Reforms proposed to the regulation of psychologists

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It may only be March, but 2023 is shaping up to be a significant year for the Psychology Board of Australia (Board) and the psychologists it regulates. Two key reform projects are currently afoot:

  1. A review of the general competency for registration.
  2. A new code of ethics.

Competency review

Currently, there are eight core competencies that an individual must demonstrate before being considered eligible for general registration as a psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The competencies are currently:

  • knowledge of the discipline
  • ethical, legal and professional matters
  • psychological assessment and measurement
  • intervention strategies
  • research and evaluation
  • communication and interpersonal relationships
  • working with people from diverse groups, and
  • practice across the lifespan.

The Board began a review of the existing professional competencies in 2019 and published its updated competencies in a consultation paper released on 10 February 2023. The proposed capabilities are as follows:

  1. Applies scientific knowledge of psychology to inform safe and effective practice.
  2. Practises ethically and professionally.
  3. Exercises professional reflexivity, deliberate practice and self-care.
  4. Conducts psychological assessments.
  5. Conducts psychological interventions.
  6. Communicates and relates to others effectively and appropriately.
  7. Demonstrates a health equity and human rights approach when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, families and communities.
  8. Demonstrates a health equity and human rights approach when working with people from diverse groups.

Public consultations are currently underway.

Code of ethics

Psychology is the only regulated health profession that does not have a Board-authored code of conduct. Instead, the Board has adopted the Australian Psychological Society's (APS) 2007 Code of Ethics. In May 2020, the Board decided to work on its own code that, once implemented, will apply to all registered psychologists practising in Australia. The Board's work has progressed, and public consultation is expected to commence by July 2023. The Board is yet to release its draft.

Next steps

Submissions on the competency consultation paper are open until 11 April 2023. Otherwise, we await further announcement from the Board as to a draft code of conduct.

Lander & Rogers regularly advises psychologists facing disciplinary action. For more information on how the anticipated changes may affect your organisation, please contact a member of our national Health Law team.

Image by Sigmund on Unsplash.

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