Generally speaking, a workforce is a pool of labour that is in employment in a particular context – it is equally valid, for example, to speak of an Australian workforce, a health workforce or a skilled workforce. This report focuses on the Better Access workforce, which is a subset of the broader mental health workforce.2 The Better Access workforce is comprised of six occupational groups: psychologists (registered and clinical), social workers, occupational therapists, general practitioners, psychiatrists and paediatricians. Health professionals in the first five of these occupations can (after meeting eligibility criteria) provide Better Access services, while paediatricians have a referral role within Better Access.3

These occupational groups are divided into the Better Access allied and medical mental health workforces:

  • The Better Access allied mental health workforce is comprised of people working as psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists who provide mental health services.

  • The Better Access medical mental health workforce is comprised of people working as general practitioners and psychiatrists who provide mental health services and paediatricians who refer into mental health services.
The definition of the Better Access workforce used in this report is:
  • Those members of the allied and medical mental health workforces who meet their professional requirements to practice, but may or may not have provided Better Access services. In essence, this is the broad pool from which Better Access service providers are drawn from. It includes health professionals who may already be registered with Medicare as well as those who could, potentially (after meeting specified requirements), register with Medicare to provide Better Access services. This workforce is also referred to in the report as the potential Better Access workforce.
Within the Better Access workforce there is a subset of professionals who provide Better Access services. Throughout the report these are referred to as the actual Better Access workforce.


2 Health professionals within the Better Access mental health workforce include those who are selfemployed as well as those employed in the public and private sectors.
3 As referral providers, paediatricians are out of scope for this evaluation of the Better Access mental health workforce.