Page MP Janelle Saffin has welcomed the new Australian Government initiatives being rolled out from today (July 1) that will attract and keep doctors in the local area.

Ms Saffin said the Government has changed the classification of rural and remote areas and now Lismore, Alstonville, Ballina, Wardell and Wollongbar have been included in the list of areas that can offer incentives to attract and keep GPs.

“I lobbied for these local centres to be included, and worked with local doctor Andrew Binns to push for these changes which have now been delivered,” she said.

“This means that the all of the Page electorate is now eligible to offer incentives to attract and keep GPs.

“The changed classification was long overdue as the previous government based the incentive system on population figures from 1991.

“The Australian Government is investing is a total of $134.4 million to encourage doctors to relocate and stay in rural areas as part of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy.”

Significant changes include:

  • The incentives apply to fully-trained GPs, where previously it was only registrars
  • Relocation grants of $15,000 to $30,000 for city doctors to move to our area
  • Retention grants that increase for every year the doctor stays in the area
  • HECS reimbursement scheme
  • Incentives to attract overseas-trained doctors.

Under the Rural Health Workforce Strategy, the incentives are scaled to provide the greatest rewards to those doctors willing to work in the most remote locations.

An important part of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy is the locum program of incentives and training packages to support city doctors doing locums for doctors in country areas, so country doctors can have adequate rest and professional development.

Ms Saffin said these incentives benefit all residents of Page by encouraging more doctors to move here, as well as keeping local GPs in the area.