Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) is the recognised national peak body representing and advocating for the role of allied health professions in Australia. Collectively, the 22 national organisations within AHPA represent almost 78,000 allied health professionals – with over 11,000 working in rural and remote regions of Australia. Each organisation has internal systems and networks for liaising with its members, ensuring that AHPA communicates with health professionals, right across Australia, who together provide extensive expertise. Current AHPA membership represents the following professions: Audiologists, Chiropractors, Dietitians, Exercise Physiologists, Genetic Counsellors, Music Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Orthoptists, Orthotist/Prosthetists, Osteopaths, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists, Perfusionists, Psychologists, Social Workers, Sonographers, Speech Pathologists, with the Associations for Audiometrists, Diabetes Educators, Diversional Therapists and Practice Managers as Affiliates.
There are around 120,000 practising allied health professionals providing direct consumer care, including diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, often autonomously and across a variety of public, private and not-for-profit settings. It is estimated that they deliver over 200 million health services annually. Together with doctors and nurses, allied health professionals are regarded as the third pillar of health care providers in Australia.
The AHPA Board has recently met with Ministers and Shadow Ministers in Canberra advocating for appropriate valuing of the contribution allied health professionals can make in health and related services for Australians – wherever they live:
• Australia’s workforce of allied health professionals needs better data collection for planning how to meet consumers’ health needs in the future.
• Aged care services would be enhanced through utilisation of allied health professionals in both assessment and service delivery underpinned by a policy of ageing in place.
• The Pricing Framework for Australian public hospital services needs to appropriately factor in allied health services.
• Australians with disability need improved whole-of-life opportunities – with allied health professionals as key contributors.
• Implementing e-health strategies across the country to provide a better quality and more efficient health system requires full integration of allied health.
• Mental health outcomes can be improved through allied health contributing to multidisciplinary services for people with a mental illness.
• Accessible and affordable allied health services are essential components of quality primary care for all Australians.