Shortage of allied health workers critical

A report shows that the allied health sector is experiencing high staff turnover and a lack of permanent contracts, leading to severe staff shortages across the country.

Allied shortages of health workers across the country could put Australians with disabilities at risk of slipping through the cracks, a new report says.

High staff turnover, lack of steady work and reduced hours are contributing to a staff shortage in the sector, the peak disability body’s report says.

The report found that the difficulty of accessing allied health services may be a source of underutilization of National Disability Insurance Scheme funds, particularly in remote areas.

Data collected as part of the National Disability Services census showed that the permanent employment rate of allied health professionals had fallen from 83 to 78 percent.

Staff turnover among paramedical employees increased during the study period, from 22 to 26 percent for casuals and from 10 to 12 percent for permanent staff.

Questions need to be answered as to why there was a decline in the permanent employment rate for such a sought-after workforce, Allied Health Professions Australia said.

Policy and advocacy manager Chris Atmore said one factor could be difficulties in ensuring that allied health professionals receive appropriate supervision and mentoring, due to rising costs for caregivers.

The report sheds light on the continued disruption the industry has faced over the past fiscal year and there is an urgent need for industry-government collaboration, said NDS chief Laurie Leigh.

“With the … in a few weeks’ time the Jobs and Skills Summit just around the corner, now is the time for governments and providers to come together to ensure that we are taking the right measures to ensure that incapacitated workers are supported during this turbulent period for the sector. ,” she said.

“This report also highlights the continuing difficulties faced by the disability sector in recruiting the allied health workforce needed, particularly to provide services in remote and very remote areas.”

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