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Strong growth experienced in health and community services

24 March, 2009

Australia's health and community services labour forces are continuing to grow strongly, according to a report released recently by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Between 2001 and 2006 the health workforce increased by almost 23% while the community services workforce grew by 36%.

'However, for the health workforce there was a fall in supply in very remote areas,' David Braddock, Head of the AIHW's Labour Force Unit said.

'There the health workforce supply decreased by 346 workers per 100,000 people (from 1,725 to 1,379). Conversely, there was a rise in the supply of community services workers in very remote areas, from 1,252 to 1,696 workers per 100,000 people.'

According to the report, Health and community services labour force 2006, around 843,000 people were employed in health and community services occupations in Australia in that year - 65% were health workers and 35% were community services workers.

'Across the nation there were 2,649 health workers for every 100,000 people, and 1,422 community services workers per 100,000 people,' Braddock said.

The supply of health and community services workers combined was highest in major cities at 4,155 workers per 100,000. Inner regional areas had 4,076 health and community services workers per 100,000 people, and outer regional areas 3,609 per 100,000.

The lowest supply, as expected, was in very remote areas, with 3,076 health and community services workers for every 100,000 people.

The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers in health and community services occupations grew at double the rate for Australia as a whole between 2001 and 2006.

Growth in the number of Indigenous health workers was almost 45%, while for Indigenous community services workers the numbers rose by almost 73%.

Indigenous Australians were under-represented in the health labour force, but well-represented in the community services labour force.

'Just over 15,000 Indigenous Australians were employed in health and community services occupations in 2006', Braddock said.

'Of those, just over 5,500 Indigenous Australians were employed in the health workforce, comprising just 1% of health occupation workers - well below the 2.5% Indigenous representation in the population.'

There were around 9,500 Indigenous Australians working in community services, or 3.2% of all community services workers.

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