Psychologists call for Medicare changes to improve access


While Provisional Psychologists have completed four years of college and can see clients, they can only operate under supervision, including regular observation by their supervisor.

Former Australian of the Year and psychiatrist Professor Patrick McGorry said the federal government ‘needs to tackle the workforce issues much more seriously’ but supplementary Medicare was not the answer , saying more university training places were needed.

“There are thousands of psychologists doing undergraduate psychology, but places for clinical training are very limited and the government simply won’t fund the positions,” he said.

Provisional psychologists needed to be “properly supervised” and while Medicare reimbursements might not be appropriate, he said, more funds to pay their salaries would be welcome.

The federal budget provided $5.7 million over three years to provide 75 internships for interim psychologists and train 150 additional supervisors.

The chief executive of the Australian Psychological Society, Dr Zena Burgess, agreed that more emphasis needs to be placed on growing the mental health workforce through improved training.


“We need to align university funding for master’s programs in psychology with funding for studies in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine, which would increase the workforce by several thousand people each year,” he said. she stated.

AAPi also wants bothtiered health insurance system – under which clinical psychologists get a $129.55 discount for a 50-minute session, while other psychologists only get $88.25 – to be scrapped and equalized payments.

Hunt said clinical psychologists earned their highest award, which was recognition of their six years of training, saying, “We want people to be held to a high standard.”

But the AAPi says many psychologists who have followed other paths have achieved the same level of expertise and training.

“Many licensed psychologists have extensive postgraduate qualifications — a master’s doctorate — and they want to be able to offer higher discounts to their clients,” Carrison said. “We are fighting for better access for customers.

A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said mental health was a top priority for the Coalition and the government’s plan to build 70 new Head to Health centers for adults and expand Headspace would “significantly improve access” while providing training opportunities.

Labor has pledged $31 million to restore access to wholesale billed telehealth psychiatry services in regional and rural Australia if they win the election, while the Greens have pledged to press ahead with policy changes. mental health if they hold the balance of power after the May 21 election, including higher discounts and the removal of the 20-session cap on Medicare psychology discounts.

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