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, a standard working week for nurses and psychologists is assumed to be 38 hours and equivalent to 1 FTE. Like other medical practitioners, FTE measures for psychiatrists are based on a 40 hour standard working week. 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 (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia 2019). 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 2020).
Psychologists The education and training requirement for general (full) registration as a psychologist is a 6 year sequence comprising a 4 year accredited sequence of study followed by an approved 2 year supervised practice program. The 2 year supervised practice program may be comprised of either an approved two year postgraduate qualification, a fifth year of study followed by a one year internship program or a two year internship program (Psychology Board of Australia 2019b).
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

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia 2019. Approved Programs of Study. Viewed 14 April 2020.

Psychology Board of Australia 2019b. Registration standards. Viewed 14 April 2020.

RANZCP (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists) 2020. Becoming a member. Viewed 24 April 2019.

Alternative text for workforce figures

Figure WK.1

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population by state or territory in 2018. SA had the highest number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists (14.7 and 12.0 per 100,000 population, respectively), followed by Qld (14.2 and 12.1), Tas (14.2 and 12.0), ACT (14.1 and 11.9), Vic (13.7 and 11.4), NSW (12.4 and 10.4), WA (12.2 and 10.3) and NT (11.6 and 9.9). The national total was 13.3 FTE and 11.2 clinical FTE psychiatrists. Refer to table WK.3. Back to figure WK.1

Figure WK.2

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists by remoteness area in 2018. Major cities had the highest number of FTE and clinical FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population (16.0 and 13.3, respectively), followed by Inner regional (6.9 and 6.0), Remote (6.7 and 5.7), Outer regional (5.7 and 4.9) and Very remote areas (3.1 and 2.5). The national total was 13.3 and 11.2. Refer to table WK.4. Back to figure WK.2

Figure WK.3

Clustered bar chart showing psychiatrists’ reported average total and clinical hours worked per week by state or territory in 2018. Psychiatrists employed in NT reported the highest average total and clinical hours at 44.0 total hours and 37.5 clinical hours, followed by QLD (40.3 and 34.4), ACT (40.2 and 34.0), WA (40.1 and 33.8), NSW (38.6 and 32.2), SA (38.4 and 31.4), Vic (37.1 and 30.9) and Tas (36.6 and 30.9). The national average total reported was 38.7 and 32.4 clinical hours. Refer to table WK.3. Back to figure WK.3

Figure WK.4

Line chart showing the proportion of employed psychiatrists by sex from 2014 to 2018. The proportion of employed female psychiatrists has increased each year from 2014 (37.1%), 2015 (37.6%), 2016 (38.2%), 2017 (39.2%), to 2018 (40.5%). The proportion of employed male psychiatrists has decreased each year from 2014 (62.9%), 2015 (62.4%), 2016 (61.8%), 2017 (60.8%), to 2018 (59.5%). Refer to table WK.1. Back to figure WK.4

Figure WK.5

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE mental health nurses per 100,000 population by state or territory in 2018. WA had the highest number of FTE mental health nurses at 102.2 FTE and 94.3 clinical FTE per 100,000 population, followed by Vic (91.0 and 83.9), SA (90.0 and 82.1), Tas (86.9 and 80.3), Qld (84.3 and 78.4), NSW (83.3 and 77.1), NT (76.8 and 69.5) and ACT (75.6 and 68.9). The national total was 87.8 FTE and 81.1 clinical FTE mental health nurses. Refer to table WK.11. Back to figure WK.5

Figure WK.6

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE mental health nurses per 100,000 population by remoteness area in 2018. Major cities had the highest number of FTE and clinical FTE mental health nurses at 93.2 and 86.2 per 100,000 population, followed by Inner regional (85.6 and 79.0), Remote (56.1 and 51.2), Outer regional (54.1 and 49.5) and Very remote areas (36.1 and 32.9). The national total was 87.8 and 81.1. Refer to table WK.12. Back to figure WK.6

Figure WK.7

Clustered bar chart showing the average total and clinical hours worked per week by mental health nurses by state or territory in 2018. Mental health nurses in NT reported on average the highest number of total and clinical hours (38.8 and 35.1), followed by ACT (37.1 and 33.5), NSW (36.8 and 34.1), WA (36.7 and 33.8), Qld (35.9 and 33.4), Vic (35.5 and 32.7), SA (35.5 and 32.4) and Tas (34.6 and 32.0). The national total average was 36.1 total and 33.4 clinical hours. Refer to table WK.11. Back to figure WK.7

Figure WK.8

Stacked vertical bar chart showing mental health nurses by age group and sex in 2018. The majority of mental health nurses were aged between 55–64 (26.2 total, 8.2% male and 18.0% female), followed by 45–54 years (24.6% total, 7.4% male and 17.2% female), less than 35 years (22.9 total, 5.7% male and 17.2% female), 35–44 years (20.4 total, 6.3% male and 14.1% female), and 65 years and older (5.9% total, 1.9% male and 4.0% female). Refer to Table WK.9. Back to figure WK.8

Figure WK.9

 Line chart showing the proportion of employed mental health nurses by sex from 2014–18. The proportion of employed female mental health nurses has slowly increased each year from 2014 (68.6%), 2015 (69.0%), 2016 (69.3%), 2017 (69.8%) to 2018 (70.4%). The proportion of employed male mental health nurses has slowly decreased from 2014 (31.4%), 2015 (31.0%), 2016 (30.7%), 2017 (30.2%) to 2018 (29.6%). Refer to Table WK.9. Back to figure WK.9

Figure WK.10

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE psychologists per 100,000 population by state or territory in 2018. ACT had the highest number of FTE and clinical FTE psychologists with 163.5 FTE and 112.7 clinical FTE per 100,000, followed by Vic (98.1 and 71.4), NSW (94.6 and 70.2), WA (90.9 and 69.2), Qld (87.3 and 62.9), Tas (74.2 and 59.3), NT (73.1 and 49.4) and SA (67.6 and 50.3). The national total was 92.3 and 67.9. Refer to table WK.19. Back to figure WK.10

Figure WK.11

Clustered bar chart showing the number of FTE and clinical FTE psychologists per 100,000 population by remoteness area in 2018. Major cities had the highest number of FTE and clinical FTE psychologists at 106.5 FTE and 77.5 clinical FTE per 100,000 population, followed by Inner regional areas (62.5 and 48.9), Outer regional (45.6 and 34.5), Remote (38.3 and 27.6) and Very remote areas (25.5 FTE and 18.8). The national average total was 92.3 and 67.9. Refer to Table WK.20. Back to figure WK.11

Figure WK.12

Clustered bar chart showing the average total and clinical hours worked per week by psychologists by state or territory in 2018. NT psychologists reported working on average the highest number of total and clinical hours per week at 36.9 total and 24.9 clinical hours, followed by ACT (34.1 and 23.5), Qld (34.0 and 24.5), SA (32.5 and 24.2), NSW (32.3 and 24.0), Tas (31.8 and 25.4), WA (31.8 and 24.2), and Vic (31.5 and 22.9). The national average was total 32.4 and clinical hours worked per week 23.8. Refer to table WK.19. Back to figure WK.12

Figure WK.13

Stacked vertical bar chart showing the proportion of employed psychologists by sex and age group in 2018. The majority of employed psychologists were aged between 35–44 (28.7%total, 4.7% male and 24.0% female), followed by 45–54 years (23.5% total, 4.8% male, 18.7% female), less than 35 years (19.8% total, 2.9% male and 16.9% female), 55–64 years (17.9% total, 4.8% male, 13.1% female) and 65 and older (10.0% total, 3.4% male and 6.6% female). The proportion of female psychologists by age group was highest for those aged between 35–44 followed by those aged 45–54. Refer to Table WK.17. Back to figure WK.13