The Bonded Medical Program New Arrangement

The Government’s Bonded Programs aim to provide more Australian trained doctors in areas of workforce shortage, particularly in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Page last updated: 02 April 2020

To support the new arrangement, the Bonded Return of Service System (BRoSS) is available for opt in

Current participants of the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship (MRBS) and Bonded Medical Places (BMP) schemes who are opting in to the Bonded Medical Program new arrangement (Program) can agree to participate through BRoSS and download a signed date-stamped version of their agreement.

There will be a transition period where your obligations to provide information and upload evidence will be delayed until BRoSS is fully functional. Functions of BRoSS will be released throughout 2020.

Existing students and doctors can request to opt in by emailing BRoSS@health.gov.au

The Bonded Medical Program was established in 2001. Under this program, there are two schemes: the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship (MRBS) scheme and the Bonded Medical Places (BMP) scheme. From 1 January 2020, the Bonded Medical Program new arrangement (the Program) will came into effect. From this date:
  • all new applicants to the Program will enter under the new arrangement
  • existing participants can request to opt in to the Program by emailing BRoSS@health.gov.au
The Department of Health (Department) will review existing participants’ record to check all current obligations are up-to-date and that the participants are eligible to opt in. Once the participant has been approved by the Department to opt in, the participant will receive an email with instructions to log in to BRoSS, check personal details are up to date and agree to participate in the Program by completing Part VD of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Act) in the Sign section.

The Program provides students a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP) in a medical course at an Australian university in return for a commitment to work in eligible regional, rural and remote areas for a specified period after completion of their medical course. This commitment is referred to as a Return of Service Obligation (RoSO).

The Program is a critical component of the Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy to ensure that the Australian trained medical workforce is well-distributed, flexible and targeted to areas of most need. The Department of Health (Health) acknowledges the commitment made by Bonded Medical Program participants to regional, rural and remote Australia.

Information and useful resources

There are a variety of fact sheets, frequently asked questions and links to resource material available on the Bonded Medical Program New Arrangement Resource page.

Key features of the Bonded Medical Program new arrangement

The key features of the Program are:

  • a standard three (3) year Return of Service Obligation (RoSO) to be completed over an eighteen (18) year period. Participants of the BMP scheme 2016-2019 cohort who have a twelve (12) month RoSO will keep this under the new arrangement
  • replacement of the individual contract/deed of agreement with a statutory scheme
  • a Program specific web portal, the Bonded Return of Service System (BRoSS) to provide self-service management of RoSO
  • a wide range of options as to when, where and how you choose to complete your RoSO within the Program’s required timeframe and requirements. 18 months can be completed pre-fellowship and 18 months completed post fellowship. RoSO can be non-continuous, full or part-time work, and fly in/ fly out work in eligible locations may be counted towards RoSO
  • more choice and more locations with participants able to complete their RoSO in Modified Monash Model (MMM) 2-7 locations, and in Distribution Priority Areas (DPA) for General Practitioners or District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) for Specialists for their medical speciality
  • no restrictions on the work you undertake. Participants can choose to work in areas which do not count towards RoSO during the 18 year period whilst they undertake their RoSO

Legislation

Participants of the Program are bounded by Part VD of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Act) and must abide by the Health Insurance (Bonded Medical Program) Rule 2020 (Rule).

The Act received royal assent on 19 September 2019 following its passage in the Senate on 4 July 2019 and the House of Representatives on 11 September 2019.

The Rule provides more detail to assist participants to make an informed decision to opt in to the Program. It was signed by Minister Hunt on 20 November 2019.

While BRoSS is being progressively released throughout 2020, participant’s reporting obligations as specified in the Health Insurance (Bonded Medical Program) Rule 2020 are delayed.

The timelines set by the Health Insurance (Bonded Medical Program) Rule 2020 (Cth) that require the participant to provide information and evidence under sections 15 and 16 will be delayed until a future date nominated by the Department.

There will be a transition period where the participant’s obligations to provide information and upload evidence will be delayed until BRoSS is fully functional. The Department has amended the Rule to formally establish this transition period, which means for current participants of the Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship (MRBS) and Bonded Medical Program (BMP) schemes who are opting in to the Program cannot be liable for any administrative penalty arising out of not complying with timeframes set out in the Rule.The amendment, Health Insurance (Bonded Medical Program) Amendment Rule 2020, will be available at Federal Register of Legislative Instruments for your information.

The Department will advise the participants when BRoSS is fully functional and will nominate a date from which all the timeframes for providing information and evidence will commence.

Should the participants wish to keep their Program reporting obligations up to date, please email to BRoSS@health.gov.au

Bonded Return of Service System (BRoSS)

The Bonded Return of Service System (BRoSS), Health’s web portal, is being developed to support the Program. BRoSS will allow bonded students and doctors to self-manage their RoSO and identify eligible locations where they can work.

Functions of BroSS will be released throughout 2020. The first phase, commenced 1 January 2020, was made available to 23 Australian universities where they can use BRoSS to manage their new applicants firm offer list.

The second phase will provide the ability for existing participants to opt in to the new arrangement through BRoSS and agree to participate in the Program by completing Part VD of the Health Insurance Act 1973 (Act) in the Sign section.

Self-management of RoSO including planning and recording of events are currently in development and will be released progressively through the first half of 2020.

Role of Rural Workforce Agencies

Rural Workforce Agencies (RWA) in the relevant State or Territory will provide support to Program participants. RWAs can assist with placement into rural roles that are eligible for RoSO. They will also provide information about professional development, rural medical network support and access to grants.