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Call for comprehensive policy reforms to strengthen care and support workforce


The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) highlights the urgent need for comprehensive policy reforms to address the challenges faced by the healthcare and social assistance workforce in Australia.

With one in seven Australians employed in this sector, which largely comprises women and plays a critical role in the nation’s economy, the APA emphasises the importance of investing in a sustainable and inclusive plan.

APA President Scott Willis underscores that past policy inaction has led to a decline in the skills profile of paid care and support workers across aged care, disability, veterans’ care, and early childhood education and care.

This has resulted in an undervalued workforce, low job satisfaction, and insufficient pay, demanding immediate attention and prioritisation.

“We are at a critical juncture with an opportunity to address ongoing and acute workforce shortages that are impacting on quality of care.”

“Capacity must be found to fund high-quality care and utilise the skills of the whole workforce to meet the demands of an ageing population and the increasing demands across all settings,” Willis said.

While commending the Australian Government’s draft National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy, the APA urges a broader policy lens and a more significant commitment to investment to ensure a truly effective and long-term solution.

The APA represents over 30,000 physiotherapists who provide healthcare in critical settings, such as aged care, disability and veterans’ care.

Addressing ongoing and acute workforce shortages is crucial for maintaining quality care, especially with an ageing population and increasing demand across all sectors.

The APA has provided feedback to the Care and Support Economy Taskforce, outlining how utilising the full health workforce can result in better health outcomes and cost-effectiveness for patients and the government.

The submission to the National Strategy for the Care and Support Economy includes seven recommendations that encompass funding high-quality care, strengthening the entire workforce, and investing in advanced scope and appropriate skill mix. The government must prioritise the implementation of sustainable solutions to attract, retain, and enable appropriate skills across the care and support workforce, including physiotherapists.

To achieve the full potential of the care economy, extensive reform is essential to address the neglect, policy failures, and broader impacts stemming from the marketization of essential services. The APA eagerly anticipates further consultation and the opportunity to brief the Taskforce as the strategy progresses towards a final version.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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