Definition of Allied Health

The allied health workforce in Australia is comprised of allied health professionals and other technicians, assistants and support workers who work with allied health professionals.


In this definition, Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) aims only to define the allied health professionals and their professions.


It is well accepted that the allied health sub-set of the Australian health professions does not include medical, nursing or dental professionals.

In both the International and national domain there is no universally accepted definition of allied health professions. Instead a range of definitions are used in various sectors. A variety of professions are listed as allied health professions by various government authorities and departments, health service providers, health funds and tertiary institutions. 


Professions Australia has defined ‘a profession’ as: “a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised body of learning derived from research, education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to apply this knowledge and exercise these skills in the interest of others. It is inherent in the definition of a profession that a code of ethics governs the activities of each profession. Such codes require behaviour and practice beyond the personal moral obligations of an individual. They define and demand high standards of behaviour in respect to the services provided to the public and in dealing with professional colleagues. Further, these codes are enforced by the profession and are acknowledged and accepted by the community."


AHPA’s Definition of ‘Allied Health Professions’

AHPA uses and builds on Professions Australia’s definition of a profession with additional specifications:

An allied health profession is one which has:

·      a direct patient care role and may have application to broader public health outcomes

·      a national professional organisation with a code of ethics/conduct and clearly defined membership requirements

·      university health sciences courses (not medical, dental or nursing) at AFQ Level 7 or higher, accredited by their relevant national accreditation body

·      clearly articulated national entry level competency standards and assessment procedures

·      a defined core scope of practice

·      robust and enforceable regulatory mechanisms

and has allied health professionals who:

  • are autonomous practitioners
  • practice in an evidence based paradigm using an internationally recognised body of knowledge to protect, restore and maintain optimal physical, sensory, psychological, cognitive, social and cultural function
  • may utilise or supervise assistants, technicians and support workers.