Jobs growth is set to con­tinue in this field, Me­lanie Burgess re­ports


PHYSIOTHERAPISTS are among Aus­tralia’s most in-de­mand health pro­fes­sion­als, with more than 6000 ex­tra work­ers forecast to be needed in the com­ing five years. Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment data pre­dicts the phys­io­ther­apy work­force will jump 24.9 per cent be­tween 2018 and 2023, in­creas­ing by 6200 jobs. Only reg­is­tered nurses (up by 51,400) and gen­eral prac­ti­tion­ers and res­i­dent med­i­cal of­fi­cers (7400) are ex­pected to gain more new roles.

Mark Brown, clinic co-or­di­na­tor of Aus­tralian Catholic Uni­ver­sity’s al­lied health clin­ics, says de­mand for physiotherapists is driven by many fac­tors, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia’s age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

“With in­creased life ex­pectancy, peo­ple not only want to live longer but they also want to live well,” he says. “Physiotherapists can help im­prove peo­ple’s qual­ity of life in many ways in­clud­ing by im­prov­ing their abil­ity to move, re­duce pain, and im­prov­ing their breath­ing and car­dio­vas­cu­lar fit­ness.

“There is sub­stan­tial sci­en­tific re­search ev­i­dence that shows that phys­io­ther­apy-led pro­grams can re­duce pain and in­crease mo­bil­ity in older peo­ple in­clud­ing for con­di­tions such as os­teoarthri­tis, stroke, Parkin­son’s dis­ease, as well as im­prove bal­ance and re­duce the risk of falls.”

Brown ex­pects the in­creas­ing de­mand to con­tinue well be­yond the short term. He says physiotherapists not only work in hos­pi­tals and pri­vate prac­tices – Aus­tralia’s two largest em­ploy­ers – but also in aged care fa­cil­i­ties, schools, in­dus­try, the mil­i­tary, and with sports teams and in­sti­tutes.

“As peo­ple in­creas­ingly un­der­stand the im­por­tance of par­tic­i­pat­ing in phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity to main­tain their phys­i­cal, emo­tional and so­cial health there is likely to be even more de­mand for phys­io­ther­apy,” he says.

“Also, Aus­tralian-trained physiotherapists are in high de­mand in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

SEEK job ad data re­veals the av­er­age salary in the phys­io­ther­apy, oc­cu­pa­tional ther­apy and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion sec­tor is $77,414 – more than both the den­tal sec­tor (av­er­ag­ing $75,453) and the phar­macy sec­tor ($74,584).

HEALTHY INI­TIA­TIVE: Bach­e­lor of Phys­io­ther­apy stu­dent Lea Har­ley checks a pa­tient dur­ing a five-week work ex­pe­ri­ence place­ment in Van­u­atu.

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