Workforce Planning

Executive summary

A review of the health workforce program is an important step towards ensuring positive progress in the provision of health services. It was essential to have a clear analysis of the existing programs and ensuring that they in alignment with the workforce priorities. The inclusion of the commonwealth funding was necessitated by the urgent need of ensuring that optimal health services are offered in every part of Australia. The objective of these programs was to ensure that the urban and the rural population had access to quality health services.

An intensive cooperation between states is essential to addressing the many issues facing Australia’s health workforce. A research must be conducted to gather information from the different stakeholders such as the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and the tertiary sector. With such information, it will be easy to implement the necessary programs important for improvement in the health sector workforce. The programs initiated by commonwealth aimed at ensuring that there is improved capacity, quality and mix of the health workforce to meet the expected health standards. This strategy is realized through training, accreditation and distribution strategies.


The urge to improve the workforce program in Australia has necessitated prevalence of workable strategies. The ever increasing demand for quality health services both in the urban and rural areas and the acute shortages have made it necessary to have adequate strategies to deal with the problem. One of the major problems in the health sector is the disproportionate growth of the elderly population leading to shift in the workforce demographics. The increase in the number of aged in the health sector and the decreasing number of the young people choosing health as a career has been detrimental. To deal with this issue, commonwealth government has increased training in all health sectors including doctors and midwives.

Commonwealth has significantly enhanced its focus on the health workforce development over the last few years. Its motive is to make viable intervention and address national health workforce supply pressures to meet the community needs. Commonwealth government has complemented its workforce supply with a more diversified investment in support and distribution mechanisms across professional groups and regions while still maintaining a strong focus on traditional commonwealth activities targeting workforce development (Connell, 2011).

The implementation of program 12.1 where workforce development and innovation was the main area of concern, commonwealth government increased medical workforce in regional and rural areas.  Establishment of 76 internship places in seven private hospitals was a major stride towards this objective. These internship places enhanced the training process as 26 of them trained entirely in regional and rural areas while the others completed at least one rotation in a regional or rural area during their training. A major achievement of training more professionals in the health sector was achieved as a result.

Commonwealth government was to the opinion that training would be essential in workforce development. As a result, the government increased the number of medical students who trained and worked in the rural or remote areas. To ensure adequate workforce in the rural areas, the commonwealth government ensured that 33% of the government supported medical students graduating annually had full year training in the rural or remote locations. This was a tremendous step as it exceeded the set target of 25%. Increased training in the rural and remote locations fulfilled the government objective of easing workforce pressure in the rural areas. (Walshe, 2011).

Workforce renovation and reforms was another major stride by the commonwealth government in ensuring quality service delivery to the public. The government knew that high levels of innovation would translate to increased productivity hence high-quality health service. Commonwealth through HWA initiated over 100 national workforce redesign implementation projects. Constant evaluation of these projects will provide evidence that can be used to improve the sustainability of workforce redesign. The main focus of such evaluation was to address barriers and enablers to achieving broader implementation. The government has developed a comprehensive national approach to addressing projected significant shortfall of nurses through the Nursing Workforce Retention and productivity program (Walshe, 2011).

The commonwealth government has also been concerned by the shortfall in the number of trained dentist in the country’s workforce.  As a result, the government has increased the size of regional and rural Australia’s dental and oral health workforce. This has been made possible by supporting 50 dental graduates and 50 oral health graduates placed in early career training placements. Commonwealth ensured that 50 of these were placed in regional and rural communities, thus increasing the dental workforce and service delivery capacity in the sector.

The intensive training and workforce development has resulted in a steady growth in the supply of health professionals in regional and remote areas of Australia. However, this has been achieved at a cost, and the commonwealth government should plan accordingly to ensure that such developments are made every year (Jalilian,2011).

Commonwealth government has also bolstered the rural Australia’s health workforce capacity by funding the Rural Workforce Agency network. The government funding has enabled the agency recruit 631 doctors, nurses and health professionals which have resulted to an increase in workforce supply. It is also imperative to understand that the network has provided assistance for 1540 rural families, facilitated visits for 454 rural health club members to 186 rural high schools, supported 1782 doctors to undertake professional development services, hosted 7 Go Rural events for 143 students and early career doctors and also supported 258 doctors to obtain fellowship qualifications. All these actions by the network have played a significant role in absorbing the workforce pressure especially in regional and remote locations.


Workforce pressure in Australia has been pinching for a long time especially in rural and remote locations. However, tremendous steps towards eradicating this menace have been initiated by the commonwealth government. Nevertheless, more actions should be taken to ensure that the health of the Australian population is catered for efficiently. The commonwealth government should be informed that with the developing technology, growing community expectations and the ageing population, the increase in demand for the workforce services is inevitable. Though training and workforce development remain the critical remedies to this issue, it is important for the commonwealth government to ensure that there is increased efficiency and effectiveness in the already available health workforce. Ensuring equity in the distribution of the available workforce would also be an essential measure to avoid the problem.



Fig 1.0

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