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Driving Advanced Practice For Allied Health From The Top Down: A Collective And Efficient Approach

The allied health sector in Australia is large and complex, fragmented by professions, jurisdictions and employer types.

As a result of these complex profession, employer and state variations in how allied health are treated, the advancement of practice within this sector has been piecemeal and incremental, leading to inefficiency and duplication of efforts.

Generally, only larger professions—physiotherapy and pharmacy, for example—have been effective at developing advanced practice frameworks. However despite a growing evidence base supporting the benefits of advanced practice, the implementation of advanced practice at an organisational level is often driven from the ‘bottom up’, rather than by leadership and senior management at organisational or state/territory levels. Some states have introduced advanced practice frameworks, such as Queensland,  South Australia and Victoria. Other states and territories are working on the development and implementation of advanced practice frameworks, however the extent to which these are truly reflected in allied health career pathways still largely depends on local champions to implement new models of care.

To address these challenges, there is a pressing need for a collective and efficient approach to drive advanced practice changes. This article outlines strategies to achieve this goal, ensuring allied health professionals can contribute more effectively to the healthcare system.

Establishing a national framework for advanced practice

The first step towards collective advancement is the development of a national framework for advanced practice.

This framework should define the scope of advanced practice roles, competencies required, and the pathways to achieve them. By having a unified framework, allied health professionals across Australia can work towards common goals, reducing duplication and ensuring consistency in practice standards. A drive towards a national framework is being led in the Australian Capital Territory by Professor Michelle Lincoln, Dr Jo Morris and Felicity Martin from the University of Canberra.

Online community of practice for shared learning and collaboration

Technology can play a crucial role in facilitating shared learning and collaboration among allied health professionals.

Platforms such as online forums, webinars, and collaborative tools can enable the sharing of resources, research findings, and best practices. This not only fosters a culture of continuous learning but also helps in reducing the isolation of professionals working in rural and remote areas. The Allied Health Academy has created an online Global Advanced Practice Collective (a community of practice) for allied health advanced practitioners and stakeholders to share learning and insights. The community is free to join and available here.

Building advanced practice into allied health career pathways

One of the challenges facing Australian allied health professionals in most Australian jurisdictions (and many other jurisdictions) is the lack of explicit career pathways for allied health advanced practice.

NHS England developed a Multi-Professional Framework for Advanced Clinical Practice in England (NHS England 2017). The framework includes a national definition of the advanced practice role, requirements for entry, guidance, and principles that advanced practitioners should adhere to in their professional practice, as well as a clear career pathway into and within the profession. NHS Education for Scotland has produced the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Development Framework which provides comprehensive career pathways from healthcare support worker to specialist and advanced practitioner.

Leveraging existing resources to fund innovation

A barrier to implementing any kind of clinical change that is commonly cited by allied health professionals is their lack of time and capacity to implement innovation due to unrelenting workloads.

Often these workloads are a result of unfilled positions. Re-allocating unused funding from unfilled positions into project roles to support innovation and drive change can provide extra capacity to introduce new roles that may ultimately increase health service efficiencies.

Implementing interprofessional education and practice

Interprofessional education (IPE) and practice (IPP) involve learning from, with, and about other healthcare professions to improve collaboration and the quality of care.

By integrating IPE and IPP into the training and professional development of allied health professionals, a more holistic and patient-centred approach to care can be achieved. This also encourages the development of advanced practice roles that are collaborative in nature, further enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare delivery.

Streamlining accreditation and credentialing processes

A significant barrier to the advancement of practice is the lack of accreditation and credentialing processes.

Streamlining these processes at a national level can facilitate the recognition of advanced practice roles and the mobility of professionals across states and territories. This requires collaboration between professional bodies, employers, and educational institutions to ensure the processes are rigorous yet efficient.

Advocating for policy and funding support

Advancing practice change on a collective scale also demands policy and funding support from government and healthcare organisations.

Advocacy efforts should focus on highlighting the value of advanced practice roles in improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs, while also creating invaluable pathways for retaining allied health expertise in practising roles rather than risk losing key practitioners to high level management or administrative positions. Investment in professional development, research, and innovation within the allied health sector is crucial for sustaining momentum and achieving long-term impact.

Encouraging leadership and innovation

Finally, fostering leadership and innovation within the allied health sector is key to driving practice changes.

This involves nurturing leaders who can advocate for and implement advanced practice models, as well as encouraging innovation in service delivery, education, and research. Leadership programs and innovation grants can support these endeavours, empowering allied health professionals to lead change from within.


The transition from a bottom-up, incremental, piecemeal approach to a collective and efficient strategy for advancing allied health practice is essential for meeting the evolving needs of Australia’s healthcare system. By establishing a national framework, leveraging technology, implementing interprofessional practices, streamlining processes, advocating for support, and encouraging leadership and innovation, allied health professionals and health leaders can significantly enhance the contributions of allied health professionals to health care and health systems. Such a transformation not only benefits the allied health sector but also improves patient care and health outcomes across the country.

The Advanced Practice Summit, co-hosted by Canberra Health Services and University of Canberra to be held tomorrow (6 March 2024). In person tickets are sold out but tickets to attend the Summit’s morning session (9AM-12PM AEDT), online, are free and still available as of drafting. The recording of the morning’s session will be made available after the event on The Allied Health Academy’s Advanced Practice Collective (which is free to join). Join the Collective now, to join the discussion and the movement to further advanced practice in Australia and internationally.

View our series of advanced practice articles here. | View our series of scope of practice articles here. | Join the Allied Health Academy’s Advanced Practice Collective here.

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