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Distribution Priority Area (DPA) has arrived!

31 Jul 15:00 by the Medical Recruitment team

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Four weeks in, the dust has settled on the new DPA landscape and as you can see from the map the DPA area is vast but the opportunity closer to Metro is few and far between.

The Distribution Priority Areas (DPA) is the classification system that replaced District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) assessment for general practitioners and bonded scholars. DPA classification identifies locations in Australia with a shortage in medical practitioners. Using the MMM catchment areas it calculates based on the number of General Practitioners (GPs) versus each demographic (age/gender) and socio-economic status in locations to accurately determine areas of need. It will be re-assessed every three years.

DPA also applies a number of blanket rules: 

  • MMM1 areas have automatically been classed as Non-DPA. 
  • MMM2-4 is assessed as DPA if the ratio of doctor to patient is below the required amount needed to service that area. 
  • MMM5-7 areas have automatically been updated to DPA. 

Top locations now with DPA status

  • QLD - Toowoomba, Bundaberg
  • NSW - Batemans Bay, Umina
  • VIC - Geelong, Ballarat
  • TAS - Launceston, Davenport
  • SA - Blackwood, Golden Grove
  • WA - Busselton, Broome
  • NT - Automatically deemed DPA

So, what are your options if you’re 19AB restricted, in a former DWS location, MMM1 and unhappy?

If you choose to leave your current practice you are able to take up another GP position if it falls within the same distribution priority catchment. 

Other exemptions which may allow you to work in a non-DPA location are as follows:

  • Replacement exemption
    • You may be eligible for an exemption from 19AB if you replace a doctor who held an unrestricted 19AB exemption.
    • The doctor you replaced must have ceased working at the practice and in the local area.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Services Exemption
    • You can work as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Service that holds an exemption under s19(2) of the Health Insurance Act 1973. 

  • Academic exemption
    • You can seek an academic exemption if all of the following apply: 
      • you have satisfied 19AA
      • you are employed in an academic appointment with an Australian medical school
      • you perform clinical services as part of your academic appointment
    • This exemption does not apply to private practices without teaching responsibilities.

  • Specialties in acute shortage exemption
    • cardiothoracic surgery
    • dermatology
    • emergency medicine
    • endocrinology
    • geriatric medicine
    • gastroenterology
    • general medicine
    • haematology
    • intensive care medicine
    • nephrology
    • neurology
    • neurosurgery
    • orthopaedic surgery
    • otolaryngology
    • paediatric medicine
    • paediatric surgery
    • palliative medicine
    • pain medicine
    • plastic and reconstructive surgery
    • rehabilitation medicine
    • rheumatology
    • sports and exercise medicine
    • thoracic medicine
    • urology
    • vascular surgery

  • Locum exemption 
    • You can work up to 6 months in an area that is not DPA

  • Spousal exemption 
    • You may be able to practice within a reasonable distance of your spouse’s primary place of employment.
    • You may be eligible if your spouse is a medical practitioner or a skilled migrant


Medical Recruitment pride ourselves in being specialists in the field of General Practitioner Recruitment and we have many Permanent and Locum PositionsWe welcome any questions, queries or input in relation to this article, any current changes or anything GP career or job related. Feel free to contact us to discuss your personal requirements and situation.