Report on the Audit of Health Workforce in Rural and Regional Australia

Allied health workers

Page last updated: April 2008

Table 2.3.10 provides information from the ABS 2006 Census on all allied health professions. Particular attention in the audit has been given to those areas to be covered by the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, namely chiropractors, optometrists, osteopaths, pharmacists, physiotherapists and psychologists. It should be noted that the numbers of professionals in each of these categories is low, particularly chiropractors and osteopaths (3,290 collected together) and optometrists (3,585). Pharmacists (15,337) are largely engaged in private business, but the distribution of pharmacists is not dissimilar to that of physiotherapists (12,286) and psychologists (13,440), which are employed in greater numbers in the public sector. The allied workforce is largely based within 'major cities', with low numbers working in more regional and remote areas.

Table 2.3.10: Number of allied health professionals, 2006

Allied health profession


2500 Health Professionals, nfd*1,010
2510 Health Diagnostic and Promotion Professionals, nfd116
2511 Dieticians2,588
2512 Medical Imaging Professionals10,147
2513 Occupational and Environmental Health Professionals10,839
2514 Optometrists and Orthopists3,585
2519 Other Health Diagnostic and Promotion Professionals4,464
2520 Health Therapy Professionals, nfd214
2521 Chiropractors and Osteopaths3,290
2522 Complementary Health Therapists5,306
2524 Occupational Therapists6,838
2525 Physiotherapists12,286
2526 Podiatrists2,098
2527 Speech Professionals and Audiologists4,948
2723 Psychologists13,440
4110 Health and Welfare Support Workers, nfd683
4111 Ambulance Officers and Paramedics9,097
4113 Diversional Therapists4,078
4115 Indigenous Health Workers1,010
4116 Massage Therapists8,199
4117 Welfare Support Workers40,297
4230 Personal Carers and Assistants, nfd2,097
4231 Aged and Disabled Carers77,413
4234 Special Care Workers2,357
Allied Health Professionals226,400

* nfd = not further defined
Source: ABS 2006 Census of Population and Housing.

There is a maldistribution of the allied health workforce between metropolitan centres and rural and remote communities. No projections are available regarding allied health workforce supply due to the sheer diversity of the professional disciplines, employment settings and the ad hoc nature of the collection of relevant data. There is a need to identify what level of service provision is required in widely differing population areas in rural and remote Australia. There is no correlation between allied health service provision and community need.

(Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health submission)