised by the membership well before the Medicare Better Access Initiative and associated developments were introduced and over the many years after their implementation.

From my perspective the APS did not and continues not to engage the membership in the process. It is the ‘closed shop’, ‘top down’ decision making process that also needs to be reformed in the APS.

The most recent InPsych address from the APS President is, from my perspective, a clear demonstration of contempt for those members who have chosen to express more openly and publicly their long-term concerns.

It’s unfortunate to say that our own team Captain, (the APS President) in his most recent message to his team (the APS membership) via InPsych, has chosen to degrade the intent of his own players by calling RAPS sympathisers, associates, supporters as “self-serving”.

By the tone of Mr Cichello’s message I am not surprised the formal mediation with RAPS did not come to bear any fruit.


The fact is, thousands of psychologists who are APS members have for many years expressed grave concern over the growing developments in our profession that undermine their practice domain, and those of their colleagues, through a slow erosion of their credibility to practice across the many areas of expertise they have acquired.

It is unfortunate that the APS president, in his formal public address on the matter through the most recent edition of InPsych, could only offer a derogatory comment towards those who express such concern, rather than speak directly to those concerns. RAPS supporters and sympathisers are Mr Cichello’s team mates, colleagues, who share in APS membership with him and who want the best for Australian Psychologists and the community we all serve.

If we were serious about a unified voice, the APS executive would continue to openly and overtly promote and sell the expertise of ALL APS colleagues as they present in their practice expertise regardless of the pathway they have chosen.

Unfortunately, for over 11 years now, this has not occurred in a way that unambiguously demonstrates a commitment to all members and their expertise. And to top it all off now; in November of 2017, 11 years on from the commencement of the 2-tier issues; the APS president has chosen the tactic of playing the persons in the public allegation of some APS members being “self-serving” instead of offering a clear solution to the legitimate concerns raised.

As president of the APS this language does only serve to divide, not unite. Unfortunately, I personally consider this most recent statement from the APS president an unfortunate development that will only serve to trigger more unrest and distrust between colleagues.

I implore everyone – Don’t take the bait.


Start from the position of ACCEPTING and RESPECTING the expertise of ALL your colleagues. Regardless of the officially recognised and legislated pathway they have taken to acquire their expertise! Whether from a 4+2, 5+1, masters or any other pathway to registration and practice your colleagues have taken; accept the expertise they have and respect them for it.

Quite simple really. Nothing self-serving about this at all.

I will be following up directly with a letter to Mr Cichello to share the concerns I have raised here.


Dr Clive M Jones Dipt, DipCouns, DipLC, BEd, MEd, GradDipPsych, PhD (psych), MAPS, MCSEP, MCCOUNSP

Psychological Services


Asst Professor – Bond University Faculty of Health Sciences & Medicine


15 thoughts on “Members frustrated by lack of healthy dialogue with APS executive

  1. So after reading the APS Directors diatribe, my eyes roll around and I am thinking not again, same bullshit different industry. It’s the same old boring game, a small special interest group with privileges and power manipulating and dis empowering the larger body of members to preserve their own sense of prestige, power and control. Then I have a chuckle because I seen this before time and time again ad nauseous, and each time without exception the huge blind spot in their ego is what brings them down. – mature aged master student

  2. Hey Concerned Psychologist, to be fair, what you wrote is true and needs to be said, but “.” has done the right thing by putting ‘(then)’ in the sentence that refers to Specialist Counselling Psychologist, thusly: “I obtained a (then) specialist title “Counselling Psychologist”. “,” makes some valid points that are deserving of our respectful consideration despite the rather timid identity signifier of “.”
    Please don’t run away.

  3. Clive, you said it all. You said it long ago. Many have said it since. The obfuscatory and/or cynical responses denying representation of the interests of all the APS membership have also consistently said it all. The saying “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” would seem to apply. RAPS must organise and, with a majority of members understanding and supporting fairness, take control of the APS. Talk, reason and fairness have obviously proven useless.

    1. Yes, Gregg, RAPS tried to do the right thing and had the Spill stolen by Conniving Clinicals, exiling Innocent Hard Working Board Members because they were not Part of the Clinical Cabal. If it is a Fight the APS and Clinicals want, it is a Fight they will have! Non-Clinically Endorsed Lives Matter!

  4. Dr Clive M Jones, thank you for your measured discussion.
    In the last communication of DGPP , the communication unsigned expressed the concerns of the clinicians in relation to RAPS but failed to give a balance argument, why DGPP say it like this and that is a question that needs to be answered, as they are supposed to represent General Practising Psychologist and not clinicians, what is going on with DGPP, who is running this shamble. We are staying and fighting this and now is the time to question who is actually running the DGPP. I being a generalist , didn’t like the tone of DGPP communication and I don’t see them as my representative, we need a real DGPP that represent the intrest of generalist.

  5. Many thanks for your thoughtful post, Clive. By all means write to Cichello and the Board including Joe. Having said that, I am predicting your letter will receive the same disdain and lack of engagement that you 2006 letter to Littlefield received. And to the clinical trolls in this site, this is why AAPi is growing so quickly.

  6. I have a Masters in Psychology – I studied for 3 years for a B.App.Sc., 1 year Grad Dip., and 2 years Masters. I obtained a (then) specialist title “Counselling Psychologist”. I understand why Counselling Psychologists feel aggrieved by the two tier system – they have studied the same number of years and there is ample evidence demonstrating that both Clinical psychologists and Counselling psychologists undertake “Counselling” with clients and that both streams are effective in their approaches.
    I DO NOT understand why those who have only completed a 4 year degree believe they should receive the same status/remuneration as those who have completed 6 years. Where does this occur in real life? As far as I am aware, in most disciplines those who obtain higher qualifications are rewarded for this. Of COURSE one needs to be remunerated for the extra years of study, else why do them? If you are asking for different pathways to achieve the same status as the clinical psychologists, then this surely is a different question altogether?

    Understand that I am PRO equity – but, in this case, I am a bit confused about what the RAPS are actually wanting?


    1. Gregory Goodluck AKA Gregory, Gregorski, Gregarious, Gregorious, Gregarious Donatious, Gregort, Greg, GG, GG of GC says:

      4+2 = 6 years of training. Look at the PBA criteria for the +2. It is standardised training in specific competencies and quite intensive. The +2 is not an easy peasy cakewalk or just a bit of a chat once a week. It is intensive training.

      1. There is no “specialist” title…. If you studied ethics and business practice requirement as part of your “training” you are familiar with National Law that regulates our profession… to purport to be or have specialist training or specialisation and to be MORE competent than other psychologists with no endorsement etc is a BREACH OF NATIONAL LAW with PENALTIES up to $30,000! The PBA reports that an endorsement does not equate to a SPECIALIST TITLE!


    2. Hi .

      Please give me a road map to your real world! I have three pre-grad diploma’s a post grad diploma, a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree and a PhD. If you’ve stumbled across a world out there where Uni qualifications do equate to higher pay, then please take me to it!

      The problem is though, social workers with a master’s degree and PhD will receive a lower rebate than psychologist’s when treating under Medicare Better Access.

      What this suggests is that in the real world of the Medicare Better Access Rebate system it is not about higher pay for higher qualification. It simply divides practitioners in levelled tiers based on an unfounded hunch.

      Practitioners are either capable of treating or they are not. I would not pay a builder more for the same job simply because they have a master’s degree.

      In the real-world people tender for the job and quote according to what is required not according to the qualification they hold.

      The Government asks our profession to treat those in the community who would benefit and in return for our service they will assist the client with a rebate. They receive the same service regardless of the qualification the psychologist holds.

      It is a furphy, misleading and actually ethically and legally out of line to suggest the higher tier psychologist offers a’ treatment mansion’ while the lower tier psychologist offers a single bed unit.

      We really have, as a profession, dug ourselves in to a very deep hole with all this.

      Kind Regards

      1. thank you Dr Jones for sharing your experience as a psychologist. As a young female masters of clinical psychology student, I value the real world perspective you bring over the ivory tower theory the academic clinical psychs teach us in lectures. I have the humility to acknowledge that we clinical graduates are not the elite as we are taught and we have much to learn from our experienced superiors. It is a marvel our professors even have time to teach us at all in “clin” training between the time spent awarding themselves multiple endorsements. I join the chorus of students not motivated by self interest and ego in condemning J Dwyer for her views and support the good work of the AAPi and RAPS in combating the clinical APS/PBA junta strangling our profession.

        1. Nice to hear from the intelligent student humble enough to grasp and embrace the inconvenient truth that the hubris of many of her peers is built on an illusion manufactured by the degree mill industry of self-agrandising academics and who knows that pride comes before the fall making sure she maintains the humility. Sad that she missed out on the very enriching broad mentoring experience of the plus two “internship” as the industry pushes graduates in that direction of university post. grad training presumably for fear of being relegated second class and for the higher rebate and open doors to organisations following the two tier lie (methinks).

          1. thank you Gregory for providing young masters of clinical psychology students such as myself an important reminder of the need to be humble and defer to the advice of our more experienced betters. I apologize on behalf of all clinical masters students for the unprovoked and untrue attacks by Cate Megan and J Dwyer on respected psychologists like you and Dr Alexander. They have obviously been inculcated by their academic clinical psych lecturers, terrified the “clin superority” house of straw is tumbling down around them. I weep knowing such “clin psychs” are being foisted onto the public as superior psychologists when their petty personal attacks show they are unfit for their roles. I also weep knowing I will be similarly unprepared to help clients after completing my “clin masters”, without the benefits of the plus two internship learning from good men like yourself and Dr Alexander. I implore my fellow students – if you care about the public not having access to care resulting in excellent outcomes because of the actions of a clinical junta guided by self-interest and egos, contact everyone in your social media network. Help spread the word about AAPi and RAPS. Volunteer to form a local network. It can all begin here.

        2. Hi Emma,

          Thank you for sharing and clarifying your thoughts.

          While I’m sincerely encouraged by the strength of your conviction on the points you’ve raised it also prompts me to flag a concern that can be applied more broadly to the current state of our profession.

          That is the perpetuation of ‘othering’.

          We must ensure we don’t slip in to stereotyping our colleagues due to the pathway undertaken or the line of work they end up in.

          Just as an example, from my own perspective and personal experience, I can honestly say that psychologists across both academia and private practice are high quality individuals doing a great job. From my personal experience I can say that just about all the academics I encountered as a student over the years taught me heaps and the academics I have worked with over the past 15 years are all quality dudes 🙂

          I’ve either prac supervised, taught and/or examined theses of clinical master’s and/or doctoral students and students from across a range of different pathways and programs. From my understanding, clinical master’s programs are great programs! So is the +2 pathway and all other psych master’s programs across all endorsed areas!

          It’s important to remember that the reputation of Australian Universities is top notch, world class.

          Hence one reason why Australian university programs, both undergrad and postgrad, earn more than our mining industry each year as an export! Just as a small example, in my current cohort of students, more than 80% are from the US on study visas.

          Our universities are in great demand internationally.

          So, it makes me wonder why our own APS president would claim that our psychologists in Australia are amongst the worst trained in the world!

          Anyway, I digress… well, sort of… Point being; we have a great thing going on here in Australia regarding ALL the training pathways on offer and the quality of both academics and practitioners across all areas of practice, teaching and research.

          Take heart, be encouraged and enjoy the ride of your post grad studies Emma!

          Kind Regards

          1. thank you Clive for your measured words. While some may find the truth uncomfortable, such wisdom can only be obtained after years of experience, not taught by academics with little real experience and puffed up sense of hubris to compensate. Clinical masters may indeed be great programs which produce equally good psychologists after completing their two year “registrar” (an internship by any other name?). the existing research shows that 4+2 trained psychs get at least as good results as masters trained psychs with a two year registrar – so is it the masters or the “+2” that creates the good practitioner?

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