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At Alecto we welcome the news that the Department of Home Affairs have acknowledged the need for more GPs within Australia. New regulations mean priority processing of visas and travel exemptions for GPs and other doctors.

“This is an unprecedented move because its been more than ten years since any Federal Government policies have prioritised GPs ahead of any other profession,”says Martina Stanley, Director.  “In fact, every other policy initiative in the last 3 years has been designed to keep GPs out – regardless of community need.

This news has come as a relief to many GPs who were planning to move to Australia at the start of the year. We have already been seeing the travel exemptions being granted quite quickly and spurring the approval of visas for those who were waiting.

At the start of September, the new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) has been announced. The PMSOL is designed to designed to “fill critical skills needs that support Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19 based on expert advice from the National Skills Commission and consultation with Commonwealth departments”. This list comprises of 17 occupations which will receive priority processing for their visas and travel exemptions to enter the company.

If you have a GP awaiting visa approval, they will need to apply for a travel exemption which when approved, should allow the Department of Home Affairs to process their visa application.

Whilst this news has come as a welcome sign that the Australian Government is recognising the need for GPs in our communities, there still remains some contradicting programs such as the Visas For GPs program.

With the news of the PMSOL, Alecto reached out to the Visas for GPs program to find out whether they would be taking this into consideration when assessing applications. We received the following response: “The Australian Government Visas for GPs Initiative that we administer is aimed at directing the flow of OTDs to areas that need additional primary health services (GPs) mostly in rural, remote and regional Australia”. We have been told our feedback will be forwarded to the team.

The Visas For GPs program was designed as a workforce distribution program, but we also have 3GA programs and section 19AB and 19AA of the Health Insurance Act 1973 for this purpose and they all have differing rules.

We hope that this may be the beginning of change in attitudes towards OTDs by the Australian government and we will no longer have cases where a practice in a rural MMM3 area will be refused a Health Workforce Certificate. However, this change is not likely to happen quickly

We will keep all our clients updated.