Today I met with some lovely LACS to update them on our new website (VERY EXCITING) and our conversation wandered to service gaps and then onto the role of therapy assistants, which I must admit (que cringe) I had never heard of before. I will preface my ignorance by saying that I am Community Engagement, not one of our very knowledgeable Info Team

members….who are on the other end of the phone when you call the enquiry line.

In my role I am very interested in hearing about what’s happening in communities…what services and supports are available, what community programs & projects are running and if they’re successful, and why. I am also equally interested in what is not happening or working in communities, and it is here that I am seeing huge issues around service or capacity gaps. Especially in rural and remote areas….but even in some suburban or metro regions.

I collect this rich information and feed it back into the IDEAS machine. With this information, we develop resources that may assist, write content to raise awareness or build knowledge / capacity, and sometimes we work collaboratively with community stakeholders to undertake projects to address the gaps. We also engage with key stakeholders and leaders in communities to talk about the issues we are hearing about, and give examples where we can of other communities who are successfully dealing with similar issues around the state. Sharing information is a very powerful thing!

So, in the spirit of sharing information - back to the therapy assistants…..as being a ‘possible’ solution (or part solution) to service gaps and capacity issues in the allied health space.

What’s the difference between allied health therapists and therapy assistant I hear you ask!

Allied health professionals (ie: physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dieticians, psychologists, social workers) are university trained professionals that have specific high-level skills in their discipline area. These professionals are responsible for assessing, identifying, diagnosing, making recommendations, treating and supporting people with health conditions, developmental disorders or disabilities. Allied health therapists must be registered to practice, either through the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA), or another professional regulatory agency (like Speech Pathology Australia).

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) and Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) all support the involvement or use of therapy assistants to complement the role and services delivered by allied health professionals, by undertaking some of the duties that require less developed skills.

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA), and Speech Pathology Australia (SPA) all recognise allied health assistants (AHA’s) or therapy assistants as being those support workers that:

  1. hold a Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance, and/or
  2. who are directly employed and supervised by a registered allied health professional

In laymen’s terms, this means that therapy assistants could assist to deliver some aspects of therapy plans set and monitored by Allied Health Professionals for a lesser hourly fee than that of a qualified allied health professional. Thus addressing service capacity and funding limitations in SOME instances.

Therapy Assistants do not…I repeat DO NOT, replace qualified allied health professionals, but can provide a valuable service when working in conjunction with them.

Isn’t it always the way! I was just talking to a team member about this new shiny nugget of information and she informed me that her sister in law has been a therapy assistant for 15 years or more in the Health Space. Go figure!

A question to you lovely readers - who uses or has used therapy assistants? And where can they be sourced (if in fact can they be sourced) outside of allied health organisations?

I would love to connect with anyone who would like to share their knowledge and experience at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Until next time, keep sharing …..