Expanding allied health clinical placements to better match future workforce need: An update on policy progress

Ms Rachel Yates1

1Universities Australia, Deakin, Australia

Background and Aim
Quality clinical placements in pre-registration years are essential to developing a skilled health workforce. They influence how and where clinicians work – with direct implications on health workforce skills and distribution. Promoting clinical placements in areas of undersupply is therefore important in addressing workforce need.

Using education programs to influence health workforce distribution has been an Australian government policy approach for many years. However, policies have largely focused on medicine and/or rural locations. Significant and well recognised shortages, especially for allied health, also exist in specific service settings such as disability and aged care.

While the need to expand placements is well known, policy and other barriers exist to placing allied and other health professional students in these settings – despite the many benefits placements bring. Moreover, in the case of the NDIS, policy responsibility sits outside of Health.

The aim of this presentation is to:

  • provide an update on progress in developing and implementing policies and practice that support clinical education and workforce growth in undersupplied areas;
  • describe barriers and enablers to allied and other health student placements including in aged care and disability services; and
  • examine a model to expand placements to settings of need.

A mixed methods policy analysis approach is used which draws on: case studies; analysis of existing policies and research; and model building.

Results of the analysis will be provided as part of the presentation.

Discussion will focus on progress made, especially in allied health placements, policy and practice gaps and possible next steps.


Rachel is Policy Director Health and Workforce at Universities Australia. Prior to this she held positions as Primary Health Care Director at the Mount Isa Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service and as National Policy Manager for the Australian Medicare Local Alliance. She has substantial experience in health policy, research and service delivery and brings this experience to her current role which has a focus on effective clinical education and workforce development in health, aged care and disability.

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