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14 Mar 2019

AMA members are advised that the Australia Government has announced new restrictions to visas granted to overseas trained doctors (OTDs) seeking to work as GPs. OTDs are now required to obtain a Health Workforce Certificate from a Rural Workforce Agency. The intention of the requirement is to direct OTDs to areas of workforce need, particularly underserved rural and remote communities.

The initiative will also see the number of overseas trained doctors entering the primary health care system reduced by around 200 each year for the next four years under the skilled migration program.

The Department of Health will work with the Department of Home Affairs to implement the visa requirement. 

The AMA supports initiatives which improve access to medical professionals in rural and remote Australian communities, however the visa restrictions will not redress the issue of maldistribution alone. The AMA has called for a multifaceted approach to improving Australia’s rural and remote medical workforce in the Position Statement: Rural Workforce Initiatives 2017, including:

  • More regional/rural medical education and training;
  • A dedicated training pathway ensure doctors are adequately trained to work in rural areas;
  • Improved medical infrastructure and facilities, as well as professional support, personal comfort, and locum relief;
  • Additional support including family support, educational opportunities for children, subsidies for relocation and tax relief; and
  • Financial incentives to ensure competitive remuneration.

Further information about the Health Workforce Certificate application process is available on DoctorConnect.

The full announcement is available here.


Published: 14 Mar 2019