Health Workforce Scholarship Program Consultation

This page contains information on the Stakeholder Consultation Document

Page last updated: 21 September 2015

2015 submissions have now closed

Word version HWSP Stakeholder Consultation submission (Word 22 KB)

PDF version HWSP Stakeholder Consultation submission (PDF 90 KB)

Stakeholder Consultation Document

Introduction

The Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) was announced in the 2015-16 Federal Budget. This budget measure will streamline existing health workforce scholarships into a single program, creating consistency in support and obligations, while providing greater flexibility to respond to health workforce priorities.

Background

Access to health care in many rural, regional and remote areas of Australia is an ongoing problem due to the maldistribution of the health workforce. Health education scholarships can promote the growth of specific parts of the health workforce.

Previously, the Department has offered a number of different scholarships to achieve this end. Each of the Government’s existing programs (and sometimes streams within programs) is administered differently, with different selection criteria, weighting and obligations. The table below provides information on the courses of study, by the level of study, which have been funded in a year.

Nursing / Midwifery - GeneralMidwife PrescribingNurse PractitionerNursing - EDAllied Health GeneralAllied Health - Clinical PsychologyMedicalRadio-therapy
Undergraduate
155
180
631
10
Post-graduate
330
80
36
100
233
75
10
Continuing Professional Development
290
82
144
Reentry
40
Clinical Placements
18
110
221

In addition to the scholarships described above, there are specific scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, for example the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme, which contributes approximately 120 scholarships annually.

Scholarship payments vary across the different schemes for the same level of study. Depending on the scheme, consideration has been given to (either to prioritise or as a requirement) the:

  • Previous home location of the applicant
  • Financial need
  • Involvement in, and commitment to, an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander community
  • Expressions of commitment to work in rural, regional and remote areas
  • Written applications (particularly for post-graduate study) linking the course to existing work or longer term goals.
  • Review findings

    A review of health workforce scholarships funded by the Australian Government formed part of the Australian Government Health Workforce Programs Review 2013 (the Review). This made observations and recommendations that are relevant to the HWSP. In particular, the Review found:

    • Issues of inconsistencies in scholarship funding arrangements in both administration costs and levels of support to recipients
    • Inconsistencies with the values of the scholarships and proportions of undergraduate scholarships available to each discipline
    • Evidence of poor retention rates in the first few years of practice for some professions, indicating that undergraduate scholarships may represent lower value for money
    • Necessity to maintain branding of iconic schemes such as the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarships
    • Stakeholders desire for better aligned criteria for allocating scholarships
    • That scholarships should align with the most recent evidence, including workforce projections and the efficiency of scholarships
    • That financial need would be a preferred criteria.

    The Review of Australian Government Health Workforce Programs .

    HWSP

    An express aim of the HWSP is to streamline requirements with a single administrator through an approach to market. It is expected that this will reduce administrative costs associated with awarding and monitoring scholarships.

    There will be a one year rural return of service for most of the scholarship recipients.

    Dedicated scholarships will be available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people studying to enter the health workforce, through the Puggy Hunter Memorial Scholarship Scheme. These scholarships will increase the overall participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the health workforce. There will be no return of service obligation attached to those scholarships.

    Priorities already being considered by the Department are based on work including the findings of Australia’s Future Health Workforce reports, and include geographic distribution, recruiting and retaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and addressing the forecast nursing shortage.

    Consultation is being undertaken to ensure that the best available evidence is captured.

    Consultation process

    The Department would like to invite your organisation to provide views on areas of particular workforce shortages and how they should be addressed through scholarships. These shortages may be Australian wide or specific to rural, regional or remote areas. The Department is also collecting data and information for the purposes of national workforce projections, including from the National workforce data set, ABS, AIHW and other published literature.

    Scholarships are one of the many tools the Government has available to it to address workforce issues. The Government is seeking your views on other appropriate prioritisation criteria for the new program.

    Please consider:

    • The courses that should warrant scholarships, both in terms of the profession they support and the type of support, such as undergraduate, graduate or continuing professional development
    • What might be an appropriate payment amount to participants and what outcomes could be expected for that payment
    • Which criteria should be taken into account when awarding scholarships.

    Your organisation is invited to provide a submission that identifies an evidence-based strategy for targeting scholarships. The submissions must indicate areas of workforce shortage and demonstrate how scholarships could improve recruitment and retention in rural, regional and remote Australia. The closing date for submissions is 13 September 2015.