5 April 2022

Fair Access to Allied Health for All

Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) is launching their ‘Fair Access to Allied Health for All’ election advocacy campaign. The campaign is calling on the public to make their vote count at the upcoming election and to help stop the suffering caused by the lack of access to allied health services across Australia.

Australia’s 200,000 allied health professionals represent almost a third of the health workforce and deliver more than 200 million health services annually. Crucial to the best health and wellbeing outcomes, allied health professionals provide unique value to the Australian healthcare and support system because they are diverse, preventive, collaborative and holistic, as well as being cost-efficient.

However, most people, particularly those with the greatest need, don’t have the access they need to the allied health services that would improve their lives. They’re suffering mentally, physically, socially, and financially because the allied health services they desperately need are out of reach.

Poor access to allied health services in my area and financial burden has meant more than decreased mobility due to no physiotherapy, it means that I am isolated from friends and social connections,” says Amy Jones, a 31-year-old woman from Tamworth, NSW who lives with a range of disabilities and chronic health conditions. “Allied health should be accessible for all, regardless of location and economic status.”

To address this requires urgent federal government intervention, and AHPA is calling on the voting public and the Australian government to help stop the suffering. AHPA and their 24 allied health member organisations, including the ACA, are asking for the following through this campaign:

  • Making sure people in residential aged care get the allied health services they need as recommended by the Aged Care Royal Commission.
  • Making sure people ageing at home get the allied health visits according to assessed needs.
  • Making sure people with chronic disease get the allied health services they need not an arbitrary cap.
  • Ensuring Medicare items, including telehealth, are sufficient to provide effective evidence-based care and reduce out of pocket costs.
  • Collecting and analysing allied health data across all sectors (primary health care, NDIS, aged care, DVA, justice, education and social service sectors) to ensure equitable access to a well distributed, effective workforce.
  • Supporting people in rural, remote and other poorly serviced areas to get better access to allied health through adequate funding models and a comprehensive support model such as that for rural GPs.
  • Ensuring populations with specific needs have access to culturally appropriate services, for example: train more First Nations allied health professionals, and provide funded access to interpreter services.
  • Giving the Chief Allied Health Officer equivalent status to the Department of Health’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer and Deputy Medical Officers with adequate staff to address complex cross sector reform.
  • Embedding timely and well-resourced actions for allied health in every national healthcare and support strategy such as primary healthcare, NDIS, aged care, DVA, justice, education and social service sectors.
  • Ensuring allied health has its own service delivery structures and referral processes which complement and integrate with others, such as GP and Medical Specialist clinics.
  • Making standards of training, competency and credentialing for all allied health professions fully recognised, eliminating unnecessary duplication across sectors.
  • Providing adequate support to fully digitally enable allied health service provision to support integrated patient care and secure transfer of information.

People have been suffering around the country for too long as essential allied health services remain unavailable to them for many reasons,” AHPA CEO Claire Hewat states. “From living in rural and remote areas where services are too far away, to the unbearable financial burden of gap fees and lack of Medicare coverage, not to mention the dismal average of three minutes per day of allied healthcare in aged care facilities. It’s time to make allied health services accessible for all, and this requires urgent government intervention.”

AHPA has developed a range of resources, including information to inform voting choices, a digital kit for sharing on social media and an opportunity for those impacted by lack of access to allied health to tell their story. For more information and to get involved, visit ahpa.com.au/electioncampaign

It’s time to stop the suffering. It’s time for fair access to allied health for all.