Author: Elise Olney, Australian Physiotherapy Association
Multicultural Australia has much to offer the international student - a relaxed, outdoor lifestyle, spectacular scenery and wildlife, friendly people, wide open spaces and clean, modern cities. In addition, physiotherapy education in Australia has a strong record of academic rigour and commitment to evidence based practice.
Australia is a leader in current international practice in physiotherapy. Australian physiotherapists do not need a referral from a medical doctor to treat a patient - which requires them to have a very high level of education and well-developed physiotherapy skills in both diagnosis and treatment. As a result, Australian physiotherapy training is arguably the best in the world, and graduate qualifications are recognised internationally.
A major highlight for the profession was the key role that physiotherapists played in the recent Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Thirty-four physiotherapists provided services to the Australian Olympic Team and nine to the Australian Paralympic Team - almost double the number of physiotherapists who travelled Atlanta; 1996;During the Games, many overseas physio- therapists visited the Polyclinic in the Athlete' s Village repeatedly to learn about Australian physiotherapy techniques.
Physiotherapists in Australia are dynamic/ committed professionals - 450 physiotherapists volunteered their time to work at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They travelled from all over the country to provide services for those international athletes who were unable to bring their own physiotherapists.
Physiotherapy is offered as a four-year undergraduate degree course at various tertiary institutions around Australia - in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, and South Australia. Soon, masters level entry degrees in physiotherapy will be offered. A range of postgraduate courses is also avail- able, from masters to doctoral degrees - some focus on developing research skills, while others develop both research and clinical skills. The degrees available vary from university to university, but most can be done part time or full time. A common feature is the commitment to evidence-based practice and excellence.
Many universities in Australia have high numbers of international students and are well equipped to provide support and a comprehensive a range of services - such as pre-departure information sessions in several countries, a pre-departure kit, assistance with visa, health insurance and accommodation arrangements, and an orientation program. Also, many institutions have international student advisors on hand to provide advice on personal, financial or cultural matters to help students enjoy their time in Australia.
A student enrolled, in an accredited entry-level' physiotherapy course in Australia is eligible to join the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) as a student member. The APA is the sole professional body representing physiotherapists, with over 10,000 members around the country. The Association has branches in every state and territory, and works hard to promote the profession as the leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of human movement.
The APA promotes professional development, lobbies the government on key health issues and produces a variety of resources for its members, including publications and information brochures. The Association is an active member of the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) - in fact, the current President of WCPT is an Australian physiotherapist.
As a student member of the APA, there are many opportunities to make new friends, build strong professional networks, broaden your focus, and share ideas with other students at APA conferences and courses. Membership of the APA puts students in touch with the profession's leaders - policymakers, academics, researchers, clinicians - who share common interests and concerns. There is also the opportunity to build leadership skills with active participation in the local APA student group.
Student members of the APA are able to log into the password-protected member section of our website, which is full of information about what AP A student representatives are doing around the country. Other benefits of membership include monthly issues of the Branch newsletter, a copy of the Association's official scientific journal - the Australian Journal of Physiotherapy and national full colour news style magazine, Physiotherapy Moves. APA student members are also eligible for reduced rates to attend various conferences and congresses.
Australia has much to offer international students, from the experience of a different lifestyle - enjoy great beaches, restaurants, wide open spaces, outdoor activities and make friends with people from a range of ethnic backgrounds - to academic rigour at world class universities. Choosing to study physiotherapy in Australia can be challenging and very rewarding. .
General Contact Information
Fax: (03) 9534 9199
APA Western Australia
174 Hampden Road,
Fax: (08) 9389 9221
APA New South Wales
Fax: (02) 9647 2244
Fax: (07) 3391 7283
APA South Australia
Fax: (08) 8362 2223
Australian Capital Territory
Fax: (02) 6273 4728
APA Northern Territory
DARWIN NT 0801
Fax: (07) 3391 7283
Fax: (03) 9429 1844
Fax: (03) 6224 9500