In a move hoping to entice more doctors to rural areas, Coonabarabran has been included in towns classified as a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) which gives the town immediate access to pools of overseas qualified doctors. The good news is that Coonabarabran doesn’t even have to prove there is a shortage of doctors in town, doctors can be hired immediately from the pool of qualified GPs. Coonabarabran earned its DWS status as it is recognised as a rural or remote town.
Usually overseas qualified doctors (who have been retested for equivalent Australian qualifications) have to wait 10 years till they can access Medicare, but if they are employed in a DWS they can access Medicare immediately and so practice. The RDAA (Rural Doctors Association of Australia) has given support to the move but wants “skills as well as numbers” to be a focus on remedying the rural doctor number crisis.