Event alert: Launch of the Australian Psychological Society Reconciliation Action Plan, Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, Saturday 29 September, 3.30pm

Initiatives to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of Indigenous Australians and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander psychologists will be unveiled with the launch of the Australian Psychological Society’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in Perth this Saturday. 

The Hon Fred Chaney AO will represent Reconciliation Australia at the launch at the 47th APS Annual Conference at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Professor Simon Crowe, President of the Australian Psychological Society, said that it was imperative that steps were taken to address the gap in health and wellbeing between Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and other Australians, and the APS was committed to playing an active part.

He said:  “The recorded rate of psychological distress for Indigenous Australians is twice that of the non-Indigenous population, and the rate of suicide is almost three times greater. Furthermore the 10-17 year gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is unacceptable.”

The APS Reconciliation Action Plan commits the Society to a number of activities over the next two years including:

  • Promotion of cultural competence in psychological research and practice
  • Steps to increase the number of Indigenous psychology students
  • Facilitating the adoption of more Indigenous content in the psychology curriculum, and
  • Building respectful partnerships with Indigenous organisations

Professor Crowe said: “The ongoing effects of policies such as colonisation, assimilation and inappropriate removal and relocation are evident to the psychologists working with Indigenous Australians. By committing to actions that improve the way in which psychology can assist communities and individuals, and increase the number of Indigenous psychologists, the APS hopes to proactively address these issues.”

He said: “In turn, the APS believes that all psychologists can learn much from the incredible resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and communities, their survival and their ongoing connection to land and culture.”

Professor Crowe will launch the RAP with Professor Pat Dudgeon, a member of the National Mental Health Commission and Co-Chair of the APS RAP Working Group, the Hon Fred Chaney and Associate Professor Tim Hannan, incoming President of the APS.

Professor Dudgeon, one of the first Indigenous psychologists in Australia and the inaugural Chair ofthe Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association, said: “Reconciliation is a two-way process. By building respect and relationships, this process can benefit all Australians, and help to create a stronger and more inclusive psychology.”

The APS is the leading professional organisation for psychologists, with more than 20,500 members around Australia.

- Ends –

For media enquiries please call Judith Heywood on 03 8662 3301, Karen Coghlan on 03 8662 6638, Rebecca Matthews on 03 8662 3358 or call the media mobile on 0435 896 444. Find us on Twitter:  @APS_Media.

Notes to editors: The four-day 47th APS Annual Conference includes a number of presentations, forums and symposiums on Indigenous issues and psychology, including those on:

  • Closing the mental health gap
  • Suicide prevention and postvention
  • Psychological assessment with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
  • The experiences of Indigenous psychology students at Australian universities
  • The experiences of Indigenous Australians who left their communities to attend school
  • Health practitioners who work with very remote Indigenous communities

A reconciliation action plan is a formal document, like a business plan, in which an organisation commits to clear actions with set timelines as part of its commitment to reconciliation. To find out more about the APS RAP visit www.psychology.org.au/reconciliation.

Information on RAPs is available on the Reconciliation Australia website, www.reconciliation.org.au, including this report on their impact:
www.reconciliation.org.au/getfile?id=81&file=RA RAP Impact Measurement Report.pdf

More information on the Australian Indigenous Psychologists Association is at www.indigenouspsychology.com.au.

The APS is the largest professional organisation for psychologists in Australia, representing more than 20,500 members. The APS is committed to advancing psychology as a discipline and profession. It spreads the message that psychologists make a difference to people’s lives, through improving psychological knowledge and community wellbeing.