Counselling and psychotherapy peak body welcomes new federal government

Media Release: 24 May 2022

The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) congratulates the new Federal Government under PM Anthony Albanese and looks forward to advocating for greater utilisation of the counselling and psychotherapy workforce to address Australia’s mental health crisis.

In coming months, PACFA will seek meetings with the new federal Health Minister and newly-elected federal MPs to discuss the policy platform outlined in our Election Statement 2022, including Medicare rebate access for Registered Clinical Counsellors and Registered Clinical Psychotherapists. 

As Medicare rebates under the Better Access initiative are currently available only to clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, there are significant waiting lists; bringing the under-utilised counsellor and psychotherapist workforce into Better Access would help fix this problem.

PACFA is also supporting national minimum standards for counselling and psychotherapy, based on our Training Standards, which require members to have - at minimum - a Bachelor degree or above (Australian Qualifications Framework Level 7 or above), with a minimum of 140 hours training provided face-to-face and in person.

‘PACFA supports the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention recommendation for national minimum standards for counselling and psychotherapy as a means for clients and employers to be reassured that one is in safe hands when engaging a counsellor or psychotherapist in Australia,’ PACFA President Dr Di Stow said.  

Advanced-level PACFA members, who are eligible for our trademarked titles Registered Clinical Counsellor/Registered Clinical Psychotherapist, are required to have, at minimum, a Bachelor degree, or postgraduate qualification, plus at least 750 client contact hours’ experience.

PACFA is calling for the new Federal Government to fund pilot projects exploring greater utilisation of the counselling and psychotherapy workforce in regional and rural Australia, where there is a considerable shortage of mental health professionals, and within schools.
Dr Stow welcomed the re-election of Independent MPs Senator Jacqui Lambie and Member for Clark Andrew Wilkie, who support the increased utilisation of counsellors and psychotherapists within the allied and mental health workforce.

Senator Lambie has spoken up for Medicare rebate access for counsellors and psychotherapists to reduce wait times for Australians needing mental health help. 

Registered Clinical Counsellors’ scope of practice enables them to support clients with mild to moderate mental health issues; counsellors and psychotherapists who have advanced training can support clients with more complex mental health needs.

Dr Stow said counsellors and psychotherapists were already providing therapy to clients whose anxiety and depression is caused or exacerbated by issues that voters are keen for the new government to address, such as climate change, cost of living, family violence and housing affordability.

‘Every day, PACFA members are supporting clients around the stressors that were ‘hot ticket items’ for Australians as they voted in the federal election,’ Dr Stow said.

‘What we’re asking from the Albanese Government for counsellors and psychotherapists is support to provide the support, by way of policy measures like Medicare rebate access and removal of GST for counsellors and psychotherapists.’

For more information and interviews with PACFA President Dr Di Stow, contact:

PACFA Communications Manager, Stephanie Francis
M: 0487 494 031
E: [email protected]