Evaluation of the Better Access initiative component C: analysis of the allied mental health workforce supply and distribution

3.3 Distribution of the allied mental health workforce in the public sector, 1995-2008

Page last updated: September 2010

The overall picture of change since the mid 1990s in total FTE numbers in the public sector allied mental health workforce, distinguishing between psychologists, OTs and social workers is presented in Figure 3.39. Overall, the FTE allied mental health workforce doubled over the 13-year period to 2007-08, amounting to 4,192 FTE persons in 2007-08. The biggest component of and the largest growth in the allied mental health workforce is the psychology category. There was an overall net growth of 2,120 FTE persons of the allied mental health workforce into the public sector during this period. The increased psychology workforce comprises nearly half (45.5%) of the total net growth in the allied mental health workforce in the public sector, while the social work category accounted for over one third (37.5%) of the total net growth.

Differences in the changes in the three occupational categories, before and after Better Access, are reflected in the change in the average growth rates per annum (Table 3.6). For example, during the decade prior to Better Access, the biggest average growth rate was in the psychology category, at 7.6% per annum, followed by social workers, at an average rate 6.3% per annum. Since the implementation of Better Access, growth (by 5.6%) has occurred in the OT category.

3.3.1 Psychology
3.3.2 Social work
3.3.3 Occupational therapy

Figure 3.39 Change in total FTE numbers of psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers in the public sector, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Text equivalent of Figure 3.39 below.  Change in total FTE numbers of Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers in the public sector, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005

Top of page

Text version of Figure 3.39

Figures in this description are very approximate as they have been read from the graph.

Change in total FTE numbers of psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers in the public sector:
  • Psychologists - steady rise from about 750 in 1995-96 to about 1,750 in 2007-08
  • Occupational therapists - steady rise from about 500 in 1995-96 to about 800 in 2007-08
  • Social workers - steady rise from about 750 in 1995-96 to about 1,600 in 2007-08
  • Total FTE numbers - steady rise from about 2,050 in 1995-96 to about 4,200 in 2007-08

Table 3.6 Change in growth rates (%) of allied mental health workforce in public sector, by state, 1995-96 to 2007-08

NSW
VIC
QLD
SA
WA
TAS
NT
ACT
Total
Average growth rate of FTE psychologists (%): 1995-96 to 2005-06
7.6
7.7
9.0
3.9
6.8
1.4
2.9
12.6
7.6
Growth rate per annum of FTE psychologists (%): 2006-07 to 2007-08
6.6
-8.5
16.6
27.0
-5.9
-9.5
1.1
-23.9
4.5
Average growth rate of FTE occupational therapists (%): 1995-96 to 2005-06
3.3
5.5
7.6
1.7
2.4
3.3
0.0
9.8
4.4
Growth rate per annum of FTE occupational therapists (%): 2006-07 to 2007-08
3.6
-3.6
15.6
22.3
10.2
-24.6
64.0
20.0
5.6
Average growth rate of FTE social workers (%): 1995-96 to 2005-06
6.0
8.0
7.4
4.6
6.7
-3.5
0.0
2.4
6.3
Growth rate per annum of FTE social workers (%): 2006-07 to 2007-08
-10.1
3.6
12.3
14.1
2.7
-6.8
16.5
16.6
3.3

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005

3.3.1 Psychology

An analysis of trends in the public FTE psychology workforce by state and territory shows that NSW, Victoria and Queensland have maintained an overall growing trend in psychologists in the public sector over time (Figure 3.40). In the remaining states/territories, the increase in the sizes or FTE numbers of this workforce has been minimal, or virtually non-existent. Since 2005-06, there has been very little change in the number of public FTE psychologists for Victoria and WA, while NSW, Queensland and SA continued an upward trend.

The psychology workforce in the public sector has been consistently concentrated in three major states – NSW, Victoria and Queensland – since the mid-1990s. Almost 80% of psychologists work in these states. The impact of Better Access appeared to be greater for the states of Victoria, Queensland and SA than for the remaining states/territories (Table 3.7). For example, the proportion of psychologists working in Victoria declined by 3 percentage points to 22.4% within a year of implementing Better Access. In contrast, the proportion of FTE psychology numbers in Queensland increased by 3 percentage points to 22.7% in 2007- 08. SA also increased its share of psychologists by 1.5 percentage points to 6.3% in 2007-08, but this growth was from a small base.
Top of page

Figure 3.40 Trends in the distribution of FTE psychologists in the public allied mental health workforce, by state, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Text equivalent of Figure 3.40 below.  Trends in the distribution of FTE psychologists in the public allied mental health workforce, by state, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005

Text version of Figure 3.40

Figures in this description are very approximate as they have been read from the graph.

Trends in the distribution of FTE psychologists in the public allied mental health workforce:
  • ACT - slight fluctuations from about 30 in 1995-96 to about 50 in 2007-08
  • NSW - increase in a fluctuating manner from about 290 in 1995-96 to about 600 in 2007-08
  • NT - relatively constant at around 10 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • QLD - steady rise from about 120 in 1995-96 to about 400 in 2007-08
  • SA - slight fluctuations from about 60 in 1995-96 to about 105 in 2007-08
  • TAS - relatively constant at around 20 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • VIC - rise in a fluctuating manner from about 190 in 1995-96 to about 390 in 2007-08
  • WA - steady rise from about 80 in 1995-96 to about 150 in 2007-08

Table 3.7 Change in proportion (%) of psychology workforce in the public sector before and after implementing Better Access, by state/territory

NSW
VIC
QLD
SA
WA
TAS
NT
ACTTotal (%)
Total (FTE persons)
1995-96
35.5
23.8
16.6
7.4
9.7
3.0
1.2
2.9
100.0
777
1996-97
36.3
21.8
18.2
7.4
10.2
3.0
1.5
1.7
100.0
866
1997-98
34.0
26.9
17.2
7.1
9.8
2.6
1.0
1.4
100.0
1,024
1998-99
32.2
28.2
17.6
6.1
10.6
2.3
1.0
2.1
100.0
1,065
1999-00
34.4
24.4
18.5
5.7
10.6
2.3
0.9
3.1
100.0
1,080
2000-01
34.5
26.0
18.7
5.0
9.2
1.6
0.6
4.2
100.0
1,232
2001-02
36.6
24.8
17.5
5.9
9.4
1.7
0.7
3.5
100.0
1,342
2002-03
37.7
24.9
18.1
5.1
8.6
1.2
0.4
3.9
100.0
1,417
2003-04
37.0
23.6
19.4
5.8
8.1
1.7
0.6
3.8
100.0
1,454
2004-05
35.4
23.8
19.3
6.1
8.8
1.7
0.8
4.1
100.0
1,422
2005-06
35.6
24.2
19.0
5.2
9.0
1.7
0.7
4.5
100.0
1,609
2006-07
33.8
25.4
19.8
4.8
10.1
1.6
0.7
3.6
100.0
1,662
2007-08
34.5
22.4
22.7
6.3
9.1
1.4
0.7
2.8
100.0
1,741

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005

Top of page

3.3.2 Social work

In the public allied mental health workforce, the FTE numbers of social workers in all mainland states have increased since 1995-96 (Figure 3.41). Numbers in the ACT, NT and Tasmania have remained relatively static. Victoria and NSW have the majority of public sector social workers however, the trend in NSW has fluctuated more with there being virtually no overall increase since 2003-04. By 2007-08 the FTE social work workforce in Queensland had more than doubled (since 1995-96) and was the same size as that in NSW. Both SA and WA have experienced a growth period since 2003-04.

Major changes in the proportional distribution of the social work workforce among all states/territories occurred in three large states of NSW, Vic and Qld. Before the implementation of the Better Access initiative in November 2006, nearly one quarter of allied mental health social workers were employed by the public sector in NSW (Table 3.8). However in NSW the share dropped by 3 percentage points to 20% in 2007-08 within 2 years of implementing Better Access. In contrast, Victoria steadily increased its share of this workforce over the decade prior to the implementation of the Better Access, and since then its share has stayed at 29%. Similarly, the share of this category of allied mental health workforce in Qld persistently increased during the 10-year period before the Better Access. This growing trend has been sustained since the Better Access initiative, with a share standing at 20% in 2007-08. Note that the declining trend in the share of the social work workforce in SA was halted due to the Better Access initiative.

Figure 3.41 Trends in the distribution of FTE social workers in the public allied mental health workforce, by state/territory, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Text equivalent of Figure 3.41 below.  Trends in the distribution of FTE social workers in the public allied mental health workforce, by state/territory, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005

Text version of Figure 3.41

Figures in this description are very approximate as they have been read from the graph.

Trends in the distribution of FTE social workers in the public allied mental health workforce:
  • ACT - relatively constant at about 25 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • NSW - rise in a fluctuating manner from about 200 in 1995-96 to about 325 in 2007-08
  • NT - relatively constant at about 10 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • QLD - steady rise from about 140 in 1995-96 to about 325 in 2007-08
  • SA - steady rise from about 125 in 1995-96 to about 225 in 2007-08
  • TAS - relatively constant at about 30 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • VIC - rise in a fluctuating manner from about 200 in 1995-96 to about 460 in 2007-08
  • WA - steady rise from about 80 in 1995-96 to about 200 in 2007-08
Top of page

Table 3.8 Change in proportion (%) of social work workforce in the public sector before and after implementing Better Access, by state/territory, 1995-96 to 2007-08

NSW
VIC
QLD
SA
WA
TAS
NT
ACTTotal (%)
Total (FTE persons)
1995-96
24.8
25.1
16.9
15.5
11.2
3.5
0.6
2.4
100.0
798
1996-97
25.1
24.6
16.5
14.6
12.6
3.3
0.6
2.6
100.0
860
1997-98
25.8
27.5
16.5
13.3
11.1
2.5
0.5
2.7
100.0
975
1998-99
24.3
27.6
17.1
14.2
11.4
2.3
0.4
2.5
100.0
1,016
1999-00
21.8
27.7
18.4
15.0
11.1
2.5
0.5
3.1
100.0
1,062
2000-01
22.3
27.0
18.7
15.3
12.4
1.7
0.6
2.0
100.0
1,111
2001-02
23.8
26.4
18.9
15.1
11.4
1.6
0.4
2.4
100.0
1,185
2002-03
23.5
26.7
18.5
14.5
12.4
1.4
0.3
2.6
100.0
1,233
2003-04
25.0
29.2
18.4
12.1
11.3
1.2
0.4
2.4
100.0
1,360
2004-05
20.9
30.0
18.9
13.7
12.0
1.4
0.6
2.5
100.0
1,360
2005-06
24.0
29.3
18.6
13.1
11.6
1.3
0.3
1.7
100.0
1,474
2006-07
23.1
29.1
18.4
12.8
12.9
1.9
0.5
1.3
100.0
1,541
2007-08
20.1
29.2
20.0
14.2
12.8
1.7
0.5
1.5
100.0
1,592

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005

3.3.3 Occupational therapy

At the national level the supply in FTE numbers of OTs in the public sector has gradually increased since the mid-1990s from 498 FTE persons in 1994-95 to its highest level (859 FTE persons) in 2007-08. As illustrated in Figure 3.42, at the state/territory level there are fluctuations in the numbers of OTs in the public sector allied mental health workforce. In general, the four large states of Victoria, NSW, Queensland and WA have maintained a growing momentum in the supply of this workforce since the mid-1990s. The implementation of Better Access has sustained the growing numbers of OTs in the states of NSW, Queensland, WA and SA, while the stock numbers in Victoria decreased. The implementation of Better Access has not changed the numbers of occupational therapists in the public sector in the small states/territories including Tasmania, ACT and NT.

NSW and Victoria have more than half of the FTE number of occupational therapists, while Queensland has had a period of strong growth (Table 3.9). Since the implementation of Better Access, SA, WA and NSW have maintained their shares of the public sector occupational therapy workforce. Queensland has strengthened their rate of increase, while both the numbers and shares of FTE occupational therapists in Victoria and Tasmania have decreased.

Figure 3.42 Trends in the distribution of FTE occupational therapists in the public allied mental health workforce, by state/territory, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Text equivalent of Figure 3.42 below.  Trends in the distribution of FTE occupational therapists in the public allied mental health workforce, by state/territory, 1995-96 to 2007-08

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005

Top of page

Text version of Figure 3.42

Figures in this description are very approximate as they have been read from the graph.

Trends in the distribution of FTE occupational therapists in the public allied mental health workforce:
  • ACT - relatively constant at below 10 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • NSW - rise in a fluctuating manner from about 155 in 1995-96 to about 225 in 2007-08
  • NT - relatively constant at below 10 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • QLD - rise in a fluctuating manner from about 70 in 1995-96 to about 160 in 2007-08
  • SA - steady rise from about 40 in 1995-96 to about 70 in 2007-08
  • TAS - relatively constant at about 30 from 1995-96 to 2007-08
  • VIC - rise in a fluctuating manner from about 130 in 1995-96 to about 230 in 2007-08
  • WA - rise in a fluctuating manner from about 95 in 1995-96 to about 140 in 2007-08

Table 3.9 Change in proportion (%) of occupational therapy workforce in the public sector 1995-96 to 2007-08, by state/territory

NSW
VIC
QLD
SA
WA
TAS
NT
ACTTotal (%)
Total (FTE persons)
1995-96
31.0
26.1
13.9
7.9
19.0
1.3
0.2
0.6
100.0
498
1996-97
28.0
26.5
17.1
8.5
17.8
1.2
0.2
0.6
100.0
501
1997-98
28.5
30.1
16.3
6.8
15.8
1.6
0.2
0.6
100.0
548
1998-99
26.7
30.6
15.2
7.2
17.6
1.7
0.2
0.8
100.0
544
1999-00
25.6
31.7
14.6
6.9
19.2
1.1
0.2
0.8
100.0
608
2000-01
26.0
31.1
15.1
5.8
19.3
1.5
0.1
1.1
100.0
680
2001-02
27.2
30.3
14.6
6.6
18.9
1.0
0.1
1.3
100.0
673
2002-03
28.8
28.5
15.6
6.7
18.4
0.9
0.1
1.1
100.0
697
2003-04
27.8
29.9
18.1
5.9
16.0
1.2
0.1
1.0
100.0
733
2004-05
27.5
29.8
17.9
5.9
16.6
0.8
0.1
1.3
100.0
734
2005-06
27.9
29.1
18.9
6.2
15.7
1.2
0.1
0.9
100.0
762
2006-07
27.1
29.8
17.4
6.9
16.1
1.8
0.1
0.8
100.0
814
2007-08
26.6
27.2
19.1
8.0
16.8
1.3
0.2
0.9
100.0
859

Sources: Mental Health Establishments: National Minimum Data Set, 2006-2008, National Survey of Mental Health Services 1996-2005