what are consultant/specialist pay grades like in western australia?part 2: non-metro

Following my post about the Metropolitan awards in Perth, I now cast my only working beady eye on to what I refer to as the WACHS award (West Australian Country Health Service). WACHS’ parent service is the Department of Health, in branding and scope, WACHS appears to be a separate health service in itself. It is organised into seven regions, three of which border the metropolitan services.

So what are the major differences in the awards between WACHS and metro? Well before I get into the formal stuff written into the award, of course there is more scope in securing quite lucrative benefits like accommodation (paid or house provided) the more remote you are.

The WACHS award.

Contracts offered are automatically 5 years long by services in WACHS. As noted before, in all the states and territories, no-one gets penalised if you leave before the end of your contract (if you leave within 12 months your relocation allowances etc will need to be paid back pro-rata’d to your length of service). The award stipulates that the employer must inform you if they are going to offer you a contract or not no later than 12 months before the expiry of the contract.

The figures below are the salaries that will come into effect in WA on 1st October 2017 (there will be another increase 1st October 2018).

The WACHS award for base and private practice allowance is the same as metropolitan except for positions based North of the 26° South latitude These follow. Again, each year is comparative to your own years of experience following the completion of your specialist training and is your basic salary & private practise allowance.

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.

North of the 26° South Latitude.

Year 1 – AU330,857.

Year 2 – AU341,986.

Year 3 – AU353,674.

Year 4 – AU365,946.

Year 5 – AU378,832.

Year 6 – AU392,361.

I don’t know why it only goes to Year 6 and not 9 for posts North of the 26° South Latitude.

On-call 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 AU30,180 from 1st Oct 2017. Quite nicely also: “A practitioner shall be entitled to an additional 5 weeks paid leave after each five years continuous service with any Employer for the purpose of overseas training, education and study. “5.2.(a).

Like salary this allowance will go up 1st October 2018.


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).


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.

North of the 26° South Latitude: a  practitioner will receive an additional week of annual leave for each completed year of continuous service.


For posts North of the 26° South Latitude: you will get one and be able to use it for private use – award terms it “limited”, but who the hell will know?!

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.

Travel concessions

There are travel concessions (domestic) during your annual leave for you and family to assist: economy return air fares to Perth.

Please see remuneration examples as a quick guide for you. They are estimates based on the award. I have put remuneration for North of the 26° South Latitude as “26°”.

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

“26°” total: AU367,164 plus additional benefits: housing etc.

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.

“26°” total: AU420,405 plus additional benefits: housing etc.


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

“26°” total at highest band (Year 6): AU435,418 plus additional benefits: housing etc.

Please note again on-call, shift work allowances , call back allowances etc are not included in these figures.

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.

If there are IMGs already 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.

Top picture credit:

Sebastian Davenport-Handley


1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s