Australian Physiotherapy Association

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is a leading organisation that represents the interests of physiotherapists and physiotherapy patients in Australia. With over 31,000 members, the APA is dedicated to promoting awareness of physiotherapy, fostering partnerships with stakeholders, and improving overall health outcomes.

The APA believes that all Australians should have access to high-quality physiotherapy to support their well-being. To achieve this, the APA relies on its members to amplify its campaign messages and engage with physiotherapy patients and local communities.


The history of the APA dates back to December 1905 when it was founded as the Australasian Massage Association (AMA). The AMA aimed to establish massage as a recognised professional field and protect the public from unqualified practitioners. One of the key figures in the foundation of the Australian physiotherapy profession was Frederick Teepoo Hall, who gained support from medical and healthcare professionals as well as influential members of society.

Teepoo Hall has played the most significant role in the foundation of the Australian physiotherapy profession. He gained support and sponsorship from distinguished members of the medical and healthcare profession and influential members of society. These have led to the establishment of the organisation and its development of the first formal field of study for Australian physiotherapy. At present, physiotherapy as a profession has proven to be an essential part of overall health and well-being. Now a licensed health care profession, physiotherapy continues to help patients achieve better quality of life through various methods that have developed progressively over the last century. 

Over the past century, physiotherapy has become an essential part of overall health and well-being. However, it has not always been recognised as such. During the First World War, massage therapy faced skepticism from the public and some doctors. But with the increasing demand for physical rehabilitation due to casualties from the war, massage practitioners were able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their methods in treating various medical conditions such as wounds and burns, amputations and spinal cord injuries. The treatment involved massage, hot air baths, and electrotherapy, among others. This led to a more positive reception of physiotherapy by the public leading to it becoming a major therapeutic tool.

The outbreak of polio in the 1910s and 1920s, as well as the Second World War, further increased the demand for physiotherapists and advanced the field with breakthroughs in treatment methods and technological advancements in the medical and healthcare industry. In 1939, the AMA adopted the term ‘physiotherapy’, leading them to change their name to the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

The Journal of Physiotherapy

In 1955, the APA started publishing The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, which has now been renamed to “The Journal of Physiotherapy”. This peer-reviewed medical journal focuses on publishing research with significant implications for physiotherapy, including systematic reviews, clinical trials, economic analyses, experimental studies, qualitative studies, epidemiological studies, and observational studies.

In 2014, the journal became the first core journal in physiotherapy and physical therapy to make editorials and peer-reviewed original research freely available. In 2016, the APA extended its support for excellence in physiotherapy practice by sponsoring Open Access publication of all journal content, making it freely accessible to the public without author fees.

Works and Advocacies

Apart from publishing research, the APA also engages in consumer marketing campaigns to raise awareness about physiotherapy, provides education for the public and other healthcare professionals, and offers advanced training and support through its special interest National Groups and advocacy activities. The APA also collaborates with international organizational units to share knowledge globally. Through its 20 special interest National Groups, the APA offers advanced training and collegial support for Australian physiotherapists working in similar areas of practice. As of 2018, the APA has 800 courses through a career pathway framework. It also has ten international organisational units delivering and sharing knowledge with the international community.

The recently launched APA Partner Hub provides a one-stop location for members to access relevant information, webinars, podcasts, videos, blogs, tutorials, and training collateral from APA partners. This content is updated regularly with the aim to assist all members who are wanting to seek relevant and up to date information.

Commitment to Closing the Gap

The APA is also committed to addressing social issues and is an active member of the Close the Gap Campaign Steering Committee, supporting leading Aboriginal organisations in their efforts to achieve justice, healing, and acceptance of the wrongs of the past and their intergenerational effects.

As a matter of interest, the APA’s current president, Scott Willis, is the first Indigenous person to be elected as National President of the Organisation. President Willis graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physiotherapy before moving to the North West Coast of Tasmania where he was co-director of a multidisciplinary clinic. Having held a number of leadership roles, he has experience within the public, primary health, private practice, rural, indigenous, aged care, and occupational health sectors. 

In summary, the Australian Physiotherapy Association plays a crucial role in representing the interests of physiotherapists and physiotherapy patients in Australia. Through its various programs, campaigns, and advocacy efforts, the APA aims to raise awareness about physiotherapy, foster partnerships, and improve overall health outcomes. With its commitment to excellence, innovation, and social responsibility, the APA continues to contribute to the advancement of the physiotherapy profession in Australia and globally.

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