Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis.pdf (1.44 MB)

Our hands are tied: The complaints process for psychologists under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act (HPCAA)

Download (1.44 MB)
posted on 2022-07-28, 01:15 authored by Ridgway, Debra

This research endeavours to understand and describe the dissatisfaction of psychologists with the complaints process administered by the Psychologists Board under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003 (HPCAA). This issue was raised in previous research¹ that sought opinions of psychologists within the Family Court regarding changes to the Care of Children legislation. The issue was of sufficient import to be self-reported by psychologists even when it was not part of the original interview questions. The purpose of this research is therefore to develop on discussions and consultations that followed that research, to consult those working with the psychologists’ complaints system and other bodies operating within the HPCAA. The research focuses particularly on whether the issues raised relate to the process or to the legislation. Consideration is given to whether the introduction of an early resolution process into the Act is feasible and preferred. The research also asks whether there are other amendments that the various bodies would like incorporated should the Act be amended in the future. In order to determine this, it is necessary to firstly understand how the HPCAA was developed and how it appears in the regulatory environment. Secondly, it is necessary to consider the legislative environment to determine whether the legislation needs improvement. This is done by contrasting the legislation with that of another professional body, in this case the Law Society, in terms of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. Health complaints can also be lodged with the Health and Disability Commissioner, so that process and legislation² are considered as well. Thirdly, how the HPCAA is administered with regards to the complaints process by the Psychologists Board is considered, along with two other Boards operating under the same Act for comparative purposes. Within the research the bicultural considerations of the process are also considered, with particular focus on the restorative process. Finally, where possible the research considers other dispute resolution methods(ADR). This ADR may require specific amendments to the HPCAA.

¹ Debra Ridgway "Principles and Practice of Psychological Reporting in the Family Court" (LAWS389 Research Essay, Victoria University of Wellington, 2013).

² Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Law; Legal Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Laws

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

970118 Expanding Knowledge in Law and Legal Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Law


Atkin, Bill