New Professional Conduct Procedures approved by Board

14 March 2024

A review of the Professional Conduct Procedures (PCP) was conducted by the Ethics Committee in consultation with the Diversity in Gender, Body, Kinship, and Sexuality Interest Group (GBKS), before approval by PACFA’s Board at the recent in-person meeting on 24 and 25 February 2024. The PCP outlines the process to follow when a concern is raised, and provides a framework for the management of concerns against PACFA practitioners.

All concerns raised on or after 24 February 2024 will be managed in accordance with the framework outlined in the PACFA Professional Conduct Procedures 2024.

PACFA practitioners are required to follow the PACFA Code of Ethics as a condition of membership. In the event of a perceived breach in ethical practice, clients and other Notifiers can raise a concern with PACFA or a Health Complaints Body. It is the responsibility of all PACFA Members, Registrants, Member Associations, and the parties to Concerns, Grievances and Appeals to familiarise themselves with the PACFA Professional Conduct Procedures (The Procedures). These procedures form an essential part of PACFA’s commitment to the protection of the public. PACFA Members and Registrants are required at the onset of the professional relationship to inform clients of the available complaints mechanisms, including clients who indicate a Concern about a service they have received.

The primary intention of PACFA’s professional conduct review process is to promote understanding between the parties and the resolution of concerns.

PACFA’s approach to the resolution of Concerns:

✓ provides a facilitated, respectful space for both Notifier and Practitioner to be heard without seeking to force an outcome

✓ is informed by trauma-and-violence-informed practice principles

✓ engages PACFA members, and other specialists where required, with relevant skills and experience to provide support for the Concern process

✓ prioritises appropriate restorative justice principles

✓ encourages cultural safety and cultural humility

✓ promotes healing and learning for all parties

The document sets out PACFA’s framework for the management of Concerns, Grievances and Appeals regarding alleged ethical breaches by PACFA Members or Registrants in relation to the entire PACFA Code of Ethics.

The aim of the Professional Conduct Procedure is to provide a transparent process for raising Concerns and Grievances in relation to services provided by PACFA Practitioners or for parties to an Appeal. Through this process PACFA also aims to support members of the public and PACFA Members or Registrants and to enhance the practice of Counselling, Indigenous Healing Practices and Psychotherapy.

The Procedures also provide a mechanism for The Committee to investigate alleged ethical misconduct in the absence of a formal Concern where a Peer Reporting Obligation or a Reportable Breach leads to a report to PACFA, or where a Practitioner is subject to criminal investigation in relation to alleged professional misconduct or conduct impacting on their professional practice.

The PACFA Ethics Committee is responsible for reviewing and developing PACFA’s Code of Ethics and overseeing the administration of PACFA’s complaints handling process. Complaints handling is a key function that PACFA undertakes as a peak body for the self-regulating profession of counselling and psychotherapy.

Members of the Ethics Committee are senior and experienced practitioners from the counselling and psychotherapy field. Through their membership of the Ethics Committee, committee members make a substantial contribution, on a voluntary basis, to ethical standards within the counselling and psychotherapy profession in Australia.

To read more about the Ethics Committee, please click here.

To read more about the Diversity in Gender, Body, Kinship and Sexuality Interest Group (GBKS), click here.