Physiotherapy workforce data released

Health Workforce Australia has released “Physiotherapists in Focus” report as part of its series on the Australia Health Workforce. It revealed that on average, there were 60.1 physiotherapists per 100,000 population in 2006, and 88.4 in 2012. However, there are still difficulties in filling positions in rural and remote areas.

The data also suggested that relatively few physiotherapists stay in the profession and advance to roles in administration and education. Therefore the idea of the investigation of more defined career pathways to retain experienced physiotherapists was raised. Expanded scope of practice roles, such as having physiotherapists in emergency departments (which is already happening), was one development thought to assist in increasing retention.

While over two-thirds of the workforce is female, males comprised an increasing percentage of student commencements from 2008 to 2012.As at 2012, there were 23,934 registered physiotherapists in Australia. Of these,

  • 20,081 (94.2%) were employed in physiotherapy, with 17,980 being clinicians, 839 administrators, 572 educators and 299 researchers
  • 1,031 were on extended leave
  • 209 were looking for work in physiotherapy
  • 2,614 were not in the physiotherapy labour force – with 623 employed elsewhere and not looking for work in physiotherapy, 609 not employed and not looking for work, 1,168 overseas and 214 retired

Of the 20,081 physiotherapists employed in Australia in 2012:

  • 13,014 (68.8%) were female
  • The average age was 38.6 years
  • The average weekly hours for males was 40.7 and 31.5 for females
  • Those working as an administrator had worked in physiotherapy for an average of 18.6 years, and for those in education, it was 18.0 years
  • 84 had Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status
  • Of those undertaking clinical work, 7,422 of these were in the public sector, and 12,909 were in the private sector
  • The largest numbers of physiotherapists were working in group private practices, hospitals solo private practices, other community health care services, aged care facilities and rehabilitation services
  • The most common areas of practice were musculoskeletal, aged care, cardiorespiratory, neurological, paediatrics, sports and women’s health (listed in descending order)
  • There were the most physiotherapists per 100,000 population in the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia

Click here for more news on physiotherapy in Australia. Click here for videos about a career in physiotherapy.

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