An outback Australian town has offered a huge salary and free housing in order to attract a doctor to take up a position at its hospital.
A base salary of between $400,000 and $514,000 among other benefits is on offer for a GP who wishes to take up a full-time position in the town of Julia Creek, 600km from Townsville.
Not only that, but the local council has also offered to house the new doctor in a brand-new four-bedroom home for free, with five weeks of annual leave each year included in the package.
North West Hospital and Health Service also says it will help find a partner of any potential applicant a job in the community.
The town has gone without a full-time doctor for over a decade, with locals having to travel hundreds of kilometres to other towns for medical treatment.
“Outside of emergencies, people have to find their own way to the nearest hospital,” McKinlay council Deputy Mayor Janene Fegan said.
Sick patients have to travel 140km to the closest hospital in Cloncurry, or even 250km to Mount Isa.
“The concern is for the ‘in-between’ illnesses, such as a child with a high temperature,” Ms Fegan said.
“What would normally happen is that a doctor would observe them overnight, but we can’t do that at the moment.”
Ms Fegan described Julia Creek as a “great escape and a good country town”.
“It’s a safe community to live in; people belong to committees here and it’s a very close-knit community,” she said.
“Once you get people out here, they’re surprised at what facilities we have and how pretty and easy the town is to live in.”