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  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health profession grows

    Author: Karen Keast

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners has jumped more than 18 per cent, making it the fastest growing registered health profession for the past quarter.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) statistics reveal the profession grew 18.4 per cent between June and September while National Board data shows that figure has continued to rise, reaching 463 practitioners by the end of November.

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Most, or 219, of the registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners are working in the Northern Territory, with New South Wales home to the second largest registrant base with 74 practitioners, followed by Queensland with 68, Western Australia with 62, South Australia with 22, Victoria with nine, the ACT with four and Tasmania with three.

Chinese medicine was the second fastest growing profession for the quarter, with the number of practitioners increasing 2.1 per cent to 4588.

The majority of Chinese health medicine practitioners work in New South Wales, at 1878, followed by Victoria with 1262, Queensland with 842, Western Australia with 241, South Australia with 178, the ACT with 72, while there are 38 in Tasmania and 14 in the Northern Territory.


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Most Chinese medicine health practitioners, with 656, are aged 50-54, 644 are aged 40-44 and 623 are aged 35-39, while almost 54 per cent are women.

Optometry experienced the third fastest growth among the 14 registered professions with a 1.4 per cent rise taking its number of practitioners to 4983.

A snapshot of the optometry profession shows most of the nation’s optometrists, at 793, work in Victoria, followed by 481 in New South Wales and 405 in Queensland.

Women slightly outnumber men - 50.91 per cent of optometrists are female while most optometrists, at 736, are aged 25-29, 697 are aged 30-34, and 630 are aged 35-39.

Australia is now home to 632,488 registered health practitioners, with 370,303 nurses and midwives, 17,353 occupational therapists, 2001 osteopaths, 29,150 pharmacists, 27,543 physiotherapists, 4399 podiatrists, 32,766 psychologists, and 14,866 medical radiation practitioners.

The nation’s 13,000 paramedics are set to become the 15th health profession to be regulated under AHPRA, which is expected to take place in 2017.


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords