Distribution Working Group

The Distribution Working Group (DWG) provides us with independent expert advice on policies and programs that aim to improve access to medical services.

Role

The Distribution Working Group (DWG) provides us and the Minister for Health and Aged Care with independent advice on:

  • policies, programs, and tools that aim to distribute the Australian medical workforce in an equitable way – these include:
  • applications to change an area’s DPA classification
  • other relevant issues that we or the minister identify.

A new DWG was formed in June 2023.

Previous DWGs met between 2017 and 2022. See their archived terms of reference

Terms of reference

For more detail about the DWG’s roles and responsibilities, see the current terms of reference.

Members

The Assistant Secretary of our Distribution Branch chairs the group. It consists of 2 independent advisors and representatives from the:

  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Council of Presidents of Medical Colleges
  • Lowitija Institute
  • National Rural Health Alliance
  • National Rural Health Commissioner
  • Royal Australasian College of Medical Administrators
  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Rural Doctors Association of Australia
  • Consumers Health Forum of Australia.

A Distribution Technical Advisory Group (DTAG) supports the DWG by providing more technical advice on:

  • medical workforce distribution tools
  • the methodology for determining distribution decisions
  • policy options to improve access to doctors.

Meetings

The DWG aims to meet 3 times a year or as required.

Exceptional circumstances reviews and outcomes

The DWG:

  • reviews requests to change an area’s DPA classification
  • makes recommendations to the minister.

See how to request a review of a DPA classification.

We publish the outcomes of reviews and upload any changes into the Health Workforce Locator.

The most recent outcomes include:

State/territoryGP catchmentDPA status outcomeOutcome summary
SASalisburyNot Granted

The DPA classification of Salisbury was considered by the Distribution Working Group (DWG) in November 2023. The following factors were considered:

  • The catchment has experienced a population growth of 4% over the previous 4 years.
  • In the same period, GP FTE decreased by 6%, with service provision not keeping pace with population growth during this time. 
  • However, assessment against DPA benchmarks indicates the catchment continues to remain 7% above the DPA benchmark. 
  • The catchment has 1.3 GP FTE per 1,000 residents, well above the average for comparable catchments. 
  • The catchment has elderly and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations comparable with the national average.
  • The catchment experiences elevated levels of socio-economic disadvantage. The Visa for GPs program lists socio-economic disadvantage for Salisbury as High and the ABS Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) indicator is 1 (with 1 being most disadvantaged and 5 being least disadvantaged).

The Minister’s decision is that DPA status is not granted as the catchment is not considered to meet the requirements for exceptional circumstances.

VICBacchus Marsh-MeltonGranted

The DPA classification of Bacchus Marsh-Melton was considered by the Distribution Working Group (DWG) in November 2023. The following factors were considered:

  • The catchment has experienced a population growth of 14% over the previous 4 years.
  • In the same period, GP FTE decreased by 14%, with service provision not keeping pace with population growth during this time. 
  • the catchment experiences moderate levels of GP service at 15% above distribution benchmarks.
  • The catchment experiences moderate levels of socio-economic disadvantage. The Visa for GPs program lists socio-economic disadvantage for Bacchus Marsh-Melton as Moderate and the ABS Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA) indicator is 3 (with 1 being most disadvantaged and 5 being least disadvantaged).

The Minister’s decision is that DPA status is granted in consideration of the high levels of population growth that is impacting sustainable access to primary care services in the catchment. 

See previous exceptional circumstances reviews and outcomes.

Contact

To contact us with general enquiries about the committee you can use our online form.

Distribution Working Group secretariat

DWG members, Rural Workforce Agencies (RWAs) and Public Health Networks can use this email to contact the secretariat.
Date last updated: