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Where can you work?  A guide to DWS GP jobs in Australia

You may have heard that GPs trained outside Australia are required to work in a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS).  Here we offer a guide to this requirement, where you can work, and to DWS GP jobs in Australia.

Section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act) requires Overseas Trained Doctors to practise in a DWS area for a period of ten years. This begins with the date of their first medical registration in Australia. The ten year period is commonly referred to as a moratorium.

The purpose of the act is to ensure that the workforce is equitably distributed across the country. It is designed to direct Overseas Trained Doctors (OTDs) into the jobs in Australia where the most acute needs are not currently being met.

The majority of the jobs you will find on this website are suitable for UK GPs who are subject to the DWS restrictions.  It is commonly thought that DWS jobs can only be found in the out-back. Despite this, we have vacancies across Australia. This includes some in pockets around the major cities of Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Brisbane.

For more information about DWS GP jobs that may be suitable for you. Please do get in touch or complete the form above and one of our team will make contact with you.

The DWS areas are re-evaluated every year, generally around February.  There are signs that in recent years these areas have been shrinking somewhat. However, it is predicted that the shortage of GPs in Australia is likely to continue for many years to come.  Our advice is, to get the very best jobs, apply now!

You can check which areas are DWS on the Department’s map at a map that allows you to look up addresses across Australia.

Other exemptions to the 19AB act

Districts of Workforce Shortage (DWS) is by far the most common route for a UK GP to get an exemption from the 19AB act and be able to work in Australia. There are some other exemptions that may apply.  Here is a quick summary of the various exemptions available:

  • District of Workforce Shortage – providing you work in an area designated as DWS, you will have the freedom to work as any Australian GP works in that location.
  • After hours exemption – it is possible to work anywhere in Australia in an after hours capacity. From 6pm to 8am weekdays, and all weekend.
  • Locum exemption – it is possible to work anywhere in Australia as a locum for a period of up to 6 months. This is eligible for a 19AB exemption. We have a few clients with multiple practices in the same city. So it is possible to have a 12-month contract, with 2 x 6-month placements. Scheduling these can be a bit tricky but if your dates are relatively flexible it is possible.
  • Spousal exemption – if your partner is a GP one of you may qualify for an exemption. The criteria for these exemptions was recently tightened so it can actually be very difficult to obtain, contrary to what some agents tell you. For the most accurate advice please contact us to discuss your situation.
  • Other exemptions – There are other exemptions that may be practice or situation specific. Contact us and we will let you know if you qualify for one of these 19AB exemptions.

Our team at Alecto have worked in the industry for many years and have extensive experience in obtaining  all types of exemptions.

More Questions?

For more information about the DWS restriction, please make contact with our Registration Manager. You can do this by emailing Megan Lewis, at

For more information about obtaining a DWS GP job in Australia, please do get in touch!  You can leave a message, give us a call or complete the form above and one of our team will make contact with you.

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