Commonwealth Chief Allied Health Officer appointed

Published 15 July 2020, revised 7 September 2020

AHPA welcomes the appointment of Australia’s first dedicated Chief Allied Health Officer, Dr Anne-marie Boxall, as announced by the Department of Health on 9th July. Dr Boxall will help support the Australian Government’s Primary Health Care 10-Year Plan, health workforce reforms and the Stronger Rural Health Strategy.

Dr Boxall will bring both clinical and policy experience to the role – she trained and practised as a physiotherapist, has worked for a number of years in high-level government and non-government policy positions, and was the 2019-20 Australian Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice.

AHPA and our members have long advocated for a Chief Allied Health Officer at the national level, and the establishment of this role is welcome acknowledgement of the important role of allied health and the need for allied health workforce development.

The number of people living with complex and chronic conditions is increasing. Allied health professionals have essential roles in primary care and in the prevention, management and treatment of chronic disease across Australia, including in regional and rural areas.

A dedicated Chief Allied Health Officer was one of the recommendations put forward by former National Rural Health Commissioner, Professor Paul Worley, in his report on improving allied health services in rural, regional and remote Australia.

Dr Boxall’s work will include addressing shortages of allied health professionals in rural and remote areas, and mechanisms to overcome barriers to recruitment and retention. Her role is likely to intersect closely with that of the newly appointed National Rural Health Commissioner, Dr Ruth Stewart, and the incoming Deputy Rural Health Commissioners whose focus will include allied health, to develop innovative and effective allied health workforce solutions for rural communities.