Psychologist workforce

In 2016, an estimated 25,219 psychologists with full registration were working in Australia. The NHWDS workforce survey response rate for provisionally registered psychologists was too low for the data to be included  in the NHWDS and are therefore excluded from the analysis presented below. According to figures from the Psychology Board of Australia, there were an additional 4,393 provisionally registered psychologists in Australia in 2016 (Psychology Board of Australia 2016).

State and territory

At a national level, there were 89.3 FTE psychologists per 100,000 population working in Australia in 2016. Rates ranged from 64.7 FTE psychologists per 100,000 population in South Australia to 155.0 in the Australian Capital Territory (Figure WK.10). In terms of time spent working as a clinician (see clinical FTE), this corresponds to 64.7 clinical FTE psychologists per 100,000 population employed in Australia, ranging from 47.2 in the Northern Territory to 107.1 in the Australian Capital Territory.

 

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Figure WK.10 Alternative text - Source data: Mental health workforce Table WK.19 (1.4MB XLS)

Remoteness area

Over 8 in 10 FTE psychologists (82.7%) were employed in Major cities in 2016 (71.2% of the population lived in Major cities in 2016). There were 103.8 FTE psychologists per 100,000 population working in Major cities, 60.6 in Inner regional, 44.8 in Outer regional, 33.9 in Remote and 21.5 in Very remote areas (Figure WK.11).

 

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Figure WK.11 alternative text - Source data: Mental health workforce Table WK.20 (1.4MB XLS)

Hours worked per week

Psychologists reported working an average of 32.6 total hours per week in 2016, with an average of 23.6 clinical hours. Average total hours ranged from 31.9 hours per week for psychologists working in Victoria to 36.6 in the Northern Territory (Figure WK.12). The average clinical hours ranged from 22.8 hours for Victorian psychologists, to 24.6 hours for Tasmanian psychologists. Male psychologists worked on average more total and clinical hours than female psychologists (males 36.5 total and 25.5 clinical hours; females 31.5 total and 23.1 clinical hours).

 

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Figure WK.12 Alternative text - Source data: Mental health workforce Table WK.19 (1.4MB XLS)

Over time

Nationally, there has been an increase in the supply of psychologists from 2012 to 2016, from 84.7 to 89.3 FTE per 100,000 population. The proportion of female psychologists has also increased incrementally over this period; from 76.7% in 2012 to 78.6% in 2016.

The average total hours worked per week by psychologists has remained comparatively stable at around 33 hours per week from 2012 to 2016. Since 2012, the average total hours worked per week by male psychologists has remained fairly stable and higher than that of females (around 36 hours compared to around 32 hours per week).

Characteristics

Half of all psychologists were aged 45 and over (50.8%) in 2016, with more than one-quarter (28.1%) aged 55 and over (Figure WK.13).

 

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Figure WK.13 Alternative text - Source data: Mental health workforce Table WK.17 (1.4MB XLS)

Work characteristics

The majority (87.7%) of FTE psychologists reported their principal role at work to be clinician, followed by administrator (4.1%) and researcher (3.8%). The main area of practice (principal area of main job) nominated by about 2 in 5 (40.3%) FTE psychologists was counselling, followed by mental health intervention (26.4%) and neuropsychological/cognitive assessment (4.6%). The most common work setting was solo private practice (21.1%), followed by group private practice (15.8%) and schools (10.6%).

It should be noted that the principal area nominated by a psychologist does not imply that they hold specialist endorsement in that area. To be eligible to apply for an area of practice endorsement and use the associated title, a psychologist must have advanced training (an accredited qualification in the area of practice followed by a period of supervised practice) over the requirements for general registration (Psychology Board of Australia 2011). In 2016, over one-third (37.2%) of psychologists held an area of practice endorsement (Psychology Board of Australia 2018). The most commonly held specialist endorsement was as a Clinical Psychologist, held by about 1 in 4 (27.5%) of all psychologists (endorsed and non-endorsed), followed by Counselling Psychologist (3.4%) (Psychology Board of Australia 2018).