Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) today welcomed new commitments by Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King, that will support increased access to allied health services for all Australians, if Labor is successful in forming government.
The Shadow Minister has formally written to AHPA announcing that a Labor government will create a dedicated Commonwealth Chief Allied Health Officer role to coordinate national workforce strategies and support the role of allied health professionals in the Australian Health system. Labor has also promised additional funding to support AHPA and its members to work with government on important reforms across residential aged care funding, primary care, and disability.
AHPA welcomes Labor’s acknowledgement of the vital role of allied health professionals in supporting the health and wellbeing of older Australians and Australians with chronic illnesses, disability, and a range of other health needs. Despite multi-billion dollar health funding pledges by both parties during this election campaign, until now neither party had acknowledged the important role of allied health professionals or the need to support better access to services.
AHPA and its members have long argued that lack of access to allied health services is exacerbating the disparity in health outcomes for Indigenous Australians, rural and remote Australians, and any individual that can’t afford to pay privately. One of our concerns has been that without strategic leadership in the Commonwealth Department of Health, allied health access and workforce issues aren’t given the same weight as those impacting the medical and nursing professions.
The new dedicated Chief Allied Health Officer will work alongside existing Chief Medical and Chief Nursing Officers, to begin addressing some of the major barriers that are limiting access to allied health services for those with the greatest need.
This commitment shows that Labor recognizes the level of community need and the importance of reform across the whole health sector. We are confident that if Labor is successful in forming the next government, this provides the foundation for a strong collaborative working relationship with the sector and better outcomes for the many Australians that access allied health care.