GPARIA - General Practitioner Rural Retention Project
The Rural Retention Program is a Commonwealth Government project that aims to recognise and retain long serving general practitioners (GPs) in rural and remote communities.
The program recognises that rural and remote communities may experience significant difficulties in retaining GPs without a system to both attract GPs to rural and remote communities and/or to retain those GPs already in these areas. The intention of the program, therefore, was to encourage GPs to continue practising in these areas so that a reasonable level of access to medical care in Australia could be maintained.
GPARIA was developed to reflect the relative remoteness of General Practitioners (GPs). The methodology that was used to develop the index was based on that used to develop ARIA (Accessibility and Remoteness Index of Australia). The common methodological link is the way each index measures the geographic remoteness of a location based on road distance to services.
Retention payment categories, derived from GPARIA, were used to define the group of localities eligible for assistance under the Rural Retention Program, and subsequently the level of payment that would be received by GPs in these localities. The categories were specifically developed to provide a relative index for retention support, as a basis for applying different qualifying periods and payment rates for doctors working in different locations under the program.
ARIA scores were used by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing to determine levels of incentive available to GPs based on the level of remoteness experienced by the community in which they practice.
As part of this project GISCA developed and maintained an interactive mapping service from 2002 to 2013 for use by the Health Insurance Commission to operate the Rural Retention Program and to facilitate payments to eligible general practitioners.