• 'Enough is Enough'….All consumers and psychologists in Australia deserve equal access to Medicare!
    The APS submission (https://www.psychology.org.au/About-Us/What-we-do/advocacy/Submissions/Professional-Practice/2018/APS-Submission-to-the-MBS-Review-Better-Access?) recommends that over two thirds of registered psychologists (many of whom hold higher degrees, specialised training and significant experience in their field) but have not applied for “endorsement” would only be able to provide services to the estimate 10% of clients presenting with mild to moderate disorders. The complicated model states that psychologists may be given an opportunity to “demonstrate equivalent competence” to be able to treat what is, for many, their existing client base. Recognition would almost certainly come at a significant cost. The APS has yet to explain just how this recognition would occur, leaving experienced practitioners at a loss as to how they can protect their livelihood and deliver crucial services to clients. All registered psychologists are currently permitted to practice across all areas of psychology and mental health and can diagnose, assess and treat clients, regardless of whether they are endorsed or not. Ethical guidelines require psychologists to only provide services within their limits of personal competence. Endorsed psychologists primarily operate in urban areas, while the majority of psychologists operating in rural areas are non-endorsed. Data from the Psychology Board of Australia’s ‘Area of practice endorsement data tables: January 2014’, shows that only 23 endorsed psychologists work in remote communities across Australia; 212 in outer regional; while 7 969 work in metropolitan/capital cities. Our rural areas have some of the highest rates of suicide in Australia. If accepted, the APS recommendations will leave rural and regional Australians without access to vital mental health care services. The consequences to Australians in desperate need of mental health care will be disastrous. If accepted, the APS model will result in higher session fees, with clients unable to claim any Medicare rebate unless their preferred practitioner is “endorsed”. Market forces would likely push up out-of-pocket fees to see endorsed psychologists and waiting lists would blow out. By losing a major funding stream, many non-endorsed psychologists would be forced to close their practices, leaving vulnerable clients without access to vital and affordable health services. Many endorsed psychologists do not bulk bill, meaning only those in higher socioeconomic groups would be able to afford treatment for the most debilitating of conditions. There is no evidence to support that better health outcomes are achieved by “endorsed” psychologists. In fact, a significant amount of “endorsed” psychologists achieved this status through historical paid membership to special interest “Colleges”, and not through demonstrated experience or completing a masters/doctorate degree. Some psychologists were granted up to six endorsements via this process. The Australian Clinical Psychology Association stated that ‘More than half of those clinical psychologists currently endorsed by the Psychology Board of Australia do not have qualifications in clinical psychology...’ (source: https://industry.gov.au/Office-of-the-Chief-Economist/SkilledOccupationList/Documents/2015Submissions/ACPA.pdf). Therefore, many endorsed psychologists hold the same level of training and qualifications as non-endorsed psychologists. The APS position is a crushing blow to over two thirds of registered psychologists, many of whom will be unable to continue treating the majority of their clients if the proposal is accepted by the Government. It is clear the APS is not acting in the best interests of its members (who currently pay $640 for annual membership) or their clients, by advocating that the majority of psychologists lose access to the MBS. In fact, if the APS proposal is accepted, 66% of the psychologist board members who are “endorsed”, may personally benefit with increased client referrals, while 64% of registered psychologists will have very limited access to Medicare referrals. Questions must be asked about the ability of the APS Board to represent all psychologists equally, and whether the board members are at risk of breaching their fiduciary duties to the APS with a proposal which effectively destroys the livelihoods of the majority of registered practitioners, for the benefit of a few, including themselves. For over ten years now, clinical psychologist’s services have attracted a $39 higher rebate than non-clinical psychologists. Despite this higher rebate, fewer clinical psychologists fully bulk-bill their clients. Based on the current Medicare arrangements, the proposed changes will represent a significant increase to Medicare, as the cost of providing the same services already being provided by registered psychologists would increase by 47%. A notable research project commissioned by the Australian Government (Pirkis et al, 2011) demonstrated clearly that psychologists treating mental illness across both tiers of Medicare Better Access produced equivalently strong treatment outcomes (as measured by the K-10 and DASS pre-post treatment) for mild, moderate and severe cases of mental illness. This research demonstrates clearly that there is no difference in treatment outcomes when comparing clinical psychologists treating under tier one of Medicare Better Access with the treatment outcomes of all other registered psychologists treating under tier two of Medicare Better Access (Pirkis et al, 2011a). Reference: Pirkis, Ftanou, Williamson, Machlin, Spittal & Bassilios (2011a). Australia's Better Access initiative: An evaluation. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45:726–739
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    Created by Australian Psychologists
  • Australian Psychological Society (APS) – We deserve transparency and advocacy from our peak body!
    As psychologists, our livelihoods and the welfare of our clients depends on the Australian public's access to affordable psychological services. Currently, our clients receive a rebate of $84.80, while clinical psychologists attract a rebate of $124.50 for providing the same 50-minute session. Many non-clinical psychologists can’t maintain their practices due to this lower rebate and due to financial pressure, have to pass on some out-of-pocket costs to their clients. There are 29 213 registered psychologists in Australia with only 8298 of these holding endorsement as clinical psychologists (28%) (Psychology Board of Australia, 31 March 2018). The APS is split into a number of colleges representing each endorsed area of practice. We are concerned as the submission by the APS College of Counselling Psychology, advocates to maintain the current unfair and unfounded two-tier rebate system with their own members placed on their higher tier alongside their clinical colleagues. This means the majority of Australians will still need to pay substantial gap fees to see their psychologists. Polls conducted in our Facebook group suggest that more non-clinical psychologists could fully bulk-bill their clients if their rebate was the same as their clinical colleagues. Of the 9 Director/Psychologist positions on the APS Board, 6 (66%) hold endorsement as clinical psychologists, while less than 30% of psychologists hold clinical endorsement. The representativeness of the APS Board has been rightfully questioned due to these figures. The Australian Clinical Psychology Association (ACPA) has recommended to the MBS review to ‘cash’ the majority of psychologists out of Medicare and therefore prevent our clients from receiving any Medicare rebate for our services. How could 8298 clinical psychologists (who geographically congregate around the capital cities) service the Australian population? To add further insult, we discover that the author of the ACPA submission recommending the removal of rebates for non-clinical psychologists and their clients (https://acpa.org.au/submission-to-medicare-review/) is granted a place on the Medicare review committee. With submissions like these being made to the MBS review, non-clinical psychologists need representation and advocacy from the APS as their peak body. ACPA have spread false information and written multiple submissions to government departments and Medicare, denigrating all non-clinical psychologists. Unfortunately, the APS has not spoken out or reprimanded those who have denigrated the reputations of around 70% of their membership base. Many clinical psychologists hold the same level of training and qualifications as ‘generalist’ or ‘registered’ psychologists. In fact, a large portion of ‘generalist‘ psychologists hold postgraduate qualifications such as masters, PhDs or specific training in particular techniques such as EMDR. It is reported by the Australian Clinical Psychology Association (ACPA) that ‘more than half of those clinical psychologists currently endorsed by the Psychology Board of Australia do not have qualifications in clinical psychology…’ (source: https://docplayer.net/7212127-Skilled-occupation-list-sol-2015-16.html). Psychologists cannot be considered better trained or skilled by virtue of holding the title ‘clinical psychologist’. The quality, skills and knowledge of a psychologist cannot be deemed by endorsement status alone. All registered psychologists can diagnose, assess and treat clients, regardless of whether they are clinically endorsed or not. We also have nine areas of endorsement in Australia (health, forensic, counselling, educational/developmental etc.), however only clinically endorsed psychologists' services receive the higher rebate. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that any type of psychologist is better or more effective than any other type of psychologist. A notable research project commissioned by the Australian Government (Pirkis et al, 2011) demonstrated clearly that psychologists treating mental illness across both tiers of Medicare Better Access produced equivalently strong treatment outcomes (as measured by the K-10 and DASS pre-post treatment) for mild, moderate and severe cases of mental illness. This research demonstrates clearly that there is no difference in treatment outcomes when comparing clinical psychologists treating under tier one of Medicare Better Access with the treatment outcomes of all other registered psychologists treating under tier two of Medicare Better Access (Pirkis et al, 2011). Pirkis, Ftanou, Williamson, Machlin, Spittal & Bassilios (2011). Australia's Better Access initiative: An evaluation. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45:726–739 Consumers of psychology services should be able to receive the same rebate to see whichever psychologist best meets their needs and geographical location.
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    Created by Australian Psychologists
  • NO SHORT-TERM LETS NEXT TO OUR HOMES - WE WANT NEIGHBOURS NOT STRANGERS
    NSW LAND & ENVIRONMENT COURT JUDGEMENTS: "Mixed-Use is FUNDAMENTALLY INCOMPATIBLE." BUILDING STANDARDS, NSW FIRE & RESCUE plus DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION CRITERIA AND LEGISLATION ARE BEING IGNORED. ONE SET OF RULES FOR NSW TENANTS AND OWNER/OCCUPIERS, NO RULES FOR THOSE USING HOMES FOR HOLIDAYS. There is an AFFORDABLE HOUSING and HOMELESSNESS CRISIS STATE-WIDE. THE RIGHTS OF ACCREDITED ACCOMMODATION PROVIDERS ARE BEING IGNORED. SHORT-TERM LETTING STRIPS HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM THE VALUE OF OUR HOUSING. HOMES NOT HOTELS...COMMUNITIY BEFORE PROFITS...NEIGHBOURS NOT STRANGERS www.neighboursnotstrangers.com
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    Created by Neighbours Not Strangers Picture
  • STOP high rises on The Gold Coast Spit
    The Spit is a vitally important community, tourism and environmental asset. It is a space for people to recreate and a break from the built urban density that is Surfers Paradise and Main Beach, leading to an environmentally significant recreational area defined by Marine Stadium, Doug Jennings Park and Federation Walk. It is vitally important to OPPOSE high rise development on The Spit for 10 main reasons: 1. one approval means the floodgates are open - goodbye low rise Mariners Cove, goodbye low rise Sheraton and watch EVERY other development go upwards - think of the money in this upwards land grab for developers and the losses it poses to the amenity of the Spit and Broadwater surrounds; 2. the GC Local Area Plan Map 26.3 (LAP), which is a product of community consultation and GCCC urban design planning, shows 3 storey height limits for the southern Spit area; 3. developer proposals to flout the LAP plan reflect greed alone; enabling high rise development dramatically increases their return upon investment, regardless of the community, local infrastructure and environmental impacts; 4. all developers who purchased southern Spit lands KNEW when they did so that height limits apply; 5. the community has consistently opposed increasing height levels for decades based upon a range of important issues and this is reflected in the outcomes of the Vision 2020 process; 6. height limits reflect the desire to frame the Broadwater appropriately: it is a precious community and environmental resource and surrounding it with high rises (once Southport became a high rise prime development area (PDA)) disregards its significance as well as increases pressures such as density, traffic, environmental and infrastructure footprint and the like; 7. height limits reflect the fact that traffic density in the area is already significant and increasing population in the area is just not practical; in particular, the traffic within Main Beach and to The Spit every weekend illustrates this fact; 8. importantly, the southern Spit accommodation represents a differentiated tourism product for the Gold Coast which MUST be protected. That is, it is high end, exclusive and expensive accommodation zone which caters for those who do not want a high rise experience. Yes, Justin Beiber stayed in Surfers - but U2 and Bruce Springsteen did not - they stayed at Versace and the Sheraton respectively. Why? Because a low rise, on the beach/ Broadwater experience is something to savour even for billionaires - and our tourism entities should be protecting that, not allowing it to be destroyed; 9. developers are free to construct high rises throughout the western side of the Broadwater in the Southport PD area; at present the hospital site remains open for development- Sunland are free to tender to construct their plans there which will of course yield all of the employment benefits they claim for their project; and 10. finally, we all know that one high rise means every developer will push for high rises from one end to the other of The Spit. GCCC propose draft amendments to the Town Plan (2015) which will facilitate high rise development on The Spit - see zone map 27 Southport (http://cityplan.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/pages/plan/viewerpdf.aspx?vid=10117) . We must protect this precious tourism, community and environmental asset from private exploitation - no matter what our political representatives say or do.
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    Created by Save Our Broadwater Inc
  • Stop taxing my period!
    My name is Subeta and I'm a university student in Sydney. I am constantly confronted with how many people are living below the poverty line and struggling to cope with basic costs. For the 10 million Australians who will menstruate in their lifetime, getting your period isn't just inconvenient and annoying - it's expensive! Half the population menstruates and they shouldn't be financially penalised for it. If you still aren't convinced, let's consider some statistics: on average women, who make up the majority of people who use sanitary products, earn $262.50 per week less than their male counterparts, and they are also statistically at greater risk of living below the poverty line. Furthermore, this tax disproportionately targets those who may already be disadvantaged, that is the homeless and unemployed. So why force this underpaid, at risk and disadvantaged portion of society to pay more for basic essentials? Right now, the Australian government is reviewing the entire Australian tax system, saying that it's looking to make taxes lower, simpler and fairer. This review is a once in a generation opportunity to put the tampon tax on the government agenda for serious consideration, and get this unfair tax removed once and for all. Sign the petition and tell Mr Hockey loud and clear that a period is not a luxury or societal burden, it is an aspect of reproductive health. After all, the government should support and facilitate the availability of sanitary products, not actively restrict it.
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    Created by Subeta Vimalarajah
  • Remove the Solar DC Isolator from the Roof!
    In mid-2012, Australia and New Zealand together issued a new standard for the installation of solar arrays. This standard mandated the use of a specific piece of equipment called the "rooftop DC isolator" in Australia, and by some interpretations also in New Zealand. They did this despite evidence showing that the practice is unsafe. A study from an international testing laboratory found that DC isolators are not safe in a firefighting situation, as they can’t withstand the high-pressure water used to extinguish a fire. The California State Office of the Fire Marshall frowns upon their use, because they give a false sense of security. And Europe, the most mature solar market, opted never to adopt them, also for safety reasons. More than 70 fires in Australia have been caused by this isolator since 2012 -- that is, since it became mandatory! To put this into perspective, there were only 3 fires related to PV systems in Australia prior to the mandatory requirement to install a rooftop DC isolator. The Australian government has responded with product recalls on DC isolators, at least 5 so far, showing this crisis isn’t just limited to a single manufacturer, but to the device itself. There is no evidence to suggest the device improves the safety of a PV system: all it does is increase costs and the risk to homeowners trying to do the right thing. And that's not to mention the catch-22 for PV installers who are both legally bound to comply and obliged to keep their clients safe. Master Electricians Australia chief executive Malcolm Richards in an interview with the ABC late last year said that he says he knows of about 40 to 50 fires that have been started by the faulty isolators. "We're warning home owners to carefully check the brand of isolator that is connected to your solar panels," he said. "If it carries one of these two (recalled) brands ... undertake the isolation procedure until your electrician can come around and fix that up to eliminate or replace it."
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  • Keep Sydney Open - Fight Sydney's lockout legislation!
    The NSW Government has introduced new laws that close Sydney’s music clubs to new guests at 1.30am and ban selling alcoholic drinks after 3am. The 2am lockout in Victoria was cancelled after independent auditor KPMG found it had not helped to address street level violence. The Queensland 3am lockout and 5am closures were shown by the Queensland Auditor-General to be a $10 million failure. The senseless deaths of two young men in Kings Cross started a poignant and overdue conversation about street safety, but we have lost sight of the facts. A night out in Sydney isn't an orgy of violence, and for an international city of over 4 million people, assaults are not a catastrophic epidemic. The overwhelming majority of people enjoy a fun, incident-free time, and this is a tribute to tighter RSA measures that had already been implemented by venues. This is supported by BOCSAR which found a 37% reduction in assaults from 2007-2012 and a further 26% reduction from 2012-2013 without lockouts. That said, we believe there is still some way to go. Keep Sydney Open comprises members of the music community including MusicNSW, SLAM, GoodGod Small Club, Oxford Art Factory, The Oxford Hotel, themusic.com.au, inthemix, Freda's and The Music Network. We represent music venues, bands, DJs, performers, promoters, the music media and law-abiding Sydneysiders who wish to enjoy a night out. Please sign the petition, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and share among your friends. In doing so you will help us tell the NSW government that we need innovative solutions that consider culture, jobs, business and tourism alongside personal safety and freedom. We’ll keep making your voice heard until we get safer streets in a global city.
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    Created by Keep Sydney Open
  • Scrap the per kilometer Tax on Electric Vehicles
    The transition away from fossil fuel based transport is well underway, and by creating unfair laws now, when there are few electric car drivers, you set the standard going forward without the benefit of open discussion with a majority of Australians. It's extremely hard to remove a tax once it is in place.
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    Created by David Austin
  • Qantas - STOP broadcasting Sky News and Newscorp media in your aircraft, lounges and at your gates!
    Sky News and Newscorp publications are notorious for their racist, right-wing rhetoric. We know this type of media commentary has fuelled division and hate in our community, and after Christchurch we know that hate kills. When Qantas provides the platform for the broadcasting of Sky News and Newscorp publications in their aircraft, member lounges and at airport gates, it sends a message that our National airline is legitimising and endorsing those views. Those views are not in keeping with the "Spirit of Australia" - an inclusive, respectful and proud multicultural society. Tell Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas, to show some corporate leadership and terminate Qantas' contractual arrangements with Sky News and Newscorp publications NOW.
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    Created by C Knox
  • Legalise medicinal Cannabis Oil use within Australia
    I have a few friends with cancer, of varying types, and I really want to give them another option than Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy, which is very invasive and damaging to the body. I have done a bit of study around cancer and what it really is (a mutation of healthy cells within the body) and there has to be other ways of treating it other than killing off everything.
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    Created by Adrienne Gaha-Morris