Q: Why work in Australia?
A: Because of the people and the lifestyle. The vast majority of people who choose to come to Australia do so because of the lifestyle and high standard of living that Australia offers. From the city to the outback, Australia is a spectacular country for work and play.
Australia also has an excellent health care system with advanced facilities and medical infrastructure. Many doctors choose to move to Australia because of the opportunities for career development.
In addition, Australia is a growing centre for medical research with rapidly increasing resources targeted to this.
The major provider of healthcare services in Australia is the Public Health System (Medicare). This is a comprehensive free-of-charge healthcare service for all Australian citizens covering both hospital-based and community-based medical services.
Those who have experienced working in Australia will always compare it very favourably to working in other countries. As a rule, Australians (both patients and staff) are very laid back and so this creates a very informal and friendly working environment.
The dress code varies from hospital to hospital but is usually much more casual than would be found in many parts of the US or UK. Doctors as a rule do not wear white coats and most do not wear ties either. It is not uncommon for doctors in rural hospitals to wear very casual clothing such as jeans and a short-sleeved shirt but as a general rule smart casual clothing is normally required.
The actual hospitals in Australia as a rule tend to be very well equipped with all the latest technology and facilities.
Radiology and pathology services have been corporatised in Australia in recent years and so digital radiology, image distribution systems, extremely rapid pathology investigations, same-day reporting etc are all normal practice in Australia.
Almost all hospitals in Australia will usually have an in-hospital intranet for dispersing medical information and test results within the hospital and some hospitals are in the process of moving to wireless technology for the dispersion of results and medical data.
Healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses hold far greater power and authority in Australia within the hospital system than is usually found in other countries. Professional groups representing nurses and doctors are very strong here, with most of the hospital directors and senior managerial staff being doctors and nurses themselves who are keen to protect the interests of healthcare workers.
Q: What’s it like to work in Australia?
A: It is difficult to answer the question. In the major cities and large town, a doctors life is very similar to to the UK. Just as a GP’s life in London is completely different to life in the outer Hebrides, so it is for Australia. Generally speaking the whole of the east coast of Australia is well populated and varies from the tropical north of Queensland to the temperate climate of Victoria.
This video gives an insight into the inland interior of South Australia, north of Adelaide.
Q: What is the process for applying to Austmedics?
A: Please submit your CV via the Submit Your CV page. Once we have received your CV one of our recruitment consultants will assess your CV and a consultant will be in touch with you to discuss and further understand your employment plans and interests, and answer any questions you may have about working in Australia.
Q: What happens if a Hospital or Health Service has offered me an interview?
A: If you accept an offer of an interview from a health service provider Austmedics will forward your preferred contact number for the interviewer/panel to call you at an agreed time for an interview. Most interviews will be by telephone or Skype.
Q: What happens next if I am offered and accept a position?
A: We will send you a contract from the employer for you to sign, and will then assist you with your Medical Board registration and visa/immigration applications, together with your new employer.
This is the time consuming part for Austmedics not you, we aim to minimise to time for you. Austmedics will fill all the forms and present the completed forms for you to sign at one time. This will have to be done in the presence of a public notary
Q: Does Austmedics charge me a fee for your recruitment services?
Q: Who pays for the medical registration and visa application fees?
A: These costs are usually your responsibility as they relate to your professional registration requirements and ability to practice in Australia, and are eligible for a tax deduction against your income. Some employers may be willing to provide some assistance with meeting these costs, or with some reimbursement on completion of your contract.
Q: How long is the average placement?
A: Austmedics primarily deals in permanent or fixed term placements of candidates with employers for 12 months or longer. The Australian clinical year runs from the second week of January. Most overseas doctors are offered posts of one year’s duration and occasionally 6 months.
Any shorter posts are made difficult by the amount of paperwork and administration involved, as the time to generally obtain registration and a visa can take up to 4-6 months.
Q: Who will pay for my relocation?
A: This often depends on the location your are appointed to. Most of our clients will provide assistance to foreign doctors with their relocation expenses. The amount paid up front or reimbursed depends on the policies of the individual hospital or health service and should be discussed with your Austmedics consultant prior to your accepting a placement.
Q: Will accommodation be supplied?
A: This also often depends on the location you are appointed to, and the Hospital or Health Service. Some Health Services provide subsidised accommodation or rental assistance, but this is generally in the more rural and remote locations. Almost all our clients will provide some form of temporary accommodation when you first arrive which can include staff quarters at a hospital, furnished apartments or a hotels/motel.
Accommodation assistance will be discussed with you and you employer, prior to your acceptance of any placement.
Q: Is the information I provide to Austmedics private?
A: At Austmedics we abide by very strict rules with regards to candidate confidentiality. When you provide information to us we store that information securely and we only send out your details to our clients after we have gained your permission to do so, and you have confirmed your interest in the role.
You may provide us with general permission to distribute your CV as soon as we know a position in which you are interested has arisen. In these circumstances, we will always inform you when we forward your details and provide some initial information about the employer and the role so that you are aware of where your personal details are going.
Q: Do I have to provide my own medical indemnity insurance?
A: Medical indemnity insurance is usually provided by your employer, and you will be advised if it is not provided as part of your offer of employment. If you are responsible for your own coverage then the rates are comparable to the UK. See below.
Q: What medical tests will I be required to have?
A: Requirements vary throughout our destinations, however you may be required to have chest X-rays, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and other tests. Our recruitment consultant will advise you what is required for each location that you are considering.
Q: Do I need character checks/police clearances?
A: Depending on your destination and class of visa, you may be required to obtain Police Clearances in Australia or from the country your are coming from, in order to confirm your employment offer or to obtain a visa. You will be advised should this be necessary.
Q: Do I need private health insurance while I am living/working in Australia?
A: Australia has health care reciprocal agreements with several European countries (see Medicare for further details) for health care in Australia but it is usually advisable and a visa/immigration requirement that you take out private health insurance unless you have permanent residency in Australia. There is a very wide choice of health insurance policies for visitors to Australia, which you can review by following the link below. Some employers will provide you with the option of joining their Employer funded scheme.
iselect for the best policy.
Q: Will I be subject to an English Language Test?
A: Yes you will if your secondary education was not in a country where English is the first language and if you do not already hold General Registration in Australia. The following exams and results are required for registration with the State Medical Boards:
IELTS – 7 and above for each component/module
OET – B and above
PLAB 1 & 2 – Pass
ECFMG – Pass
Q: What if I completed my IELTS exam over two years ago?
A: You will need to provide evidence of having completed your IELTS exam and this must be in the form of an original results certificate issued by the IELTS test centre. An exemption may be granted (depending on the assessing Medical Board) if you achieved a satisfactory result more than 2 years ago and can demonstrate that you have continued working as a medical doctor in an English-speaking environment continuously after completing the exam.
Q: What if I have completed an English Language test other than the IELTS in the last two years – am I exempt?
A: If you can provide evidence of completion in the last 2 years of any of the following tests, this can be used in place of the IELTS exam:
– OET (Occupational English Test) – Grades of A or B only in each of the 4 components
– PLAB (Professional Linguistic Assessment) – pass
– NZREX (New Zealand Registration Exam) – pass
Satisfactory results from the above exams must be obtained in one sitting.
Q: What is Medicare?
A: Medicare was introduced in Australia in 1984 as a Federal Government administered health Insurance. It aims to provide high quality healthcare, which is affordable and accessible to all Australians. Medicare includes free or subsidised treatment from medical practitioners as well as some services from Allied health and dental practitioners. It also provides subsidies for prescribed medicines (with a safety net providing free medicines for the chronically ill).
Medicare benefits are paid based on a comprehensive list of services and corresponding benefits which is the Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS). If the Medical Practitioner provides an eligible service such as a consultation at the MBS recommended fee the patient pays no fee at the point of care and this is often referred to as Bulk Billing. If the Medical Practitioner provides a service and elects to charge more than the MBS recommended fee the patient pays the higher fee and then claims back the MBS fee from Medicare.
Some services under medicare and at public hospitals have long waiting lists and for this and other reasons many Australians have private medical Insurance as well as being able to access the benefits of Medicare.
Q: What is a Provider Number?
A: To work as a Medical Practitioner in private practice in Australia, you must have a Medicare Provider Number. Provider numbers are location specific so you will need one for each location in which you practice. There are different levels of Medicare access under the provider number scheme depending on Medical Board Registration and satisfying the legislative requirements on accessing Medicare rebates.
A Medicare Provider Number may allow a doctor to:
1. Raise referrals for specialist services; and
2. Make requests for pathology or Diagnostic Imaging services.
Where the doctor satisfies the legislative requirements, their Provider number may also be used to:
3. Attract Medicare rebates for professional services rendered (that is, treat private patients).
International Medical Graduates are subject to Medicare Provider number restrictions if they require the third type of Medicare Provider number listed above (see the section on the Medicare 10 year moratorium).
These Medicare Provider number restrictions affect where an IMG can work in Australia and are determined by both residency status and when the IMG first registered in Australia. Medicare Provider numbers are issued by Medicare Australia), after an IMG has been offered a job and has obtained the relevant Medical Board registration.
Q: What are the types of Immigration Visas available for International Medical Graduates?
A: Austmedics will deal with all the applications for visa’s however detailed below are outlined the general guidelines. We would be happy to discuss your paticular circumstances and requirements.
IMGs once they have gained their Medical Board registration will then need to apply for a visa that allows them to commence work in Australia. It should be noted that this does not apply to New Zealand Citizens who are considered temporary resident doctors indefinitely and do not need to apply for a visa. Other overseas trained doctors can enter Australia to work on either a temporary or permanent visa.
In many cases, the most streamlined pathway for overseas trained doctors seeking permanent residency in Australia is to initially be employed and sponsored as a Temporary Resident while meeting the requirements to obtain full Medical Registration. Doctors are not eligible for Permanent Residency in Australia until they hold full registration.
The two temporary visa options open to IMGs are:
Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa (subclass 457)
The Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa is the preferred Temporary Visa pathway for doctors entering Australia, as it allows applicants to take advantage of streamlined processing arrangements which include the ability to lodge applications over the internet using a special online application form. This type of visa can be valid for 3 months to 4 years. The visa is done online and in three parts as below:
Sponsorship – Employer applies to be a sponsor
Nomination – Employer nominates a position
Visa Application – Employee applies for a visa
Doctors should generally apply for a Temporary Business (Long Stay) visa (subclass 457) (457 Visa). Employers must lodge a separate Sponsorship Application for each doctor sponsored.
A 457 Visa has a number of advantages including
- work in Australia for a period of between one day and four (4) years
- bring any eligible secondary applicants with them to Australia – secondary applicants can work and study
- after entering Australia, have no limit on the number of times they travel in and out of Australia.
Information about visas and Immigration issues can be found on the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs .
Q: How long will a temporary Visa allow me to work in Australia?
A: A doctor will be able to work in Australia for up to 4 years on a Temporary Working Visa as long as a health care facility sponsors them. We would recommend that you apply for a 4 year visa, which can lead to full citizenship.
Q: How long does it normally take to get registered in Australia?
A: There is no short answer, but the absolute minimum period of time for a simple junior doctor application with no complications would be about 6 weeks. A typical application should allow for 3-6 months, to be on the safe side.
For complicated or senior placements, 6 months would be a minimum amount of time to safely allocate and this should be considered when contemplating start dates.
Q: What sort of drivers license do I need?
A: You can drive for up to three months after becoming an Australian resident in all States and Territories, if you have a driver’s license from another country in English or with an official translation.
After the initial three months, you will be required to apply for an Australian driving license. The rules for obtaining an Australian driving license vary among the States and Territories and some may require you to complete practical driver testing
More information about obtaining an Australian driving license in particular States and Territories.
Q: What is the taxation rate in Australia?
A: You will find for practical purposes that the level of taxation in Australia are similar to the UK. However combined with, higher salary levels, the 25% lower cost of living and GST (VAT) at 10% you will be better off financially.
For a direct comparison between the same levels of income complete the calculators below, remember to convert the UK salary to Australian Dollars.
UK Tax Calculation
Australian Tax Calculation
A GP in Australia would earn around $250,000 depending on location and hours or £146,000 at July 2010 exchange rate.
Australian Tax Due: $87000
UK Tax due: $87000
For Doctors working in Public Hospitals there is a FBT concession which effectively means that an additional $17,000 of income can be taken tax free. You will need to discuss this with an accountant in Australia before you start work.
Taxation and Superannuation need to be discussed with an Australian accountant before you start work to maximise your income and legally minimise your tax bill.
Q: What is the currency conversion to Australian $?
A: XE for currency conversion.
Q: When do I become a resident for tax purposes in Australia?
A: There are two basic tests to ascertain whether you are a resident for tax purposes in Australia:
Did you spend more than 6 months in Australia? If you spend more than 183 days in Australia during an Australian tax year (1/7 to 30/6) you are tax resident in Australia from 1 July.
Where do you reside (i.e. where do you eat, sleep and hang-up your clothes)? You are a tax resident from the date of first residing as a matter of practice.
For practical purposes you will probably be an Australian tax resident from the date of first arrival.
The Australian financial year is from 1 July to 30 June. By 31 October each year all Australian taxpayers must complete a tax return. The Australian Taxation Office provides the TaxPack, a self-assessment system for each taxpayer to declare their income and allowances.
Every Australian resident who earns income from employment or investment must obtain a Tax File Number (TFN). You should apply for your TFN soon after arrival, either at one of the Tax offices, at Centrelink or online. Within 10-28 days you will receive your TFN. If you become employed prior to receiving your TFN, let your employer know that you’ve applied. Otherwise you will be taxed on a highest rate.
The Tax Office, in conjunction with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has developed an online registration process that enables permanent migrants and temporary visitors to Australia, who have a visa that allows work rights or permanent migration, to apply for an individual tax file number (TFN) via the Internet on their web site. Go to ‘For Individuals’ and then ‘Apply for a Tax File Number.’
For those who plan on running their own business (this includes medical practitioners in private practice – such as GPs, and specialists), you will need to register for an Australian Business Number (ABN). If you plan to earn in excess of $50,000.00 in one financial year from your business, you also must register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Information about taxation obligations of a business and GST can be found on the Australian Taxation Office website in the ‘For Business’ section.