Key concepts

Mental health workforce
Key concept Description
Benchmark data Responses to the surveys have been weighted to benchmark figures to account for non-response based on registration data supplied by AHPRA. For medical practitioners, the benchmark data used are the number of medical practitioners registered by state and territory (using place of principal practice) by main specialty of practice by sex and age group. For nurses and midwives, the benchmark data used are the number of registered practitioners in each state and territory (based on location of principal practice) by division of registration, age group and sex. For psychologists, the benchmark data used are the number of registered practitioners in each state and territory (based on the location of principal practice), by broad registration type by age group by sex. Weighting included an identification of persons with an endorsement of ‘clinical psychology’, ‘clinical neuropsychology’ and ‘other’ (all other psychologists).
Clinical FTE Clinical FTE measures the number of standard-hour workloads worked by employed health professionals in a direct clinical role. Clinical FTE is calculated by the number of health professionals in a category multiplied by the average clinical hours worked by those employed in the category divided by the standard working week hours. The NHWDS considers a standard working week to be 38 hours for nurses and psychologists and 40 hours for psychiatrists.
Clinical hours Clinical hours are the total clinical hours worked per week in the profession, including paid and unpaid work. The average weekly clinical hours is the average of the clinical hours reported by all employed professionals, not only those who define their principal area of work as clinician. Average clinical weekly hours are calculated only for those people who reported their clinical hours (those who did not report them are excluded).
Employed In this report, an employed health professional is defined as one who:
  • worked for a total of 1 hour or more, principally in the relevant profession, for pay, commission, payment in kind or profit; mainly or only in a particular state or territory during a specified period, or
  • usually worked but was away on leave (with some pay) for less than 3 months, on strike or locked out, or rostered off.

This includes those involved in clinical and non‑clinical roles, for example education, research, and administration. 'Employed' people are referred to as the 'workforce'. This excludes those medical practitioners practising psychiatry as a second or third speciality, those who were on extended leave for 3 months or more and those who were not employed.

Full‑time‑equivalent Full‑time‑equivalent (FTE) measures the number of standard-hour workloads worked by employed health professionals. FTE is calculated by the number of health professionals in a category multiplied by the average hours worked by those employed in the category divided by the standard working week hours. In this report, 38 hours is assumed to be a standard working week and equivalent to 1 FTE. This differs from the approach used in Mental health services in Australia reports published before 2004–05, and with some earlier AIHW labour force reports. FTE numbers presented in this section will therefore not be easily comparable with those reports.
Nurse To qualify for registration as a registered or enrolled nurse in Australia, an individual must have completed an approved program of study (AHPRA, 2017). The usual minimum educational requirement for a registered nurse is a 3–year degree or equivalent. For enrolled nurses the usual minimum educational requirement is a 1–year diploma or equivalent. A mental health nurse is an enrolled or registered nurse that indicates their principal area of work is mental health.
Psychiatrist A psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor who has completed specialist training in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness and emotional problems. To practice as a psychiatrist in Australia, an individual must be admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP). Psychiatrists first train as a medical doctor, then undertake a medical internship followed by a minimum of 5 years specialist training in psychiatry (RANZCP 2013).
Psychologist Psychologists with general registration who have a recognised higher degree and advanced supervised practice in a particular area of practice can apply for an area of practice endorsement on their general registration (Psychology Board of Australia 2015). The education and training requirement for general (full) registration is a 6 year sequence comprising a 4 year accredited sequence of study such as an honours degree followed by 2 years of supervised practice as a Provisional Psychologist. The 2 years of supervised practice as a Provisional Psychologist may be undertaken through an internship program or professional postgraduate degree.
Specialist endorsement Registered psychologists who practice in an approved area of psychology may be eligible for a specialist endorsement (Psychology Board of Australia, 2017). In order to obtain a specialist endorsement, a registered psychologist must complete formal accredited tertiary study in an approved area of practice, followed by a period supervised practice (Psychology Board of Australia, 2017).
Total hours Total hours are the total hours worked per week in the profession, including paid and unpaid work. Average total weekly hours are calculated only for those people who reported their hours (that is, those who did not report them are excluded).

References

RANZCP 2013. Melbourne: Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Viewed 19th May 2015.

Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) (2017). Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia: Approved Programs of Study. Viewed 31st March 2017.

Psychology Board of Australia and Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) 2015. Registrant Data: 31 December 2015. Viewed 14 February 2017.

Psychology Board of Australia 2017 Endorsement (Further information): Area of Practice endorsements registration standard (2011). Viewed 27 April 2017.

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