WA’s spiritual counseling licensing scheme is about to receive a major boost after the State Government said it had reached a deal with the WA Christian Fellowship to grant spiritual counseling licences.
The WA Government’s Minister for Community Services, Chris Hipkins, said on Tuesday the State would be able to license a number of services including counselling, spiritual healing and spiritual healing therapy.
“It will be up to the minister of community services to make the determination on whether to allow a licence or not,” he said.
WA Christian Alliance (WACCA) president Matt Breslin said the new scheme would bring WA closer to the “spiritual healing” model of other Australian states.
“This is the first of its kind in Australia, which we think is a wonderful model for other states to follow,” Mr Bresline said.
“We look forward to working with the State and others to bring this model of therapy to WA and to the rest of Australia.”
Mr Busesons church was instrumental in pushing the WA Government to take up the initiative.
“The WA Government has listened to the wishes of our members, and we are grateful for their efforts to bring the WA spiritual healing model to the State,” Mr Hipkins said.
In June this year, WA Government officials said they wanted to expand the licensing scheme to include mental health services.
The move to allow the WACCA to offer spiritual counseling services in the State was welcomed by WA Christian leaders.
WA’s Minister of Community Services Chris Hipkin says the State’s licensing scheme will allow people with mental health issues to get the spiritual counseling they need.
“As a minister of the State, I would like to see that we have a strong spiritual healing community in this state, but also a strong mental health community,” Mr Hips said.
The Minister said he would be pleased to have the WA Church’s support.
“If we can reach out to the WA Christians, and our churches, we will be able help make sure that people who are struggling in their mental health can get the support that they need to get back on their feet,” Mr HIPkins said, adding that the WA CCA would not be able enter into any contracts with other organisations.
WA CCCA executive director Peter MacKenzie said the State had made significant progress towards licensing and that the scheme would be a welcome change for the community.
“Our community has had a long and difficult struggle with mental illness, and the WA State Government has recognised that there is a huge need for a more holistic approach to help people with psychological challenges,” he told ABC Radio WA.
“They are not just mental health, they are also mental health and other forms of emotional health issues.”
Mr Hipinks church also welcomed the move to grant licenses for mental health professionals to offer the service.
“What we are seeing now is that the State is starting to listen to the needs of our membership, and is taking the steps that are in the best interests of our church and people with these problems,” Mr MacKisels group said in a statement.
“In the coming weeks, we hope that the Minister of Health will work with our members to ensure that we receive the licenses we need to provide this type of service.”
A number of religious groups, including the Anglican Church of WA, have also backed the move.
“Welfare reform is one of the biggest social and economic issues of our time,” said a statement issued by the Anglicans of WA.
It said the state was “now at a stage where we can see the benefits of licensing a range of services from a spiritual perspective”.
The Anglican Archdiocese of WA said it hoped the WA legislation would make it easier for people with the mental health conditions to seek help.
“I am delighted to see the WA Minister of State for Mental Health and Community Services taking this step to enable people with complex mental health problems to receive the support they need,” the archdiocese said in its statement.
In the past, the WA Department of Community Safety, Crime and Corruption Commissioner has been critical of WA’s licensing arrangements.
“There is no doubt that licensing and registration are important, but it is also important to recognise that the licensing system is a matter of balance,” Dr Brad Shear said in May.
“Licensing is the only way to ensure there are enough qualified professionals to meet the needs that arise, as well as ensuring the public’s safety.”
Mr Mackisels church said the WA licence system would be open to the public and would not restrict the right of other organisations to offer services.
WA is the latest Australian state to introduce a licensing scheme for services including mental health care, as other states such as Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia have done.
A study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) last year found that the overall rate of suicide in Australia was lower in the States where licensed mental health providers were not present.
The study also found that licensed mental healthcare services were less