Date published: 
8 January 2020
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Morrison McCormack Government has put in place emergency protocols to expedite the process of getting GPs and allied health workers to bushfire-affected communities where they are needed most.

The Department of Health and Services Australia will prioritise all applications from doctors who want to work in medical practices in bushfire-affected communities.

Doctors who are unrestricted in where they can work and allied health professionals, can work at a new practice for up to two weeks, using their existing Medicare provider number.

After two weeks they must get a Medicare provider number for their new location—a process that is immediate using the Health Professionals Online Service.

Support is available to enable restricted doctors to work in bushfire-affected communities.

Restricted doctors such as those who trained overseas, are eligible for six-month 19AB exemptions to support bushfire-affected communities, and can also apply for 3GA Placements to work in these areas through their Rural Workforce Agency.

Restricted doctors will need to submit a paper-based application form for a new Medicare provider number. This should include a short covering letter, which details that it is for a bushfire-affected area to enable it to be prioritised.

The Government agreed to the protocols in December and informed key stakeholders of the arrangements.

If doctors in these communities continue to experience power or network outages, Mobile Service Centres and Mobile Service Teams are available to assist with the necessary technology and reliable internet connectivity for applications.

The arrangements ensure medical practices in affected communities can quickly access an additional medical and allied health workforce.

Already we have seen GPs and allied health workers doing a tremendous job supporting these communities, and we thank them for their continued efforts under extremely difficult circumstances.

Health professionals wishing to offer support to bushfire affected areas should contact their relevant Rural Workforce Agency (RWA):

  • RWA Victoria: firerelief [at] or call 03 9349 7800

  • NSW Rural Doctors Network website or call 02 4924 8001

  • Rural Doctors Workforce Agency SA: rdwalocum [at] or call 08 8234 8277

More information on applying for a Medicare provider number is available on Services Australia's website.

More information on exemptions is available on the Department of Health website.