In Practice: Telehealth exemption clarity


Exemptions to the existing relationship requirement apply to all designated natural disaster areas, the Department of Health has confirmed.


Doctor picking up the phone
Patients in designated disaster areas can access telehealth rebates for GP services without needing to have received a face-to-face service in the past 12 months.

This week’s bumper round-up also includes information on a host of webinars, monkeypox resources, a reminder on applications for the Fellowship Support Program and a link to the latest PSR newsletter.


Telehealth exemption for people impacted by natural disasters

The Department of Health has advised that the exemption from the GP telehealth existing relationship requirement applying to people in flood-affected areas has been broadened, effective 11 April 2022, changing the specification of flood to ‘natural disaster’.


There was previously some confusion around the start date of this exemption; however, the RACGP can confirm it is now in effect. The AskMBS Advisory on the existing relationship requirement is being updated to reflect this change.


Eligible patients can access telehealth rebates for GP services without needing to have received a face-to-face service in the last 12 months.


Patients’ exemption from the existing relationship requirement in relation to natural disasters will be permanent.


Critically, however, determination of eligibility rests on a state or territory’s declaration of an affected local government area. Confirming and documenting that this declaration applies to the region the patient is in at the time of the service/s is a suggested requirement for a valid claim of the exemption.


COVID-19 in primary care: A UK and Australian experience

Melbourne University’s Department of General Practice is inviting GPs to attend a special seminar online via Zoom on Monday 25 July, 1.00 – 2.00 pm (AEST).


Professor Richard Hobbs, Head of Primary Care Health Sciences and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the UK’s University of Oxford, will focus on the implications of impactful pandemic research, much of which was led by the University of Oxford, particularly the national priority research from Oxford Primary Care.


Professor Michael Kidd, Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer and Professor of Primary Care Reform at the Australian National University, will consider an Australian perspective on the role of primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Further information, including speaker biographies and registration link, is available on the event webpage.


Monkeypox resources

The Department of Health (DoH) has developed resources on monkeypox, including:

  • treatment and vaccine guidelines 
  • infection prevention and control guidance for health workers
  • case and contact management guidance for public health units
  • posters to alert people to the signs of monkeypox.

The DoH is working to develop further resources, including specimen collection instructions and a toolkit for health professionals.
If patients present with monkeypox symptoms or there are concerns they may have been exposed to the infection, GPs can contact their state or territory health authority urgently or visit the DoH website.
Fellowship Support Program applications closing
Doctors working without Fellowship of the RACGP (FRACGP) have until 5.00 pm (AEST) Friday 15 July to apply for the new Fellowship Support Program (FSP), which is designed to support preparation for Fellowship on the General Practice Experience pathway. 
The FSP is replacing the Practice Experience Program (PEP), as the Commonwealth Government funding for the PEP comes to an end in June 2023.
The FSP is a self-funded program and offers mentoring and support, supervision, in-practice education and assessment, and targeted exam preparation for GPs in training. 
On the FSP, doctors also gain status as an RACGP registrar which provides them with discounts on RACGP membership fees, full access to the RACGP’s library and benefits from the RACGP’s advocacy activities.
More information is available on the FSP web page.
What to consider when choosing a billing model
Webinar: Wednesday 27 July, 7.00 – 8.30 pm (AEST)
Bulk-billing rates remain high despite the chronic underfunding of general practice by successive governments.

The presenters of this Q&A session will speak about the strategies they employ to let patients know about their billing policy, and the benefits of introducing fees where feasible.
This webinar is a follow-up session to the March webinar presented by Adjunct Professor Karen Price and Dr Emil Djakic on introducing mixed billing in your practice.
Register online.
July 2022 PSR newsletter now available
The July 2022 edition of the Professional Services Review (PSR) newsletter is now available.
The newsletter includes a number of updates, including an activity summary for the last quarter, new appointments to the PSR Panel, and information about applying for positions on the PSR Panel and Determining Authority.
How to read a paper: Navigating the maze
Webinar: Tuesday 2 August, 6.00 – 7.00 pm (AEST)
GPs can improve their skills in better finding and using evidence to help with everyday clinical questions in general practice.
Professor Paul Glasziou provides an overview of approaches to:

  • identify sound evidence more confidently
  • ‘sift’ the evidence critically and to know what to look for and why
  • identify ways to improve skills in choosing and reading papers.

For those interested in gaining more skills, a ‘Navigating the maze evidence-based practice workbook’ will also be introduced.
This webinar is designed for anyone interested in research, including students, early career researchers, curious GPs, and other primary care clinicians and service providers.
Register online.
Be more trauma informed
The General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) has developed an online tool where GPs can access the latest information on implementing trauma-informed care in general practice.
The GPMHSC trauma-informed care resource hub aims to help GPs increase their awareness of the principles of trauma-informed care and practice, improve knowledge and education around its implementation, and provide a single, go-to summary of the current evidence around trauma-informed care in primary care settings.
GPs can access a range of guidelines, fact sheets and interactive video content on trauma-informed care, through an intuitive tag-based search feature.
Pivoting to the perpetrator: How to engage with patients who use domestic and family violence workshop
Webinar: Wednesday 27 July, 7.00 – 8.00 pm (AEST)
A panel of experts will discuss how to sensitively ask and respond to disclosures and encourage patients to seek help appropriately in a 90-minute interactive session for GPs and other primary care providers, led by GPs.
GPs can attain 3 CPD points for attending either session, or potentially up to 40 CPD points for participating in both sessions (this has been applied for).
The first session is an introductory level, with an advanced session scheduled for Wednesday 19 October.
More information and registration is available on the Safer Families website.
Recognising and responding to LGBTIQA+ family abuse and violence in general practice
Webinar: Thursday 21 July, 7.00 – 8.30 pm (AEST)
Eligible for 3 RACGP CPD Activity points
Presented by Associate Professor Ruth McNair, academic and GP with a special interest in LGBTIQA+ healthcare, and Marina Carman, Director at Rainbow Health Victoria, this interactive education activity will provide GPs with necessary competencies in supporting LGBTIQA+ people who experience family violence.
Learning outcomes:

  • Understand the prevalence and specific drivers of family violence for LGBTIQA+ people
  • Outline the drivers of family violence amongst subgroups of LGBTIQA+ people
  • Understand the risk of suicide in relation to family violence
  • Identify and overcome barriers to identification of family violence amongst LGBTIQA+ people
  • Use the socio-ecological framework to develop management approaches for LGBTIQA+ family violence in primary care

Register online.
Abuse of older people
Webinar: Thursday 18 August, 7.00 – 8.30 pm (AEST)
Eligible for 3 RACGP CPD Activity points
Presented by Dr Elizabeth Hindmarsh, GP and Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Abuse and Violence, and the University of Newcastle’s Professor Dimity Pond, this webinar will discuss how general practice can contribute to the prevention and intervention of the abuse of older people and contribute to an overall safer society.
Learning outcomes:

  • Understand the prevalence of the abuse of older people in society
  • Discuss and become more aware of how to ask and intervene with patients to enhance safety
  • Discuss available resources and options for referrals

Register online.
Cardiovascular disease: What’s new in general practice? 
Webinar: Monday 25 July, 6.00–7.00 pm (AEST)
Melbourne University’s Department of General Practice is inviting GPs to attend an online seminar presented by Professor Richard Hobbs, Head of Primary Care Health Sciences and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the UK’s University of Oxford.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a significant cause of death and disability globally, even when compared against the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also become one of the most evidence-rich areas of medicine, yet the decline in CVD rates in many parts of the world have either plateaued or even reversed.
This session will briefly explore the importance of CVD, the summary evidence for the recognition of CVD risks and their management, the recent updates in guidance, and implementation issues for clinical practice.
Further information, including full speaker biography and registration link, is available on the event webpage.
RACGP and Emerging Minds webinar series
Webinar: Thursday 28 July, 7.00–8.30 pm (AEST)
Based on a case study, the fourth webinar in this series, ‘Infant and early childhood mental health: Collaborating with the family and the team to support the child’, will discuss practical ways in which GPs can collaborate with the team and coordinate care for the child, within the current Medicare system.

Presented by Emerging Minds and RACGP Specific Interests Child and Young Persons Health Chair Dr James Best, the panellists will also respond to practice challenges raised by webinar participants.


Register online.


GPADD22: Vulnerable populations

RACGP Victoria’s Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) Committee presents GPADD22.


The long-running, biennial General Practice and Addiction (GPADD) conference is an opportunity to learn and network with GPs and other health professionals working in this area.


This year’s conference, scheduled for 20 August at RACV City Club Melbourne, will focus on treating vulnerable communities, as people with addiction or substance-use disorders are by definition often vulnerable.

GPADD22 is open to all GPs, New Fellows, GPs in training and others working in the AOD field with GPs.


A mix of presentations and workshops will facilitate interaction and learning, and early bird tickets (member $250, GP in training $175, non-member $350) are available until 30 July.


Responding to strong emotions in cancer

In conjunction with RACGP Victoria’s New Fellows Committee, Cancer Council Australia presents the Effective Cancer Communication (ECC) program on 21 October at the college’s East Melbourne headquarters.

Effective communication fosters patient autonomy within health services and enables supportive relationships with cancer patients and their families.

This course has been developed for clinical staff and provides a practical, evidence-based conceptual framework. The course provides, in a small group setting, the opportunity to:


  • explore emotional reactions to cancer through experiential learning with simulated patients
  • recognise emotions and apply frameworks to respond effectively
  • be provided with tools and language to build trusting relationships for better patient experience and health outcomes.

Legal aids workshop
RACGP Victoria’s IMG Committee is hosting a hands-on legal aids workshop focusing on: 

  • how to manage complaints and deal with difficult patients
  • good medical records and telehealth
  • ownership of results and investigations, and the risks of corporatisation of care
  • report writing/workcover/TAC.

Attendees will hear from experts and spend time working through case studies.
The workshop will be held on 30 July at the RACGP’s East Melbourne headquarters.
Find your niche
RACGP Victoria’s New Fellows Committees is hosting another ‘Find Your Niche’ evening on 16 September at Cargo Hall in South Wharf, Melbourne.

GPs can hear from other passionate GPs across a number of diverse niche areas of general practice, to gain insight into areas they may not have considered and have a chance to chat in a casual setting. 

Speakers will cover special interest areas such as sexual health, dermatology, rural health, travel medicine and more. Drinks and canapes will be served upon arrival and again following the speaker presentations. 

Family and domestic abuse: Information Sharing Schemes

General practice plays a vital role in caring for people experiencing family and domestic abuse.


GPs Dr Magdalena Simonis and Dr Marina Malcolm present a five-part webinar series about identifying and responding to family and domestic abuse.


The first webinar, ‘Family and domestic abuse: What’s new in the legislated information sharing scheme?’, will take place from 7.30–8.30 pm on Thursday 11 August.

Drs Simonis and Malcolm will break down how the Victorian Government is reforming the way information about family violence is shared, as these reforms aim to make it easier for professionals to collaborate with each other, and better support the children and families they work with.

Future webinars will focus on: 


  • GPs’ responsibilities in identifying family and domestic abuse
  • The Family Information Sharing Scheme (FISS) and Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS)
  • Consent and documentation
  • Practicalities – getting your practice ready

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In Practice monkeypox PSR telehealth webinars

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