Review of Australian Government Health Workforce Programs

Chapter 4: Addressing health workforce shortages in regional, rural and remote Australia

Page last updated: 24 May 2013

The Commonwealth funds a range of rurally focused workforce programs and projects which fall into two broad categories – health education strategies for rural distribution and rural retention strategies for the existing workforce. The Commonwealth also administers legislative distribution mechanisms for overseas trained doctors (the ten year Medicare moratorium, defined and described in Chapter 6). Pivotal to these strategies are the District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) classification system and the Australian Standard Geographic Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) classification system.

This chapter will examine the alignment of current programs with this workforce priority; including an analysis of whether program objectives are being met and opportunities to better align the various measures. Potential options for reform of the ASGC-RA classification systems will be presented, including discussion of issues surrounding its current usage as a distribution mechanism. Options for reform of the DWS classification system is discussed in more detail in Chapter 6.