Skilled Occupation List (SOL)

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1 Skilled Occupation List (SOL) Tracking Code: A9KSAW Name Individual * Kathryn Ridley Organisation ACPSEM (Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine) What are the industry/industries and ANZSCO occupation/s that you or your organisation represents for the purposes of this submission? Industry Scientific and Technical Services Health Care and Social Assistance Occupation The three dropdowns below accord with the ABS ANZSCO classification of occupations. Selections are required at the Occupation Group 2-digit level and at the Occupation Unit (4-digit) level, but can also be made down to the Occupation (6-digit) level depending on the occupation/s to which your submission relates. Additional occupations can be selected by way of the Add item button. For each occupation selected, please indicate whether your advice is to Include, Exclude, or is Neutral (other) with respect to the SOL. The rest of the form can be used to provide evidence/reasons to support your recommendations. Attachments can also be added after clicking the 'Submit' button. Page 1 of 7

2 Item 1 Occupation Group * Design, Engineering, Science and Transport Professionals Occupation Unit * Other Natural and Physical Science Professionals Occupation Physicist Summary advice for SOL * Include Exclude Neutral Are there any occupations that you represent where there is evidence of imbalances in the demand for and supply of skills in the medium-to-long term? * Yes. Medical Physicists work in many areas across the health sector within Australia. The major areas of practice are Radiation Oncology Medical Physics and Diagnostic Imaging Medical Physics (covering nuclear medicine and radiology). In 2002, the Report of the Radiation Oncology Inquiry: A Vision for Radiotherapy, Commonwealth of Australia (the Baume Report), was published and examined the need for an appropriately qualified Medical Physicist workforce. The report identified a workforce shortage along with increasing attrition rates. Similar concerns were also identified in 2009 (Radiation Oncology Workforce Planning, Final Report for Department of Health and Ageing). There is a five year lag in training Medical Physicists to a level where the person is considered to have sufficient skills and experience to work independently. In Australia the most accepted way to qualify as a Medical Physicist requires a postgraduate degree in Medical Physics (MSc or PhD) plus around three years clinical training through the ACPSEM Training, Education and Assessment Program (TEAP), followed by passing an ACPSEM certification examination. Overall this is approximately a 5 year program. Whilst programs for training of Medical Physicists have been funded and implemented in Australia in some areas, the time lag involved means the positive effects programs will not be able to meet demand in the short term and the aging population with subsequent increase cancer rates mean even at current intake rates workforce shortages will exist in the medium to long term. Page 2 of 7

3 Health Workforce Australia Medical Physicist Workforce Report, published in late 2012, examined workforce shortages across both radiation oncology medical physicists and diagnostic imaging medical physicists. This report is available on-line at uploads/ _final_medical%20physicists%20report_m1_0.pdf. The report assessed a number of workforce dynamics indicators and highlighted areas of concern both now and in the future for both disciplines of Medical physicists. Specific Area Radiation Oncology In the specialty area of Radiation Oncology the need for an appropriately qualified Medical Physicist workforce was identified in the Radiotherapy Inquiry of 2002 detailed in the Baume report (Baume P. Chair (2002) Report of the Radiation Oncology Inquiry. A Vision for Radiotherapy. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia). A lack of Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists (ROMPs) has emerged in several jurisdictions as a barrier to expansion of cancer services. Whilst some inroads have been made to improving the situation compared to 2002, the report commissioned by the Department of Health and Ageing, Review of the Training, Education and Accreditation Program for Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists concluded that the rate at which TEAP is presently producing ROMPs will not be sufficient of itself to overcome the workforce shortage. Table 8.1 of this report projected the following workforce shortage figures: ROMP WORKFORCE BASE CASE PROJECTIONS Workforce Variable Year ROMP workforce Demand Shortfall The Tripartite National Strategic plan for Radiation Oncology (available at ranzcr.edu.au/about/faculty-of-radiation-oncology/faculty-initiatives/tripartite-strategic-planconsultation) projected even greater shortfalls if target utilisation rates for Radiation Oncology services are to be met. (The Tripartite committee is the peak group in the radiation oncology sector in Australia, comprising the three key professions and their respective organisations: the Faculty of Radiation Oncology, RANZCR; the Australasian College of Physical Scientists & Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM); and the Australian Institute of Radiography (AIR). The Health Workforce Australia report (2012) identified that the Radiation Oncology Medical Physicist workforce had a vacancy rate of more than 10% due to the inability to fill existing positions and was highlighted as an area of significant concern. They also received a medium rating on their ability to fill vacancies through internationally trained professionals. This is another area of concern as there is a heavy dependence on overseas trained medical physicists to fulfill vacancy rates which could be negatively impacted by events out of our control such as changes to immigration policy etc. Specific Area Diagnostic Medical Imaging In the area of Medical Imaging, an ACPSEM workforce survey (2012) found that there are approximately 64 medical physicists employed in nuclear medicine and radiology across Page 3 of 7

4 Australia, representing an estimated current shortfall of more than 40 physicists. In addition it is expected that up to 19 of these Medical Physicists will retire in the next 5 years while the expected growth in imaging technologies and services will be around 5% per annum requiring additional 25 medical physics positions. The Health Workforce Australia Report (2012) highlighted the ratio of newly certified medical physicists to workforce exits was an area of significant concern with Diagnostic Imaging Medical Physicists (DIMP) with no DIMP accreditation over the period 2006 to Is there evidence of imbalances in the demand for and supply of skills in the medium-to-long term in non-metropolitan areas? If so, can you indicate in what part of Australia and the number in the occupation in over or undersupply. The majority of the workforce is employed in capital cities or major regional centres. Over the last few years the Commonwealth Government has established a network of new cancer treatment centres under the Better Access to Radiation Oncology (BARO) program. The increase in infrastructure in non-metropolitan areas along with a predicted 20 % increase in cancer incidence over the next decade will result in increased demand for experienced qualified medical physicists. The lack of physicists with more than 5 years experience in some specialty areas clearly demonstrates an ongoing workforce shortage in the medium to long term particularly for nonmetropolitan areas. Are there any occupations which require formal licensing or registration arrangements in order to practice/perform in this occupation? For example: Midwives are required to register with the nurses board in their state or territory Panelbeaters are required to be registered or certified with the state Motor Vehicle Repair Industry Authority The requirements for licensing vary across the country. Most states require licensing for performing at least some elements of a Medical Physicists professional practice. Page 4 of 7

5 Is it expected that your employment sector will be impacted by any medium-to-long term trends which will impact upon demand and/or supply (excluding costs associated with training, labour hire, and international sponsorship)? Please provide evidence (e.g. data source, policy document) which substantiates these claims. For example: New benchmarks for childcare centres mandate increased staff-to-child ratios and higher qualification standards for childcare workers. Demand for Diagnostic Imaging Medical Physicists has increased due to the requirements of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) publication RPS14 - Code of Practice for Radiation Protection in the Medical Applications of Ionizing Radiation. This code mandates that a program must be established to ensure that radiation doses administered to a patient for diagnostic purposes are periodically compared with diagnostic reference levels (DRLs) for diagnostic procedures for which DRLs have been established in Australia. All state Health ministers have agreed to adopt this code and jurisdictions are currently starting to establish programs. Demand for Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists will be increased as Radiation Oncology practices adopt the recently released Radiation Oncology Practice Standards. These standards were developed, with funding and support from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing by the Tripartite Committee, which is the peak group in the radiation oncology sector in Australia, comprising the three key professions and their respective organisations: the Faculty of Radiation Oncology, RANZCR; the Australasian College of Physical Scientists & Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM); and the Australian Institute of Radiography (AIR). The document presents 16 standards developed to assist Radiation Oncology facilities to achieve best practice by providing a framework of requirements. Their implementation will place increased demand for an appropriately qualified Radiation Oncology Medical Physicist workforce. The included document Impact of the Radiation Oncology Practice Standards on the Medical Physicist Workforce provides further details. ARPANSA Document RPS14 is available on-line at codes/rps14.cfm Radiation Oncology Practice Standards are available on-line at Please provide any other information you consider relevant evidence to support your submission For example, you may know of some independent studies about your occupation that supports your advice to us. Page 5 of 7

6 Health Workforce Australia independent report (September 2012) on the Medical Physicist workforce. The aim of the report was to examine both radiation oncology and diagnostic imaging medical physicist workforces and highlights causes for concern. A copy of the report is available online at uploads/ _final_medical%20physicists%20report_m1_0.pdf Would you like to make any additional comments on the SOL? The Medical Physicist workforce in Australia is reliant on internationally trained and experienced medical physicists to meet the workforce shortage at the present time. By remaining on the Skilled Occupations List (as well as the employer sponsored lists) the demands of the workforce shortage both now and in the future will be better enabled through supply due to immigration of experienced Medical Physicists. Please provide the name, position and contact details of a person within your organisation who is willing to be contacted if any further information or follow-up is required. Name * Kathryn Ridley Position * Deputy General Manager Contact details * Phone or - Suite 7.12, 247 Aero 247 Coward St Mascot 2020 NSW Page 6 of 7

7 All information, including name and address details, contained in submissions will be made available to the public on the Department of Industry website unless you indicate that you would like all or part of your submission to remain in confidence. Automatically generated confidentiality statements in s do not suffice for this purpose. Respondents who would like all or part of their submission to remain in confidence should provide this information in an to gov.au. Legal requirements, such as those imposed by the Freedom of Information Act 1982, may affect the confidentiality of your submission. Page 7 of 7

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