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Introduction to...

To the former Divisions of General Practice

As part of the government's National Health Reform agenda for primary health care in Australia, from 1 July 2011 Divisions of General Practice will evolve into or be substituted by Medicare Locals. For more information on Australian health reform matters see the Getting Started Guide: Australian health reform.

What is the Divisions Network?

Divisions are supported by State Based Organisations (SBOs) and the Australian General Practice Network (AGPN). At 1 January 2010, there were 112 Divisions of General Practice covering all of Australia (see Figure below). Divisions vary greatly in geographical size, number of GPs and population in their area, as well as in resources, infrastructure and their activities.

Aims of Divisions of General Practice

The aims of the Divisions of General Practice Program have remained the same since the inception of the program. Its main aim is to improve health outcomes for patients by encouraging GPs to work together and link with other health professionals to upgrade the quality of health service delivery at the local level.

The Divisions Program also supports such common aims as:

  1. providing a mechanism for individuals and groups to contact local GPs and for GPs to respond as a group in local health issues;
  2. allowing GPs to be involved in health policy decision making at the local level;
  3. improving the quality of health service delivery at the local level in order to provide better access to available and appropriate health services;
  4. addressing local issues to meet the special needs of groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, people from non-English speaking cultures and people with low incomes;
  5. facilitating the introduction of other elements of the general practice strategy eg. accreditation, peer review and training initiatives;
  6. enhancing the quality of educational and professional development opportunities for GPs and undergraduates; and
  7. improving the cost effectiveness of service delivery at the local level thereby contributing to a more appropriate allocation of Commonwealth funding

(Commonwealth Department of Human Services and Health, 1995; Todd, Sibthorpe, & Todd, 1998)

The Divisions of General Practice Program

In 1992, the Australian Government Department of Health funded 10 demonstration Divisions, these were formalised local networks of GPs working within the same geographic area. The success of these demonstration projects meant that funding was extended with the Divisions of General Practice Program covering the whole of Australia.

All Divisions provide core programs to address:

  • access
  • prevention and early intervention
  • supporting integration and multidisciplinary care
  • an increased focus on population health and the better management of chronic disease.

Australian Government Department of Health. Divisions of General Practice Program (accessed 16 August 2011)

Broadly speaking Divisions have a local role to help general practices, GPs and other health professionals work more collaboratively; to improve evidence-based patient care at the clinical level; to address population health issues; and to support the rollout of national programs and initiatives. Divisions also advocate and negotiate on behalf of their members with governments, hospitals, other health care providers, and organisations that provide services to general practices.

Funding for the Divisions Program extends to June 2012, incorporating the transition of three tranches of Medicare Locals from the Divisions of General Practice Network. Some Divisions of General Practice already provide some of the functions that will be undertaken by the Medicare Locals into 2012 and beyond.

Definition: rural Divisions 

Divisions are classified as 'rural' if they have 5% or more of their total population within the Rural Remote Metropolitan Areas (RRMA) categories 4-7. In 2010 the system was revised to the to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification - Remoteness Area (ASGC-RA) system1.

Using the RRMA classification, there were 50 rural Divisions and 62 urban Divisions up to 30 June 2010. All Divisions identified as rural using this classification are eligible for More Allied Health Services (MAHS) and Workforce Support for Rural General Practitioners (WSRGP) funding, announced in the 2000/2001 Federal Budget.

Discover what Divisions do

Find out more about Divisions by visiting:

Divisions and SBO ProfilesDivision and SBO Profiles
View current contact details for all Divisions of General Practice and SBO's, as well as links to their websites, submitted Annual Plans and Reports and other related information.
Annual Survey of DivisionsAnnual Survey of Divisions
A comprehensive survey completed by all Divisions to collect information on their membership, activities and infrastructure. Data is presented in a variety of formats to provide valuable information for Divisions, funders, policy makers, researchers and other stakeholders.
Divisions Network Reporting Divisions Network Reporting: Data
Access Divisions and SBO Annual Plans and Reports, as well as information about reporting frameworks and requirements
Divisions Benchmarking ToolDivisions Benchmarking Tool
This tool allows comparison of Divisions across Australia using ASD demographic filters
Compiled by PHCRIS
Last updated Mon 13 Nov 2017
Suggested citation
Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (2017). PHCRIS Getting Started Guides: Introduction to... The former Divisions of General Practice. From (Accessed 13 Dec 2017)