Australia is rich with GP job opportunities – we can’t stress this enough!
In 2023, the Australian economy offers numerous advantages to overseas General Practitioners (GPs). Australia’s strong healthcare sector, alongside a growing and aging population, results in a consistently high demand for medical professionals, creating ample job opportunities.
The country’s competitive salaries, favourable work-life balance, and inclusive society make it an appealing destination for international GPs. Moreover, the Australian government has streamlined visa processes for healthcare professionals, ensuring that foreign doctors can easily secure positions and make significant contributions to the nation’s healthcare system. Overall, Australia’s economic environment remains highly attractive to GPs seeking rewarding careers in 2023.
This document covers two key areas:
- Working as a GP in Australia
- General lifestyle and relocation issues
Working as a GP in Australia
Practice models vary widely – especially in rural and regional areas. However, most GPs work in a group medical centres, where they have administrative and nursing support. Many practices now also employ allied health practitioners, dentists and a range of other health professionals to provide onsite team-based care – particularly for the management of chronic illness. The most common way to be paid is as a contractor and to get a percentage of billings. If you work as a contractor your percentage of billings may be around 60-70%. The practice owner will then manage all the overheads and day to day running operations. You can work for a private practice (most common) or in a public (government funded) practice/hospital.
GP Proceduralists with recognised qualifications in obstetrics, anaesthetics, general surgery and emergency medicine training are very highly sought after in rural and regional Australia. In rural towns, GPs usually have visiting rights at the local hospital and provide many of the medical services for the hospital. GPs are sometimes required to work on call in evenings and or weekends.
The earning potential of a GP depends on a number of things including your level of qualification and experience, the location and the hours you work. An indicative total remuneration package for a GP would start at $A180,000 and can range to more than $A380,000 per year. For more information about what GPs earn in Australia, visit this page GP Salary Australia
Working hours for doctors vary but ideally practices are looking for doctors who are willing to work between 24-40 hours a week, however if you wish to work less it is usually possible. A typical session is half a day (either morning or afternoon) but most practices are very flexible to support doctors in caring for family responsibilities.
Billing for General Practitioners is usually per consultation. Some choose to ‘bulk bill’ lower income patients and children so they charge only the fee the government provides as direct payment. This means there is no out of pocket cost to the patient. It is common for doctors to charge a fee higher than the government rate, so the patient pays the gap/co-payment (between $5 – $40). Learn more about bulk billing versus mixed billing.
Australia is very multicultural – particularly in the larger cities. Some towns and cities are more multicultural than others so it’s good to understand the multicultural mix in the area in which you are considering working. As a doctor you will work with patients from a range of places: Asia, India, Africa, Europe; and a range of religions. So it’s important that you are comfortable with this and understand some of the cultural sensitivities certain groups have.
Annual Leave/Holiday Leave – Workplaces in Australia are required to give 4 weeks paid annual leave per year plus all public holidays (around 10 days per year). Practices are also legally required to pay 9% of an employee’s wage into a superannuation account for their retirement. If you work as a contractor (most likely) you will often be paid a higher wage but you won’t be paid annual leave nor superannuation. It is your responsibility to look after these costs.
Paid maternity leave – is not currently mandatory but many businesses (especially large ones) pay up to 12 weeks maternity leave and give employees one or two years unpaid maternity leave. However, the government does provide up to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave at the minimum wage for working mums.
Taxes – in Australia are a little higher than in some developed countries. However, many Doctors use accountants to find ways to legally reduce their tax obligations. This can be done with trusts/companies/investing in property and a range of other measures your accountant will recommend. The tax year ends 30 June each year. For more information, view our post Tax Deductions for Doctors. We can’t give any more specific information about this but we can put you in contact with an accountant. For more information about tax go to https://www.ato.gov.au/Tax-in-Australia
Work/life balance – While it is difficult to make comparisons with other nations, Australians are thought of as relaxed and easy going. But there is also a lot of reliable data to suggest that Australians work very hard. What we do know is that the climate and geography of Australia provide lots of opportunities for outdoor leisure and relaxation. We also know that most practices are respectful of family commitments and provide leave when needed.
Health Care – Australia has a very good health care system and one of the highest life expectancies in the world. While a large part of the health system is publicly funded, General Practices operate as private businesses funded in part through subsidies from the government, paid on a fee-for-service basis.
All Permanent Residents and citizens are covered by Medicare – a tax payer funded health scheme which covers the cost of hospital stays and a wide range of other health services. There is no requirement to have private health insurance, but some people choose to take out private health insurance voluntarily. This allows them to stay in a private hospital and have more choices about the doctor who looks after them. However, if you are a Temporary Resident, it is essential to have private health insurance as it is a visa requirement and some passports will not be covered by Medicare.
**If you enter Australia on a British or Irish passport you should be covered by Medicare in the same way a permanent residents, as per the reciprocal agreement –
Housing – Renting is a good option – particularly when you first arrive in Australia and don’t know where you want to settle. Although rental prices have increased in recent years, in most cities it is still more affordable to rent than to buy. A normal rental lease would be for 12 months, and a bond of one month’s rent is always required up front.
Most Australians aspire to own their own home, and generally the market has been very strong over the last 20 years. If you live near a big city or the coast, property prices may be fairly high. In smaller rural towns housing is cheaper and families are more likely to live comfortably even on a modest budget.
Some banks won’t extend a loan to Temporary Residents so it can sometimes be difficult to buy a house until you are a Permanent Resident. However, if you have a large deposit (approx 30%) then you may find it easier to get a loan from a bank.
For more information on housing – http://www.realestate.com.au/buy
Temporary Residents – When you first move to Australia, it is most likely that you will be a Temporary Resident. Unfortunately this means you may pay full price for private and public schools in some states.
Permanent Residents – Because of the limitations that apply to Temporary Residents, it is advisable that you become a Permanent Resident as quickly as possible. There are a few different ways to achieve this and we can put you in contact with a good migration agent. From most accounts you need to be in Australia for two years before you can become a permanent resident
The Australian school system is based on the British system, but has evolved to have its own distinctive approach. Public schools provide good education so that private education is not generally considered necessary as might be the case in other countries. In some areas, the difference in the quality of education and facilities between private and public school is not very great. The government has a website that allows you to compare schools. For more information visit http://www.myschool.edu.au/ . Here are a few interesting facts about the school system:
- The school year starts at the end of January and finishes in mid December.
- As a Temporary Resident, you may have to pay for public schools. If you are required to pay, the fees will be around $4,000 – $6,000 a year. However, it does depend on the state you are living in as you will see below:
- Victoria (no fees for most relevant visa types)
- New South Wales (fees may apply)
- Queensland (fees for some visa types and no fees for other visa types)
- Western Australia (no fees for most relevant visa types)
- South Australia (no fees for most relevant visa types)
- Tasmania (fees may apply)
- Australian Capital Territory (fees may apply)
- Northern Territory (no fees for most relevant visa types)
- Children usually enter the school system starting at Kindergarten or Preschool when they are about four years old. They then move on to Primary School, starting with Grade Prep, and then Grade 1-6. This is followed by High School from Grade 7-12. However, the school system varies between states.
- At the end of High School, most students take exams which provides them with a score that is then used by universities to select students for individual Degree courses. University is also partly funded by the government if you are a citizen or permanent resident. Even for fee-paying students, a university education is likely to be much less expensive than counties such as the United States. The government also provides student loans which are available to permanent residents for most courses of study and are paid off in small increments once the student commences full time work.
- Those students who prefer to pursue a more practical education, can study at a TAFE (Technical and Further Education) college (similar to a community college) where students earn Diplomas. This education is heavily government subsidised so it is relatively cheap.