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Introduction to...

Medicare Locals

From 1 July 2015, Medicare Locals were replaced with Primary Health Networks (PHNs).

Medicare Locals evolved from the Divisions of General Practice Program and were a key feature of the Australian Government’s National Health Reform. Medicare Locals were primary health care organisations established to coordinate primary health care delivery, address local health care priorities, support health professionals and improve access to primary care. There were a total of 61 Medicare Locals operational across Australia. This Guide provides information about documents and websites that focus on the process of establishing Medicare Locals as well as the developments and the impact of this change on various stakeholders.

Use a searchable list of Medicare Locals to access further information including contact details, and research activities or visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Key Australian Government documents

yourHealth from the Australian Government Department of Health contains current information About National Health Reform, including a section dedicated to Medicare Locals.

The Role and Function of the Medicare Local National Body discusses the importance of support for Medicare Locals at the national level. The national body (Australian Medicare Local Alliance) will work closely with the Commonwealth to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of Medicare Locals. 9 July 2012

National Health Reform Performance and Accountability Framework was released by the National Health Performance Authority on 3 May 2012. This authority, established under the National Health Reform Act 2011, is charged with reporting on the performance of all local hospital networks, public and private hospitals and primary healthcare organisations across Australia. last updated 7 May 2012

Medicare Locals Video showcases three Medicare Locals, with a focus on improvements for consumers, health professionals and communities. 4 September 2011

Related resources

Introduction to needs assessments in primary health care

Introduction to Primary Health Networks

Introduction to Australian health reform

Early report cards on Medicare Locals

Healthy Communities: Australians' experiences with primary health care in 2010-11 The National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) began operations in 2012 as an independent body to provide locally relevant and nationally consistent information on the performance of hospitals and other health care organisations. This report, the Authority's second, allows for the first time the public, clinicians and health managers to see results for both use and experience of GP care at a local level. For most measures, the results are broken down into the 61 geographic areas that are covered by the new network of Medicare Locals. Released on 7 March 2013

In Medicare Locals - their role in the new primary care landscape Dr Rashmi Sharma, Chair of the ACT Medicare Local, provides an initial report card on the progress of Medicare Locals and the challenges they face in health care reform. Posted on 25 June 2012

Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA), Medicare Locals: the first six and the next twelve months is an analysis of interviews in early 2012 with nine Medicare Local CEOs or senior managers. June 2012

Have Medicare Locals been set up to fail? The Conversation; Associate Professor Joan Corbett and Associate Professor Rhian Parker. Posted on 29 May 2012.

Key partnerships and resources

Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA). Medicare Locals worked in partnership with a range of agencies in order to achieve greater and more equitable outcomes in health prevention.  One key partnership was between the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) and the Australian Medicare Local Alliance*. View the ANPHA and AML Alliance joint statement - ANPHA Commits to Supporting Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in Medicare Locals. June 2012

*The Australian Medicare Local Alliance ceased operating on 30 June 2014.

Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) have published the Social Health Atlas of Australia: Medicare Locals. Published 2012, an interactive mapping of Statistical Local Area (SLA) and Local Government Area (LGA) using 2011 Census data with Medicare Local boundary overlay. Topics and indicators include demography, social indicators, screening services, health status, risk factors and MBS. 2012

Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA)

A key objective of Medicare Locals’ operations was to undertake Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) relevant to the programs they were funded to deliver, such as the After Hours Program.
These reports are available at

Stakeholder views on Medicare Locals

Southgate Policy Club video presentation: The potential role of Medicare Locals in promoting population health and preventing disease. 26 June 2012

The Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) in conjunction with the University of New South Wales Centre for Health Equity Training Research & Evaluation and General Practice NSW have published Health Access and Equity: a Discussion Paper for Medicare Locals which discusses the responsibilities for Medicare Locals and provides a checklist for assessing access and equity and resources for Medicare Locals. March 2012

The Australian General Practice Network (AGPN) released a Transition Toolkit, which presents a guide to the process of transitioning from General Practice Networks to the establishment of Medicare Locals. The Toolkit was designed to be used by individual Network members and focused on the establishment phase up to 1 July 2012.

The Australian Psychological Society (APS) has published Medicare Locals and the changing primary health care landscape. This article details the ways in which Medicare Locals will change the delivery of primary health care, with a particular focus on the impact of these changes on psychologists. October 2011

The National Primary Health Care Partnership (NPHCP) has released a Medicare Locals Fact Sheet for NPHCP Members, which provides information about the functions, formation and operation of Medicare Locals in an easy to understand format. September 2011

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has a webpage that includes a collection of documents and factsheets that discuss the impact of Medicare Locals on physiotherapy in Australia. General information about the main features of Medicare Locals is also provided. last updated 12 July 2011

Mental Health Australia (formerly The Mental Health Council of Australia) published a Medicare Locals Position Paper, which discusses how Medicare Locals will affect the mental health sector and includes a series of position statements. April 2011

Commentary on Medicare Locals

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Compiled by PHCRIS
Last updated Thu 21 Apr 2016
Suggested citation
Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (2017). PHCRIS Getting Started Guides: Introduction to... Medicare Locals. From (Accessed 20 Oct 2017)