health workforce

We provide support and work collaboratively with primary health care professionals to deliver quality primary health care on the North Coast.


Healthy North Coast implements initiatives to build the capacity of the primary health care workforce including:

Professional Development Scholarships

NSW Rural Doctors Network’s Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) provides scholarships and bursaries to help health professionals in rural and remote Australia retain and enhance their skills, capacity and scope of practice.

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District of Workforce Shortage and Area of Need

A District of Workforce Shortage (DSW) is a geographic area where the population’s need for healthcare has not been met.

Section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act) restricts overseas trained doctors (OTDs) and Foreign Graduates of Accredited Medical Schools (FGAMS) from accessing the Medicare benefits arrangements unless they choose to practice in a DWS for their medical speciality in order to access the Medicare benefits arrangements.

All OTDs and FGAMS who first started working as a doctor in Australia after 1996 are subject to section 19AB of the Act. DWS areas are determined by the Australian Government Department of Health using Australian Bureau of Statistics population data and Medicare billing data. To check if a location is a DWS, ‘Search the Map’ on the DoctorConnect website.

Area of Need is determined by the NSW Department of Health.

It assists employers who are experiencing difficulty recruiting medical practitioners with specialist registration. It allows the recruitment of suitably qualified International Medical Graduates to vacant positions approved as an Area of Need.

An Area of Need only applies to the particular position for which it was granted: it does not apply to a specific geographic area.

North Coast Primary Health Care Workforce Profile

In 2017-18, Healthy North Coast implemented the North Coast Primary Health Care Workforce Project. The Project aimed to better understand the North Coast primary health care workforce.

The Workforce Project delivered on its objectives and developed the first known North Coast Primary Health Care Workforce Profile.

This profile reveals an estimated 6,200 primary health care professionals working in non-government services across 22 professions and 46 occupation titles.

The Project found strong local knowledge of: 

  • General practitioners (GPs)
  • Practice nurses
  • Occupational therapists
  • Orthotists
  • Pharmacists
  • Podiatrists
  • Psychologists 

The Project identified local and national knowledge gaps for: 

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workers and practitioners
  • Counsellors
  • Mental health nurses
  • Nurses working in residential aged care facilities
  • Optometrists
  • Oral health professionals
  • Social workers

The Workforce project recommended implementing the Primary Health Care Workforce Planning Framework. The Summary Report contains further recommendations.

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