District of Workforce Shortage

The District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) classification is a health workforce classification for specialist medical practitioners. Read about locations classified DWS and learn how to find them.

About the District of Workforce Shortage classification

A District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) is an area where people have poor access to specialist medical practitioners.

DWS classification process

We use population and Medicare billing data to get a ratio of specialists to population in each geographical area in Australia.

An area is classified as DWS if:

How we use the DWS classification

Specialists subject to section 19AB of Australia’s Health Insurance Act 1973 may need to work in a location classified DWS to access Medicare.

There are 8 specialties under DWS:

  • anaesthetics
  • cardiology
  • diagnostic radiology
  • general surgery
  • obstetrics and gynaecology
  • ophthalmology
  • medical oncology
  • psychiatry.

GPs must work in a Distribution Priority Area (DPA).

Under the Bonded Medical Places scheme, specialists can work in:

  • locations classified Modified Monash Model MM 4 to 7
  • locations other than inner metropolitan areas of major capital cities 
  • a location that is inner metropolitan if that location is DWS for their specialty.

How DWS differs from other classifications

DWS shows the number of specialists compared to the population of an area.

The DPA classification is for GPs. DPA is based on gender and age demographics, and the socio-economic status of patients living in an area.

Find areas classified as DWS

To find areas classified as DWS, search the Health Workforce Locator. You can search the locator by specialty.

Last updated: 
14 December 2021

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