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     Mental health workforce tables. (1.47MB XLS)
    Tables (1.47MB XLS)

     Mental health workforce portals.

    A range of health care and community welfare professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, general practitioners and social workers, provide the various mental health-related support services available in Australia. However, workforce data are currently only available for the following health care professionals who work principally in mental health care and related areas:

    • psychiatrists
    • mental health nurses
    • registered psychologists.

    This section describes selected characteristics of the workforce for employed members of these 3 professions.

    To provide a meaningful comparison, full-time-equivalent (FTE) figures have been reported in addition to the number of psychiatrists, mental health nurses and registered psychologists, and the average total hours worked. The FTE measures the number of 38 hour week workloads completed, regardless of full-time or part-time working hours.

    Key points

    • In 2014, there were an estimated 3,090 psychiatrists, 20,192 & mental health nurses and 23,878 registered psychologists working in Australia. This equates to 13 FTE psychiatrists, 82 FTE mental health nurses and 87 FTE registered psychologists per 100,000 population. The highest FTE rates were seen in Major cities: psychiatrists 17 FTE, mental health nurses 87 FTE, and registered psychologists 92 FTE per 100,000 population.
    • In 2014, about 6 in 10 (63%) psychiatrists were male compared to over 7 in 10 (71%) of all medical specialists. About 3 in 10 (31%) mental health nurses were male, compared to about 1 in 9 (11%) of the general nursing workforce. Over one-fifth (22%) of psychologists were male.
    • In 2014, 3 in 10 (31%) mental health nurses and over 4 in 10 (44%) psychiatrists were aged 55 and older. The age profile of registered psychologists in the same year was younger compared to the other groups, with almost three quarters (73%) younger than 55.

    Data in this section were last updated in April 2016.

    From July 2010 the annual AIHW labour force surveys for medical practitioners, and nurses and midwives were replaced by the National Health Workforce Data Set (NHWDS). The NHWDS includes data collected under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) for health professionals. These estimates are based on those who self-identified as an employed health professional in the week before the survey.

    Estimates of the mental health workforce prior to 2010 were derived from responses to the AIHW Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force Survey and the AIHW Medical Labour Force Survey with responses weighted to available registration data from each state and territory. Prior to 2011, the most recent AIHW Psychology Labour Force Survey was conducted in 2003. For further details on these surveys see the data source section.

    Community-managed mental health workforce

    Non-government organisations (NGOs) play an important role in Australia's mental health system. Mental health NGOs are private organisations that receive funding from Australian governments to provide mental health services to people with mental health conditions, their families and carers, and the broader community. NGOs are typically not-for-profit, but some are for-profit. Not-for-profit organisations are also called community-managed organisations (CMOs), reflecting their governance structure.

    Estimating the size of the mental health NGO workforce is difficult. A 2009 national mental health NGO landscape survey and a 2010 workforce scoping survey provide some data about the mental health NGO workforce (National Health Workforce Planning and Research Collaboration 2011).

    The results of these surveys estimated that there were approximately 800 mental health NGOs in Australia with a total workforce in excess of 12,000 FTE employees. Findings indicate that 43% of the workforce had a bachelor degree or higher qualification in one of the health disciplines and 34% had a certificate or diploma level qualification. Survey findings also suggest that a large majority (84%) of mental health NGO organisations operate in only one state or territory, with 1 in 11 (9%) operating nationally. Over 2 in 5 organisations (42%) had been in operation for over 20 years.

    Care should be taken when interpreting these findings due to coverage issues with both surveys. The landscape survey coverage was estimated at 34% of the sector and the workforce scoping survey was a pilot study which covered approximately 5% of the workforce. Low coverage of the sector in these information sources may mean that the findings may be true for the respondents but not generalisable to the whole sector.


    National Health Workforce Planning and Research Collaboration 2011: Mental Health Non-Government Organisation Workforce Project Final Report. Adelaide: Health Workforce Australia

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