Member Information regarding the AHPA

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What is AHPA?

The Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) was founded and run by the Australian Psychological Society for many years. It is a collegiate body consisting of 25 national allied health association members and a further 13 affiliate members. AHPA collectively represents some 150,000+ allied health professionals who provide services across a range of health settings, as well as disability, aged care, education, justice, community services and more in Australia. Membership to AHPA does not formally define Allied Health status. ACA has successfully advocated for our members to be formally listed as Allied Health professionals in the majority of States of Australia, without support from AHPA.

Is ACA a member of AHPA?

In 2020, ACA became an affiliate member, albeit becoming a member did not influence AHPA members (the APS or AASW) in continuing to not support advocacy for Counselling and Psychotherapy to move into the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) space.

What's the difference between an Affiliate member and a Full Member?

Full members must pay an annual fee of $2 per member to AHPA in exchange for full voting rights. AHPA has been clear and concise in formally stating it advocates equally for both ordinary and affiliate members irrespective of membership status. AHPA is unable to specifically support advocacy for individual members in areas where other members do not, for example APS and AASW do no support advocacy for Counsellors to move into MBS and many other areas. This means AHPA are unable to specifically support the advocacy work of ACA, regardless of membership status.

Why isn't ACA an ordinary member?

ACA has decided, for the time being, to remain an affiliate member based on numerous factors:

  • APS and AASW do not support Counsellors and Psychotherapists moving into MBS. As a result the AHPA has stated on several occasions it can only advocate for the broadening of access to Medicare for all its members however, it cannot advocate for Counsellors and Psychotherapists specifically. This means the economic and human resource burden of front-line advocacy for our members is borne by ACA regardless of membership status.
  • There is no correlation between greater employment opportunities for AHPA full members as opposed to affiliate members. In fact, employers by and large insist on registration with ACA as their primary benchmark. The cost to the association for membership has to be passed back to ACA members, the return on investment does not meet the pub test.
  • ACA would never rely on third parties to do our advocacy work for us particularly when large numbers within that group worked in opposition to our advocacy.
  • AHPA has to date not formally supported Counsellors or Psychotherapists in terms of advocacy for entry into MBS.
  • In regard to return on investment for ACA members, outcomes have to date been 100% due to our solo Federal/State/Territory and industry advocacy efforts.
  • We have achieved far more through our solo advocacy efforts in three years of affiliate membership.
  • ACA cannot justify becoming a full member at this time as the return on investment reflects there will be little to no direct benefit for ACA members.

Did I hear that being a full member of AHPA means we can get Medicare, GST exemption etc.?

No, AHPA has clearly stated they cannot advocate for Counsellors and Psychotherapists to move into the MBS space as not all their full members support this. There is no correlation between full membership to AHPA and inclusion in MBS or receiving GST exemption. A single association cannot achieve MBS or GST exemption; the individual providing the service has a GST exemption on the provisor they deliver through the Better Access Initiative using an MBS item number. GST exemption legislation clearly indicates that membership to any association is not a primary factor in being eligible for exemption status. For Counsellors and Psychotherapists, the primary obstacle is not being able to access provider numbers for MBS services and item numbers. AHPA advocates for their members equally; we must remember that their members include many other disciplines that actively work against Counsellors and Psychotherapists becoming part of the MBS.

Do ACA plan to become a full member?

Full membership to AHPA will not fundamentally change anything for Counsellors and Psychotherapists in relation to creditability, access, advocacy, registration or employment opportunities. AHPA do have a strong record of advocacy in relation to issues that collectively impact on Allied Health Professions as a whole, such as advocating for consistency in policy during the height of the COVID-19 crisis. ACA will consider full membership once it has successfully advocated for its members for inclusion into MBS or AHPA formally agree to openly support our members moving into the MBS space. ACA has achieved so much over the last 12 months regarding advocacy, including significant milestones such as:

  • First Peak Body to be given a place on the MSB review Committee (SEG)
  • Counsellors and Psychotherapists wrote into legislation in Victoria to come under the definition of Mental Health Practitioner, in conjunction with Emma Keely MP.
  • Recommendation from the Queensland State Government to the Federal Government for Counsellors to come into the MBS.

These significant milestones have been achieved without relying on third parties to do our advocacy work for us, or at an unnecessary extra cost to our members.

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