The Confederation – A Brief History

Australian and New Zealand psychoanalytic organisations began in the 1990's to think collaboratively about the creation of an umbrella body to represent psychoanalytic thinking and approaches to psychotherapy in the public arena, and in discussions with Government. These moves were suspended with the advent of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA), which sought to create a larger umbrella organisation, representing the broader fields of counselling and psychotherapy. Five psychoanalytic associations joined this organisation and formed the Psychoanalytic Section of PACFA. These five organisations (The Australian Association of Group Psychotherapists, The Australian Psychoanalytic Society, The Australian and New Zealand Society of Jungian Analysts, the Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia) worked collaboratively for a decade within the Psychoanalytic Section of PACFA, and subsequently determined to continue their collaborative work, and return to the earlier vision of establishing a specifically psychoanalytic umbrella organisation. 

A Steering Committee with delegates from these associations was formed with the task of  preparing the way for a psychoanalytic umbrella body. During the formation period, the Steering Committee prepared several major submissions on behalf of our member associations. In response to one of these submissions, in the context of a meeting with advisors to the Federal Minister for Health in 2010, we were encouraged to formalise the Confederation, and advised that Government was particularly receptive to professional bodies which could demonstrate high, and consistent standards of training and credentialling. This advice underpinned the Steering Committee's efforts thereafter. The committee met over a number of years to clarify goals, structure, training, credentialling and membership requirements of a Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies. A number of differences and difficulties were grappled with, and worked through, with an emphasis on seeking consensus by continuing to think and talk collaboratively toward resolution of differences. The focus of the Steering Committee was also, from time to time, taken from tasks associated with forming the Confederation, to the need to engage in preparing submissions to Government enquiries – the kind of activities for which it was envisaged that the Confederation would exist.

In addition to negotiating agreement between the foundation members on the structure, representation and criteria for membership of the Confederation, the Steering Committee has worked to develop rules which would reflect that structure, providing an effective framework for the Confederation, while protecting the autonomy of member associations. It was  with some disappointment that the Steering Committee accepted the withdrawal of one of the five associations (ACrP). Delegates from ACrP had offered a valuable contribution to the activities of the Steering Committee over several years. The remaining four foundation members (PPAA, APAS, AAGP and ANZSJA) reorganised and by a Deed of Agreement between the founding member associations, The Australasian Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies formally came into existence on 1st April 2018.

The considerable work which has led to the existence of the Confederation has required the collaboration of many contributors over time. The members of the inaugural Board have played major roles. They are: Rob Gordon and Christine Hill (AAGP), Timothy Keogh and Adele Carmady (APAS), Patrick Burnett and Andrea Cone-Farran (ANZSJA), and Ros Webb and Paul McEvoy (PPAA). Particular mention should be made of Patrick Burnett's very able chairing of the steering committee for several years. Many other contributors have participated in the work of the Confederation steering committee over time, including Carl Scuderi, Peter Ellingsen, and Leonardo Rodriguez from ACrP, Joy Norton from ANZSJA, Jyotsna Field and John Mclean from APAS, and Antony Gleeson from AAGP. Their valuable contributions will be reflected in the ongoing life of the Confederation. 

Vale Christopher Smale

It  is with deep regret that the Confederation Board notes the passing of  Chris Smale, who died on Tuesday 11th June, 2019. Chris was a barrister  who was instrumental in bringing the Confederation into existence. As  the Confederation steering committee struggled with the complexities of  setting up a formal body, Chris resolved our difficulty with a couple of  simple questions. He brought his considerable legal skills, common  sense, generosity and sense of humour to the task. His wisdom and  creativity are embedded in our foundation documents, and Board members  who had the privilege of working with him through this process mourn his  loss. The Confederation will always be in his debt. The Board extends  its deepest sympathies to Chris's family, including his wife Dr Suzanne  Dean, two children and granddaughter.