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The District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) map will be abolished and replaced with a new system/map from 1 July 2019. Our Director Martina Stanley recently attended an industry briefing where the Department of Health explains the changes and the reasons behind them.

One thing we can be sure of is that no metropolitan areas will qualify for DWS equivalent exemptions in the future. The Distribution Priority Areas (DPA) system will use a benchmark from the Modified Monash Model Map which is in line with what we have been seeing from the new 3GA program rules. The DPA system will be reviewed annually, however, will be updated only every three years.

What will replace DWS?

The new system called Distribution Priority Areas (DPA) will be using the average number of GPs in MMM2 areas as a benchmark. Most likely this means that only those areas that have GP ratios that are lower than those in MMM2 areas, will qualify for DPA.

As comparison, the current DWS map is based on the principle that the national average for the ratio of GPs to population is used as a benchmark – meaning that some metropolitan areas are classified as DWS.

The DPA system will also be based on demographics and factors such as the SEIFA index and access to other health services of certain areas called GP catchment areas. These areas will be made up of multiple towns/suburbs so will not be based on specific locations which are  DPAs.

In preparation for these changes the Doctor Connect map will be relocating to

The following rules apply to the DPA system:

  • Inner metropolitan areas are automatically deemed non-DPA;
  • MM 5 – 7 are automatically deemed DPA;
  • Northern Territory is automatically deemed DPA;

The Modified Monash Model map will also be updated on July 1.

What happens is a GP and Practice are currently in discussions for a DWS position?

If you are a DWS practice and currently speaking to GPs about your practice, you must have evidence in the form of emails and ideally a signed letter of offer or contract to prove that you have arrangements in place before July 1. This is likely to ensure you can get a DWS exemption for them after the changes come into effect.

What happens if you are currently on a DWS exemption?

Current exemptions remain in effect and will not change. If the GP on the exemption wishes to leave, the same rules for replacement exemptions apply.

What is happening to other 19AB exemptions?

All other 19AB exemptions such as locums, after hours and replacement exemptions are still available. This change is only to standard DWS exemptions, not 19AB exemption as a whole.

What else may change?

The Department indicated that After Hours and Medical Deputising Services have not been touched, but that they will review deputising services soon.

If you have any questions about the current or future changes, please contact us on [email protected] to arrange a confidential discussion.

For more information on the changes, please visit