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Health workforce classifications

Read about health workforce classifications and how to look them up. The classifications show how remote an area of Australia is and whether the people who live there can access health care easily.

What are workforce classifications?

Workforce classifications define how rural or remote an area is, and its access to the health workforce.

They are sometimes called geographical classifications.

We use these systems to decide how to distribute doctors and meet everyone’s medical needs, no matter where they live:

You can see the area classifications on the Health Workforce Locator.

Why are workforce classifications important?

It’s important for all Australians to have access to quality health care. The workforce classification systems help us to understand where we need to improve health services.

The Department of Health creates policies and programs to distribute the workforce more evenly. We can direct training, incentives and services to the right places.

Who defines workforce classifications?

The classifications are based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The ABS collects population data every five years through a national Census. The ABS also defines distance and boundaries.

Some of the classifications combine Medicare billing, population, social and geographical data to map out the areas that need more doctors.

State and territory governments decide how to distribute the health workforce in their own jurisdictions through the Area of Need classification.

The Department of Health defines the Distribution Priority Area and the District of Workforce Shortage.

How do I access historical data?

Contact us to request historical workforce classification data files.

Last updated: 
4 July 2019

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