Health worker numbers higher in cities than regional areas

Capital cities have almost twice as many medical workers - and 19% more health workers overall - than other regions in Australia, according to a new report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Health and Community Services Labour Force 1996 shows that large geographic differences remain in the supply of health workers across Australia. Compared with regional areas, capital cities had almost twice as many medical workers, 64% more dental workers, 53% more pharmacists and 60% more allied health workers per 100,000 population.

Community service workers, however, are more evenly distributed among all regions across Australia. Tasmania had the greatest regional difference-relative to population Hobart had about 60% more community services workers than other areas in the State.

One in 13 employed Australians has a health or community service job. Head of the AIHW's Labour Force and Rural Health Unit, Mr Warwick Conn, said that women dominated both fields of work.

'Almost 600,000 Australians were employed in health and community service occupations in 1996. Of these, about three-quarters of health workers and 87% of those working in community services were women,' Mr Conn said.

'In the health area, women are more likely to be dental therapists and assistants, midwives or nurses. Male health workers are more likely to be doctors, dentists or dental technicians, chiropractors, orthotists, ambulance officers and paramedics.

'In community services, men are more likely to be special education teachers, welfare centre managers, drug and alcohol counsellors, parole or probation officers and youth workers. Pre-primary school teachers and aides, and children's care workers are community service jobs almost totally occupied by women.'

Health and Community Services Labour Force 1996 also shows:

  • Adelaide had more medical, dental and nursing workers than any other part of Australia with 338, 73, and 1,327 per 100,000 population respectively.
  • Compared with the national average of 2,277 health workers per 100,000 population, South Australia and Tasmania had the highest numbers with 2,607 and 2,331 respectively in 1996. Victoria had 2,267 health workers per 100,000, Western Australia 2,257, New South Wales 2,252, Queensland 2,218, the Australian Capital Territory 2,151, and the Northern Territory 2,043.
  • Regional Northern Territory had the highest number of welfare, social, and community workers (316 per 100,000 population), while regional Queensland had the least (109 per 100,000).

11 May 2001


Further information:
Mr Warwick Conn, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1153 or 0407 012 520 (mobile)
Media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032.