Registered allied health practitioners

This report presents information on the allied health workforce, based on estimates derived from the National Health Workforce Data Set: allied health practitioners 2012. Data for 2011 are presented in Appendix A. This is the first report on the 11 allied health practitioners following the introduction of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme in 2010. The professions included are: psychologists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, medical radiation practitioners, optometrists, chiropractors, Chinese medicine practitioners, podiatrists, osteopaths, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners.

In 2012, the total number of allied health practitioners registered in Australia was 126,788, of whom 29,387 (23.2%) were psychologists. There were 27,025 (21.3%) pharmacists, 23,934 (18.9%) physiotherapists, 14,307 (11.3%) occupational therapists, 13,376 (10.5%) medical radiation practitioners, 4,564 (3.6%) optometrists, 4,533 (3.6%) chiropractors, 3,885 (3.1%) Chinese medicine practitioners, 3,783 (3.1%) podiatrists, 1,729 (1.4%) osteopaths and 265 (0.2%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners registered.

The proportion of registered practitioners actively employed in their profession ranged from 76.2% for psychologists to 92.3% for podiatrists.

The number of registered practitioners increased between 2011 and 2012 for all professions, where there were data for both years. The full-time equivalent (FTE) rate of practitioners employed also increased slightly for all professions, with the exception of optometrists, where the FTE rate was steady.

Employed registered allied health practitioners

Most allied health professions had more women employed than men. The exceptions were chiropractors and optometrists (34.8% and 48.2% women respectively). The professions with the highest proportion of women were occupational therapists (91.5%), psychologists (76.7%) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners (71.9%).

For all professions, the average age of those employed was between 37 and 47. The practitioners with the youngest average age were occupational therapists (36.8), while Chinese medicine practitioners had the oldest (47.0).

The average working week of all employed allied health practitioners ranged from 31.8 hours for Chinese medicine practitioners to 40.5 hours for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners. Chinese medicine practitioners had the largest proportion working part time (less than 35 hours a week) at 51.5%, followed by chiropractors at 48.8%.

Nearly all employed chiropractors were working in private practice (97.0% of clinicians and 95.3% of all employed chiropractors). This was also the case for osteopaths, with 97.0% of clinicians and 94.9% of all employed osteopaths working in private practice.

All but one of the allied health professions had the highest rate of FTE practitioners working in Major cities. The exception was Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, where the highest FTE rate was in Remote/Very remote areas.