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20.6.2 Qualifications of those persons certifying incapacity
Section 54(2)(b) of the SRCA requires medical certificates in support of a claim, to originate from a 'legally qualified medical practitioner'. This includes claims for payment as well as initial liability. See 20.4.1 and 20.5
Delegates may not, therefore, accept certificates of incapacity written by persons other than medical doctors i.e. persons legally qualified and licensed to practice medicine under Australian law.
Certificates from para-professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, podiatrists etc. are not acceptable. Of course delegates should not accept incapacity certificates – or in fact any form of advice – from practitioners of non-mainstream practices such as traditional Chinese medicine, 'natural' therapists, herbalists etc.
With respect to cases involving mental illness, delegates should be aware that while psychiatrists are specialist medical doctors – i.e. licensed to practice medicine – psychologists are not. Nevertheless, certificates of incapacity may usually be accepted from the clients' treating clinical psychologists, at the discretion of the delegate, providing that the client has been properly referred to that psychologist by either the treating GP, or by a qualified psychiatrist i.e. for the purposes of ongoing therapy. Where however all of a client's certificates of incapacity over a six month period come exclusively from a psychologist, a delegate should require periodic validation of that ongoing incapacity by a specialist psychiatrist or, if seen regularly by a GP for treatment, medication, etc. – that treating GP.
Whichever doctor referred the client to the psychologist should also provide an opinion as to whether the program of psychological treatment continues to be of benefit.