Below you'll find answers to our most frequently asked questions

Working in Australia

  • Can I work anywhere in Australia?

    The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) allows doctors (and other health professionals) to work anywhere in Australia and lists any restrictions or conditions on registration.

    • All doctors working in Australia must have general registration with AHPRA
    • Specialists can also have specialist registration with AHPRA
      If you are a New Zealand trained doctor with no restrictions on your registration with the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) you are eligible for registration in Australia.
      New Zealand trained General Practitioners with their Fellowship of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (FRNZCGP) will be highly regarded by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)

    • If it is the first time you are registering with AHPRA, registration can take anywhere up to six weeks to be approved and you may be required to attend an interview when you arrive in Australia. Wavelength will assist in facilitating the entire process.
  • What pay can I expect as a locum in Australia?

    Locum rates are generally not fixed and can vary greatly depending on your level of experience, grade, specialty, hospital location, the amount of responsibility you have, the length of contract and urgency of the start date.

    Rural hospitals or GP clinics often pay higher rates than metropolitan facilities, particularly if the locum is a ‘last-minute’ locum.

    • Specialists $2000 – $3000 AUD per day
    • Resident Medical Officers (RMO’s) $80 – $160 AUD per hour
    • Registrars $100 – $300 AUD per hour
    • General Practitioners $1000 – $3000 AUD per day

    * However, these rates are guidelines only as the locum market can and does fluctuate with rates often being subject to change and specialty.

  • Do I need to provide proof of immunisations?

    We highly recommend you provide us with proof of your immunisations to improve your chance of securing last minute locums and ensure you can start your locum on time.

    Proof of vaccination can be provided by:

    • copy of your vaccination record
    • results of a blood test showing the required level of immunity
    • letter from a GP OR Occupational Health Dept. with details of immunity status

    For more information regarding specific immunisations required for each client, please speak to your dedicated Recruitment Consultant.

  • Do I need medical indemnity?

    All locum doctors working as hospital PAYG employees (placed on the hospital payroll) will be covered by the hospital’s State Medical Indemnity Policy. Some hospitals also offer indemnity cover to sole traders and Pty Limited companies (contractors), for the duration of their locum.

    However, this is at the discretion of the hospital and Wavelength cannot insist that our clients provide guaranteed cover for a locum. Ultimately it is the hospital or practice’s decision and it is your responsibility to have an understanding of exactly what you are covered for, before commencing the locum.

    Regardless of whether the client provides you with medical indemnity cover for the duration of your locum, we strongly recommend that all locum doctors working in Australia have their own private medical indemnity cover at all times.

    For further advice and information on Australian indemnity please visit the MDA National Website https://www.mdanational.com.au/ or call 1800 011 255

  • What will my working conditions be like?

    At Wavelength International, our recruitment consultants always work on your behalf when negotiating remuneration, travel and accommodation.

    Whether you are a Specialist, GP, Registrar or RMO we establish what the working conditions will be like and what level of support you will have access to prior to you committing to a particular position.

    Before agreeing to accept a locum role, if you wish to speak to a member of staff from a particular hospital to find out more about a role, we are more than happy to arrange a telephone discussion on your behalf.

Australian Work Visa

  • Is the 457 work visa still in effect?

    The 457 visa was made redundant as of the 18th March 2018 and has now been replaced with the TSS 482 visa.

  • What happens if I am the holder of a 457 visa? Can I apply for another work visa?

    Anyone with a 457 visa can still continue to work in Australia until the expiry date of their 457 visa.

    If your occupation is still on the immigration occupation list, you can apply for a new work visa which is the TSS visa – Subclass 482.

  • How long will my new visa be valid for?

    Depending on your occupation, you may be eligible for a 2 year work visa (if your occupation is on the short term skilled occupation list) or you may be eligible for a 4 year visa (if your occupation is on the medium and long term strategic skills list).

  • Does the visa have any work experience requirements?

    Yes you will need to provide evidence that you have worked in the nominated occupation, or a related field, for at least two years.

  • Can I work part time on the Subclass 482 visa?

    The 482 visa is a full time visa and therefore requires the applicant to work on a full time basis.

  • Does the 482 visa have an age requirement?

    No there are no age requirements for the Subclass 482 visa.

  • Are there age requirements that apply when applying for permanent residency?

    Yes if you are applying for an Employer nomination or a Skilled visa application, the age limit at time of application is under 45 years of age.

  • Are there age exemptions that apply?

    Yes the following age exemptions will apply for medical practitioners

    • you are applying through the Temporary Residence Transition stream and have been working for your nominating employer as the holder of a TSS or subclass 457 visa for the last three years and your earnings were at least equivalent to the Fair Work High Income Threshold for each year over that period
    • you are a medical practitioner and you meet all of the below:
      • you have been working in your nominated occupation as the holder of a TSS or subclass 457 visa for at least three years immediately before applying
      • for two of those years, you were employed in regional Australia
      • the nominated position is located in regional Australia
  • Where can I find more information?

    You can find relatable visa information at the following link (The department of Home affairs)


English Language Policy

  • What is AHPRA’s English Language policy and how do I meet it?

    There are 4 ways in which you can meet AHPRA’s English Language policy:

    1. Primary Language Pathway:
      your primary language is English, and
      all of your primary and secondary education was taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country, and
      your tertiary qualifications in the relevant professional discipline were taught and assessed solely in English.

    2. Combined Secondary and Tertiary Education Pathway:
      at least two years of your secondary education was taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country, and
      your tertiary qualifications in the relevant professional discipline were taught and assessed solely in English in a recognised country.

    3. Extended Education Pathway:
      you have completed at least six years’ (FTE) continuous education taught and assessed solely in English, in any of the recognised
      countries, which includes tertiary qualifications in the relevant professional discipline.

    4. Test Pathway:
      you achieve the required minimum scores in one of the approved English language tests.
  • Which countries are recognised?

    There are 7 recognised countries:

    • Australia
    • Canada
    • New Zealand
    • Republic of Ireland
    • South Africa
    • United Kingdom
    • United States of America.
  • Which tests are acceptable?

    There are 6 tests you can take:

    • IELTS Academic Module
    • OET
    • PTE Academic 
    • TOEFL iBT
    • NZREX
    • PLAB part 1&2
  • What scores must I get?

    IELTS Academic Module: a minimum overall score of 7 and a minimum score of 7 in each of the four components

    OET: a minimum score of B in each of the four components

    PTE Academic: a minimum overall score of 65 and a minimum score of 65 in each of the four communicative skills

    TOEFL iBT: a minimum total score of 94 and the following minimum score in each section of the test: 24 for listening, 24 for reading, 27 for writing, and 23 for speaking.

    NZREX: Pass

    PLAB: Pass

  • How long are these valid for?

    Test results are valid for 2 years. Results over 2 years old will be accepted if you:

    1. have been in continuous employment as a registered health practitioner in the medical profession (which commenced within 12 months of the date of the test) in one of the recognised countries where English was the primary language of practice, and
    2. lodge your application for registration within 12 months of finishing your last period of employment
  • When did this policy come into effect?

    July 2015

  • Are there any exemptions?

    Yes – if you have previously been registered in Australia and have used English as your primary language within the past 5 years.

    The Standard does not apply to non-practising registration or if you are a student.

    There may be other exemptions depending on circumstances. Please refer to the policy for details.

  • English is my primary language but I’m not from one of the listed countries – am I exempt?

    No, you must meet the policy via one of the pathways

  • Where can I find more information?

    Please refer to the AHPRA website and the English Language Standard for more information: 



  • Why Wavelength pay on-hire Doctors as employees

    We are often asked why we insist on paying our on-hire Doctors as employees, tax their wages and take out superannuation from their daily/hourly rate when they are already set up as an ABN Sole Trader. We hope the following information sheds light on this subject.

  • I am an ABN Sole Trader. Why does Wavelength tax my daily or hourly rate?

    The decision to tax your wages comes from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a statutory legal requirement for all on-hire agencies operating in Australia. Wavelength is therefore following its lawful obligation as a labour-hire company.

    The Australian Taxation Office website clearly defines our position as a labour-hire company and our requirement to withhold PAYG tax from payments to individual workers, including both contractors and employees.

    The arrangement is shown below:

    labour hire process

    Labour-hire can be called different names, including:

    • on-hire
    • employment agent/agency
    • contract management
    • recruitment services
    • group training organisations (where your business is referred to as the host employer).

    Regardless of how the activity is described, if you supply the workers to another business, you must withhold from payments you make to individual workers.

  • Another on-hire agency pays my invoice as a ABN Sole Trader, why can’t Wavelength?

    Unfortunately we hear this often. If they are a labour-hire agency on-hiring your services and not taxing your wages, they are most likely breaching tax law either knowingly or unknowingly. It is every business owner’s responsibility to ensure they and their staff remain compliant and pay necessary taxes. Ignorance of taxation law is not an excuse to not apply tax where due. In the event of an audit or inquiry from the ATO to your business or the labour hire company, the potential fines, tax recovery and interest can quite literally ruin your day, your year, or even years if the incorrect tax application is longstanding.

    Amount to withhold
    It is important to remember that you need to withhold tax from individual workers under a labour-hire arrangement whether they are an employee or independent contractor.

  • I am set up as a Company or Trust, therefore I want to be paid via Invoice with NO PAYG Tax or Superannuation deducted from my daily or hourly rate.

    If you have this arrangement operating, either as a company (Pty Ltd or Ltd) or trust – then you can be paid via invoice. We will not deduct PAYG tax nor superannuation. The previous ATO link outlines the payment arrangement for this scenario too, specifically –

    Where you provide labour-hire workers who are operating as companies, partnerships or trusts, you do not have to withhold amounts from payments you make to them, unless they do not provide you with their ABN.

  • I don’t want to pay PAYG tax… How can I avoid this?

    We understand that no one wants their wages taxed, however if you are an on-hired worker from an on-hire agency there is no avoiding it. Wavelength goes to great lengths to ensure we remain compliant. We invest heavily in internal training and audits and in no circumstance will we compromise doing the right thing to save a few bucks. If you are involved either directly or indirectly in an audit and the labour hire company finds out they have not taxed you correctly, they have legal grounds to pursue you for the return of overpaid wages. This is a situation everyone should try to avoid. We are available to answer questions regarding how payroll applies to you as an individual worker, and we also suggest making contact with your Accountant. It’s their job to know your business, understand your personal and professional financial needs and to advise you regarding tax savings strategies.

  • How do I get paid?

    There are a number of factors that determine how Locum Doctors are paid. The available option(s) are nominated by the Client and are based on their on-hire practices. Once the Client has provided Wavelength with the option(s) available for this assignment, the
    Doctor is advised. If more than one option is available, the Doctor selects which one is most appropriate.
    The available options are:

    • PAYG Employee of Wavelength
    • Pty Ltd Contractor of Wavelength
    • ABN Sole Trader, (only available if) paid direct by Client
    • PAYG Employee of Client

    If a Locum Doctor is hired to work for a Client who does not provide payroll services and requires Wavelength to provide this service, then the only options available are as a PAYG Employee or a Pty Ltd Contractor of Wavelength. Wavelength is not permitted by law to on-hire ABN Sole Traders. Wavelength’s PAYG Employees are paid wages and taxed at the time of payment, and Superannuation (if applicable) is paid as per legislation requirements.

    Wages are paid fortnightly and payslips will be emailed to the Locum Doctor once processed. Wavelength’s Pty Ltd Contractors are required to submit a Tax Invoice (as well as timesheets) and are also paid fortnightly. If you have worked previously as an ABN Sole Trader for a Client, this is no guarantee that your next assignment will be under the same payment arrangement.

  • How do I pay tax?

    All doctors working in Australia require a Tax File Number (TFN). New Zealand doctors coming to work in Australia
    must apply for a Tax File Number. Here are some useful points to remember:

    • You can only apply for a TFN after you have arrived in Australia
    • TFN’s can take up to 28 days to be approved
    • You may be taxed at a higher emergency rate by your employer until your TFN is approved
  • How do I pay tax as a contractor?

    All doctors working as a contractor must set up an Australian Business Number (ABN).

    • It is possible to apply for an ABN before your TFN is approved.

Section 19AB Restrictions

  • Section 19AB

    Section 19AB of the Act restricts Overseas Trained Doctor (OTD) or Foreign Graduate of an Accredited Medical School (FGAMS) from accessing Medicare benefits arrangements for a period of generally 10 years from the date of their first Australian medical registration. These restrictions are referred to as the ‘the 10-year moratorium’.

  • Who is restricted under section 19AB?

    Medical practitioners who were first registered in Australia after 1 January 1997 and who meet the definition of an OTD or FGAMS are restricted under section 19AB.

    You are considered an Overseas Trained Doctor (OTD) if your primary medical qualification was not obtained from an accredited medical school located in Australia or New Zealand.

    You are considered a Foreign Graduate of an Accredited Medical School (FGAMS) if you obtained your primary medical qualification from an accredited medical school in Australia or New Zealand, and were not a permanent resident or citizen of Australia or New Zealand at the time your enrolled.

  • What does 19AB restricted mean?

    If you obtained your qualifications outside Australia or New Zealand and are applying for initial registration in Australia, section 19AB requires you to work in a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) for a period of up to 10 years from the date of your first medical registration.

  • What is a DWS?

    A district of workforce shortage (DWS) is a geographical area in which the local population has less access to Medicare-subsidised medical services when compared to the national average. These areas are identified using the latest Medicare billing statistics and are updated on an annual basis to account for changes in the composition and geographic distribution of the Australian medical workforce, and the latest residential population estimates as provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

    DWS classifications for general practice are generally provided for geographic areas that are referred to as SA2 boundaries. For specialties other than general practice, SA3 boundaries are used as the relevant DWS Assessment Area.

  • What happens if the area loses DWS status by the time I obtain registration?

    The Department will consider whether the local area was DWS when employment negotiations commenced, which means you would normally qualify for a section 19AB exemption if you can show the area was considered DWS at the time you signed your contract.

  • Can I be exempt from working in a DWS?

    There are a number of considerations for section 19AB exemptions, which include:

    • After-hours Exemption: the after-hours period is considered DWS Australia-wide for all medical specialties. As such, you would generally be able to obtain a section 19AB exemption to access Medicare benefits during the after-hours period anywhere in Australia. The after-hours period is defined by the Department as: 
      • 6pm to 8am Monday to Friday; and
      • All day Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays.

    • Locum Exemption: you may be eligible for a section 19AB exemption to access Medicare benefits in a non-DWS location for a maximum of 6 months. You would not be able to work at that particular location beyond the 6 months while you remain subject to section 19AB.

    • Replacement Provision: you may be able to replace a restricted medical practitioner who held a section 19AB exemption and ceased practising in the local area within the last 12 months.

    • Spousal Exemption: you may be granted access to Medicare benefits in a non-DWS area if your spouse is accessing Medicare benefits in the local area, or is a skilled migrant (other than a medical practitioner) who is employed in an occupation which is listed on the Short-Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) or the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).

    • Academic Provision: if you have been offered an academic appointment with an Australian medical school, you may be eligible to access Medicare benefits at the university health clinic that is tied to the academic institution.

    • Class Exemption: the following specialties are covered by a class exemption and considered DWS Australia-wide: 
      • General medicine 
      • Cardio-thoracic Surgery 
      • Dermatology 
      • Endocrinology 
      • Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery astroenterology and Hepatology 
      • Gastroenterology and Hepatology 
      • Haematology 
      • Intensive Care Medicine 
      • Neurology 
      • Neurosurgery 
      • Medical Oncology 
      • Orthopaedic Surgery 
      • General Paediatrics 
      • Paediatric Surgery 
      • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 
      • Nephrology 
      • Thoracic Medicine 
      • Urology 
      • Vascular Surgery

    You may also be interested to know that if you obtain a full-time ongoing s19AB exemption to practise at a particular location, you would generally be able to access Medicare benefits at another location in the same local area (SA2 or SA3 depending on your specialty), on the basis that you are already contributing to the Medicare billing statistics within the area.

  • Where can I find more information?

    Please refer to the following website for more information: http://www.doctorconnect.gov.au/.

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