Date published: 
28 February 2020
Media type: 
Media release
General public

Increasing access to allied health services such as physiotherapy, pharmacy, psychology and podiatry is vital to improving health outcomes for Australians living outside the major cities.

Minister for Regional Health, Mark Coulton today said the unbalanced distribution of allied health professionals (AHPs) between city and country was a key health issues the Coalition Government was working to address.

“While this is a long standing issue, it’s becoming more pressing every day, which is why we’re taking steps to address the maldistribution and get more allied health professionals into our regions,” Minister Coulton said, speaking at the Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) Summit.

“The health challenges in rural and remote areas are varied and complex and require a collaborative approach.

“Allied health professionals are essential to the multidisciplinary care needed to address the varied and diverse health care needs of regional Australians.”

Working with doctors and nurses, AHPs are university trained specialists who have major roles in preventing, diagnosing and treating illness and injury, often working closely with their health professional colleagues. 

Minister Coulton today launched the Australian Allied Health Leadership Forum (AAHLFs) Position Statement on an Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway at the SARRAH Forum, attended by AHPs from around Australia.

He said the Statement supports a nationally recognised, sustainable rural generalist pathway for the allied health professions, and commits AAHLF to work collaboratively to implement a pathway with three basic elements:

  • New rural generalist service models;
  • Workforce policy and employment structures; and
  • A formal education program.

Minister Coulton said he fully supported the forum’s statement that “allied health must play a key role in the design of the health system and that the Australian community have the right of equity of access to the right practitioner, in the right place and at the right time”.

“Not every small town has a doctor, therefore allied health professional are so important to providing primary healthcare in our rural communities,” Minister Coulton said.

The National Rural Health Commissioner, Emeritus Professor Paul Worley is currently working on his report on allied health reform, which— after an extension— is now due at the end of June this year.

“Today the Rural Health Commissioner presents his interim report to regional allied health stakeholders, and I am eager to hear their feedback on the report so far,” he said.

“A combination of short, medium and long term solutions will help to get more AHPs into the regions, which is why in November I announced our support for a pilot Allied Health Rural Generalist Workforce and Education Scheme – that SARRAH is administering – to improve the recruitment and retention of regional and AHPs.”