Psychiatric workforce

An estimated 3,441 psychiatrists were working in Australia in 2018, 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 2018. Rates ranged from 11.6 per 100,000 population in the Northern Territory to 14.7 in South Australia. For time spent as a clinician, there were 11.2 clinical FTE per 100,000 population in Australia in 2018. Rates ranged from 9.9 per 100,000 in the Northern Territory to 12.1 in Queensland (Figure WK.1).

 
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Description of figure WK.1 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (489KB XLS)

Remoteness area

Almost 9 out of 10 FTE psychiatrists (86.4%) were employed in Major cities in 2018 (72.0% of the population lived in Major cities in 2018). There were 16.0 FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population in Major cities, 6.9 in Inner regional, 5.7 in Outer regional, 6.7 in Remote areas and 3.1 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. The highest rate of FTE medical practitioners was found in Major cities (454.5 per 100,000 population), followed by Remote (350.3), Inner regional (320.0), Outer regional (293.8) and Very remote (257.5) areas (DoH 2020).

 
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Description of figure WK.2 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (489KB XLS)

Hours worked per week

Psychiatrists reported working an average of 38.7 total hours and 32.4 clinical hours per week in 2018. Average working hours ranged from 36.6 hours per week for Tasmanian psychiatrists to 44.0 for Northern Territory psychiatrists (Figure Average weekly clinical hours ranged from 30.9 for Victorian and Tasmanian psychiatrists to 37.5 hours for Northern Territory psychiatrists.

 
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Description of figure WK.3 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (489KB XLS)

On average, male psychiatrists worked 7.0 total hours and 5.6 clinical hours more per week than female psychiatrists did. Psychiatrists employed in Remote and Outer regional areas reported working the highest number of total hours, on average (43.3 and 41.4 total hours respectively). Employed psychiatrists working in Remote areas reported working 4.6 more hours on average than the national average. The highest average weekly clinical hours were recorded for psychiatrists in Remote areas (36.6), followed by Outer regional areas (35.5).

Characteristics

In 2018, almost three–quarters of psychiatrists were aged 45 and over (72.9%); over 2 in 5 (41.3%) were aged 55 and over and nearly 1 in 5 employed psychiatrists (17.2%) were aged 65 and over.

In 2014, almost two-thirds of employed psychiatrists were male (62.9%), dropping to 59.5% in 2018. The proportion of female psychiatrists increased over the same period, from 37.1% in 2014 to 40.5% in 2018 (Figure WK.4).

Over time

Nationally, the population rate of psychiatrists has increased by 5.6% between 2014 and 2018 from 12.6 FTE per 100,000 in 2014 to 13.3 in 2018.

The age profile of psychiatrists has remained relatively stable over the 5 years to 2018; just over 7 in 10 psychiatrists were aged 45 and over each year from 2014 to 2018. The average hours worked per week was also relatively stable over the period, averaging 38.7 hours per week. Since 2014, the average total hours worked per week by females increased slightly but was consistently lower than that of males (34.5 average hours worked by females compared to 41.5 average hours worked by males in 2018).

 
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Description of figure WK.4 - Source data: Mental Health Workforce tables (489KB XLS)

Work characteristics

Just over 9 in 10 (93.2%) FTE psychiatrists reported their principal role as a clinician, followed by administrator (3.7%), researcher (1.5%), teacher or educator (1.0%) and then other (0.6%). The most common work setting was hospital (28.6%), followed by solo private practice (22.8%), and community mental health service (19.4%). In the overall medical practitioner workforce, hospital is also the most common work setting, followed by group private practice and solo private practice (DoH 2020).