RCAA was established in 2003 out of recognition for the need for a professional association focused solely on representing tertiary qualified rehabilitation counsellors. The founding members believed the integrity of the rehabilitation counselling profession and the need to recognise it as a profession in its own right required an association that matched the standards of associations for comparable professions such as occupational therapy, physiotherapy and psychology. To achieve this, the Rehabilitation Counselling Association of Australasia (RCAA) was established as a national and regional body with membership categories only for full members with tertiary qualifications in rehabilitation counselling and student members undertaking tertiary qualifications in rehabilitation counselling.
The foundations of RCAA were established by Jocelyn Rennie, Vicky MacDonald, Nicholas Buys and Christine Randall with contributions from Lynda Matthews, Michael Hancock, Herbert Biggs, Nina Williams, Torsten Becht, Dominique Bird and Anna Holder, and legal advice from Grant White and Michael Vickers. The RCAA Constitution came into effect on 6 August 2003.
The 11 inaugural directors of RCAA were Jocelyn Rennie (President), Vicky MacDonald (Secretary), Christine Randall (Treasurer), Lynda Matthews (Vice President), Nicholas Buys, Herbert Biggs, Denis O’Keefe, Fran Feldman, Malcolm Ross, Mike Hancock, and Patricia McLeod. The inaugural administrator for RCAA was Susie Glover.
RCAA’s first professional development events were offered by Richard Goddard on 17 July 2003 on the topic of ‘Brief Therapy’ and Robyn Stagg on 27th November 2003 on the topic of ‘Anti-Discrimination Legislation’. In January 2004, WorkCover NSW officially recognised that RCAA members with the necessary experience were eligible to provide occupational rehabilitation services under the NSW WorkCover system. Other workers’ compensation authorities and rehabilitation organisations followed.
National and International relationships with peak bodies were also established early with the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA), the Vocational Rehabilitation Association (VRA) in the UK, and the Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA). The RCAA Code of Professional Ethics for Rehabilitation Counsellors was developed and endorsed from 1 July 2005.