National mental health report 2013

2.3 National workforce trends

Page last updated: 2013

Key messages:

  • The direct care workforce employed in state and territory mental health services increased by 72%, from 14,084 full-time equivalent (FTE) in 1992-93 to 24,292 FTE in 2010-11.
  • On a per capita basis, this equates to an increase from 80 FTE per 100,000 in the former period to 108 FTE per 100,000 in 2010-11, or an increase of 35%. New South Wales reported the most growth (52%), followed by Tasmania (47%) and Queensland (43%).
  • Nationally, the absolute increase in the direct care workforce size of 72% was lower than the increase in recurrent expenditure on state and territory inpatient and community-based services (119%). Factors such as rising labour costs and increases in overhead and infrastructure costs may contribute to this discrepancy.
  • At a conservative estimate, 3,119 full-time equivalent mental health professionals provided services through Australian Government funded primary mental health care initiatives in 2010-11. The majority of these (1,928 or 62%) were psychologists. The next largest professional group was psychiatrists (817 or 26%).
  • In total, 1,517 full-time equivalent mental health professionals were employed in private hospitals in 2010-11. The workforce mix mainly comprised nurses (1,165, 77%) and allied health professionals (310, 20%). Medical practitioner services provided to consumers treated in private hospitals are delivered primarily through the Medicare Benefits Schedule rather than direct employment arrangements.
The wide-ranging changes that have occurred in the financing and structure of Australia's mental health sector over the period from 1992-93 to 2010-11 are reflected in shifts in the profile of the workforce. These changes are summarised in this section.