Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program

The Workforce Support and Wellbeing Program has been 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 aims 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 is 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 have 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 has been developed to support teams and individuals and includes: 

  • delivery by a local psychologist and/or experts in this area
  • flexible content which can be tailored to meet the needs of participants, and
    a free easily accessed program.

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

On top of the Workforce Support and Wellbeing initiatives listed above, Healthy North Coast’s Employee Assistance Program AccessEAP has been 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. You can call AccessEAP on 1800 818 728. 

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 recognises that every individual has different education and training needs and capacities. It offers 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.

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 has been developed. This is to allow 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 recognises that multiple avenues will be needed to support requests across the region.

The following principles have been 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

Available when a practice identifies its own workforce support solution, e.g. knows of a clinician who is available to support the specific requirements and who is not part of the existing staffing team or contracting profile.  

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

The program will:

  • identify and match 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
  • incentivise local practices/clinicians to ‘buddy up’ and provide support where it is most needed

To make this new model a success, Healthy North Coast is asking for:

  1. Local practices and clinicians who can offer up skills and time to register their interest and availability here
  2. Practices / clinicians who are needing support to take a break/rest to register their requirements here

Healthy North Coast will work with both ‘supporting’ and ‘recipient’ practices/individuals to match available capacity to the highest need.

Healthy North Coast will remunerate 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 recognises and will remunerate 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.

For more details on how this model will work, review the following scenarios, and check the program’s criteria below:

Workforce support scenarios

Allied health (e.g. pharmacist)

If A and B have been explored with no results, a practice can go direct to a locum agency. Healthy North Coast will provide 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 is 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) is permitted to work a maximum of 20 days / calendar year (if using the local buddy model).
  • Program is 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 will need to be submitted via the workforce support request form prior to any workforce support commencing. Healthy North Coast will assess requirements and agree funding available directly with the service requesting support.
  • Priority will be given to sites that have immediate, short-term workforce support needs. Requests will be reviewed and supported on a case-by-case basis.
  • Program funding will be administered via RCTI (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) payments following receipt of an invoice outlining costs incurred and MBS income (as applicable).
  • Participating sites will provide feedback to Healthy North Coast via a simple feedback form.


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