Australia is recognised as having one of the best health care systems in the world. However, as a 2016 Grattan Institute report highlighted, our system is failing in one critical area: the prevention and management of chronic disease. The same report estimated the cost of potentially preventable hospital admissions from chronic disease at $322 million per year. Given these factors, OTA holds the view that substantial investment in preventive health care services is imperative not only to the wellbeing of individuals and communities, but to a sustainable health care system. The contribution that OTs can make to chronic disease prevention and management is substantial, and as the needs of our population change the demand for the services of OTs is likely to increase.
On 1 July 2015, a network of 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) was established across Australia by the federal government, with a view to increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients and improving coordination of care. OTA welcomed the PHN initiative, and continues to remind government that occupational therapists, with their expertise in functional assessment and helping people to achieve practical goals, must be an integral part of primary care teams. OTA is working to ensure that other health professionals who are at the forefront of healthcare, such as General Practitioners, understand the role of OTs and how OTs can assist their clients.
OTA is acutely aware of the disparity between health outcomes and life expectancy for Australians living in regional and remote parts of the country and those of people in our cities.
- OTA continues to advocate across all forums for a properly resourced commitment by governments at all levels to preventative care and the principle of wellness.
- In the case of those with chronic disease, OTA advocates that it is imperative this be managed in a more effective, evidence-based way.
- OTA is working to ensure that General Practitioners and other health professionals understand the role of OTs and how OTs can assist their clients.
- OTA continues to advocate for equity of access to health care services regardless of an individual’s geographic location.
In July 2019 OTA had a poster presentation at the Australasian Association for Academic Primary Care Annual Research Conference. And in late October we had an exhibition booth at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ National Conference in Adelaide. On both occasions we were telling those at the very frontline of health care: “This is what we do. This is how we can help your patients”. And we were also asking the GPs in Adelaide: “What is the best way to communicate with you on an ongoing basis?”
In February 2020 OTA participated in an allied health roundtable convened by the Department of Health aimed at developing a National 10 Year Primary Health Care Plan.
How You Can Help
Educate your peers—engage in the conversation about preventative health care, chronic disease prevention and management, and/or rural and regional health issues.
OTA welcomes feedback about your experiences working in primary health care, and your ideas as to how health care services can be improved. OTA takes this feedback to government and key stakeholders to advocate for better outcomes for OTs, and their clients.
To provide your feedback on this important issue, please contact OTA.