What does suffering sound like?
For many, it’s the sound of being ignored and overlooked.
Enough is enough.
It’s time to bring about the change for allied health that will mean that people finally get the attention and the relief they deserve.
Allied health services provide unique value to the Australian health, care and support system because they are diverse, preventive, collaborative and holistic; as well as being cost efficient.
However, most people don’t get the access they need to the allied health services that would improve their lives.
To address this requires urgent federal government intervention, and we’re calling on the voting public and the Australian government to help stop the suffering.
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 though 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 health, care and support strategy such as primary health care, 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.
All our key asks are also detailed in this fact sheet.
Allied health professionals provide essential care for people of all ages including children, older people, people with chronic illnesses or mental ill-health, and those experiencing disability.
The sector is diverse with significant variation across and within professions.
Australia’s 200,000 allied health professionals represent almost a third of the health workforce and deliver more than 200 million health services annually.
Allied health professionals provide a broad range of essential services to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians, working with people to identify and assess issues and provide treatment and to support. For most situations allied health working alongside doctors, nurses, teachers and carers are crucial to the best results.
In many cases allied health care can reduce or remove the need for medical interventions, drug treatments and hospitalisation.
Unfortunately, the true impact of allied health remains unknown as data collection around allied health in Australia is extremely limited – almost non-existent. It is impossible to plan for services if you don’t know who or where your workforce is or what they are doing. Therefore, we’re calling on the Australian Government to make access to allied health fair and equitable, with trackable data.
If you can afford to pay you can get access to whatever you want – sound familiar?
For many Australians fair access to the allied health services they need is simply not available -and these are often the people who need these services the most.
Medicare includes programs to provide severely rationed access to allied health services for people with chronic illnesses, children with autism, and those experiencing mental ill health. These cover many allied health professions but not all. Access to Medicare funding for most services, apart from optometry and audiology, requires a referral from a general practitioner or specialist in limited circumstances making access more difficult. If you do not fall into one of these programs – bad luck, you are on your own. Health practitioners may bulk bill Medicare services, but most will charge a gap fee due to low rebate levels. If you run out of your allocated number of services but still need care then you pay or go without.
Access to allied health services in aged care is patchy and often non-existent. The average access to allied health services in residential aged care is around 3 minutes per day. The Commonwealth takes minimal responsibility for funding allied health services in residential aged care, and this looks likely to get worse despite the recommendations of the recent Aged Care Royal Commission. The huge budget announcement in 2021 provided nil dedicated funding for allied health services in residential aged care and no plans to address that. Whilst some funding is provided in home care packages it can be poorly targeted and inadequate.
Funding for allied health in disability services is highly variable. There is no dedicated funding outside of NDIS so those not funded under that scheme must rely on scarce Medicare services if eligible. Within NDIS funding is often inconsistent with some professions favoured by the scheme over others despite the stated policy of ‘choice and control’.
It is well known that access to allied health services diminishes significantly as remoteness increases. There is a lot of support for doctors to enter and sustain rural practice but only a few piecemeal, low budget efforts to support allied health services. Telehealth may be a useful tool, but it won’t solve the problem. People outside our big cities deserve better.
The states provide some limited access to outpatient or community allied health services however, they are often restricted to specific conditions and other criteria may apply. Waiting lists are notoriously long.
General treatment insurance, typically referred to as ‘Extras’ cover, can help fund the cost of a limited number of allied health treatments. However, there is significant variation in what individual policies cover and significant gap fees usually apply. Many people cannot afford private health insurance at all, let alone extras cover. Due to legislation, allied health is once again seen as an ‘add on’ rather than integral to care.
Head dover to our Get involved page for resources, fact sheets, election report cards and more. Find out what electorate you’re in, see our election overview, and download our digital kit to share on social media.
You can also tell your allied health story at our Tell us your story page.