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  • Osteopathy fastest growing allied health profession

    Author: Karen Keast

Osteopathy, podiatry and occupational therapy are the fastest growing allied health professions in Australia.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) statistics show in 2014-15 the osteopathy profession has grown 6.8 per cent, with podiatry increasing 5.9 per cent, followed by occupational therapy at 5.7 per cent.

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While still small in national numbers with a total of 2000 registered osteopathy practitioners, osteopathy is predominantly a young health profession with most osteopaths aged in the 25-29, 30-34 and 35-39 age brackets.

More than half of osteopaths practice in Victoria, at 52 per cent, with 28 per cent in New South Wales, and nine per cent in Queensland, while no osteopaths have their principal place of practice in the Northern Territory.

It’s a profession almost evenly divided among the genders - almost 54 per cent of osteopaths are female and 46 per cent are male.


There are now 4,386 podiatrists, with most, or 912, aged 25-29, while 61 per cent are female.

In the occupational therapy profession, there are now 17,200 registered OTs, with most, or 3,808 aged 25-29 and 3,356 aged 30-34, while an overwhelming majority are female, at 91 per cent.

AHPRA statistics also show the midwifery and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practice professions had the largest growth for the year, each standing at 12.3 per cent.

There are now 29,903 practitioners registered as a nurse and midwife and 3,641 registered as a midwife while the overall number of nurses and midwives stands at 368,087.

Statistics show there are 292 eligible midwives, and 169 eligible midwives able to prescribe scheduled medicines, alongside one midwife practitioner.

Most general registration nurses and midwives, or 13 per cent, are aged 55-59 and 50-54, at 12 per cent, while 10 per cent are aged 25-29 and 11 per cent are aged 30-34, while more than 89 per cent are female and over 10 per cent are male.

There are now 391 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners, with most aged 45-49, more than 75 per cent are female, and more than 55 per cent practice in the Northern Territory, 12 per cent in Western Australia and Queensland, and just one per cent in Tasmania and the ACT.

In other developments, the National Boards have reduced practitioner registration fees for professions including occupational therapy, medical radiation practice, optometry, osteopathy, physiotherapy and podiatry, while fees have been frozen for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practitioners, in Chinese medicine, and in nursing and midwifery.

Registration fees have been increased in the chiropractic, dental, medical, pharmacy and psychology professions to meet national CPI.

With the national scheme funded by practitioners’ registration fees, AHPRA CEO Martin Fletcher said the fees for 2015-16 reflect the National Boards’ and AHPRA’s commitment to prudent financial management.

“The National Boards and AHPRA have set fees so that we can meet our regulatory responsibilities under the National Scheme, while also aiming to be effective and efficient regulators of registered health practitioners, and protect the public,” he said.


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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