Psychiatric workforce

An estimated 3,369 psychiatrists were working in Australia in 2017, representing 3.5% of all employed medical practitioners and 9.8% of all specialist employed medical practitioners.

State and territory

At a national level, there were 13.3 FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population working in Australia in 2017. Rates ranged from 7.8 per 100,000 population in the Northern Territory to 14.8 in South Australia. In terms of time spent as a clinician, there were 11.0 clinical FTE per 100,000 population in Australia in 2017. The clinical FTE rates ranged from 6.6 per 100,000 in the Northern Territory to 12.3 in South Australia (Figure WK.1).


Description of figure WK.1 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (1.4MB XLS)

Remoteness area

Almost 9 out of 10 FTE psychiatrists (87.6%) were employed in Major cities in 2017 (71.8% of the population lived in Major cities in 2017). There were 16.2 FTE per 100,000 population in Major cities, 6.4 in Inner regional, 4.9 in Outer regional, 6.2 in Remote areas and 2.1 in Very remote areas (Figure WK.2). This distribution was different from the overall medical practitioner workforce, with the location of psychiatrists more skewed towards less remote locations than all medical practitioners Major Cities, (450.9 per 100,000 population), followed by Remote (334.6), Inner Regional (316.7), Outer Regional (284.2) and Very Remote (250.3) areas.


Description of figure WK.2 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (1.4MB XLS)

Hours worked per week

Psychiatrists reported working an average of 38.8 total hours and 32.2 clinical hours per week in 2017. Average working hours ranged from 37.6 hours per week for South Australian psychiatrists to 40.6 for Queensland psychiatrists (Figure WK.3). Average weekly clinical hours ranged from 31.1 for Victorian psychiatrists to 34.4 hours for Queensland psychiatrists.


Description of figure WK.3 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (1.4MB XLS)

On average, male psychiatrists worked 6.6 total hours and 5.5 clinical hours more per week than female psychiatrists. Psychiatrists employed in Outer regional and Remote areas reported working the highest number of total hours, on average (40.9 and 40.0 total hours respectively). Employed psychiatrists working in Outer Regional areas reported working 2.1 more hours on average than the national average. The highest average weekly clinical hours were recorded for psychiatrists in Outer Regional areas (34.6) with similar clinical hours for psychiatrists working in all other areas (between 27.8 and 34.0).


In 2017, almost three–quarters of psychiatrists were aged 45 and over (74.4%); over 2 in 5 (44.2%) were aged 55 and over and nearly 1 in 5 employed psychiatrists (18.4%) were aged 65 and over.

In 2013, almost two-thirds of employed psychiatrists were male (63.7%), dropping to 60.8% in 2017. The proportion of female psychiatrists increased over the same period, from 36.3% to 39.2% (Figure SHS.4).

Over time

Nationally, the population rate of psychiatrists has increased slightly between 2013 and 2017 from 12.3 to 13.3 FTE per 100,000. It should be noted that FTE figures for medical practitioners from 2013, including psychiatrists, are based on a 40-hour standard working week; FTE figures prior to 2013 were based on a 38-hour working week. Therefore, FTE figures from 2013 onwards are not directly comparable with FTE figures prior to 2013.

The age profile of psychiatrists has remained relatively stable over the 5 years to 2017; just over 7 in 10 psychiatrists were aged 45 and over between 2013 and 2017. The average hours worked per week was relatively stable over the period, averaging around 39 hours per week. Since 2013, the average total hours worked per week by females increased slightly but was consistently lower than that of males (34.8 hours compared to 41.4 hours).


Description of figure WK.4 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (1.4MB XLS)

Work characteristics

Just over 9 in 10 (91.8%) FTE psychiatrists reported their principal role as a clinician, followed by administrator (4.2%), researcher (1.6%), teacher or educator (1.3%) and then other (1.1%). The most common work setting was hospital (27.5%), followed by solo private practice (24.7%), and group private practice (18.6%). These characteristics are similar to those of the overall medical practitioner workforce.