In preparation for the changes in DWS classified locations, we wanted to explain who is restricted by 19AB, what DWS means and what exemptions are available! 




Overseas Trained Doctors are restricted by 19AB when they commence as a medical practitioner in Australia.  


As part of this restriction, you will be required to work in a DWS area until you have completed a 10-year moratorium to claim Medicare Benefits.  


Your moratorium can be scaled depending on the area you are working in! So, if you are working in an area of a high RRMA classification, your moratorium can be reduced.  


The best way to check how much time you have left on your moratorium is to call Medicare. 




DWS stands for District of Workforce Shortage.  


This is an area where the general populations need for medical services is not being met and they require more doctors within the area. 


The classification of DWS areas is updated yearly and these changes are implemented in the first few months of the year.  


If you need to check the DWS status of a practice or area, you can do so at DoctorConnect – http://www.doctorconnect.gov.au/internet/otd/publishing.nsf/Content/locator 




Unlike 19AA, you can receive an exemption from 19AB and be allowed to work in a Non-DWS area. 


There are various 19AB exemptions, so it is important to check your eligibility. We have outlined the available exemptions below: 


General 19AB Exemption: 

A General 19AB exemption is available in 2 different circumstances. If you have commenced negotiations for employment at the practice prior to the area losing DWS status, you will be eligible for a 19AB exemption. For this, you will need to provide proof to Medicare of the negotiations.  


You will also be eligible for a General Exemption if an OTD who previously held a General 19AB Exemption leaves the practice/area and closes their Medicare Provider Number. The previous GP will need to sign a Statutory Declaration confirming they do not plan to return to the area and the new GP will need to commence within 12 months of the Medicare Provider Number closing. 


Provision of Services at Commonwealth funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Care Services 


If a GP is providing medical services or has commenced negotiations to provide a medical service at an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Primary Health Care Services, they may be eligible for a 19AB exemption.  


The Department aims to increase the number of medical practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, so despite the area of the practice this exemption will be available. 


Spousal Exemption 

You will be eligible for a spousal exemption if your partner is a medical practitioner that is not restricted by 19AB or if your partner holds a General Skilled Migration Visa and is currently employed within this occupation.  


To be granted a Spousal Exemption you will need to be working within a close proximity to your partner. 


Locum Exemption 

A 19AB exemption will be available if you are providing locum services at a practice.  


The GP will be granted a 19AB exemption for the practice for a maximum of 6 months, as long as they have not previously provided services at the practice. After 6 months, you can commence locum services in another practice or change to a DWS practice. 


Class Exemptions 

Class exemptions are available when you are providing medical services either through a relevant 3GA program (i.e. SAPP) or through an Academic Class Exemption.  


You will be eligible for an Academic Class Exemption if you are employed in an academic appointment with an Australian Medical School if the medical services are performed through their academic appointment. 


After Hours Exemption 

If you are working in an after-hours clinic or during the after-hours periods only, you will be eligible for a 19AB exemption during these periods. This means you will be able to work before 8am and after 6pm on Weekdays, after 12pm on Saturdays and all-day Sundays and on Public Holidays. 




If you are looking for further guidance on 3GA Programs or would like to ask further questions about the information mentioned, this is something our team can help you with. Contact us directly on [email protected]. 


Information for this blog has been taken directly from: 



People Medical Consulting are a team of professionals with a passion for guiding those specialising in the Medical industry to find their career pathway and settle into Australia. Working with both Australian trained and Overseas trained professionals, we have extensive experience in Recruitment of General Practitioners and Document Assistance for those requiring support with RACGP, AHPRA, 19AA and 19AB Medicare Exemptions. 

Related Articles