Evaluation of the GP Super Clinics Program 2007-2008

2.2 Background

Page last updated: 2012

In the lead-up to the 2007 Australian Federal Government election, the Australian Labor Party, then in Opposition, announced primary health care reforms which included the establishment of GP Super Clinics.1 Their policy document, New Directions for Australia’s Health: Delivering GP Super Clinics to Local Communities, articulated the increased investment in primary care through the delivery of GP Super Clinics.

The establishment of the GP Super Clinics aimed to encourage general practitioners (GPs) to practise in localities of identified GP shortages and to deliver more services focused on patients with chronic disease and the associated disease burden on the community. This included the provision of allied health services and a stronger focus on preventative health care and chronic disease management.1

With the election of the Labor Government in November 2007, changes in primary health care were included as part of the new government’s overall approach to health care reform. The criteria for selection of localities for the GP Super Clinics were areas where:

  • Access to health services was poor
  • Health infrastructure was underperforming
  • The provision of a GP Super Clinic could take pressure off emergency departments
  • Levels of chronic disease were high and/or there were populations with high needs such as large numbers of children, or a higher proportion of older people who have higher health needs than the general population
  • Areas currently experiencing or anticipated to experience rapid population growth1
The 31 localities for GP Super Clinics which were initially announced are identified in Table 1. In 2009 a further five localities were identified for inclusion in the GP Super Clinics Program for the 2007-2008 tranche:
  • Cockburn (Western Australia)
  • Gunnedah (New South Wales)
  • Portland (Victoria)
  • South Morang (Victoria)
  • Wodonga (Victoria)
Table 1: Localities Identified as GP Super Clinics in 2007
Blue Mountains1Brisbane Southside1Burnie1
North Central Coast1Cairns1Hobart Eastern shores – Clarence (Site A) 1
Port Stephens1Gladstone1Hobart Eastern shores – Sorrell (Site B) 2
Southern Lake Macquarie1Townsville1Berwick1
Northern TerritoryMt Isa3Geelong3
Palmerston2South AustraliaWallan1
Modbury2Western Australia
Playford North2Wanneroo2

1 Localities administered by Commonwealth-led invitation to apply process
2 Localities progressed jointly by the Commonwealth and the relevant state or territory government
3 Localities where funding process was conducted with an identified recipient

The Australian Government committed $181.7 million to establish GP Super Clinics as part of the overall investment in primary health care services.2 This funding involved three separate processes for allocation, which were determined by the Australian Government and were outlined in the GP Super Clinics National Program Guide 2008:2
  • Funding through a Commonwealth-led Invitation to Apply process
  • Funding progressed jointly with states and territories
  • Funding process with identified recipients at the nominated localities
The level of investment for each site was determined by the Australian Government and was detailed in the GP Super Clinics National Program Guide 2008 for each locality.2 In some instances matched contributions from state and territory governments were also available.2

Following the Federal election and the change of government in November 2007, the Department of Health and Ageing was tasked with the implementation, establishment and ultimately the operational components of the GP Super Clinics Program. These three aspects were developed and managed initially by Primary Care and Chronic Disease Branch and then by the GP Super Clinics Branch established within the Primary and Ambulatory Care Division of the Department of Health and Ageing.

1 Rudd K, Roxon N. New Directions for Australia’s Health: Delivering GP Super Clinics to local communities. Canberra: Australian Labor Party; August 2007.
2 GP Super Clinics National Program Guide. . Canberra: Australian Government: Department of Health and Ageing; 2008.