Update on Complaints about ACPA Submission

AHPRA will only investigate complaints involving individuals, they farm the complaint out to whichever organisation they decide should accept responsibility for it.  Please read this page.  These bodies are really already overloaded with complaints.  Oddly enough, although it’s very clear that the ACPA submission strongly violates AHPRA’s PsyBA Code of Ethics it appears as though they may not accept any responsibility for policing the code.  These bodies are more concerned about complaints from patients/clients regarding health professionals.

At this stage, and until we have further information, we strongly recommend that any complaints are made about the individual author of the submission and not about ACPA.  It is very likely that complaints about ACPA will be met with a ‘sorry we don’t investigate organisations’ response.

This may mean that the PsyBA Code of Ethics can only legally apply to individuals as organisations are a different form of legal entity and “cannot have feelings or opinions”.  Any Corporations lawyers out there who can enlighten us?

Still, we can hardly afford to do nothing.  We suggest you make the complaint to AHPRA about the individual and follow the process.  We will all learn from this so we can design a more informed intervention next time.

13 thoughts on “Update on Complaints about ACPA Submission

  1. I am wondering if a complaints process is 2 fold? On one hand psychologists can’t make misleading claims about their abilities/outcomes and can’t denigrate another psychologist or bring the profession of psychology into disrepute. This is APS/AHPRA policy and to me complaints of that nature could go to AHPRA – but unfortunately it might have to be an individual psychologist/psychologists that is complained about – if I understand correctly?

    However making false or misleading claims/stating superior product without evidence etc – as outlined in gregory goodluck’s post – perhaps those go to ACCC?
    I am not a lawyer by any means. Just thinking aloud…


    1. Good thinking Kate. As this fight continues at various levels people are going to find ways and methods to strike back at the APS and the clinicals. Is anyone going to investigate further? I’m also wondering whether Choice might do something from a consumer perspective.

    1. https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/misleading-claims-advertising/false-or-misleading-claims

      False or misleading claims

      There are laws in place to protect you from being misled about the products and services you buy.

      Creating a false or misleading impression
      Examples of false or misleading claims
      False or misleading advertising
      If you think you have been misled
      More information

      Creating a false or misleading impression

      Businesses are not allowed to make statements that are incorrect or likely to create a false impression.

      This rule applies to their advertising, their product packaging, and any information provided to you by their staff or online shopping services. It also applies to any statements made by businesses in the media or online, such as testimonials on their websites or social media pages.

      For example, businesses cannot make false claims about:

      the quality, style, model or history of a product or service
      whether the goods are new
      the sponsorship,
      performance characteristics,
      benefits or use of products and services
      the availability of repair facilities or spare partsthe need for the goods or services
      any exclusions on the goods and services.

      It makes no difference whether the business intended to mislead you or not. If the overall impression left by a business’s advertisement, promotion, quotation, statement or other representation creates a misleading impression in your mind—such as to the price, value or the quality of any goods and services—then the behaviour is likely to breach the law.

      There is one exception to this rule. Sometimes businesses may use wildly exaggerated or vague claims about a product or service that no one could possibly treat seriously or find misleading. For example, a restaurant claims they have the ‘best steaks on earth’. These types of claims are known as ‘puffery’ and are not considered misleading.


  2. Thanks for the information RAPS members.
    Mr Paul Gertler is a “founding member of the Australian College of Clinical Psychologists” according to his website.
    I have a screen shot taken today.
    It is a bit difficult for ACPA to distance from him and his submission when he publicly advertises his close and formative association with them. They can deny he is a rose (speaking on behalf of ACPA) but if he smells and acts like a representative rose the law would usually regard him as one.
    Otherwise ACPA would have to say he is a rogue founding member and they have inadequate systems to manage their member’s unethical representations to Government. Big governance issue.
    In order to hold the organisation of ACPA accountable complaints about their member’s submission should be sent to their Board/Directors/Office Bearers.
    If ACPA do not support his submission they should take an action against him for unethical behaviour and should respond to the complainant/s about the actions they have taken.
    Everyone complaining should check the ACPA complaints policy. I have not done so yet.

  3. I don’t think this will get up – I remember someone on this site had a complaint made against them last year following questionable comments, and there was a blog about this being reported to AHPRA but it ultimately being dismissed due to the complaint needing to be about practice issues – not opinion.

    1. Similar experience here. I was advised that they won’t investigate psychologists’ representations of themselves on LinkedIn (for instance, falsely referring to themselves as endorsed, or listing skills such as “embezzlement” and “murder” on their profiles – yes, really), unless it could be specifically linked to harm of a client. Even tried a letter to the Chair of the Board, with no action resulting. I was told by a credible source that unless your complaint concerns physical or sexual abuse by a psychologist, it’s highly unlikely to be investigated.

    2. Hi David, I think it will get up”, because it differs from the previous case you mentioned in several ways including: 1) There is a big difference between one person sharing opinions in comments on a weblog forum about a small section of a subsection of a profession struggling as novices, on the one hand, and on the other hand a representative of an organised incorporated professional association and (ACPA) interest group submitting, to a statutory authority (SIRA), lies (no evidence) undermining the credibiliity of the vast majority of the profession with decades of experience, in order to make themselves look superior and more worthy of funding than their equals; 2) The comments made by ACPAs representative are directed to patient care matters including safety and outcome, the prior matter was not focussed on patient safety and were throw away comments on a blog, not an official submission to a funding body.
      Whether AHPRA picks it up is anybodies guess, but they need to be notified. It is more than slander, libel or defamation. It is a deliberate attempt to directly effect funding policy by the use of deception on a large scale. Big big difference.

    3. In Victoria the health complaints commission may be the body to take this to. Other states may have similar bodies.

      1. In Queensland specifically it states:
        Section 133 of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 (Qld) states that ‘a person must not advertise a regulated health service, or a business that provides a regulated health service, in a way that — … (c) uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business; … (c) any statement claiming or implying superiority for the psychologist over any or all other psychologists; (d) any statement intended or likely to create false or unjustified expectations of favourable results; (e) any statement intended or likely to appeal to a client’s fears, anxieties or emotions concerning the possible results of failure to obtain the offered services; (f) any claim unjustifiably stating or implying that the psychologist uses exclusive or superior apparatus, methods or materials; and (g) any statement which is vulgar, sensational or otherwise such as would bring, or tend to bring, the psychologist or the profession of psychology into disrepute.
        Again the appropriate Health Complaints Commission

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