A matter of opinion

rainbow blocks with faces depicting different emotions

A matter of opinion

rainbow blocks with faces depicting different emotions

ADVOCACY member responses to surveys and polls are so valuable to the APA, below we explain why.

We regularly ask members of the APA to respond to polls and surveys.

We ask you about yourself, your work life, your expectations, your preferences, your professional development needs and your professional activities.

This helps us to understand our members better so we can tailor our activities and deliver on what you expect from your membership of the APA.

Why do we ask you all those questions?

Because, as APA physiotherapists, you are the expert on who you are and on what you need to practise and deliver essential health services.

 Using APA communications channels, we also send members opportunities to contribute to research projects that are likely to benefit the profession.

These originate from outside the APA and we screen requests for survey distribution according to their relevance to physiotherapy and the likely benefits of the findings.

Part of the APA’s mission is to promote research that will advance physiotherapy and increase our knowledge.

No policy or advocacy without evidence

Throughout 2022 and 2023, we have sent members polls and surveys to inform our policy and advocacy activities.

We need your responses to these polls and surveys to support our claims with evidence when we advocate for change to governments and decision-makers.

If you belong to one of the APA’s advisory groups, it is likely that you have been asked to respond to a survey that contributes to an APA submission to government consultation.

For example, the annual pricing review from the National Disability Insurance Agency asks very specific questions about pricing and support delivery that only APA members can answer.

Member experience on the ground is paramount in illustrating the real-life impact of policy principles and decisions.

By now, you are probably familiar with our quick polls.

Launched in August 2022 as part of our workforce data build, they help us gain quick insights from our members.

We issue quick polls regularly across a range of topics on significant policy issues to strengthen our advocacy.

For example, our quick polls on specialist and imaging referrals helped us refine our policy ask to improve the patient journey in primary care by removing barriers to Medicare Benefits Schedule-funded referrals.

Our members clearly identified orthopaedic surgeons as a priority for direct referrals and this is why we are now focusing our efforts on securing a change to the Medicare Benefits Schedule rule to allow physiotherapists to refer their patients to orthopaedic surgeons and attract a Medicare Benefits Schedule rebate.

In April, we asked members who provide support to veterans to give feedback on the impact of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs fee on their ability to keep providing those supports.

Findings from this survey formed the basis of the larger government engagement and stakeholder campaign we launched over winter.

It’s a numbers game

Sometimes we will ask you questions that have to do with your volume of activity.

This was the case with the Physiotherapy Direct Referrals survey circulated to all members in June.

We asked about the number of patients you refer to orthopaedic surgeons and the number of imaging requests you order.

The need to quantify activity is not to establish how busy you are.

When we ask policymakers and funders to introduce a change of policy or initiate new policy, one of the first activities they undertake is to examine the cost of the measure.

Most of our proposals to governments will, in fact, require either increased public funding or a redistribution of current funding.

By looking at volumes—of activity or cohorts of patients—we can help put a dollar number on our policy asks.

A lot going on

We are very aware of the balance between asking our members to complete surveys and quick polls and overwhelming you with too many emails and requests on any given week or month.

We are also acutely aware of the time it takes to complete those surveys and of how that adds to your workload and personal responsibilities.

We endeavour to time them accordingly but sometimes the timing is influenced by external factors, such as the opening of a policy window, consultations from government or partnerships with external organisations.

Know that we are genuinely grateful for your contributions.

They are vital to how the APA advocates on your behalf and they are always put to good use.

Even when a few weeks pass between the end of a survey and the public release of the data, trust that behind the scenes activities are ongoing.

Similarly, you might feel that we are asking something we’ve asked in the past.

In a fast-changing environment, recency is an important aspect of the value of the data.

Coming soon

To effectively advocate for the profession, we need to ensure that we have up-to-date workforce data.

One of our key objectives is to fill our workforce data and knowledge gaps.

In pursuit of this aim, we have added a new workforce census to our online surveys and data build strategy.

For the first time, the APA will undertake a census of the physiotherapy workforce in Australia, to be launched at national conference IGNITE 2023 on 5–7 October.

We hope to fill workforce data and information gaps, including across publicly funded income streams, and to facilitate more understanding of the patient journey and related barriers.

This helps to strengthen our workforce advocacy and align it more closely with membership needs.

The census will be issued biennially and will provide a way to track changes in physiotherapy practice over the short and medium terms as well as to forecast possible longer-term changes.

The 2023 Workforce Census, undertaken by Survey Matters in close collaboration with the APA, will be open from 5 October to 2 November 2023.

Make sure your voice is heard—look out for the census at IGNITE 2023 and across our media platforms.

Before you leave

Have you found this article (A) pretty informative, (B) informative, (C) not informative at all or (D) none of the above?

Are you likely to (A) recommend this article to a friend, (B) quickly turn the page to read the next article or (C) have a break and grab a cup of tea?

Click here to learn more about how the APA is advocating for you and your patients.


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