National Health Workforce Dataset

Collection frequency


The National Health Workforce Dataset (NHWDS) holds data from April 2011 up to and including 2022.

Baseline data
1 January – 31 December 2018
Latest data
1 January – 31 December 2022
Description of data source

Data from the Australian Health Practitioner Agency (APHRA) together with data from a workforce survey that is voluntarily completed at the time of registration, forms the National Health Workforce Dataset (NHWDS).

Data in the NHWDS is used to provide nationally consistent workforce estimates. It provides information on demographic and employment information for registered health professionals in the following professions: Nurse, Midwife, Chiropractor, Dental practitioner, Medical practitioner, Osteopath, Pharmacist, Physiotherapist, Podiatrist, Occupational therapist, Medical radiation practitioner, Chinese medicine practitioner and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner. However, only physicians and nurses specialising in palliative care can currently be identified as palliative care providers using the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Health Workforce Data Tool (HWDT).

The palliative care workforce is made up of a broad range of professional groups, each playing a unique role in supporting people with a life limiting illness to receive comprehensive, patient-centred care. It is recognised that general practitioners, other medical specialists, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and other allied health professionals form an integral part of the palliative care workforce. However, existing national data sources are not able to accurately capture the extent of palliative care services provided by these health professionals.

Measures reported
5.1a Number of full-time equivalent employed health practitioners in specialist palliative workforce, per 100,000 population.
Palliative medicine physician
Refers to practitioners whose main speciality is palliative care. They must be a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), or a Fellow of the Australasian Chapter of Palliative Medicine (AChPM), or both. Palliative medicine physicians are required to have completed 3 years of training in either a paediatric or adult setting under the supervision of a palliative medicine physician. Successful trainees gain the qualification of Fellow of RACP/ Fellowship of the AChPM and are accredited to practice as a palliative medicine physician in Australia or New Zealand. Medical practitioners may also complete a 6-month Clinical Diploma in Palliative Medicine, but this qualification does not result in specialist accreditation. Practitioners who practice palliative care as a second or third speciality are not considered palliative medicine physicians.
Palliative care nurse
Refers to nurses whose principal job area is palliative care. The classification of nurses in Australia varies with the type of training they have undertaken. Nurse practitioners, registered nurses and enrolled nurses need to complete a variety of short or more comprehensive courses (including a postgraduate certificate or master’s degree) to work in the field of palliative care, and postgraduate qualifications are generally required for nurses working in specialist palliative care services.
The state or territory of the principal workplace of the professional.
Disaggregation categories: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory.
Remoteness area
The Remoteness Area of the principal workplace of the professional according to the Australian Statistical Geography Standard 2021.
Disaggregation categories: Major Cities, Inner Regional, Outer Regional, Remote and Very Remote (combined).
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (METEOR Identifier 697105)
Work setting
The type of work setting of the principal workplace of the professional.
Disaggregation categories: Hospital, Hospice, Community health care service, Outpatient service, Solo private practice, Residential health or aged care facility, Tertiary education facility, other government department or agency, other or unspecified.