PACFA's strategic roadmap for Medicare…and more

Hundreds of PACFA members registered for a forum to hear about our strategic roadmap that will support counsellors and psychotherapists to gain the recognition they deserve within the allied and mental health workforce.

At the Member Forum on Tuesday 5 April members heard PACFA President Dr Di Stow and CEO Johanna de Wever outline plans for achieving ‘Medicare and more’ for counsellors and psychotherapists.

The leadership team told members that a key step for achieving goals such as access to Medicare rebates for Registered Clinical Counsellors/Psychotherapists, GST removal and greater inclusion of counsellors and psychotherapists as mental health service providers, was joining the Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) as a full member. PACFA is currently an affiliate member.

PACFA’s Council, our organisation’s guiding body, will consider the proposal at its first meeting for 2022, on 30 April.

‘Our aim in proposing full membership of the Allied Health Professions Australia is to gain recognition for PACFA member counsellors and psychotherapists as the highly-trained, highly-skilled mental health professionals they are,’ Di said.

‘For many years, PACFA – and other bodies – have been advocating for this recognition, including access to Medicare rebates.

‘But PACFA alone has recognised that we need to sit alongside other allied health professionals, applying our rigorous training standards for membership – the highest in Australia - so governments and mental health organisations can be confident in opening up the opportunities that other mental health professionals enjoy.’

PACFA leadership has also recommended that PACFA Council endorse removing PACFA’s equivalent training pathway to membership by 1 July 2022. This will ensure that all future members of PACFA meet our Training Standards and is important in meeting AHPA full membership requirements.

The removal of the equivalent training pathway to membership will have no impact on current members. The move is aimed at better aligning PACFA’s membership pathways and the training standards that PACFA has had in place since 2018. Of the approximately 50 equivalent training applicants annually, about half would be eligible for membership based on Recognition of Prior Learning.

In addition, with a federal election expected in May, Di and Johanna set out PACFA’s election policy platform, which includes:

1. Integrating Registered Clinical Counsellors/Psychotherapists into the Medicare Better Access initiative

2. Base minimum national standards for counselling and psychotherapy on PACFA’s Training Standards

3. Promote utilisation of Registered Clinical Counsellors, Registered Clinical Psychotherapists and Certified Practising Counsellors as part of Primary Health Network teams.

4. Provide funding for a project utilising Indigenous Healing Practitioners in a region of high need

5. Fund a regional pilot project utilising Registered Clinical Counsellors, Registered Clinical Psychotherapists and Certified Practising Counsellors in fulfilling mental health demand in regional and rural areas of Australia

6. Fund a pilot project employing Registered Clinical Counsellors/Psychotherapists and Certified Practising Counsellors in schools.

CEO Johanna de Wever said: ‘While PACFA is supporting all advocacy efforts that will potentially benefit counsellors and psychotherapists, we are confident in our own vision of success and how we will get there.’

Watch the recording of the forum. PACFA will provide further information about the strategic roadmap and answers to members’ forum questions via upcoming newsletters, social media posts and media releases. Stay tuned for the launch of our PACFA online community.