This fact sheet uses Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census data provided by the Department of Health to determine the prevalence of registered and self-regulated allied health professionals.
- The number of allied health practitioners in remote and very remote areas is disproportionate to the health challenges experienced by the population in these areas. Recruitment and retention of the allied health workforce to rural and regional areas appears to be a common challenge experienced across all professions, often resulting in longer waiting times for patients as service demand often exceeds the existing workforce. In some instances, there is a total gap in service with no locally based service provider available. This often results in patients traveling longer distances to get assistance.
- In regard to disability services, for instance, a lack of allied health workforce severely impacts the ability to deliver services funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Patients with disability and chronic conditions are also vulnerable due to irregular supply of treatment.
- A lack of funding for allied health jobs, career pathways and professional development opportunities are some of the additional challenges facing the allied health workforce sector.
- Increasing the allied health workforce may not be a panacea, but it is evidently critical due to the nature of the health challenges faced by people living in these areas. Addressing allied health workforce shortages would make a significant difference to health outcomes if addressed alongside other rural health priorities.