Australia

consultant/specialist salaries western australia, part 1: perth.

Having written about money for Consultants in Queensland and New South Wales salaries, I turn my attention to the West. The state of Western Australia (WA) to be precise. A place of breathtaking beauty contrasted with a sense of immense arid loneliness – Perth’s city centre on a Sunday evening springs immediately to mind. Equally, the scale of WA’s outback is also hard to quantify in terms of distance, space and environment.

Australia’s incredible good fortune in recent years has arguably been down to what lies underneath WA’s top soil:  the resources and minerals that have helped fuel China’s incredible growth and turbo charged Australia’s majestic bullet proof gallup through the global financial crisis.

You’ll hear the politicians whip up the frothing masses by saying it was Australia’s work ethic and strategic acumen that saw the country through this economic crisis: posting un-interrupted growth whilst the rest of the industrialised world slipped into recession.

This is bull shit.

The reason the Australian people are so wealthy is down to metropolitan property value and the blind luck of  having iron ore – and other minerals –  in the Western Australian ground (other states and territories have minerals and coal too, to be fair) to forge the steel in China’s factories.

While discussing this lets not forget how the land was acquired when the europeans arrived in Australia from 1788 onwards, the subsequent actions and attitudes toward indigenous rights. I’m going to save that subject for another post.

Many Western Australians believe having these god given minerals buried in the ground is all down to them. Because of this they unfairly feel have to pay more in tax then other Australians. Bless the poor little lambs. Some in the Liberal Party (Tories) believe this is too unfair and are – at time of writing-  preparing to have a discussion about secession from the Australian Federation – a Wexit! – to keep all this hard gained wealth, all in their sweaty, pink-plump hands.

With this much wealth and easy money kicking around, you’re probably thinking that public health salaries are the highest in Western Australia then anywhere else, right? Well, kind of. It’s up there for sure – you won’t starve working as a Consultant (term used in WA) in Western Australia – and arguably the highest paying state in this regard.

The state government’s Department of Health in WA covers 2.5 million square km making it the biggest area on the planet governed by a single health authority. Such an urbanised population in one major city is contrasted with the ginormous amounts of empty space and distance between city and remote communities. These distances are reflected in how the industrial award is constructed. For example, a consultant general surgeon in Subiaco Perth in a 1.0 FTE position in a public hospital will earn less for doing the same job then she would in Kalgoorlie or Broom because of the variation in conditions mainly around location allowances, retention bonuses etc. Even then, a Consultant in Broome has an additional allowance then someone doing the same job in Kalgoorlie.

I’ll split this article in two as I have heard doctors attention spans are limited.

I’ll start with what you’d expect to earn in Perth and it’s surrounding suburbs, referring to it as the metropolitan award. The next post will cover earnings governed by the West Australian Country Health Servicenwho govern everything outside of the metropolitan area.

The Metropolitan (Perth) Award.

The figures below are the salaries that will come into effect in WA on 1st October 2017. In the WA awards – for Consultants – these figures listed below include private practise (unlike QLD and NSW) and have copied them from the award where they are combined. I will provide example total  remunerations for Consultant after this list.

Each year is comparative to your own years of experience following the completion of your specialist training and is your basic salary only. Scroll down for total package examples.

Year 1 – AU291, 386.

Year 2 – AU300,544.

Year 3 – AU310,159.

Year 4 – AU320,857.

Year 5 – AU330,857.

Year 6 – AU341, 986.

Year 7 – AU353,674.

Year 8 – AU365,946.

Year 9 – AU378,832.

Remember, these WA figures above include base and private practise allowance.

Oncall Allowance

18.75% of the ordinary base hourly rate for a Consultant, Year 7 so AU22.06. But, the award also states that: “If an agreement between the Employer and all practitioners concerned is reached, the relevant on call payment may be annualised and paid fortnightly. ” 33.1.d.(i)

Recall rates: “A senior practitioner recalled to work shall be paid a minimum of three hours for a call back as follows: (i) for work on any day between 6.00 am and midnight at the rate of 150%, of the hourly rate prescribed at (v) hereunder. (ii) for work on Sunday between 6.00 am and midnight at the rate of 175% of the hourly rate prescribed at (v) hereunder. (iii) for work on any day between midnight and 6.00 am at the rate of 200% of the hourly rate prescribed at (v) hereunder. (iv) if the call back period exceeds three hours payment will be at the rate of 200% of the hourly rate prescribed at (v) hereunder. “

Professional Development Allowance and leave.

This allowance will be AU28,148 from 1st Oct 2017.

Superannuation.

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. You can make additional payments into your super fund.

Annual leave loading allowance.

17.5% of your base salary earned during your 4 weeks annual leave (see glossary below for explanation of annual leave loading allowance).

Shiftwork.

Generous allowances apply here but not worth going into detail. You’re not going to decline a position in WA around detail like this are you?

Annual leave

4 weeks / 160 hrs. There is also maternity and paternity leave. Sick leave and carers leave of course. On top of this there are also 10 public holidays.

For each completed period of 120 hours rostered on call a practitioner can accrue 8 hours additional annual leave.

Relocation and accommodation benefits.

WA will not pay for your medical registration and college costs. However a relocation allowance is payable and amount depends on the specific service/department but expect AU10-15k.

Please see examples as a quick guide for you. They are estimates based on the award:

Example total package of specialist with 1 year experience.

Cash + Leave Loading + Private Practise Allowance

= AU293,347.

Superannuation is calculated on all those above: AU27,867

Total: AU321,214.

NB: In WA on-call is calculated on top of this, depending the service you join. So unlike, NSW, you get it on top of the figure estimated above.

Example total package with 5 years experience.

Cash + Leave Loading + Private Practise Allowance:

= AU335,310.

Superannuation is calculated on all those above: AU31,854.

Total: AU367,164.

NB: In WA on-call is calculated on top of this, depending the service you join. So unlike, NSW, you get it on top of the figure estimated above.

Example total package specialist with 9 years experience.

Cash + Private Practise Allowance:

= AU383,931.

Superannuation is calculated on all those above: AU36,473.

Total: AU420,789.

NB: In WA on-call is calculated on top of this, depending the service you join. So unlike, NSW, you get it on top of the figure estimated above.

I haven’t included leadership allowances in any calculation, suffice to say they are 4 leadership tiers between AU9k (1-4 reports) – AU48k (over 20 reports) depending on number of staff managing. Rarely will an OTD get a managerial role.

Next post: West Australian Country Health Service salaries for Consultants!

hasib-sarvari-240080

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.

Superannuation.

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.

Perth CBD picture credit:

Marco Kessler

WA Beach picture credit:

Hasib Sarvari

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