Distribution Working Group

In 2018, a new Distribution Working Group (DWG), was established to provide independent expert advice to the Department of Health on the use of geographic distribution systems in Australia for the purpose of ensuring appropriate distribution of the health workforce to areas of acute need. During 2018/19, this committee was referred to as the Distribution Advisory Group.

Page last updated: 01 September 2021

The DWG has 3 core responsibilities

  1. Review the District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) specialist layers (and other medical professions) to advise whether the current methodology is an appropriate mechanism to encourage a better distribution of medical professionals with location restrictions to areas of greatest need.
  2. Consider the implications of changes or amendments to the existing methodology.
  3. Provide specialist advice about areas that consistently raise concerns regarding their classification under the Modified Monash Model or Distribution Priority Area systems.


Meeting 3 – 21 April 2021 Communique (Word 22 KB)
Meeting 2 – 1 September 2020 Communique (Word 32 KB)
Meeting 1 – 6 December 2019 Communique (Word 29 KB)

Distribution Working Group (2017-2018)

The original Distribution Working Group (DWG) was established to address the maldistribution of the health workforce in rural and remote communities. The DWG had three core responsibilities:

  1. Review of the District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) system for GPs and the appropriateness of continuing to use the model in an Australian context.
    • Provide opportunities for key rural stakeholders to consider the operation of DWS and how it could be modified.
    • Consider the existing policy parameters of the DWS and provide advice on how the program could be modified to address concerns raised by stakeholders.
    • Consider whether the calculation for DWS is correct given current trends.
    • Consider options for a mechanism to encourage Australian trained doctors to enter rural practice.
    • Discuss options and models that might support rural generalists.
    • Consider the impact that a modification of the DWS may have on the workforce and the community.
  2. Review the implementation and design of the Modified Monash Model (MMM).
    • Undertake a review of the implementation and design of the MMM with particular focus on towns in MMM categories 6 and 7 (Remote and Very Remote Australia).
  3. Consider mechanisms to encourage an equitable distribution of the health workforce.
    • Consider options to address the oversupply of GPs in some areas of Australia.
    • Discuss concerns that Overseas Trained Doctors are not being appropriately supervised/skilled.
    • Discuss support options for the Indigenous workforce during and post training programs.
    • Discuss options for Aboriginal Medical Services and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations to increase Medicare billings.

The recommendations proposed by the DWG may inform the future rural distribution policy.

Distribution Working Group (2017-2018) – Communiques

Request a review

The Distribution Working Group (DWG) provides independent advice to the Australian Government on the health workforce distribution in Australia.

Membership includes rural health peak bodies, the National Rural Health Commissioner, the Department of Health and independent medical advisers.

The DWG considers all changes and amendments to the existing DPA for GPs methodology. It will review the current method in 2022.

How requests for review are considered

The DWG provides independent advice in response to concerns raised about an area’s DPA classification.

Requests will be reviewed against these principles:

  • Changes to health workforce – the area can demonstrate an unexpected large change to the health workforce resulting in a substantial drop in health services to the community.
  • Patient demographics – the majority of the patient cohort is within a demographic that is underserviced, or requires a specialised nature of service.
  • Absence of services – the area can demonstrate difficulties in recruiting or retaining medical practitioners at a scale that is markedly different to similar communities.
  • Changes to the health system – the impact of hospital closure in area (due to state-based funding) or an unexpected sharp increase in population.
  • Support by the Rural Workforce Agency – any request for exceptional circumstances consideration must have the support of the respective Rural Workforce Agency of the state/territory.

Request a review

Talk to your Rural Workforce Agency for help and advice on requesting a review.
List of Rural Health Workforce Agencies