Reform the Australian Psychological Society (RAPS)
Psychologists in Australia, like any profession, need to be represented well. Ultimately, being a member of the Australian Psychological Society should mean your expertise and professional role as a psychologist in the community is openly promoted and clearly endorsed by the society.
Irrespective of the training pathway taken, if you have developed authentic expertise in any given area of the profession; the Australian Psychological Society has a professional and ethical obligation to its members and the broader community to promote and endorse the psychological expertise you hold in a very clear and overt way. To do otherwise only serves to fail the discipline and profession of psychology, it’s members and the communities that we, as members of the society, serve.
The unfortunate reality in Australia today is that many expert psychologists are being ‘choked’ out of the profession through a lack of strong public endorsement and strategic professional promotion of their expertise.
Instead of advancing the expertise of our profession in all its complexity, we are faced instead with the promotion of a one-dimensional caricature of professional practice expertise that only serves to enhance the community’s misunderstanding of psychology while undermining the credibility of many thousands of expert practitioners across the nation.
One clear example of this is seen in the ongoing impact of the Medicare Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative (introduced in November of 2006) that continues to operate under a divisive misconception that one group of psychologists have greater levels of expertise and quality of service in the treatment of mental health disorders compared to all other psychologists practicing in the same field.
Government agencies (e.g. Centrelink, Immigration and Comcare) and a growing number of non-government agencies, legal practitioners and even sporting teams are increasingly demanding clinical psychologists for positions and reports because of the current misconception that tends to degrade the expertise of psychologists who are not clinically endorsed. This systemic bias has included, for example, clinical psychologists being flown in to remote areas for Centrelink reports even if other highly experienced psychologists are already working there.
The unfortunate ramifications of these disparities are quite profound for the community and all psychologists across Australia; leading ultimately to a disparity in remuneration, restrictions in scope of practice and erroneous shifts in public and professional perceptions on what constitutes expertise.
The RAPS group’s primary goal is to address this unfortunate development faced by many thousands of psychologists across Australia today. Ultimately, we consider the most effective way to start addressing this concern is through the revitalisation of the Australian Psychological Society toward principles of approach that overtly promote the expertise of all its members, regardless of training pathway taken, in order to successfully advance the discipline and profession of psychology for the benefit of all APS members and the communities its members serve.
Question: But isn’t the APS board already restructuring the APS governance structure to make it more inclusive?
Answer: No. The board will unfortunately not be more inclusive under the new recommendations proposed. For example, one overt imbalance is seen in the way each of the nine APS colleges will not be represented on the board if the proposed structure is put in place.
Very specifically, only the College of Clinical Psychologists is formally guaranteed a representative on the board while the other eight APS colleges (i.e., clinical neuropsychology, community psychology, counselling psychology, educational & developmental psychology, forensic psychology, health psychology, organisational psychology and sport & exercise psychology) will only have one board position between them all. All other non-endorsed ‘generalist’ psychologists, which make up over 50% of the whole APS membership, will only be guaranteed two board positions.
It is quite straight forward to conclude that these proposed developments would only serve to establish a systemic bias in the board towards the clinical psychologist group to the detriment of all other APS members.
Objective One: It is therefore important to vote against the current Governance Review proposals at the general meeting on June 6th.
How? Just say ‘no’ by raising your hand at a General meetings in your capital city download the general meeting places here or give your PROXY vote to RAPS representatives to vote the motions.
Objective Two: It is also important to begin RAPS changes with a clean sweep ‘Spill’ of the current APS Board and elect a new board that represents the interests of all members.
Why? – Unfortunately, the current board is over represented by clinical college members which is a systemic bias that needs to be addressed quickly.
Although RAPS has provided two documents (with over 200 members’ signatures) calling for the spill and requesting them to circulate our statement explaining why we want the spill, we cant vote on it until a general meeting is called.
By calling the governance general meeting so early, the APS was able to avoid having to include the the spill vote at the June 6th meeting due to the rules of the Corporations Act.
Without the cooperation of the Board, we have now had to call our own general meeting, which requires 5% of the membership to sign a petition.
The approach we are working towards is the fastest way of getting to a point where members can vote on removing the Board before the AGM in October.
How? – Sign the petition for a spill motion.
Download Spill Document – and send to RAPS only at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once we have 850 signatures for a General meeting, the APS will have 21 days to call the meeting to vote on the Spill, which must be held within 2 months of the request being received.
The Board may legally decide to send the statement out within a shorter time frame, however, it is unlikely they will do this.
There are 15,600 non-clinical members eligible to sign this document. Now is the time to take action on this.
It’s time to stand together and promote our profession and the complex resource of expertise we share as an APS membership. It’s time to have a voice and use it. It’s time for the dog to wag the tail 😊