About allied health care

Allied health includes a broad range of health professionals who can treat conditions and illnesses. Learn more about what allied health care is, where you can access it and how much it costs.

What allied health care is

Allied health care is provided by trained professionals with university qualifications. They use practices with good evidence of effectiveness to prevent, diagnose and treat various conditions and illnesses.

They often work in teams with various other healthcare workers to provide specialised support to patients.

There is no one definition of allied health. Different definitions are used internationally and across Australia.

Generally, the Australian Government recognises allied health professions that have all the below:

  • a university qualification accredited by a relevant national accreditation body
  • a national professional organisation with clearly defined membership criteria
  • clear national entry-level competency standards and assessment processes
  • autonomy of practice
  • a clearly defined scope of practice.

Types of allied health care

Some of the larger allied health professions are:

  • physiotherapy
  • psychology
  • pharmacy
  • occupational therapy
  • social work

Learn more by seeing our allied health care work statistics.

Where to access allied health care

You can see allied health professionals without a referral from a doctor, such as when you see them as part of a primary care service.

Allied health professionals work in a variety of settings, including:

  • hospitals
  • private practice
  • residential aged care facilities
  • community care
  • schools
  • disability services.

Costs of allied health care

Allied health services are funded in different ways. You need to pay a fee for many services, but some are eligible for subsidies and other funding.

Subsidised services include treatment:

Ask your provider about fees before you make your appointment.

Allied health workforce statistics

There are around 200,000 registered allied health professionals in Australia. Allied health is a rapidly growing part of Australia’s health workforce.

Learn more from our workforce fact sheets on allied health professionals.

Yearly workforce growth in allied health professions from 2016-2021

The annual compound growth rate for each profession from 2016-2021 is:

  • Pharmacists 2.5%
  • Chiropractors 2.9%
  • Optometrists 4.1%
  • Podiatrists 4.1%
  • Psychologists 4.5%
  • Physiotherapists 5.6%
  • Occupational Therapists 7.2%
  • Osteopaths 7.3%

Despite this growth, there is a national shortage of some allied health professions.​​​​​​

Workforce growth

The fastest-growing fields are occupational therapy, osteopathy and physiotherapy.

We expect demand for allied health professionals to grow further over the next decade, as Australia’s population changes.

This is especially true for rural and remote Australia, as allied health professionals are concentrated around major urban areas.

Geographic distribution of selected allied health professionals across Australia

The geographic distribution of selected allied health professions in 2021 (by full time equivalent rate per 100,000 population) across Australia is: 

Physiotherapists
MM1 – 130
MM2 – 97
MM3 – 83
MM4 – 97
MM5 – 30
MM6 – 62
MM7 – 57

Psychologists
MM1 – 121
MM2 – 87
MM3 – 52
MM4 – 81
MM5 – 26
MM6 – 46
MM7 – 21

Occupational therapists
MM1 – 88
MM2 – 84
MM3 – 54
MM4 – 82
MM5 – 23
MM6 – 50
MM7 – 30

Optometrists
MM1 – 21
MM2 – 18
MM3 – 19
MM4 – 24
MM5 – 4
MM6 – 11
MM7 – 5

The chart classifies locations by Modified Monash Model zones (1=metropolitan area, 7=very remote communities). The zones are:

  1. Metropolitan area
  2. Regional centres
  3. Large rural towns
  4. Medium rural towns
  5. Small rural towns
  6. Remote communities
  7. Very remote communities.
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