What is a Distribution Priority Area (DPA)?

Due to an alleged oversupply of GPs in metropolitan Areas, the Department of Health has introduced new measures for overseas GPs who want to work in Australia, to better distribute them to areas of higher priority. The new DPA Australia classification system identifies locations with a shortage of medical practitioners and facilitates the placement of international medical graduates (IMGs) in rural areas and communities where there is a greater need for GPs.

The Distribution Priority Area (DPA) classification system has replaced the District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) system for GPs and Bonded Doctors from 1st July 2019.

Alecto helps you navigate the changes

Whether you are confused or unsure about the recent DPA GP changes, please feel free to get in touch with our team to discuss your concerns and questions.

At Alecto, we always keep up with the latest rules & regulations and are happy to help you navigate the ramifications and regulations.

How are DPA locations determined?

The new DPA classification system is not based on a GP-to-population ration like DWS. Instead, the new system considers factors such as gender, age and socio-economic status of patients in a GP catchment area.

Under the new DPA system the following rules apply:

  • Inner metropolitan areas are automatically deemed non-DPA.
  • An area is automatically deemed DPA if it falls into MM 3 – 7 (Modified Monash Model)
  • Northern Territory is automatically deemed DPA
  • Locations with a less than favourable level of health services will also be classified DPA if standards don’t meet a specific service benchmark.

What does the new DPA Australia classification system mean for international medical graduates and bonded doctors?

In order to access Medicare under section 19AB of Australia’s Health Insurance Act 1973, international medical graduates who are GPs need to work in a distribution priority area.

The new system also affects Australian-trained bonded doctors. Under the BMP Scheme, the Government provides a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) at a medical school at an Australian university. In exchange for a medical place, graduates are obliged to work in a DPA location to access the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).

What changes apply for specialists?

The DWS system for specialists remains largely unchanged and international medical graduates who practice in specialties are required to work in a DWS location to be able to obtain a Medicare Provider Number.

Distribution Priority Areas Map

We have looked at all major cities with the Health Workforce Locator to find out which areas are classified as DPA.

View more info about Distribution Priority Areas Map locations

Female staff having a meeting

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