Special Approved Placements Program (SAPP)

Page last updated: 22 September 2016

What is SAPP?

The SAPP is an interim program established in November 2003 to assist doctors who due to exceptional circumstances are unable to participate in any other workforce or training program. The SAPP enables doctors to continue their career as a GP until such time as they are able to move to another workforce or training program.

SAPP placements are approved if evidence is provided of exceptional circumstances relating to a serious medical condition that the doctor, or an immediate first-degree relative, is experiencing. While medical conditions vary in their severity and impact, this program defines exceptional circumstances as:

  • a life threatening illness;
  • an illness that could become life-threatening if not treated; and
  • a chronic illness or disabling condition that if not treated will prevent the person from performing their usual occupation.

SAPP is unable to be used for:

  • access to schools or other education in a city;
  • marriage or equivalent long-term relationships;
  • child care needs;
  • personal circumstances such as fertility treatments;
  • the employment needs of a practice or community; or
  • financial hardship.

How to apply

If you wish to be considered for a placement on the SAPP, please forward the following to 19AA@health.gov.au

  • citizenship/residency status;
  • current medical registration;
  • assessment of Australian and overseas general practice experience;
  • evidence of progress to date towards Fellowship (e.g. RACGP assessment and enrolment statement/letter from ACRRM);
  • letter/confirmation of offer of employment from relevant medical practice (on letterhead);
  • current (less than two months old) documentary medical evidence from a treating medical specialist of:
    • the applicant doctor’s or family member’s medical condition;
    • their level of caring responsibilities for the family member; and
    • why the doctor is unable to participate in an approved workforce or training program such as the Rural Locum Relief Program, the Approved Medical Deputising Service Program or the Australian General Practitioner Training Program.
  • confirmation that the medical evidence is from a treating practitioner that:
    • must NOT be from the practice where the doctor intends to practise;
    • indicates how long the treating specialist has known the doctor/family member;
    • indicates how long the doctor has been treating the doctor/family member;
    • states that they have no personal connection/relationship with the doctor/family member; and
    • this medical evidence may specify the limited availability of specialised health services in certain locations.

All applications for the SAPP are assessed on an individual basis.

Applications that do not include the above documentation will be deemed incomplete and will be rejected.

Applications for SAPP placements and extensions are processed within 28 days of a complete application being received by Health.

Flow Chart

PDF version: Special Approved Placements Program – Program flow chart (PDF 67KB)
Word version: Special Approved Placements Program – Program flow chart (Word 98KB)

The flowchart describes the process taken by Health to process applications to participate on the Special Approved Placements Program (SAPP).

Department of Health Decision Phase

Step 1 Receipt of SAPP application for doctor’s participation

Step 2 Application checked for completeness

If incomplete – request further information from applicant

If complete – go to Step 3

Step 3 Assess against eligibility criteria

Step 4 Ascertain whether applicant doctor is prevented from participating in other 3GA workforce or training programs due to exceptional circumstances

If no – application declined and doctor advised of decline

If yes – go to Step 5

Step 5 Health grants approval for participation on SAPP

Step 6 Notice of doctor’s participation on SAPP sent to the Department of Human Services

Step 7 Doctor advised of decision and conditions of placement

Department of Human Services Administration Phase

Step 1 DHS receives approved doctor’s placement (and s19AB(3) exemption instrument if required) from Health

Step 2 If DHS has received an application for inclusion on the 3GA Register, DHS places doctor’s name on 3GA register

Step 2 If DHS has not yet received an application from the applicant doctor, DHS waits until the Medicare Provider Number application has been received to link the application with the placement on the 3GA register

Step 3 DHS issues the Medicare Provider Number for the doctor’s participation




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