Variation in main treatment type

Nationally, between 2018–19, 2019–20 and 2020–21 there were some notable changes in treatment service types, particularly treatment services involving groups of people or those requiring tailored physical settings.

Figure COVID TREATMENT1: Treatment episodes, by main treatment type, state and territory, quarterly data, 2018–19 to 2020–21

The line graph shows that counselling remained the most common main treatment type between July–September 2018 and April–June 2021. Treatment episodes for counselling increased from 21,833 in January–March 2020 (pre-COVID) to 22,936 in April–June 2020 (Wave 1), peaking at 24,443 episodes in July–September 2020 (Wave 2) before decreasing to 21,964 in April–June 2021 (Wave 3). Assessment only remained the second most common main treatment type across the period (12,917 episodes in April–June 2021). A filter allows the user to view data for Australia or by state/territory.

Nationally, variation was observed in main treatment types during  the first three waves of COVID-19 and as services adapted to public health regulations. For example:

  • Counselling:
    • treatment episodes showed notable increases between Apr and Dec 2020 coinciding with the first and second waves of the pandemic followed by declines over the subsequent first 6 months of 2021
    • despite services adapting for example, to telehealth models, a decrease in episodes from Jan 2021 indicates additional constraints to service delivery. Such constraints included client ability to access telehealth services and impacts on the workforce with service staff becoming either unwell with COVID-19 or restricted because of others’ COVID-19 status.
  • Rehabilitation:
    • in Apr-Jun 2020, there was a drop in treatment episodes for rehabilitation as a main treatment coinciding with the first wave of the pandemic and numbers remained low over the next 12 months from Jul 2020 to Jun 2021
    • bed-based residential units were operating at reduced capacity during 2020 and 2021 in some states and territories to ensure social distancing guidelines were met. Most rehabilitation treatment is provided in residential settings.