Changes to the Australian 'Visas for GPs' initiative

The 'Visas for GPs' initiative was approved on 11th March, affecting overseas trained doctors (OTDs) looking to work in General Practice across Australia.

Practices are now required to apply to their Rural Workforce Agency (RWA) for a Health Workforce Certificate (HWC) so they can nominate overseas doctors for the following visas:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS, subclass 482)
  • Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS, subclass 186)
  • Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS, subclass 187)

Please note that the below visa is not included:

  • Skilled Independent (subclass 189)

OTDs applying to work in MMM3-MMM7 will receive an expedited Health Workforce Certificate in 2 days. For applications in MMM1-MMM2, there will be a 5 to 10-day turnaround.

The Health Demand and Supply Utilisation Patterns Planning (HeaDSUPP) tool will be used to assess whether practices are eligible for an HWC. It has not been confirmed if this resource will be publicly available or will only be available to stakeholders such as the RWAs and their partners.

Practices can apply for a certificate when they plan to recruit and the HWC will be valid for 3 months. Once a GP has been offered a job the practice can then re-apply for the HWC including the doctor’s details (there may be the ability to extend this for an additional 3 months in certain circumstances). We are seeking clarification on when the nomination for the visa must be made by. Please note that no nominations will be accepted by the Department of Home Affairs without an HWC and that Labour Market Testing still applies.

Practices who have a letter of offer or a signed contract in place before the 11th of March will be issued a Health Workforce Certificate (HWC). This will allow the Department of Home Affairs to accept nominations for 482, 186, or 187 visas.

The initiative has been implemented to help manage the growth of Australia’s medical workforce by regulating the number of OTDs entering Australia to work in the primary health sector through the skilled migration programme and stop Australia becoming oversaturated with doctors (an oversupply of 7000 medical practitioners by 2030 is quoted by the Department of Health).

We have many clients, including those in DWS and outer metropolitan areas close to the CBD, who are actively recruiting doctors. We still have a huge demand for GPs and we don’t believe that Australia is close to becoming saturated with GPs.

The Department of Health have stated that the new regulations will only impact the number OTDs in already well-serviced metropolitan locations and capital cities, and the initiative is to direct overseas doctors to rural, remote and regional areas of Australia where demand for doctors is much higher.

We will be assisting our clients in applying for the HWC and navigating the new paperwork. If you are a GP looking to go to Australia or you are a practice looking for advice please get in touch.

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