salary packages for consultants/specialists/physicians in public health system, new south wales.

New South Wales.

This article is about public hospital salaries in New South Wales. Australia’s most populated state and it’s wealthiest. 

In consideration of Australian Consultant/Specialist remuneration, New South Wales packages are not the highest. That’s not to say it’s a bad package by anyone’s standards, it is not as high as other states. Remember, the AMA negotiates a separate industrial agreement with each state and territory government hence, the differences.

The main variation between NSW and the higher paying states is because of some allowances.

For example, in NSW the allowance that acts as your private practise fees for treating public patients in a public hospital is capped at 20% of your base salary compared to Queensland’s 50%. Also there is no car allowance in NSW, unlike in QLD.

All states and territories allow you to work more hours to earn more money through ‘penalty’ rates for shiftwork etc.

Here is the base salary range for consultant/specialists described as Year 1 to Year 5 relevant for consultant/specialists seeking their first job in New South Wales.

Each year under 5 refers to the comparable years of experience since you completed your specialist training. There is a band for any years of experience after the Year 5 band : “Senior” – doesn’t matter if you have 8 years or 25 the salary band will be the same.

There was a 2.5% increase on 1st July 2017 so this is up to date Possums. 

Year 1 base salary – AU162,432.

Year 2 base salary – AU171,932.

Year 3 base salary – AU181,423.

Year 4 base salary – AU190,944.

Year 5 base salary – AU200,455.

Senior band base salary – AU219, 452.

Private Practise Allowance (glossary of these terms is at end of article).

This is 20% of your offered base salary level. This applies to all levels of experience for Staff Specialists.

Oncall Allowance

This is 17.4% calculated on basic salary. Please note that oncall component is paid as a pre-set allowance by NSW Health which you will receive in your regular pay packet.

Professional Development Allowance and leave.

In NSW it is elegantly called the TESL (Training, Education and Study Leave) and is AU33,000 – pretty generous – for levels of experience for international medical graduates. This allowance is not payable to Postgraduate Fellows, Clinical Academics and Visiting Medical Practitioners.


Superannuation is 9.5%. It is calculated on base salary and the attraction and retention allowance only. Super is also paid on on-call etc.

Annual leave loading allowance.

17.5% of your base salary earned during your 5 weeks annual leave (see glossary below).


Anything from 12.5% to 50% night rates depending on the day of the week.

Annual leave

5 weeks! Happy days (QLD is 4 weeks)!. There is also maternity and paternity leave. Sick leave and carers leave of course. In NSW there are also 12 public holidays.

Relocation and accommodation benefits.

NSW will not pay for your medical registration and college costs but the hiring manager has discretion to offer a relocation allowance – tends to be between $5000-$10,000 payable on production of receipts when you start work. Housing assistance is sometimes offered and negotiated with individual services.

Yet again, my trusted abacus has been dusted off to give you some figures to chew over. I cannot guarantee these are the figures you will get offered – remember, they are educated estimates! Pedants among you will correct me no doubt.

Example total package of specialist with 1 year experience.

Cash + Oncall (17.4%) + Leave Loading (17.5% x 5 weeks leave pay) + Private Practise Allowance (20%)

= AU231,567.

Superannuation is calculated on all those above: AU21,998.

Total: AU253,566.

Example total package with 5 years experience.

Cash + Oncall (17.4%) + Leave Loading (17.5% x 5 weeks leave pay) + Private Practise Allowance (20%):

= AU278,718.

Superannuation is calculated on all those above: AU26,478.

Total: AU305,196.

Example total package specialist with 6+ years experience.

Cash + Oncall (17.4%) + Leave Loading (17.5% x 5 weeks leave pay) + Private Practise Allowance (20%)

= AU305,218.

Superannuation is calculated on all those above: AU28,995.

Total: AU334,213.

I haven’t included leadership allowances in any calculation, suffice to say they are 3 leadership tiers between AU21k- AU55k. Academic are less.

Remember these are figures based on your expected salary when you arrive in New South Wales for your first job in Australia as a Consultant/Specialist in a public hospital – not when you retire. For Radiologists there is a likely chance you may work in private sector in your first job – check my upcoming blog post on that specialty.

Here is a tip if you’re just about to explore looking for work in New South Wales. At time of writing it has been policy for some Local Health District in NSW Health to pay all IMGs at Level 1 years of experience until they obtain Fellowship of their specific college irrespective of how many years experience you have after you have completed your specialist training. You could have 20 years and it would not matter. If they hired you into a Clinical Director role they would still pay you a Managerial allowance but your base salary would only be Level 1 until you become Fellow of the Australian college. Crazy huh?

It is essential to find this out when you enquire about a job and not when you have waited 3 months, done a mountain of credentialing paperwork in order to receive your offer only to reject it because they want to pay you at Level 1 – because that really burns.

Please bear in mind the chances of you securing a position in metropolitan Sydney are slim for your first job in Australia – unless your employer can secure Area of Need status (more of that in an upcoming post). Some do secure work in the more suburban parts of the city. Remember the average house price in Sydney is over AU1million, and even then competition for property is fierce. 

If there are IMGs in Australia reading this I’d love to hear your stories about how you settled in and your opinions on Area of Need and DWS.

Remember Possums I’m also on Twitter @Drsdownunder

Below is the brief glossary for Australian remuneration package terminology which are all used throughout Australia states and territories.

Annual Leave Loading Allowance.

This is a brilliant allowance. It doesn’t come to much but I love the fact it still exists, thumbing its nose at the bosses. This allowance was designed back in the day when there was no paid annual leave for workers. It compensated them whilst they are away on holiday. 17.5% of your weekly wage x weeks annual leave = annual leave loading cash. The existence of this allowance is testimony to the importance of unions. Word.

Long service leave.

A retention strategy. Designed to keep you working for your employer for as long as possible. Hit a target of years of employment (normally between 8 -15 years) and you will qualify for paid annual leave of between 3-6months. Each health service has a different long service leave policy but they all have one. You also have the option of taking this as a cash payment which I think a lot of people do who are in less well paid jobs.

Private practise allowance.

These are your fees for treating people with private health insurance who present to at a public hospital. The Attraction and Retention Allowance doubles as your Private Practice Allowance. In WA, there is no Attraction and Retention Allowance – just a 50% Private Practise Allowance. FYI In Queensland, private practice arrangements have aimed to address the following key objectives relevant to your individual situation. Mainly, to compensate Consultant/Specialists in Queensland at a competitive level,  to address medical workforce shortages in the public sector, in Queensland – predominantly in diagnostic specialties by letting Consultant/Specialists retain some of their billings.


Aussie’s like to shorten every word so let’s refer to superannuation as ‘super’. Super is your employer pension fund. By law, every employer has to make contributions to an employee fund of choice or a default one set up by the employer. The minimum amount your employer has to make is 9.5% of base salary.  What additional allowances it is calculated on is subjective to the employer – some pay on base salary, others include an allowance or two. Queensland Health base theirs on base salary and the Attraction and Retention Incentive Allowance whilst Victorian health services apply it to base salary only. You get the picture. You can also make voluntary contributions from your salary to top this up. To what level you can top up to is dependent on your employer’s policy. You can do it via your employer’s salary sacrifice scheme (definition below) which provides tax benefits. You can choose your own super fund, choose which sector/s to invest in – just like a stock portfolio, or just use the default one chosen by your employer which will be designed for and marketed to health professionals. You can only access your super when you reach the age of 60 and it is not taxed when you withdraw it. Please seek professional financial advice regarding your super.

Salary sacrifice/salary packaging.

This is a deal between and employer and employee – an approved way for the employee to receive benefits like additional super, motor vehicle, CPD fees etc. rent, mortgage, by way of a pre-tax salary payment – by paying for these items with a pre-tax deduction means you will be taxed on your remaining income thereby actually lowering your taxable income = you pay less tax.

Picture credit:

Daniel Jacobs


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