01 December 2022

Chief Minister to speak at special event marking 20th and final year of NT’s sole GP training organisation


NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles will help celebrate the 20th and final year of the Territory’s sole GP training organisation at a special event in Darwin this Saturday (3 December).

On 1 February 2023, Northern Territory General Practice Education (NTGPE) will hand over the baton of GP training in the NT to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) under a new national College-led GP training model.

This weekend’s 20th anniversary event at Darwin Convention Centre will bring together Chief Minister Natasha Fyles, the Leader of the Opposition Lia Finocchiaro MLA, the NTGPE team, and former and current GP registrars and supervisors in an opportunity to recognise and highlight the key achievements of NTGPE over the past 20 years.

NTGPE Chief Executive Officer Dr Richard Zanner said it was important to thank NTGPE’s partners and all of those that have contributed to GP training and support primary health care across the NT communities.

“Over the past 20 years, NTGPE has supported hundreds of GP registrars choosing to train on the Australian General Practice Training program (AGPT) on their pathway to fellowship,” said Dr Zanner.

“We have worked with Colleges, healthcare providers, medical and cultural educators, and supervisors to offer a highly-successful training program that has been culturally competent and varied in its training opportunities.

“NTGPE’s cultural education program is acknowledged as best practice in Australia, and we have developed an extensive pastoral care program to care for our doctors and have been able to offer housing to enable GP training to happen across some of our most remote locations.

“Our innovation and leadership in these areas has ensured that GP registrars are best supported to care for some of the most vulnerable people in Australia.

“NTGPE’s program has not just been about recruiting doctors, but retaining them in communities where they are most needed.

“While we are saddened to conclude our role in GP training, we are looking beyond our direct involvement to recognise the importance of the continued success of the AGPT program.

“Our 20th anniversary event will be a great opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and look back at the critical part our team, training practices and GP supervisors have played over the past 20 years of our operations.

“Without their support, we could not have provided the challenging clinical and life experiences that go into making exceptional GPs who are culturally competent, robust and outstanding clinicians.”

NTGPE began its journey in 2002 and has since supported the health needs of the NT community by providing high-quality medical education and culturally safe training to trainee GPs across placements within hospitals, urban practices, and rural and remote clinics.  

In 2017, the Federal Department of Health announced that the AGPT program would transition from Regional Training Organisations (RTOs), which NTGPE is one of nine across Australia, to the two GP Colleges.

Dr Zanner said the anniversary event will also allow NTGPE to present BEYOND, a key program NTGPE has developed to ensure a successful transition to the Colleges, and to look forward to GP training in the NT into the future.

“BEYOND is about encouraging our doctors, our staff, our registrar, supervisors, practice managers to embrace the College-led model of training,” he said.

“We want to ensure we don't lose what we've got, but at the same time embrace the College model and move forward with strength.

“As we look back and take stock of the remarkable achievements in GP training in the Northern Territory over the past two decades, we must ensure that our capabilities are leveraged into the future.

“It’s a different Australia now than it was 20 years ago when we started training in remote communities. And it will be different again in the next two decades.

“Just as we had a dream then, I have one now – that our communities are robust, resilient and in all ways engender lives and livelihoods of healthy individuals with access to the best healthcare one would expect in any developed nation.’

“We must be focused on using the past to look forward and create a strong future.”