Prof Sumaya Laher

President: Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA)

Dear PsySSA Members

I would like to take this opportunity of welcoming the many new members who joined PsySSA this year. We look forward to engaging with you. Thank you also to PsySSA members who renewed their memberships for 2017. PsySSA exists only because of the mandate of its members. Let me also remind members that PsySSA has negotiated an excellent deal for indemnity insurance for PsySSA members. Members can visit http://www.psyssa.com/membership/professional-indemnity/ for more information.

I wish to congratulate Prof David Maree, Past President of PsySSA, on obtaining his third doctorate in May. PsySSA now has two members with three PhD’s. Prof Kobus Maree also holds the distinction of having three doctorates. The achievement of a PhD is great but to have obtained three of them, Prof ‘s you leave us in awe!

It is also with great sadness that I inform members of the death of Psychology stalwart, Mr Elias Makwe. A clinical psychologist by profession, Mr Makwe dedicated his life to the assistance of those most in need of psychological assistance practicing in some of the most impoverished areas in South Africa. Dr Makwe chaired the Clinical division of PsySSA previously and, until the time of his passing, served on the executive of the Psychology in Public Service division. Most of us will remember his smile and the gentle way in which he always interacted. His presence in PsySSA structures will be missed. PsySSA expresses condolences to the Makwe family during this trying time.

PsySSA experienced another loss during June with the passing on of Prof Peter Fridjhon. Prof Fridjhon served as the Statistics editor of the South African Journal of Psychology under Prof Norman Duncan’s editorship. He continued to assist with the journal over the years and most recently was part of the editorial board of the journal. PsySSA extends its deepest condolences to Professor Fridjhon’s family.

PsySSA continues to engage with the medical aids. PsySSA did not receive a positive response from the Council of Medical Schemes (CMS) with the CMS maintaining that until the Scope of Practice is revised the status quo remains. Both the medical aids and the CMS have not accepted the Guidelines for Educational Psychologists released by the Professional Board for Psychology (PBP). As such PsySSA has written to the PBP requesting their intervention in the matter and we are awaiting a response.

In April PsySSA was notified of the 300% increase in Board Examination fees. Subsequently, PsySSA together with a number of Psychology departments, communicated with the PBP requesting that the exorbitant increase in Board Examination fees be reduced. The PBP responded with reasons why such a huge increase was necessary. These reasons were deemed unacceptable by PsySSA and we have replied with suggestions as to how the fees could be reduced but other mechanisms could come into play to control for the aspects raised by the Board.

As you read this PsySSA will in all likelihood be participating in the PBP Stakeholder engagement meetings on the Scope of the Profession. All of you would have received the PBP SMS’s notifying you of the opportunity to make submissions on the revisions for the SOP. These needed to be in by 16 June. PsySSA had written to the PBP in January requesting a meeting with the PBP to discuss the revision of the SOP. PsySSA also started a process of engaging with PsySSA members and the broader Profession on SOP in February. Stakeholder engagement meetings were held in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Limpopo. PsySSA wishes to thank the PsySSA regional branch representatives most notably Mr Rafiq Lockhat, Dr Debbie Kaminer and Dr Rashid Ahmed from the Cape Town Branch, Ms Lucinda John, Mr Suntosh Pillay and Ms Kirsten Clark from the KZN branch, Mr Kempie van Rooyen and Prof Diane Elkonin from the Eastern Cape branch and Ms Dorothy Calata from the Limpopo branch for facilitating the PsySSA stakeholder meetings. Further a survey was sent out canvassing opinion in the Profession on SOP. This information was used to put together the PsySSA submission on SOP. PsySSA members will soon be able to access this submission. The PBP SMS also indicated that the PBP will hold stakeholder sessions on the 22 and 23 June 2017. PsySSA will attend these engagements.

The month of May saw another landmark court decision for the Profession of Psychology. Clause D of the Employment Equity Act which required all tests to be certified by the HPCSA was declared invalid. PsySSA continues to engage on issues of test review and classification.

The HPCSA held a meeting on the 16 May 2017 discussing the issue of global fees. Global fees refer to medical aids paying a single amount to a clinic for an inpatient admission which then needs to be shared by the clinic and all practitioners who treat the patient. PsySSA Executive members, Dr Kgamadi Kometsi and Ms Neo Pule, attended the session which was largely focused on information giving with little opportunity for engagement. PsySSA continues to keep informed on any developments in this regard at the HPCSA. Similarly with any developments on the NHI. PsySSA has formed a working committee chaired by Anne Kramers-Olen to work on the NHI as it relates to Psychology professionals.

PsySSA remains concerned at the apathy shown by government in the aftermath of the Life Esidemeni crisis. To our knowledge, the NGO’s still do not have agreements in place with the Department of Health re: the care of individuals from Life Esidemeni. Further PsySSA had no correspondence from the department regarding the recommendations made by the task teams (of which PsySSA was a part) on improving mental healthcare for the Esidemeni patients as well as more generally. PsySSA has decided to embark on a public awareness initiative at this year’s WalktheTalk event in Gauteng. PsySSA has created a team for the 702 walk the Talk. The team will be walking for Mental Health. Please join Team PsySSA. If you have already registered for the walk please log on to your profile and request to join team PsySSA. Please encourage others to join in. Do include the colour green in your attire or wear a green ribbon to show your support for Mental Health.

PsySSA has engaged the Minister of Health on the healthcare of refugees following the harrowing story of the woman who had to give birth at Park Station after being turned away from three of our hospitals.

PsySSA has communicated with the South African Police Service regarding their recent Injury on Duty (IoD) communication which suggests that only Psychiatrists can diagnose Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PsySSA informed them accordingly, and also corrected the SAPS on their assertion that PTSD must be diagnosed within six months from the date of the incident.

The 28 May – 4 June was Child Protection Week. PsySSA thought it important to interrogate how we as Psychology professionals can support and advocate for these vulnerable children to achieve their full potential. It falls within our ambit to work with communities, families and government to protect children and most of all ensure that children contribute to their own protection (see www. plan –international.org/ child-protection). PsySSA has placed information on the website that will be useful to practitioners in this regard (click here to view).

2017 is the year for Congresses in South Africa. PsySSA has supported the Southern African Psychology Students Congress taking place at UNISA from the 28 – 30n June 2017. As PsySSA members you would have received the mailers informing you that the programmes for both the INS and PAPU congresses were available. The INS congress has attracted many international experts in the area. The programme can be accessed at here. PAPU has brought together in excess of 600 presentations, including over 50 invited addresses, spanning all areas of Psychology. The programme leaves one spoilt for choice. Members can access the programme at online. Members who miss this event will definitely be missing out. PAPU offers the opportunity to earn the entire years CPD, network with a variety of individuals in your field and do this with an extra discount on PAPU registration fees for PsySSA members. The Annual PsySSA Congress will not take place this year as PsySSA is hosting the PAPU Congress. However the PsySSA and divisional AGM’s will continue at PAPU. The PsySSA AGM is scheduled for (TBC). There will also be a cocktail event before the AGM.

We look forward to meeting you all at the PAPU2017 Congress!

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