Monthly Archives: December 2010

The immoderately long arm of the Psychology Board of Australia

A very long arm

A very (very) long arm.

On 11 November 2010 the Psychology Board of Australia issued Consultation Paper 6: Proposed registration standard—Limited Registration for Teaching or Research. In the paper the Board outlines a definition of psychological practice that was approved by the Australian Health Workforce Ministerial Council for the purpose of determining whether a registered psychologist has engaged in sufficient recent practice to justify the renewal of his or her registration. In the context for which it was approved, the definition is very useful, but the Board uses that description of psychological practice as justification for demanding the registration of every person whose behaviour falls within the ambit of the definition!

The Board’s demand is almost certainly ultra vires, founded on a misunderstanding of the limited powers granted to the Board by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law. In a paper that Angela O’Brien-Malone circulated on 3 December 2010 to university psychology departments around Australia, we argued that, were the Board able to effect its claim, it would subvert the explicit object and purpose of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, have a seriously adverse effect on the discipline of psychology in Australia, and and have a substantive negative effect on the national supply of health practitioners. Our paper, entitled Beyond Its Power and Against the National Interest, can be downloaded here.

Contributors: Mark R. Diamond