Everything You Need to Know About the General Practice Rural Incentives Program

Kangaroo sign in the Australian outback

The General Practice Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP) began in July 2010 as a component of the Rural Health Workforce Strategy. As the name implies, the GPRIP was created to encourage GPs to provide primary health care services in rural and remote communities by offering a financial incentive. The program also promotes careers in rural medicine.

New eligibility criteria for the GPRIP was introduced in July 2015 when the program moved to a different classification system – Modified Monash Category – to determine eligible locations and more effectively target areas that experience greater difficulty attracting and retaining GPs.


Eligible locations are determined according to residential population data from the 2011 Census. There are five remoteness categories and each attracts a different incentive payment rate.

The rate also increases according to the GPs year level, which refers to the duration of active service within the program. The current GP rural incentives program payment rates range from $4,500 to $60,000.

Payment of incentive programs via the Central Payment System (CPS) is administered by the Department of Human Services on behalf of the Department of Health. Eligible medical practitioners for the General Practice Rural Incentives Program are assessed each quarter.

In addition to location and duration of active service, GPRIP payments are based on the eligible services that have been processed by the Department of Human Services. An active quarter is one where the value of Medicare billed items for services meets the minimum of $6k and GP rural incentives program participants must achieve four active quarters within an eight quarter period in order to receive a payment.

Medical practitioners who provide eligible non-Medicare services and/or undertake recognised training can apply to receive payments through the Flexible Payment System (FPS). This is managed through the Rural Workforce Agency in each state or territory.

To be eligible for GPRIP, GPs must also have a current Medicare provider number and have lodged current bank account details with the Department of Human Services.

GPs billing but not meeting the maximum threshold required for payment may be assessed under the CPS and FPS if they also meet other eligibility requirements.

Medical practitioners may also choose to opt out of the GP rural incentives program at any time. Because incentive payments must be declared for tax purposes, it is advisable for recipients to seek professional advice in relation to tax arrangements.

In November this year all documentation was updated, however there has been no change to eligibility or program requirements. It is the responsibility of the eligible medical practitioners to ensure they are operating under the current version. Program guidelines for the General Practice Rural Incentives Program can be obtained from the Australian Government Department of Health.

If you’re interested in a challenging and rewarding career, then perhaps working in rural Australia is an option for you. Feel free to view our regional job vacancies for your next employment opportunity.