Citoyens du Monde: Notre Histoire

Je suis née au Québec. Je suis partie pour un été en 1998 avec un sac à dos pour travailler et voyager en Écosse. J’ai rencontré mon mari là-bas, deux semaines après mon arrivée. Il est Anglais. Nous avons vécu cinq ans en Écosse, deux ans sur l’Ile de Wight dans le sud de l’Angleterre, et ensuite en dans l’est de l’Angleterre, dans le comté d’Essex, pendant dix ans.

Nous avons trois enfants âgés de 13, 10 et 3 ans. Les enfants ont tous la double nationalité canadienne et britannique. Nous avons toujours voyagé avec les enfants. Mon mari a aussi eu l’opportunité de voyager pour le travail. Je l’ai accompagné dans certains de ses voyages, en Grèce, en France et en Afrique du Sud. Nous nous sommes toujours sentis comme des citoyens du monde pouvant créer un « chez-soi » partout au monde.

DES ÉPREUVES QUI CHANGENT LES PERCEPTIONS

En moins de six mois, nous avons perdu, mon mari et moi, chacun un parent. Ce qui a mis beaucoup de pression dans nos vies. Ces évènements ont aussi apporté des moments de réflexions et de réalisation que la vie a besoin d’être vécue. Notre tristesse s’est transformée en un monde de possibilités.

Dans les dernières années, nous avions considéré à plusieurs reprises aller vivre au Canada. L’Outaouais nous attirait particulièrement par cette possibilité d’assurer une continuité de bilinguisme pour la famille. Par contre, mon mari avait un emploi stable. J’ai fait un doctorat avec trois enfants, ce qui a demandé beaucoup d’énergie. Déménager avec peu de stabilité et sécurité d’emploi était un risque, surtout avec une jeune famille. Nous avions opté pour le statu quo.

Après quelques déménagements, nous avions développé notre chez-nous, personnel et professionnel. Nous avions aussi une belle maison que nous avons améliorée au fil des ans. Nous avions construit une petite maison dans le jardin, pour mon bureau. J’avais passé beaucoup de temps à choisir le modèle. Elle était très belle. C’était mon bureau, un havre de paix. Nous avions attendu pour la construire, au cas où nous déciderions de partir. Avec la venue d’un troisième enfant, nous avions décidé de rester. Construire la cabane et finir le grenier.

DÉMÉNAGER DANS UN AUTRE PAYS N’ÉTAIT PAS DANS LES PLANS

Nous avons toujours été à l’affût d’opportunités, particulièrement professionnelles. Mon mari a vu une opportunité sur un site professionnel, une opportunité en Angleterre et en Australie pour la même compagnie. Mon mari m’a écrit un courriel, « Prête pour un changement? » avec la description d’un emploi très intéressant pour lui, particulièrement stimulant et avec de beaux défis. Quand il m’en a parlé, ça faisait longtemps que je l’avais vu si enthousiaste pour le travail. Ma réaction a été : « Oh Mon Dieu, on vient de faire ma “cabane dans le jardin”, un peu sous le choc. Je n’ai JAMAIS pensé à un déménagement en Australie!

Après les courriels initiaux et les premières discussions, comme couple, nous avons discuté et discuté et discuté, des débats existentiels, à l’abri des oreilles des enfants. Nous ne voulions pas créer d’incertitudes pour rien. Mon mari a commencé un processus de discussions avec l’employeur, signalant qu’il souhaitait poser sa candidature pour le poste en Australie, et non celui en Angleterre, malgré les premières perceptions. Il a ensuite soumis son application et a participé à un long processus d’entrevues sur Skype. Nous avons continué les routines quotidiennes, aller travailler, s’occuper des enfants, faire les repas, le lavage, malgré un stress intense et un certain sens d’insécurité et d’inconnu.

PLANIFIER DE L’ÉTRANGER

Pendant plusieurs semaines, nous avons vécu un genre de cirque. Faire des recherches par internet sur les prix des maisons, le style et le coût de la vie, les possibilités d’emploi pour moi. Envoyer des courriels, répondre aux courriels de l’Australie en se levant. Répondre à des appels téléphoniques avant d’aller se coucher, ne sachant pas si tout ça allait fonctionner. C’était un peu surréel. Les recherches initiales ont porté fruit. On y voyait un style de vie agréable basé sur le plein air. Il y avait des possibilités d’emploi pour moi avec des défis professionnels. Le prix des maisons n’était pas aussi alléchant que le marché québécois, mais la promesse d’exploration d’un nouveau continent tout en donnant des expériences inoubliables aux enfants, et une richesse inouïe de découvrir de nouvelles cultures, nous ont attirés particulièrement.

Après un long processus de sélection, la compagnie a offert le poste à mon mari. Nos débats et nombreuses questions écrites sur des listes ont aidé à former les premières discussions à propos d’un transfert d’une famille de cinq. Nous avons été rassurés. Tout a semblé se mettre en place et aller dans la bonne direction. Mon mari a accepté le poste! Un gros changement pour toute la famille. Nous avions un nouveau continent à découvrir, l’Australie!

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Relocaliser une famille à l’étranger

Nous avons enclenché un processus incroyable… Ce qui semblait être complètement impossible : démissions de nos emplois et de rôles bénévoles, mise en vente de la maison, annonce de la nouvelle à nos amis, aux amis des enfants, aux écoles, à nos collègues. Des moments très émouvants, car nous étions là depuis 10 ans. La maison était pleine de souvenirs. Les enfants y avaient grandi. Nous avons réduit considérablement toutes nos activités et les activités parascolaires des enfants pour avoir le temps de planifier ce gros changement. Nos objectifs ont changé de façon draconienne.

Invités par la compagnie, nous nous sommes rendus en Australie pour visiter ce coin de pays. Mon mari avait déjà visité cet endroit, sans moi. Ça semblait être un tour de force de laisser les trois enfants en Grande-Bretagne. De très bons amis ont bien voulu aider pour nous faciliter la tâche. La planification d’un voyage à l’étranger, les démissions au travail et la vente de la maison nous ont vite paru impossibles et lourdes, remplies d’inconnus et d’un profond sentiment d’impuissance face à certains évènements. Mais nous avons toujours gardé un esprit positif et un sens du futur, en faisant face à plusieurs obstacles, un à un, et en essayant de trouver des solutions.

La semaine de familiarisation en Australie a été chargée. Mon mari participait à une semaine de développement stratégique avec la compagnie. On avait organisé pour moi des visites de maisons, d’écoles. J’ai aussi pris des rendez-vous sur place. J’ai pris le temps de conduire, visiter et parler à des gens. J’ai pu rapporter des brochures, des photos et des informations pour les enfants.

2 MOIS AVANT : DES ÉPREUVES GRAVES

Mon mari est tombé gravement malade. Il a été hospitalisé. Des moments très difficiles parce qu’il a été dans une condition où il y aurait pu avoir un danger pour sa vie. Ça prit du temps pour connaître le diagnostic. Très épeurant aussi de préparer un déménagement international avec le joueur principal alité pendant plus de 4 semaines. J’avoue que j’ai pensé vivre un cauchemar intense. Les conséquences de la maladie étant inconnues, nous avons quand même continué à planifier notre déménagement en gardant contact avec nos employeurs, expliquant nos délais et difficultés de façon transparente et honnête. Nos amis et collègues ont été formidables; leur soutien émotionnel et logistique, indispensable.

1 MOIS AVANT : NOUS NE POUVIONS PLUS RECULER

Après plus de 6 semaines de convalescence, mon mari a reçu le « OK » de son médecin. Tout en attendant les visas, nous avons commencé à penser sérieusement à notre départ. Aucune date ne pouvait être fixe sans l’obtention de visas. L’attente a été longue. Nous avions réservé les déménageurs pour une date précise, mais toujours pas de visas. La maison n’était toujours pas vendue, mais nous avions décidé de partir quand même. L’employeur voulait que mon mari commence le travail le plus tôt possible. Déménageurs, aurevoirs, ventes et dons de nos possessions ont été particulièrement importants dans le dernier mois et les jours avant notre départ. Mon mari ne pouvait pas vraiment lever des boîtes ou des choses plus lourdes, il ne pouvait pas soutenir son énergie pendant très longtemps non plus.

DES AUREVOIRS ÉPROUVANTS ET BEAUCOUP À FAIRE

Il s’est écoulé une semaine entre le moment où nous avons reçu les visas et le moment où les déménageurs sont arrivés dans la maison. Les déménageurs ont pris quatre jours à paqueter la maison. Pendant qu’eux faisaient des boîtes, je lavais les bicyclettes, les bâtons de golf, les souliers, bref tout ce qui avait été dehors devait être bien nettoyé pour l’immigration. Il y avait beaucoup de choses à faire et finaliser. Les gens venaient nous voir pour dire au revoir. Il y avait une activité incroyable. Des jours mémorables à dire au revoir à plusieurs et aussi à continuer de vendre des objets qui ne pouvaient pas être mis dans le conteneur. Je me suis levée le jour du départ… « Wow, j’ai un aller simple pour l’Australie! »

Une activité incroyable jusqu’à la dernière minute où les voisins nous ont envoyé la main. Personne n’avait les yeux secs, plusieurs larmes se sont versées. Nous avons manqué de temps, il y avait beaucoup à faire. Les déménageurs étaient encore là quand nous avons quitté la maison et ils sont aussi revenus le lendemain.

UN VOYAGE MOUVEMENTÉ

Nous avons quitté la maison avec un certain délai et il y a eu du trafic sur la route. Nous sommes arrivés à l’aéroport un peu en panique avec quelques minutes à faire avant la fermeture du vol et beaucoup de bagages à enregistrer. Dix valises et cinq sacs pour l’avion, c’est tout ce que nous avions pour les DIX prochaines semaines! Nous avons couru à travers l’aéroport, un peu comme la course dans le film Maman j’ai raté l’avion, excités et euphoriques. Mais aussi très stressés de nos aventures qui ne semblaient toujours pas s’estomper.

C’est effectivement un long voyage : Londres-Abu Dhabi-Melbourne. Les enfants se sont quand même bien adaptés à un si long voyage. Deux vols de 8 et 14 heures, c’est long. Ma fille est toujours malade en avion. À l’arrivée sur notre deuxième vol, je donne un sac à l’hôtesse de l’air. Panique! Elle commence à me poser des questions. Elle sort un formulaire, avec d’autres questions. Le pilote arrive avec d’autres employés et me pose des questions. « Depuis quand est-elle malade? Quels sont ses symptômes

Le pilote m’annonce que ma fille doit quitter l’avion. La politique de la compagnie est de ne jamais voler avec des passagers malades à cause des risques d’avoir à changer la trajectoire de l’avion et d’atterrir d’urgence. Mon état était pitoyable, mon visage très long. Le choc. Je n’en croyais pas mes oreilles. Après des mois d’angoisse avec un mari hospitalisé, un déménagement sous un stress intense pour arriver à temps. Je me faisais dire que nous devions quitter l’avion. J’ai utilisé tous les arguments possibles. Sincèrement, j’étais sous le choc, mais aussi en bataille ultime pour continuer notre route. Le pilote a fini par nous écouter. Il était Canadien. Nous avons parlé du Canada!

Un long voyage mouvementé…

À DESTINATION COMME DANS LES CONTES DE FÉES

Une journée ensoleillée des plus merveilleuses. Un souvenir inoubliable que d’arriver à la maison que nous avions louée sans l’avoir vue! Seulement en photos et sur internet. Dix valises, cinq sacs, des matelas de camping et sacs de couchage pour dormir. Rien d’autre. Pas de télévision. Que des tablettes et pas de Wi-Fi… une vraie aventure commençait!

C’est certain qu’il y a eu beaucoup de choses à faire dans les premières semaines, plusieurs décisions ont suivi. La fin de l’été australien nous a vraiment aidés à nous adapter et apprécier notre environnement : la plage, le bois, une piscine, le début d’une vie paisible et simple comme nous l’avions imaginée

Registration as a Psychologist when Moving Abroad

Lifelong Challenges

It often feels like a lifelong battle…I arrived in the UK where my degree in psychology from Quebec was not recognised as a Honours degree, but contained enough psychology as required by the British Psychological Society. I had completed a full year of internship placement through a beginning of a Masters in Quebec, but this was not recognised as sufficient to be classified under the Honours degree system. The problem is that universities offering a Honours degree program are rare in Quebec and programs limited.

In the UK, to be able to access a professional course to train as a psychologist, I had to do a conversion or a Masters course from an accredited course provider. At the time, the system was changing from being able to train as an Educational Psychologist (EP) from a teacher qualified to other opened routes. Although I had been a teacher in independent schools, there seemed to be no need in completing my teaching qualification to follow an EP qualification route. I decided to go through the Masters route to top up my first degree. I completed my Masters and then entered a very competitive Doctorate route, whilst working and with young children. Yes, my choice, yes hard work.

Now, we have made a move to Australia. Being registered as psychologist, brings a full whole set of challenges. Although we recognised this move as full of opportunities, it is also full of challenges, mainly because it feels like I have had lifelong challenges in trying to have my qualifications recognised. It is not just from the UK to Australia, but it seemed like I have been doing that forever. Yes, my choice, yes hard work.

The thing is that I really like working with children, young people and families. I really feel in my element. I also feel I have lots to offer, some global migration experiences, international literature perspective, macro-systemic views of different policy making and development, knowledge of different health and education and support systems for children and families experiencing disadvantages, special and additional needs, fluency in more than one language. The thing is no-one asks you about your strengths when you fill in a recognition qualification form because you enter a world where you are asked to conform with a set of rules and regulations. For example, I was completing a form last week. I am being asked to tick a box that represents the most, my English language skills, amongst a series of choices:

  • primary, secondary and tertiary studies in English
  • secondary for 2 years and tertiary studies in English
  • 6 years continuous tertiary studies in English
  • examination results

The thing is that I no longer fit into a set of boxes. As a global migrant, I experienced different educational routes and job opportunities. Boxes do not seem to represent well my journey. I lived 18 years in the UK, worked, was part of the community, studied at tertiary levels, but this is not represented in any of the boxes. Does this mean that I should be required to do more studies? Yes, there may be subtleties I miss in my expression of language, and yes there is a need for me to continue editing my work. Will an exam change that?

Registration in Australia: A number of UK psychologists asked for advice

The process of registering as a psychologist in Australia has not been easy so far. I started the process back in December, we are now in August, following a lot of work in understanding the system, completing forms, talking to people, the process is still not complete and I am still waiting. I posted some questions and queries on a large psychologist mailing group. A number of psychologists have asked me for advice as they would also like to come to Australia too. It seems appealing as EPs are on the skilled workforce and can apply for a work visa based on their qualifications and experiences. Working in a beautiful country, in varied working environments, also seems appealing. I did not personally need a skilled workforce assessment as I came here on a 457 visa sponsored by my husband’s employer. However, I am finding the registration process very confusing, demanding a huge amount of research and determination. I understand there is a consultation currently taking place which aims to support changes in the system, mainly presenting more thorough information to applicants and employers.

As many asked for my help, I said that I would respond in a post, intending to support fellow colleagues. I write here some important points about the process. This post intends to be supportive, highlighting key points that are confusing and difficult to understand. This is based on my knowledge and research as per August 2016. The system may change and my knowledge expand (I sincerely hope so!). It is my perception of the process, it may be different for others.

What do Psychologists from the UK need to know?

Mainly, the APS is like the BPS, AHPRA like the HCPC. The Australian Psychology Board is a branch of AHPRA comprised of 14 National Boards supported by AHPRA in the framework of a Health Profession Agreement. (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia, Chinese Medicine Board of Australia, Chiropractic Board of Australia, Dental Board of Australia, Medical Board of Australia, Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, Optometry Board of Australia, Osteopathy Board of Australia, Pharmacy Board of Australia, Physiotherapy Board of Australia, Podiatry Board of Australia, Psychology Board of Australia).

Psychologists are trained to work in a range of settings, such as hospitals, schools, clinics, forensic, adults, elderly. Psychologists develop their skills across the lifespan within the training and must demonstrate these skills. AHPRA mentions that general registration as a psychologist enables an individual to work in any area of psychology that is within their scope of competence and use the title ‘Psychologist’ and that all psychologists with general registration meet a minimum standard of education and training and have been assessed as a suitable person to hold general registration in the profession.

Registration as a psychologist can be obtained from different training routes: 4+2, 5+1, 6 years. For example, 4 years of psychology studies and a 2 years of internships/placements. AHPRA explains that to become eligible for general registration, an applicant is generally required to have completed a four year undergraduate sequence of study in psychology (such as a bachelor degree with honours) followed by at least two years of practical experience as a registered provisional psychologist. AHPRA also mentions that the necessary practical experience is usually obtained by undertaking an approved postgraduate degree accredited at fifth and sixth year level (such as a two year Masters) or higher (such as a three or four year Doctorate). Alternatively, practical experience can be obtained by completing a 4+2 or 5+1 internship program. Within the doctoral route, internships are included so this refers to the 6 years + of studies. This means that UK EPs trained prior to 2006 within a Masters route may have more difficulties in having their qualifications recognised as a 6 years + and may be required to complete a longer internship or to enter a tertiary educational program in psychology.

The Commonwealth political system means that a federal system applies which is also similar to the Canadian political system. It means that each state has delegated powers in deciding their own state affairs. The role of the Commonwealth being different from the states one. This means that the Commonwealth and the states have different roles and mixed roles in managing budgets, decisions and jurisdiction. Delegated powers are related to specific areas of jurisdiction such as education which means that each state may have different ways to determine the role of the psychologist. This is reflected in the literature written on the subject by Mike Faulkner in The Handbook of International School Psychology. Edited by Shane R. Jimerson, Thomas Oakland, and Peter Farrell. SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, California, USA – London, UK. This is a big difference to the educational system in England and Wales where education is a centralised jurisdiction, the local authorities have the powers to implement national policies, programs and laws. However, delegated powers are given to Scotland to manage their educational decisions. Local authorities/local councils in Australia do not have powers like local authorities. Powers are delegated to the states. There is a free education system funded by the states, with some parallel private systems funded by non-profit organisation, fees and Commonwealth funding such as Catholic education, independent schools, etc.

Similarly, health is a jurisdiction delegated to the state for hospitals, but the Commonwealth also has special federal programs such as Medicare. The Medicare system is similar to the NHS, but does not cover all services. In Australia, psychologists are included in the workforce of professionals who deliver services under the Medicare system. In discussion with a GP, under a health and care plan, a client could be given a ten week counselling plan for example. This includes ALL psychologists, not just the ones working in health related systems. Psychologists therefore deliver services to the population in private practice as well as the state sector. In private practice, a client pays a fee to receive a service and then claims back some of the fees to Medicare. Alternatively, bulk billing is where a professional accepts the 85% of the Medicare reimbursed fees and claim it directly to Medicare. To be entitled to deliver services, psychologists must have a Medicare provider number, only fully registered psychologists (and other professionals under AHPRA, see boards above) can deliver this service. This also means that there are number of psychologists working in private practice as there seems to be a variation in salary between different service delivery methods. My research shows that in the state sector, i.e. education department work, an annual salary would be around $60 000 000+, compared to other providers such as private practice, up to $100 000. There is also a significant different between Clinical and registered psychologists. Clinical Psychologists tend to earn a substantially higher salary and can also claim more hourly to the Medicare system.

Registration process

As per the 1st June 2016, the registration process changed. I aim to explain the registration process here to the best of my ability.

  1. Application to the Australian Psychological Society

In the first instance, an application to the APS needs to be completed for assessment of qualifications and visa purposes. As per the 1st June 2016, the APS completes assessment of qualifications for visa purposes only, but if an applicant comes to Australia with no need to apply for a visa, the applicant must go directly to AHPRA.

Allow at least 12 weeks for this process. All certificates, transcripts and identity papers need to be certified by a psychologist or an approved profession member.

The APS will make an assessment of how many years of study qualifications are equivalent to in the Australian context. Years of study have a big impact as it determines the process for AHPRA (although I have been told that AHPRA also review years of study during the process). If your qualifications are recognised as 6 years + studies, the process is slightly shorter for registration, see flowchart below.

Flow diagram (AHPRA)

Psychologytrainingpathwaysdiagram684px20160427Following the APS assessment process, a certificate of years of study is issued. This process does not include registration as a Psychologist. A six years + of studies gives entitlement to becoming a member of the APS, MAPS (reduction of fees apply following assessment). Some employers request the membership. APS is responsible for CPD and professional development and have support networks in local areas.

The APS will then signpost the applicant to the next phase of the process, AHPRA registration.

  1. Application to AHPRA/Psychology Board to register as a Psychologist.

Find below the ‘recommended pathway’ to registration which consists of an application to AHPRA through different forms (detailed below), a transitional program of supervised practice and the National Psychology Exam.

Recommended pathway to registration in Australia for overseas qualified psychologists (AHPRA)

Assess your ability to meet the registration requirements

Fill in application form APOS-76 and provide all required documents to AHPRA

The Board will assess whether you meet the registration requirements

Receive advice that you need to complete a specified period of supervised practice and the National Psychology Exam

Use relevant form to submit a plan for your specified period of supervised practice to the Board for approval

Receive approval of your supervised practice plan and granted provisional registration

Complete specified period of supervised practice in accordance with your approved plan

Pass the National Psychology Exam

Apply for general registration

Granted general registration

To be able to practise as a psychologist in Australia, an AHPRA registration is essential. For a provisional psychologist registration, allow 10 weeks + for the assessment process. The ‘general’ registration process takes a minimum of 3 months leading to the exam. Exams take place four times a year, check available dates on the website to avoid being out of sync and experience significant delays in obtaining general registration.

For the initial provisional psychologist registration process, there is quite a lot of work to do:

  • complete the APOS-76 form
  • an international police check
  • proof of English language skill standard
  • proof of identity (certified documents)
  • contact ALL universities, where a qualification was completed, to send a transcript directly to AHPRA
  • CV signed respecting the AHPRA format
  • Submission of papers related to internships/placement such as reports, record of supervision, course handbook
  • AATP-76 form completed

The transitional program

The transitional program as it stands requires an applicant to complete 210 hours of practice, minimum 17.5 hours/week for 3 months, with supervision 1 hour fortnightly, going through policies and documents related to the Australian context of practice in preparation for the National Psychology Exam. The supervisor must complete the ACTP-76 form at the end of the program. This form outlines skills and knowledge needed for general registration. The transitional program aims for the candidate to demonstrate, through supervision sessions and observations of practice, competencies in the following areas:

  • Ethical, legal and professional matters as relevant to the Australia context;
  • Working with people from diverse groups as relevant to the Australian context.

In the ACTP-76 form, there is requirement to be observed completing specific psychological tasks such as a psychological assessments.

For the transitional program to be agreed with AHPRA, the applicant must NOT work independently. following a number of clarifications with AHPRA, this seems to mean: NOT work as a sole trader or open a private practice. An applicant can work or volunteer in a private practice though. An applicant can have more than one concurrent volunteering or salaried opportunities. AHPRA refers to ‘the applicant must not work independently’. I think that is particularly confusing as this could be interpreted as ‘must be accompanied’, ‘must not see clients alone’. What does independently mean in this context? I was advised to refer to the 4+2 internship information, but it becomes very complicated to look at information that is meant to be relevant, but that most of it isn’t.

When completing the APOS-76/AATP-76 forms, transitional program information and arrangements are required such as the names of a board approved supervisor and employer. This is a tricky part and it needs a lot of work and determination. I explain experienced difficulties below in the respective sections.

The flowchart published on the AHPRA website (see above) says that a transitional plan must be submitted after the application process, but when submitting the APOS-76 form, requesting provisional psychologist registration, it is required to submit the AATP-76 form with supervisors and employer information.  I queried this on a number of occasions. Following many communications and phone calls with a number of employers and supervisors, I submitted my application to register as a provisional psychologist aiming to agree a transitional program at a later date. My understanding is that when someone applies from overseas, provisional psychologist registration can be granted until arrangements with a supervisor and employer are finalised in Australia. Although I had arrived in the country, I followed that route because I could not find employment. Whilst my application was being processed, it gave me time to continue making arrangements for  a supervisor and employment.

Although there are no set criteria for an exemption, the Board is working on this and on a consultation to improve their communication around the transitional program. Exemptions mainly apply for qualified psychologists who have worked in Australia before. I have been told that exemptions for UK psychologists are not granted. All applicants must do the National Exam anyway so the transitional program will support learning and skills development. The National Exam is a requirement for all Australian psychologists and will become a requirement for doctoral trained Australian psychologists in 2017.

Finding a supervisor

In the form AATP-76, the name of a board approved supervisor who has agreed to be a supervisor is required. Supervisors can be contacted directly through the AHPRA website via email. To find a supervisor, it requires preparation such as emails, meeting people and explaining the process. I collated all documents from the AHPRA website to share with supervisors and discuss supervision arrangements. I realised that not all supervisors are aware of the transitional program process, have experience of having supervising a transitional program applicant and not all can accept a request of supervision for many reasons. A number of reasons were given to me: lack of confidence in the requirements of the program, too many supervisees, no workplace to offer.  Only a few supervisors replied to my request. Supervision costs around $150-170 an hour, although according to AHPRA, there is no set guidance for fees and arrangements. If a supervisor is requested to travel to a place of work, expenses may also need to be paid by the supervisee. Some supervisors will have reduced fees if an applicant accepts a voluntarily position or may lift their fees completely if the applicant works voluntarily in their practice. A supervisor can be external to the workplace or internship, however, not all employers will accept an external supervisor. Employers are not necessarily inclined to pay for supervision, unless the supervisor is within the organisation. Employers explained that organisations cannot keep up with the costs of supervision training in terms of time, capacity, preparation, follow-up and training per se. This means that many organisations do not have board approved supervisors. Supervision needs to be in place until the general registration is granted.

Finding an employer

As part of this process, finding an employer is also required. However, in my contact with many employers, most employers are particularly reluctant to employ provisional psychologists until receipt of a general registration. This is because of the Medicare system explained above.

The problem with a provisional psychologist registration is that jobs are rare, unless you demonstrate your skills are outstanding, etc. I found the education department (equivalent to local authority work) very difficult to understand in terms of recruitment policies and I am still finding my way around that system. For example, I have had a number of refusal email, no invitation to interview, and the name of the person who was offered the post sent by email. I was told that the education department must advertise their posts externally so there is not always a guarantee that advertised posts are vacant as internal candidates may already have the post.

Other employers explained that they do not have the capacity to offer supervision within their service and would not necessarily accept supervision from an external supervisor. Employers are also looking for psychologists who are able to gain a Medicare provider number so provisional psychologists are out of the equation. Provisional psychologist posts are rarely advertised, and are often voluntary. I have been told to apply to posts that are not entitled ‘psychologist’, but counsellor, student well-being, student welfare, etc. These posts are equivalent in terms of the initial salary band, but are not restricted to a specific profession. However, I applied for a number of these posts and was not successful. With a doctoral qualification, I did not even get one interview! The transitional program also requires an applicant to be observed carrying out specific tasks such as psychological assessments, duties strictly protected for the psychologist. By working as a counsellor, an applicant would not be able to complete the transitional program and may have to arrange other opportunities too.

In Australia, any registered psychologists could work in schools so the specific work of the EP, as per in the UK, is not as well known. For some specific organisations, the school work is very important and EP skills sought after. When applying for posts, I found that I had more success in getting to an interview after writing a covering letter explaining my role in the UK against selection criteria for the job with a very detailed CV. Although in a UK context, one would know what an EP does, in Australia, not all employers may be aware of the specific duties and roles undertaken as an EP in the UK, so some detailed explanations are necessary.

In terms of seeking employment, another important point to remember is that a visa will determine longevity restrictions of employment. For example, an employer cannot give a permanent post to an applicant who has a 4 year visa. Some employers may be ready to employ a successful applicant, but will need to think about employment laws, which may be a deterrent to an application from someone with a visa. I have yet to find out whether a selection process favour Australian citizens. This is the case in Canada where government employment is reserved to Canadian citizens. It is also important to remember that the time left on the visa will also determine employment opportunities. For example, an employer could not offer a year contract to someone who must leave in 6 months.

Overall, psychologists seeking registration/employment in Australia should aim to be very creative with their job searches, send CVs to lots of different settings, and be prepared to accept some voluntarily experience until full registration. Internships and placements are often voluntarily for Australians so there is perhaps an assumption that the transitional program should be voluntarily. I was initially disheartened with this suggestion, but I have come around to the idea and have accepted a very creative transitional program, a mix of salaried and voluntarily positions.

I have been in touch with other doctorate trained psychologists from the UK and they told me that the process of registration for them was quite straightforward when they arrived in Australia. However, it looks like the system has changed and now a transitional program and exam are required for registration.

After gaining general registration, an endorsement in educational and developmental psychology can be requested which allows the psychologist to charge higher fees for consultation and be a recognised specialist in the field. Many employers talked about this fee discrepancy being an important factor in recruitment. Again there is a process of supervision with the endorsement process…it appears to be a good thing to become an approved board supervisor which also requires supervision and further studies!

Current and hidden costs

During this process, I came across many hurdles. I was getting through one bit of the process, felt I was getting there, and then another form cropped up or another payment needed to take place. I recorded the costs associated with the process so that there is transparency and knowledge about the costings. AHPRA publishes a list of prices for their specific assessments, but I found a number of hidden costs as the process evolved. When I applied for the APS assessment, I certainly did not realise that I had to go through the AHPRA process as well.

$1000 APS assessment of qualifications

$436 AHPRA provisional registration

$900-1020: $150-170 supervision x 6

transport to workplace for supervisor x 4 for observations unless videoed

$450 National exam

$300 international police check

$436 AHPRA general registration

$150-170/supervision following three months of practice whilst waiting for general registration

$70 fees related to transcript requests

$105 working with children card, Victoria

$650 APS membership (reduction of fees apply in the first year following assessment of qualifications)

$255 Professional indemnity insurance for one year

$45 National Police Check

N.B.The APS charged $1000 for assessment of qualifications and AHPRA charges $700.

Further thoughts!

With AHPRA, a main learning point has been that it is very complicated! The system has changed and some officers have said that they are still learning about the process themselves. AHPRA has one main phone line which will be answered by ‘customer officers’/’admin people’. I phoned the number on many occasions. I was given different advice and my queries were not always answered. Within the system, there are also ‘registration officers’ who are able to answer queries either by email or phone. I found that asking to speak to a registration officer was helpful as ‘admin people’ on the phone could not answer my questions, but again I had some confusing advice and not all my emails were responded to, unless I chased an answer. There are also ‘professional officers’ who are trained psychologists and answer queries/assess the application. I found conversations with this person/role to be the most helpful as answers were professionally based and not process based as with the other two roles. I was also advised by the APS to ask to speak to professional officers. Overall, I had varied experiences when talking to different people. Some more helpful and competent than others. Competent and accurate answers are very important as these could influence the application and employment processes and prolonging the registration process, particularly if mistakes are made or regulations not respected. I also found that phoning regularly, to ask where the application is at, is a must. My numerous questions and queries clearly highlight the need for better communication about the transitional program and I intend to contribute to the consultation process. I have already voiced the issues presented in this text to officers who have supported me through the process.

Many employers find it difficult to believe that UK trained psychologists have to go through all of this, so it is worth asking questions, etc. It says ‘recommended’ pathway and this is where I got completely puzzled and I am still finding it hard to understand. In some places there are also mention of exemption, but no set guidance as to who is entitled to an exemption. One could assume that it leaves some flexibility in determining outcomes?!

We arrived in Australia in February and I am still working on this registration, mid-August. One should plan to either be unemployed for a period of time, complete the registration work prior leaving the UK (but communication with AHPRA may be difficult due to time difference, and seeking supervisor and employment opportunities too) or accept non-psychology related jobs/jobs not requiring registration initially. One should allow time to complete forms, research and gather paperwork and ensure ALL certificates, transcripts and pieces of identity are not in boxes or in a container. This is also the case for important documents in placement files such as supervision reports, course handbook, etc. Saving files electronically could also help this process, although both organisations requested important documents to be original and/or certified.

And if I went back to my country of origin to practise as a psychologist, I would have to go through a similar process, paperwork, processes, proof of identity, evidence of practice and qualifications, exam, supervised professional practice…and it makes me think that perhaps there could be an agreement between similar education systems and schools of psychology as per other professions…maybe I will choose to only move again after retirement, but I am a long way from that!

Any tips?

Resilience, patience, humility and a huge amount of perseverance and determination…

Links

AHPRA https://www.ahpra.gov.au

APS http://www.psychology.org.au

Mike Faulkner in The Handbook of International School Psychology. Edited by Shane R. Jimerson, Thomas Oakland, and Peter Farrell. SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, California, USA – London, UK

“Maman, Maman, are we going on this plane” (E., 3): Top Tips when travelling on long haul flights with children

I am sitting on our flight Melbourne to Los Angeles and thought I would jot down a few points…my persistent mistakes and some helpful ideas!

It is the first time we leave Australia. We are travelling from Melbourne to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to New York, New York to Montreal…a long journey…We have done much shorter journeys over the last 13 years such as London to Montreal, but recently our migration has meant that we are much further away. We did London, Abu Dhabi, Melbourne last time, this time it is a little longer with an extra stop. We are also flying going east which means that we will live the same day twice!

Children got packing yesterday, although they were particularly excited and somehow difficult to manage, I was pretty impressed with their packing skills. I thought to myself that perhaps, over the years, I have given them some good tips and they are now able to pack without thinking about it…it has just become natural…First flights with an infant or a young child are pretty daunting, as children grow older, they learn what to expect, prepare and live on the plane, again it becomes routine…Here are some top tips, tips we have experienced over the years and feel are working well…

  1. Involving the children in packing their bags

I have always packed the children’s cabin luggage and suitcase with them, up to the age of 8-9. Now, we are at a stage where the older two pack all their luggage alone and I check it afterwards to add any items they forgot. In the packing stage, I give them some small and measurable tasks such as “pack 7 pair of pants”. It was beautiful yesterday to see my daughter helping our 3 years old pack his cabin luggage. She knew exactly what to bring, what to think about and what he would need. Involving them means that they know what they have in their luggage for when they get on the plane and during the holiday or at their destination. This really helps them being independent.

  1. Basic essentials in hand luggage

We have experienced a number of situations over the years, lost luggage, delayed flights, delayed or cancelled connection, children being sick on us, spilling food or drinks on us. When experiencing cancellations or delays, we had to stay in a hotel for the night until the next flight. I always pack a t-shirt, some underwear and some basic essentials in my bag and the children’s bag such as a toothbrush and under 100ml basic products so that we are prepared for different situations. I am still luggage less after four days at our destination, my extra t-shirt has been particularly welcomed!

  1. Preparing for a carousel of activities:

Preparing for diverse activities helps when planning the cabin bags and informs my few next points. The journey can be long so the idea of having different and diverse activities helps the children feel stimulated as well as feeling they are passing time having fun. The carousel idea is that you present one activity, this activity lasts around 10-20 minutes, complete the activity when the child is still interested, but when you can see interest is going down slightly, put it away, bring another activity out. Alternate activities, re-introduce earlier activities, also include eating, toilet and self-care, sleeping.

  1. Electronic devices such as DS, Ipad and tablets:

We always bring these. The evolution of this technology has changed our lives. We upload some television programmes and games before travelling. This helps when waiting or for long journeys. It provides an alternative activity/station to the ones available on the flight such as movies, games on the screen, eating, sleeping.

  1. The cabin bag: Books, a bag of little people, colouring pencils, a colouring book, a sticker book

These ‘toys’ are particularly helpful for children 2-7 years old. Many children I know absolutely love ‘sticker books’. A bag of little people also helps bringing diversity to the carousel of activities available to a more imaginative play, a very welcomed change.

  1. Talking about the journey ahead

Reading a book about airports and planes with a young child can help them develop the language related to airports and the journey. I never tell the children (2-7 years old) too long in advance our itinerary and plan to travel so that they do not create weeks of anticipation and expectations. When they become a bit older, I tend to have it on the calendar so that they know when it comes, can prepare, ask questions. I suppose there is a transition here to be made between the younger children becoming able to talk about it and anticipate the event without too much excitement. Telling the children too much in advance make and create lots of feelings and then behaviours that are tricky to manage in the run up of the event. Really everyone wants their sleep and continue the routines as much as possible until the event. Less disruptions will help cope with the journey.

  1. Living on a plane: Snacks, Eating, Sleeping

As my oldest two are older now, I have not thought about bringing snacks for a while. Really I should because it can take a while to be served the first meal on the plane. Really we have needed it. Some flight companies are better than others at providing child friendly foods so having a little reserve of little snacks can help complement the meals. Some sweeties and chewing gums can help children when taking off and landing. It helps stimulate the swallowing reflexes and clear their ears. Similarly, for infants, I have found it very helpful to feed (bottle or breast) them during take off and landing for the same reasons.

For late flights such as leaving Montreal at 7 to 10pm arriving in London at 7am, over the years, we decided to feed the children before we get on the plane and just completely ignore service, buckle our seatbelt over our blankets, so that we all get a night sleep straight as we get on the plane.

Our routines have changed now that we do very long haul flights. For flights to and from Australia to the Northern Hemisphere, we have found that we just need to sleep, eat and relax as much as possible. There is plenty of time to settle in the flight, watch films and sleep. It is important that the children feel relaxed as much as possible so that the journey feels pleasant enough. When they are relaxed and at ease on the flight, it helps them stay on their seat and enjoy their ‘seat environment’ instead of feeling they need to explore the plane.

  1. Establish routines and encourage positive behaviours and manners

Children need to learn the routines of a long flight and the need to relax, take it easy. For the first few journeys, this may take a little more help by talking to them about the routines, model the routines, encourage them to observe others. Soon enough, children realise what to do. I also insist on implementing positive behaviours such as respecting other people’s seat (not kicking the seat in front of them). I also encourage them to be independent. There is not much that can happen on a place so I encourage them to go to the toilet on their own, ask for help independently if they need to.

When travelling as a family, it becomes easier to establish ‘a seat environment’ where children feel they can move, play together, invade each other’s places if needed. I remember travelling with one child on my own and being particularly conscious of disturbing others around me, with cries, or space. Now that we travel 5 of us, we tend to set up a space where the children feel comfortable. We allow them to sleep close to each other, lifting arm rests, and lying down on seats, etc. Basically, they now use the space in their own way, respecting others around, and this helps them feel settle during the flight.

As parents, we relay each other in supporting the younger children, allowing one parent to sleep. We also find it helpful to settle everyone and then sleep when the children sleep.

  1. Encouraging observations

In airports, flights and during the journey, we encourage children to look at their surrounding, talk about what they see and observe, identify similarities and differences with previous flights and airports. We also encourage them to observe others, think about others’ behaviours so that they feel more confident about being a competent traveller. For example, in the last few flights we experienced, my daughter insisted on going to the toilet when everyone is waiting in line to exit the plane, but this created chaos as she tried to move around the aisles. We discussed best times for going to the toilet, i.e. as they announce preparation for landing, usually half an hour before landing.

  1. The aftermath…

There is no doubt that after a long journey, there is a recovery period. Over the years, we have found that the easiest way to recover is to get into the routines of the final destination as soon as possible, such as respecting activities and time of sleeping and eating patterns of the time zone. Having social activities organised in the country of destination also help get back into the routine. We have also enjoyed journeys ending in the evening which means that when arriving at the final destination, it is night time, and after some wind down time, everyone goes to bed for a good night sleep.

There is also a need to expect some disruptions to bodily routines, feeling hungry and feeling sleepy at odd times of the day. Children may feel the jet lag and experience disrupted or shorter sleep patterns. Although difficult, we have found that establishing some ‘after flights’ routines also help. For example, when children get up very early, we tend to insist that this time is a quiet time with low key television and a light breakfast. I insist in helping children understand that ‘it is not fun time’ because it is too early for that. As parents, we relay each other in getting up early when needed, or going for a light nap in the afternoon.

Over time, families adjust to travelling and develop strategies to cope with these adventures. It is important to keep an open mind, try different strategies and be positive about all these global adventures…it is a particularly enriching gift to give to the children.

Don’t know how and where I will die, in the meantime I enjoy where I am…

Listening to Pierre Lapointe tonight, a more morose and philosophical me arose…

‘Where and how will I die’ has become a theme that has hit me in recent years. I was in my early twenties when I ‘moved’ abroad, I never thought about living in a different country and having to die there. I was young, free, full of aspirations and dreams, not thinking about family members dying or dying…

Recently, I faced loss of significant people in my life. I started to ask myself where and how will I die…not necessarily imminent, but a pertinent question as you never know, pertinent for specific arrangements for a will and children…I always imagined dying in a place I love, in a chalet, in the woods around a Canadian lake, with people around I love, somewhere I have lived for a long time where my children and family can connect and relate to.

When you live abroad, this ‘type of dream’ and the technicalities of it all become somewhat overwhelming and full of challenges: ‘how do you learn about someone’s passing when you live abroad’, ‘ who tells you, how do you find out, do you get to know’, ‘how can I support family and friends of ‘a home country’ person who dies, ‘how can I be part of a community I grew up in when someone dies’, ‘when and how should I be close and travel’, ‘what about my children if I die or my husband dies, both of us die’, ‘who will take care of them’, ‘who will be able to give them the full cultural diversity and heritage’, ‘where will they be’, ‘where should I rest’, ‘who will be close enough to be present on the day, for my children, for my husband’, ‘what about furniture, souvenirs, memories, how are these kept miles away’, ‘where should I be buried so that my children have a place to grieve and have some closure, which country should that be in’…and many other questions. Significant questions as there are so many technicalities and logistics to ‘dying’…when you lose someone close, you realise these technicalities even more…

Having lived abroad for a long time, all of these questions made me realise that you only live once; you can plan it all, have it all laid in a will, but it will not work out the way you planned. People will travel if they can, people will give their best wishes wherever they are…yes it would be good to be present. I have been sincerely touched by friends and family who were there on such days. A gesture, a thought, a card, are also meaningful…you never know how you can touch someone by a written message, a bunch of flowers, an email, etc. Does it really have to be on the day? Grief and loss is not a one day experience, it is there with you to stay…there are many ways to express grief and loss over time…

As to where and when will I die…don’t know…does it really matter? I am here to live…and try to enjoy life to the max…in the meantime, I enjoy where I am…I am sure the children will find a place to remember me when it comes…and who knows how it will come…and where I will be…I have started to like the idea of having my ashes thrown at sea, whatever sea, close to a lighthouse. A lighthouse is a meaningful symbol as it represents a guide and lightened path through adversity, a path that I know my husband is working hard at developing. Even the children refer to Papa has having his permanent office in a lighthouse! Will it be what I want to happen in the end, don’t know, this is where we are at the moment…but I can be reassured that if something was going to happen I would have a meaningful plan laid out…not for me as I will be dead, but for everyone else around, who may need comfort and closure…after questioning and experience of loss, being abroad can also bring an interesting sense of calm to it all…