Rent or therapy: the choice Australians shouldn’t have to make

Human hands unraveling red threads on human head, representing the human brain
Image: Ildar Abulkhanov, iStock

This is horrible.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, provisional psychologist, Emily Radford has clients that have to choose between paying for therapy or paying rent. Radford is a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider. However, they have clients that pay out of pocket.

Radford offers same services to both sets of clients:

Radford’s rate is A$156.00 a session. Provisional psychologists aren’t covered under Medicare. Meaning, clients have to pay full fee unless they have private insurance.

Psychologists push for reform

Cropped shot of psychologist with a long sleeved blue shirt taking notes and talking to client
Image: PeopleImages, iStock

Psychologists are pushing for reform. Two psychological bodies are pushing the Labor Government to allow provisional psychologists to be covered under Medicare. This will increase the workforce by 8,000.

However, many argue that this will further burden the Medicare system. Instead, the Government should invest in higher education pathways and incentives for students to work in regional areas.

Some commenters claimed that covering provisional psychologists under Medicare is a bad idea. As someone who isn’t in the mental health field, I found some of these comments to the SMH article insightful.

One wrote:

I am a clinical psychologist and supervisor of trainees (provisional psychologists). The vast majority of trainees are not ready to provide services to the standard required by Medicare. They also require very close supervision and we currently have a shortage of supervisors.

BD, comment to SMH, 17 April 2023

One comment suggested a change to psychology training requirements.

I’m in the profession and the idea of Medicare subsidising trainees is a big mistake. “The government would be better off putting more money into the training system to enhance the workforce” – totally agree with that. Also, the professional body itself makes it very difficult for people who have studied for years to become an actual Psychologist – generalist undergraduate degrees, minimum masters that are impossible to get into or alternative pathways that have insanely complex requirements, and then the more recent cash cow hurdle of to do an [sic] paper exam to enter into the profession.

AP from Melb, comment to SMH, 19 April 2023

What Labor plans to do

Stupidly, the Labor cut Medicare Better Access sessions from twenty to 10 last year.

Federal Health Minister, Butler, says he wants mental health care to be more accessible. However, Labor have no policy to reform it.

What can be done?

Before working on this post, my response was simple — take a leaf out of UK’s book. Mental health services should be fully covered Medicare. (Mental health under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been a disaster).

However, I realise this view is over idealistic. It looks like the training process for potential psychologists needs an overhaul. To be honest, it seems like a nightmare.

Red tape needs be cut in training psychologists. It shouldn’t be “impossible” to do a Masters or alternative pathway. Then maybe -— just maybe — psychologists might be more accessible. And, who knows, they may become properly covered under Medicare.

What do you think? How can mental health services improve? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

News Opinion/Commentary

Abuse towards Dr. Pansy Lai is deplorable, however her views on ex – gay therapy are worrying

Dr. Pansy Lai on website with allegations of supporting ex - gay therapy alleged doctor in anti same – sex marriage advertisement has supported ex – gay therapy.

Let me make this clear — the abuse suffered by Sydney’s Dr. Pansy Lai — some threats have been so serious that police have been involved — is inexcusable. To be quite frank, some in the ‘Yes’ campaign have been absolutely feral. Stop it!

Having said that, allegations, printed in that Dr. Lai and the Australian Chinese for Families supports ex – gay ‘therapy’ concern me. She’s denies pushing ex – gay ‘therapy’ onto patients, but claims that there is no harm in the practice. This goes against mainstream medical opinion in the Western world.

I’m not calling for Dr. Lai to be sacked. I just hope her views don’t affect her practice.

To those who dismiss this and say that if you had a sore foot, would you care what her views were; GPs deal with mental health, too. Personally, when I was younger, a GP prescribed anti – depressants and organised for me to go to a counsellor after diagnosing me with mild depression

Secondly, I’ve been to counsellors in regard to issues with sexuality. This was after weeks —  maybe months — of fear and self – hatred. If I found out that the counsellors, Student Advisor (I was at school at the time), or other staff were prejudiced against LGBTQ+ people, I would have just hated myself even more and woudn’t have trusted the staff enough to open up. Just the fear of what could happen was bad enough (the fear wasn’t confirmed, by the way. They were all really good).

I’ll be frank, if I knew that my doctor had prejudices against LGBTQ+ people and/ or they supported ex – gay ‘therapy’, I wouldn’t trust them with my health, period. I would want someone who didn’t adhere to proven and accepted medical practice.


For those who still dismiss my critique and say that it doesn’t matter, how would you feel if your doctor had personal beliefs about vaccination that went against mainstream medical knowledge? If your brought a child to this doctor, even for other reasons, would you trust him/ her? I’ve got a feeling many wouldn’t. I feel that way about any medical professional who spreads misinformation about LGBTQ+ people. It’s happened for too long. I can’t tell you how many YouTube videos I’ve watched and how many stories I’ve read online about LGBTQ+ people who’ve gone through ex – gay ‘therapy’. They’re lives were nearly destroyed, until they accepted their sexuality.

Again, I condemn the abuse towards Dr. Lai, especially when police had to involved. I won’t even say that she should be deregistered. What I do think should happen is that maybe there needs to be an overall evaluation of the medical profession to make sure that GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc, don’t have  any harmful beliefs about LGBTQ+ people that is going to turn into harmful practice. LGBTQ+ people deserve proper health care like everyone else.

Has this post brought up any issues for you? You can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beond Blue: 1300 224 636.