Frequently asked questions about the International Recruitment Strategy

If you have a question about the International Recruitment Strategy, the answer may be here.

Page last updated: 22 August 2012

1.What is an eligible vacancy?
2. Are all overseas trained doctors eligible for assistance under this strategy?
3. Where can overseas trained doctors work?
4. What is a district of workforce shortage?
5. How should an employer/sponsor gain District of Workforce Shortage status?
6. What is an area of need and how should employers/sponsors gain area of need certification?
7. Which recruitment agencies can employers/sponsors and overseas trained doctors use?
8. What recruitment costs will employers/sponsors and overseas trained doctors incur?
9. What information will overseas trained doctors need to supply to the recruitment agency?
10. What are employers/sponsors responsible for?
11. What is the medical recruitment agency responsible for?
12. Where can I find further information?

1. What is an eligible vacancy?

An eligible vacancy is a vacant medical position or employment opportunity for a general practitioner or other medical specialist in a district of workforce shortage where the vacancy or employment opportunity has a minimum Medicare billing component.

Medical vacancies in the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Aboriginal Medical Services are also eligible vacancies.

2. Are all overseas trained doctors eligible for assistance under this strategy?

Overseas trained doctors can only fill an eligible vacancy under this strategy if:

  • they did not obtain their primary medical qualification in Australia,
  • they have not worked in the Australian medical workforce within the last 12 months, and
  • their skills and experience meet the requirements of the position.

Both temporary and permanent resident doctors are eligible. Usual immigration and medical registration requirements apply.

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3. Where can overseas trained doctors work?

Medicare provider number restrictions require overseas trained doctors to work in a district of workforce shortage if they wish to access Medicare rebates. For permanent resident overseas trained doctors, these restrictions generally apply for a period of 10 years from the date permanent residency was achieved. For temporary resident overseas trained doctors, these restrictions apply indefinitely. Restrictions are scaled according to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification – Remoteness Areas (ASGC-RA) classification of their practicing location. The DoctorConnect website provides additional information as well as a map locator.

Special arrangements may also apply to doctors employed with the Royal Flying Doctor Service or Aboriginal Medical Services to access a Medicare provider number.

4. What is a district of workforce shortage?

A district of workforce shortage is a geographic area in which the general population need for health services is not fully met. Population needs are seen not to be fully met where a community has less access to medical professional services, of the type provided by the applicant, than the national average.

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5. How should an employer/sponsor gain District of Workforce Shortage status?

Employers/sponsors must ensure that their vacancy is in an approved district of workforce shortage in order for an overseas trained doctor to obtain access to Medicare rebates in that vacancy. This process is administered by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Further information on obtaining District of Workforce Shortage approval can be found on DoctorConnect.

6. What is an area of need and how should employers/sponsors gain area of need certification?

Area of need is defined differently across the various Australian states and territories.

Employers/sponsors must obtain area of need certification in order for overseas trained doctors to meet immigration and medical registration requirements. This process is administered by the state and territory health departments.

For further information on processes for area of need, please visit DoctorConnect.

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7. Which recruitment agencies can employers/sponsors and overseas trained doctors use?

The Department of Health contracts services under the International Recruitment Strategy through Rural Health Workforce Australia and local Rural Workforce Agencies. These agencies provide advice to employers/sponsors and overseas trained doctors on eligibility and support.

If an overseas trained doctor uses the services of a contracted medical recruitment agency to locate a suitable medical employment opportunity, no fee will apply.

8. What recruitment costs will employers/sponsors and overseas trained doctors incur?

The Department of Health contracts services under the International Recruitment Strategy through Rural Health Workforce Australia and local Rural Workforce Agencies. These agencies provide advice to employers/sponsors and overseas trained doctors on eligibility and support.

The Department will not meet other costs, such as:

  • visa application fees
  • medical registration fees
  • specialist recognition fees
  • travel expenses and
  • relocation expenses.

Employers/sponsors may elect to meet some of these costs and should discuss this possibility with the doctor when negotiating the employment contract.

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9. What information will overseas trained doctors need to supply to the recruitment agency?

Rural Health Workforce Australia and Rural Workforce Agencies will provide advice to overseas trained doctors and employers of the information required. Please visit DoctorConnect for further information

10. What are employers/sponsors responsible for?

Please visit DoctorConnect or contact your local Rural Workforce Agencies for information on employer responsibilities.

11. What is the Rural Workforce Agency responsible for?

The Rural Workforce Agency may assist with:

  • Identifying eligible medical vacancies and employment opportunities.
  • Identifying appropriately qualified overseas trained doctors to fill those vacancies. This may include making arrangements for the employer/sponsor to interview the doctor.
  • Advising employers/sponsors on how to obtain area of need certification and district of workforce shortage status if required.
  • Assisting the doctor with obtaining relevant visas for immigration purposes, medical registration, specialist recognition (where appropriate), access to Medicare rebates, tax file number and with relocation arrangements.
  • Ensuring that doctors are appraised of the current arrangements and obligations with respect to medical indemnity insurance whilst undertaking medical practice in Australia. In particular, agencies should ensure that doctors are aware of the need to have adequate run-off cover for three years after their departure from Australia. Further information on medical indemnity cover is available on DoctorConnect.
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12. Where can I find further information?

Further information for both Australian employers looking to recruit overseas trained doctors, and overseas trained doctors looking for employment in Australia, is available on DoctorConnect


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