Psychiatric workforce

An estimated 3,244 psychiatrists were working in Australia in 2016, representing 3.6% of all employed medical practitioners and 9.9% of all specialist employed medical practitioners.

State and territory

At a national level, there were 13.0 FTE psychiatrists per 100,000 population working in Australia in 2016. Rates ranged from 8.3 per 100,000 population in the Northern Territory to 15.0 in South Australia. In terms of time spent as a clinician, there were 10.8 clinical FTE per 100,000 population in Australia in 2016. The clinical FTE rates ranged from 6.8 per 100,000 in the Northern Territory to 12.5 in South Australia (Figure WK.1).

 

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Figure WK.1 Alternative text - Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.3 (1.4MB XLS)

Remoteness area

Almost 9 out of 10 FTE psychiatrists (87.5%) were employed in Major cities in 2016 (71.2% of the population lived in Major cities in 2016). There were 16.0 FTE per 100,000 population in Major cities, 6.1 in Inner regional,  4.7 in Outer regional, 6.6 in Remote areas and 4.0 in Very remote areas (Figure WK.2).

 

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Figure WK.2 Alternative text - Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.4 (1.4MB XLS)

Hours worked per week

Psychiatrists reported working an average of 39.0 total hours and 32.2 clinical hours per week in 2016. Average working hours ranged from 37.6 hours per week for Victorian psychiatrists to 41.5 for Queensland psychiatrists (Figure WK.3). Average weekly clinical hours ranged from 31.1 for Victorian psychiatrists to 34.9 hours for Queensland psychiatrists.

 

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Figure WK.3 Alternative text - Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.3 (1.4MB XLS)

On average, male psychiatrists worked 6.4 total hours and 5.3 clinical hours more per week than female psychiatrists. Psychiatrists employed in Remote and Outer regional areas reported working the highest number of total hours, on average (47.4 and 41.2 total hours respectively). Employed psychiatrists working in Remote areas reported working 8.4 more hours on average than the national average. The highest average weekly clinical hours were recorded for psychiatrists in Remote areas (42.1) with similar clinical hours for psychiatrists working in all other areas (between 32.0 and 33.8).

Characteristics

In 2016, just over 7 in 10 psychiatrists were aged 45 and over (73.3%); over 2 in 5 (44.3%) were aged 55 and over and nearly 1 in 5 employed psychiatrists (18.6%) were aged 65 and over.

In 2012, almost two-thirds of employed psychiatrists were male (64.7%), dropping to 61.8% in 2016. The proportion of female psychiatrists increased over the period, from 35.3% to 38.2%.

Over time

Nationally, the population rate of psychiatrists has increased slightly between 2013 and 2016 from 12.3 to 13.0 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 2016; just over 7 in 10 psychiatrists were aged 45 and over between 2012 and 2016. The average hours worked per week was relatively stable over the period, averaging at around 39 hours per week. Since 2012, the average total hours worked per week by females increased slightly but was consistently lower than that of males (around 34 hours compared to 41.5 hours).

 

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Figure WK.4 Alternative text - Source data: Mental Health Workforce Table WK.1 (1.4MB XLS)

Work characteristics

Just over 9 in 10 (92.2%) FTE psychiatrists reported their principal role as a clinician, followed by administrator (3.5%), researcher (2.0%) and then other (1.1%). The most common work setting was hospital (27.4%), followed by solo private practice (26.5%), and group private practice (17.9%).