Submissions: Your Feedback

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Submission Number
Australian Clinical Psychology Association
Submission date
Main Submission Automated Transcript

ABN 90 142 080 617

GPO Box 4489
Sydney NSW 2001
e: office@acpa.org.au
w: www.acpa.org.au
The Hon Ken Wyatt MP
Minister for Indigenous Australians.

20th April 2021

Dear Minister Wyatt,

Re: Co-design process: Submission from the Australian Clinical Psychology

The Australian Clinical Psychology Association (ACPA) is the national professional
body that represents clinical psychologists who hold the accredited post-graduate
qualifications that meet the criteria established by the Psychology Board of Australia
for endorsement in clinical psychology.

ACPA strongly supports reform resulting in a First Nations Voice to parliament, thus
providing a representative body that will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders a
say in the laws and policies affecting them. The voice should be enshrined in the
Constitution, allowing it to become an institution of lasting significance for First
Nations and all Australians. We unreservedly endorse three key submission points:
1. The Government must honour its election commitment to a referendum
once a model for the Voice has been settled;
2. Enabling legislation for the Voice must be passed after a referendum has
been held in the next term of Parliament; and
3. The membership model for the National Voice must ensure previously
unheard Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have the same chance
of being selected as established leadership figures.
Australia’s history has encompassed systematic and systemic racially based abuse;
massacre and social engineering of its First Nations People; oppressive government
policies; an appalling record of Black Deaths in Custody; and a history of
“Blackbirding,” whereby between 55,000 and 62,500 Pacific Islanders were
transported to Australia in the 19th century to work the cane fields of Queensland
and northern New South Wales. The establishment of a Makarrata Commission
would oversee a process of truth-telling about Australia’s history and

This history has had a devastating impact that continues to this day, causing ongoing
disadvantage and inequality. Our First Nations People continue to be systemically
disadvantaged, and continue to suffer individual, community and systemic racism.
This racially-based discrimination and disadvantage results in disproportionate levels
of psychological distress, mental illness, social isolation, poverty, unemployment and
child mortality, as well as reduced life expectancy and education levels. Indigenous
young people are more likely to be incarcerated than finish high school, and those
aged 15-24 die by suicide at four times the non-Indigenous frequency. Moreover,
this racially based discrimination and disadvantage has resulted in fragmentation of
communities and loss of cultural practices and language, and significant trans-
generational trauma.

Our profession’s code of ethics rests on three core principles: respect, propriety and
integrity. We acknowledge that psychology has been part of the discrimination
against Indigenous people. In the practice of clinical psychology and in the other
aspects of our day-to-day work, we can directly have a positive impact on this issue
by educating ourselves about First Nations perspectives on mental health and
wellbeing and working towards our own ‘decolonised’ practice being respectful and
sensitive to Indigenous cultures and history. Our support for a First Nations Voice to
parliament is consistent with this aim, which also includes cultural humility, respect,
sensitivity, informedness and diversity to be central in our work with our clients and

Yours sincerely,

Professor Caroline Hunt
President, ACPA