Building a Rural and Remote Allied Health Assistant Workforce: A practical workshop

With the Allied Health Assistant (AHA) workforce rapidly expanding in Australia, healthcare organisations are increasingly seeking to incorporate AHAs into their teams. Rural and remote facilities stand to greatly benefit from this developing workforce, as AHAs can help extend allied health service capacity in underserved areas. However, many of these organisations lack the administrative resources to undertake the necessary planning, clinical design, and workforce implementation activities required to effectively deploy AHAs.

To meet this need, the SARRAH projects team will deliver an immersive, hands-on workshop unpacking its "Allied Health Assistant Workforce Design & Implementation Guide." This comprehensive resource provides a structured framework for organisations to design and implement an AHA workforce model tailored to their unique requirements and setting. The workshop will cover key aspects of the guide, including how to establish a robust clinical governance structure, effectively consult with stakeholders across disciplines, and develop detailed clinical task instruction competencies that ensure AHAs work top of scope while maintaining high safety and quality standards.

Participants will gain practical skills in workforce planning, role design, competency design and assessment, and change management - equipping them with the tools to successfully integrate AHAs. Real-world case examples will illustrate promising practices and potential pitfalls to avoid. This workshop will be invaluable for any healthcare organisation, whether implementing a new AHA workforce model or reviewing and optimising an existing assistant workforce. It promises to empower organisations to capitalise on the growing AHA workforce to enhance patient care access and allied health team efficiency.

Gemma Tuxworth, Projects Director, SARRAH
As a physiotherapist Gemma gained 10 years of clinical experience in Perth (WA), London, rural Western Australia and Tasmania before stepping into leadership, management and planning roles. Gemma has worked as Primary Health Manager, delivering allied health services in the Wheatbelt in Western Australia; in clinical planning and project management in Perth and Tasmania; and as a Health Program Manager in Papua New Guinea. Having lived in rural and remote locations, Gemma is familiar with the issues faced by communities trying to access basic services, and is passionate about improving equitable access to health services. Gemma recently completed her Master of International Public Health – and is currently enjoying her role as Project Manager at SARRAH working to improve access to allied health in rural and remote Australia.

Shemah Appleton, Project Officer, SARRAH
Shem is a project officer in SARRAH’s workforce development projects, drawing from experience as a rural and remote practicing high risk podiatrist, software development and digital project management.  Shem has been heavily involved in SARRAH’s delivery of its BRAHAW and TAHRGETS programs.

Bonnie Collins, Project Officer, SARRAH
Bonnie is a Physiotherapist who completed the Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway in 2017 and has gone on to work across a range of rural and remote clinical settings in Queensland. Bonnie continues to work clinically in North Queensland in addition to her role as Project Officer with SARRAH where she is integral in the delivery of the TAHRGETS and BRAHAW programs in the private and non-government sector.

Sylvia Rosas, Project Officer, SARRAH
Sylvia has worked in the health sector for over 11 years. She has experience working in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) as an Aboriginal Health Worker/Practitioner in Far North and Southeast Queensland. Sylvia has also worked in government, having recently done six years in the Department of Health (Canberra) working on Indigenous-specific programs and projects. Sylvia is currently an integral member of the project team implementing the TAHRGETS and BRAHAW programs for SARRAH.