Australia’s second largest health workforce left out of budget measures

Allied Health Professions Australia
Following a suite of measures in last year’s Federal budget to reform our ailing primary care system this budget risks losing any momentum gained in the past 12 months.
AHPA Chief Executive Officer Bronwyn Morris-Donovan is disappointed this budget does not deliver for Australians with chronic and complex conditions.
“Consumers are stuck with the outdated model of 5 allied health sessions per calendar year. With a declining GP workforce and record low bulk billing rates consumers with chronic disease are finding it harder than ever to get into their GP. The primary care system is buckling under pressure yet this budget does not even touch the sides,” she said.
“AHPA is extremely disappointed that the $16.0 million over four years from 2024–25 (and $0.2 million per year ongoing) to implement the Frequent Hospital Users Program will take the form of incentive payments to general practitioners. Consumers with the most complex health needs benefit from wraparound multidisciplinary team care. There is nothing more disenabling to multidisciplinary care than incentivising GPs to provide single discipline care.
“While we welcome the 29 new Urgent Care Clinics, AHPA is concerned to see expansion of a model that has not yet been properly evaluated. Utilisation of allied health in Urgent Care Clinics is low. Existing clinics are not maximising the scope of practice of professions such as physiotherapy. Without systematic evaluation we don’t anticipate this next 29 will be any different. This is a missed opportunity to utilise the allied health workforce improve access to urgent care, especially for rural and remote Australians.”
AHPA welcomes the $361 million package for mental health. We recognise this as a ‘starter package’ that offers Australians access to mental health services, when they need it and at the intensity that is needed.
Building on the established Head to Health network, AHPA is also pleased to see investment in Primary Health Networks to deliver increased wraparound care for people with complex support needs.
This budget also announced the Government’s intention to explore the introduction of a psychology assistant role. We are seeing a concerning trend toward utilisation of the assistant workforce without sufficient focus on quality and safety. With 10 allied health professions listed on the Skills Priority List, AHPA calls for investment to boost the supply of qualified allied health providers.
“Given this disheartening budget for allied health AHPA calls on the Government to disrupt the status quo. True primary care reform and innovation are stymied by powerful lobby groups in Australia. Now is the time to stop talking about multidisciplinary team care and actually fund for it. Australians deserve access to quality health care where and when they need it. This is not going to happen without significant disruption to the prevailing culture of primary care.
“A healthy primary care system is underpinned by a diverse health workforce that is accessible and equitable for all Australians,” Morris Donovan said.

About us:

AHPA is the recognised national peak association representing Australia’s allied health professions. AHPA advocates for the important role of allied health professionals in health care, mental health, aged care, disability, education, rehabilitation, social services and more.

/Public Release.