ANZACBS Advocacy and Action

By Tiffany Rochester, ANZACBS President-Elect and Eric Morris, ANZACBS President

In the past 12 months, the Board has been approached by multiple members requesting we make public comments regarding issues that impact our members and/or the communities we are privileged to serve. This has included:

  • Adopting or endorsing the Australian Psychology Society’s 2016 Apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, or making our own public apology
  • Making a submission to the New Zealand Mental Health Inquiry
  • Issuing a statement regarding the treatment of children who are undocumented migrants in the USA
  • A position paper regarding the treatment of children and all people in Australia’s offshore detention centres
  • A statement that the organisation does not support any experimental research involving animals
  • A submission to the Medicare Review Board regarding the Better Access program in Australia
  • A media release about the discussion in Australia being had on religious schools rights to exclude students and teachers based on sexuality

It is apparent that at least a subset of our membership sees a mandate for our organisation to take on some roles in advocacy and lobbying. Indeed, our very constitution states that one of our objectives is to “provide advice to political, legislative and policy-making bodies with respect to matters pertaining to contextual behavioural science in Australia and New Zealand.

However, the influx of these requests has highlighted that at present we do not have a proper process about how to make these statements, ensuring that they are supported by science, and reflective of our membership’s understanding of that science. There is work to be done to create inclusive, robust, agile, and transparent ways to have position statements be developed that involve our members and are informed by CBS.  The establishment of such processes takes considerable time and effort, however the benefit would be the capacity to flexibly and responsively participate in important conversations across our nations. The Board encourages those with time, passion, and/or skills in this area to volunteer to contribute to a working group, supported by the Board, to develop these responsive processes.

In the meantime, if you have a fire in your belly about a topic you believe CBS holds valuable information regarding, we don’t want you to feel you need to sit on your hands! Whilst we are not yet ready for Chapter-endorsed statements, we encourage individual members to live out these values.  This may include writing to and meeting with your members of parliament; or bringing together similarly driven professionals to construct a group statement, even if it is not yet able to be endorsed by the Chapter. This was the approach that past-Board member Tresna Hunt took in making a comprehensive submission to the New Zealand Mental Health Inquiry in collaboration with other New Zealand CBS-informed mental health professionals.

In the coming month, we will be canvassing our membership regarding many issues that impact on our Chapter, and we would encourage all members to attend our online AGM on November 25 as we continue to grow forward together.