Perceptions of health practitioners and service managers of disability services in their community.

Mr David Wellman1  Dean Selby1, Sarah Venn1

1Health Workforce Queensland, Brisbane, Australia


Introduction:Almost one in five Australians live with a disability. Allied health professionals play an important role in providing care and support for people with disability. Those who live in rural and remote areas face many challenges in accessing services. The disability sector is currently undergoing major reform with the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Aim:The aim of this study was to investigate rural and remote health practitioner and manager perceptions of disability services in their community.

Methods:In 2017-18, Health Workforce Queensland undertook an online survey as part of a Health Workforce Needs Assessment. Among other items there were two questions concerning disability services. The first asked participants to rate their level of agreement with the following statement: There is a serious gap in disability services in my community. The second asked: Please describe any difficulties you or your practice/hospital has assisting clients with a disability and their families? The survey targeted general practitioners, practice managers, primary health care nurses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and allied health professionals working in ASGC Remoteness Areas (RA) 2-5 classifications in Queensland.

Results:A total of 344 responses to agreement ratings were received along with 66 comments. Thematic analysis identified several key themes which included issues such as service access, navigation and understanding. Mean agreement ratings and differences across areas will also be discussed.

Discussion:Identifying issues facing those delivering disability services can assist in informing the development of improved service delivery and workforce models.


David has been actively involved in public health research since 2001 and has authorship of papers covering a wide variety of community health topics from improving community health and wellbeing in a low SES area to sexuality for people with dementia. Much of the David’s research output has a focus on psychosocial aspects of care for people living in the community. Since joining Health Workforce Queensland, in 2014, the main focus of his output has been on investigating recruitment and retention of health workforce professionals to remote and rural locations. David also seeks to identify emerging issues impacting the primary health care workforce in rural and remote Qld communities.

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