Thousands of IMGs facing 16-month bureaucratic ‘journey’ to work in Aus

GPs say they spend $33,380 on average in their quest to work in Australia.
Sarah Simpkins

The Federal Government has pledged to cut the time and cost of IMG bureaucracy after a review found GPs were waiting 16 months on average before starting work in Australia. 

Last year’s review, by former national mental health commissioner Robyn Kruk, commissioned consultancy firm Accenture to survey 1700 health practitioners who had moved to Australia since 2017.

The survey found that the “total journey length” for IMG GPs — from first considering Australia to starting practice — took a median of 70 weeks and, in some cases, over 130 weeks. 

Assessment fees, travel, extra study and other costs were on average $33,380 — and sometimes over $50,000.  

These included the thousands of dollars IMGs spent on assessment fees.

After a National Cabinet meeting in December, state and federal leaders said the latest $1.2 billion boost to health funding would cover its response to the review, although officials would not reveal how much of that was dedicated to cutting IMG red tape.

AHPRA said it had already scrapped face-to-face identity checks for granting registration back in December, saving IMGs the cost of extra flights to Australia. 

The Department of Health and Aged Care said the rules that prospective employers had to advertise locally before trying to recruit IMGs would also be wound back, cutting recruitment time frames by up to three months. 

It said relaxing the benchmark for English language tests to align with New Zealand and the UK would save IMGs time and money as well. 

The planned changes were expected to improve pass rates from 26% to 40%, saving some IMGs the $410 cost of resitting the test, a spokesperson said. 

The review also recommended that AHPRA, immigration officials and other agencies establish a single portal for documentation so IMGs would not have to resubmit the same paperwork.

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