Optimising the utilisation of allied health assistants in the Victorian health, aged care and disability sectors

Mrs Lucy Whelan1,2, Ms Kath Greer1,2, Ms Jessica Huglin1,2, Ms Sharon McLean1, Dr Debra Mitchell1, Dr Melanie Farlie1,2, Ms Sharon Downie3

1Monash Health, Clayton, Australia, 2Monash University, Clayton, Australia, 3Department of Health, Melbourne, Australia

In 2019, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced funding to develop a Victorian allied health assistant (AHA) Workforce Plan across the Victorian health, aged care and disability sectors. This study builds on several projects conducted in the past decade to develop and increase the size of the assistant workforce. This study will further explore the current barriers and enablers to improving utilisation of AHAs in the Victorian, health, aged care and disability settings.

What is the current utilisation and the opportunities to improve the utilisation of the AHA workforce in the Victorian health, aged care and disability sectors?

This pragmatic mixed-methods study was conducted utilising an interpretive description approach. Monash Health Human Research Ethics Committee approved this research (HREC Approval number RES-20-0000-356L / ERM 64899) and all participants were provided with written informed consent.

An environmental literature scan was performed in parallel with preliminary informal interviews with stakeholders from health, disability, aged care and the VET sectors, as well as consumers.

This preliminary work informed the questions posed in an online workforce survey. The survey was answered by 737 who identified as Allied Health assistants, Allied health professionals and Allied health leaders.

These findings then informed questions asked in focus group and semi-structured interviews with:

  • Allied health assistants, Allied health professionals, Allied health leaders and consumers;
  • Educators, managers and students of the Certificate in Allied health assistance; and]
  • Allied health and other peak body associations.

The combined findings informed the first draft of the Victorian AHA workforce Plan. Conclusions:
The second draft of the workforce plan includes 19 recommendations with working examples and tools and is being widely consulted on in the second half of 2021 with a view to a final draft for distribution in 2022.


Lucy Whelan is a Physiotherapist by background with a Masters of Public Health and a career spanning over 18 years in Australia and the United Kingdom. She is currently forging the path for the Allied Health Assistant and Support workforce at Monash Health. She is passionate about quality driven improvement and appropriate governance for all. In order to align with their Allied Health colleagues and further expand and grow the roles of Allied Health Assistants, some large pieces of work are underway around Credentialing, Scope of Practice, Clinical Supervision, Professional Development, Referral/Delegation tools, Priority Tools and Students. It is this work that has in part led to the VIctorian AHA workforce Plan Project currently underway, led by Lucy.

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