Rural Retention Program – continued and increased funding

Incentive payments will be paid to more GPs to encourage them to move to and remain in rural and remote areas, providing these communities with better access to primary care.

Page last updated: 08 May 2007

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Why is this important?

  • The Commonwealth Government recognises that rural and remote areas in particular are experiencing a shortage of GPs due to difficulties in recruiting and retaining them.
  • The Rural Retention Program (RRP) is well regarded by GPs and rural communities. GPs receive grants of $5,000 to $25,000 depending on the remoteness of the location in which they practise. On average, 65 per cent of doctors are retained by the program five years after their first payment.
  • The Budget provides continued and additional funding for incentive grants to encourage GPs to move to and stay in rural and remote areas.

Who will benefit?

  • Rural communities where these doctors work will benefit through improved access to GP services.

What funding is the Government committing to the initiative?

  • This Budget allocates an additional $9.6 million to the Rural Retention Program to support an expected increase of approximately 400 GPs over four years in rural and remote Australia. The additional funding will provide financial grants of up to $25,000 to doctors taking up practice in eligible rural and remote areas.
  • This builds on the $88.5 million over four years the Government has already committed to this program.

What have we done in the past?

  • Since the RRP began in 1999-2000, the Government has spent $128 million on retention payments to GPs in rural and remote areas of Australia.
  • The number of full-time GPs in rural and remote areas, measured through Full-time Workload Equivalent (FWE) figures, has increased from 3,551 in 1995-96 to 4,514 in 2005-06. FWE is a standardised measure used to estimate the workforce activity of GPs, adjusting for the partial contribution of casual and part-time doctors.

When will the initiative conclude?

  • This initiative is ongoing.

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