Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program - CLOSED

The Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program was developed in response to the catastrophic flooding which occurred across the Northern Rivers region in March 2022 to assist primary care teams through the recovery period.

The program aimed to retain the primary care workforce by supporting:

  • Rest and relief for an overworked workforce
  • Debriefing and resilience amongst teams
  • Individual capacity to be responsive to patient needs

There was also the opportunity for people to express interest in supporting other local services through the local buddy model.

Feedback and consultation with local clinicians working in the flood-affected regions shaped the development of the program’s three key initiatives.

Debrief and Wellbeing

Looking after yourself and your team following a flood event is an important part of the flood-recovery process.   

Following feedback and consultation with local services, a tailored program was developed to support teams and individuals and were delivered by a local psychologist and/or experts in this area with flexible tailored to meet the needs of participants. 

The offers included:

  • Flexible funding to support team wellbeing
  • Trauma Informed Care for flood affected teams
  • Introduction to trauma informed care for gp/primary health practices

Offer 1

Flexible funding
to support team wellbeing
  • Flexible funding for team wellbeing activities
  • Simple application process
    (click 'More' for criteria information)
  • Available up until 30 June 2023
  • Limited funding available

Offer 2

Trauma-informed care
for flood-affected teams 
  • Two-session face-to-face program. Book a separate session for your entire team
  • 10 and 24th November 2022 3-7pm (dinner 6-7pm) Lismore
  • 9 and 23rd February 2023 3-7pm (dinner 6-7pm) Mullumbimby
  • Presented by Michaela Killips Pyschologist, Mullumbimby

Offer 3

Introduction to trauma-informed care for gp/primary health care practices
  • Two-hour face-to-face workshop Presented by Phoenix Australia
  • 18 January 2023
    10 — 1pm (including lunch)
  • 28 February 2023
    6-8.30pm (Including dinner) Kingscliff

Offer 4

Supporting individuals
after disaster (SID)
  • 90-minute self-paced online training resource
  • Free program
  • Developed by Phoenix Australia

Healthy North Coast’s Employee Assistance Program

Healthy North Coast’s Employee Assistance Program AccessEAP was extended to all primary care services in our region. 

AccessEAP engages and empowers, encourages early intervention when issues arise, and aims to increase individual resilience. It places people at the centre and helps to make complex issues manageable. 

Education and Training

Education and training have an important role in helping individuals and practices to provide effective support to flood-affected communities. Flood-resilient communities will be critical in an uncertain future of ‘accelerated’ climate change.

Healthy North Coast’s Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program recognised that every individual has different education and training needs and capacities. It offered a range of different education and training opportunities to choose from. Individuals and practices can register for as many of these offerings as they would like.


The education offer included:

  • Trauma informed organisations: Supporting community after disaster
  • Screening for PTSD

Offer 1

Trauma-informed organisations:
Supporting community after disaster

Offer 2

Screening for
  • 2.5 hour face-to-face clinical society meeting with dinner
  • 6.00pm - 8.30pm
  • Tweed Valley - 21 Nov 2022
    Lismore, Casino & Kyogle – 22 Nov 2022
    Ballina & Byron – 28 Nov 2022
    Clarence Valley – 6 Dec 2022
  • Learn more and register below

Workforce Support and R&R

Providing workforce support immediately after the floods via mobile medical services, mobile locums and 24/7 telehealth ensured the community could continue to access primary care services.

Recognising the ongoing importance of supporting the local workforce to continue to rest and recover, a workforce support program was developed. This allowed any individual (GPs, nurses, administrators or allied health professionals) to have a break, and take their leave, knowing there will be cover while they are away.

The program was co-designed with local providers and recognised that multiple avenues were needed to support requests across the region.

The following principles were used to guide the development of this program:

  • Importance of keeping the workforce support local.
    Having a local ‘buddy up system’, or a collaborative approach across GP practices is about helping each other out.
  • Local clinicians have an enhanced understanding of local pathways and services and an understanding of the impacts of floods in the community.
    ‘Out of town’ locums may struggle to connect to networks, lack knowledge of local pathway and referral routes. May be challenged to understand what the community (including services have been through).
  • Local collective is seen as ‘better value for money’, meaning the funding will go further, supporting more patients and local teams.
    Having a collective attitude and collaborative approach where we help each other, will ensure we all come out of this better and have better relationships going forward.

Workforce support available

This was available when a practice identified its own workforce support solution, e.g. had a clinician to support the specific requirements and who weren’t a part of the existing staffing team or contracting profile. 

This innovative new ‘local buddy model’ was developed with feedback from local clinicians who wanted to ‘keep workforce support local’. 

The program: 

  • identifed and matched available local workforce capacity (GPs, nurses, allied health and administration staff) to local teams/individuals needing support to take a rest and have a break 
  • incentivised local practices/clinicians to ‘buddy up’ and provided support where it is most needed 
  • To make this new model a success, Healthy North Coast asked for: 
  1. Local practices and clinicians who could offer up skills and time to register their interest and availability on the Healthy North COast website 
  1.  Practices / clinicians who were needing support to take a break/rest register their requirements on the Healthy North Coast   
  • Healthy North Coast worked with both ‘supporting’ and ‘recipient’ practices/individuals to match available capacity to the highest need. 

Healthy North Coast remunerated local clinicians/administrators to offer support, by paying: 

  • GPs — guaranteed daily rate of $1,400 (8-hour day) 
  • Registered nurses — $60/hour 
  • Administrators — $45/ hour 
  • Healthy North Coast also recognised and remunerated the time required for: 
  • a practice to support staff to offer their time/skills/availability to another practice, and 
  • a practice to support and encourage their staff to take time off to rest. 

If A and B have been explored with no results, a practice could go direct to a locum agency. Healthy North Coast provided funding to cover the ‘pure locum costs’ minus any MBS income (GP placements).

Workforce support criteria

  • Available to primary care services within flood-impacted communities (Tweed to Clarence Valley).
  • Available to support short-term workforce coverage, allowing clinicians to rest and recover.
  • Workforce-support funding in total was capped for each site, over a 12-month period:
    • $20k for GPs and/or
    • $10K for nursing and/or
    • $10k administration support and/or
    • $10K allied/pharmacy and other.
  • The support worker (GP, nurse, pharmacist, administrator) was permitted to work a maximum of 20 days / calendar year (if using the local buddy model).
  • Program was not to be used to fill gaps in staffing that have not been able to recruit to and not to replace existing staff.
  • All workforce support requests were to be submitted via the workforce support request form prior to any workforce support commencing. Healthy North Coast then assessed requirements and agreed funding available directly with the service requesting support.
  • Priority was given to sites that have immediate, short-term workforce support needs. Requests were reviewed and supported on a case-by-case basis.
  • Program funding was administered via RCTI (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) payments following receipt of an invoice outlining costs incurred and MBS income (as applicable).
  • Participating sites provided feedback to Healthy North Coast via a simple feedback form.


If you require more information on the program please contact your primary health coordinator.