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Pharmacy Applications under the ELS

The ELS and what you can expect as a Pharmacy Owner

The objective of the Emergency Locum Service (ELS) program is to ensure that rural and remote communities retain access to pharmacy services at all times.

The Australian Government understands that Community Pharmacies in rural and remote areas operate with limited numbers of Pharmacists and without a helping hand when emergencies occur, some Pharmacies in rural and remote Australia would not be able to undertake dispensing duties to fully and effectively operate.

As such, Raven's Recruitment has been engaged by the Pharmacy Programs Administrator (PPA) who administer the program on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC), to provide the service to all eligible Pharmacies from the 1st of July, 2021 and provide that essential help.

Below you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), including where to find the Program Rules and other Downloads, but if you need immediate assistance please don't hesitate to phone us on 1800 991 541 or email us on

​Apply for the Emergency Locum Service

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. ​This service is only available to rural Pharmacy owners in true emergencies; for example, the death of a Pharmacist, spouse or family member, or personal emergencies such as sickness or accident. The service is not available for holidays or other non-essential absences.

    To be eligible for the purposes of the ELS Program, applicants must:

    • Be a Community Pharmacy;

    • Be located in a rural or remote location, which is defined as a Modified Monash category MM3 - MM7, according to the Modified Monash Model (MMM); and

    • Be unable to undertake dispensing duties or to fully and effectively operate the Pharmacy due to an emergency situation as defined by the Program Rules.

  2. ​The MMM is a geographical classification that categorises different areas in Australia into 7 remoteness categories. It was developed to better target health workforce programs to attract health professionals to more remote and smaller communities. The MMM classifies metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas according to geographical remoteness, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and town size. For further information, please refer to the MMM factsheet at

  3. ​In 2015, the Department of Health introduced the MMM classification system as it better targets health workforce programs by categorising metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas according to both geographical remoteness, as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and town size.

    The Department of Health began transitioning Commonwealth health programs to the new MMM classification system from 1 January 2020.

    The decision to adopt the use of the MMM for the ELS program from 1 July 2021 to ensure greater support for regional, rural and remote pharmacies was made by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

    Further information on the MMM rural classification system can be found here: and

  4. The MMM 2019 was updated on 1 July 2019 and is calculated using the latest available Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016) Census data and geographic information. The MMM measures remoteness and population size on a scale of Modified Monash (MM) category MM1 to MM7. MM1 is a major city and MM7 is very remote.​

  5. ​From 1 July 2021, Pharmacies located in MM categories 3 to 7 are permitted to access the ELS.

  6. ​No. A pharmacy’s MM category cannot be changed.

  7. The MMM is updated after each Census. The 2015 MMM was derived from 2011 ABS Census data.

    The current MMM was updated in 2019 using 2016 ABS Census data and geography information.

    The next ABS Census is in August 2021. The MMM will therefore be updated sometime after the 2021 Census. A specific date cannot be provided at this stage.​

  8. An emergency situation is defined as any situation that means the Pharmacist is unable to undertake dispensing duties or fully operate the Pharmacy, with little or no notice, that arises due to:

    • Illness or injury

    • The need to seek urgent medical care or treatment

    • A family emergency involving:

  9. No, the ELS can only be used where there is little or no notice of your required absence and is only designed to cover circumstances where you require urgent medical care or treatment.

  10. Applicants who meet the Eligibility Criteria must submit a completed official application form and attach all required documentation in order to be considered, including documentation to support the nature of the emergency. Applicants are responsible for:

    • Providing sufficient information on the application form to determine eligibility and recruit a suitable locum

    • Accepting the locum Pharmacist offered

    • Organising and paying the wages and accommodation costs of the locum for the duration of the placement.

    In cases where the nature of the emergency situation prevents completion of the application form, this requirement may be waived, and the form lodged within ten working days of the original request for assistance, in which case a fax advice and/or email will constitute an interim application form.

    There is no limit on the number of times a Community Pharmacy may access the ELS Program, subject to availability of funds.

  11. Valid forms of supporting documentation include:

    • A medical certificate, preferred in emergency situations due to unforeseen illness;

    • A Death certificate; or

    • A Commonwealth statutory declaration for all other emergency situations. Please note a statutory declaration must not be made before a Pharmacist employed by the applicant’s Pharmacy.

    Note: A Pharmacist will have 30 days in which to provide valid supporting documentation. If a Pharmacist fails to provide this documentation within 30 days of the emergency situation, the Pharmacist will be responsible for repaying the full amount that was provided to assist with the travel costs of the locum pharmacist.​

  12. Funding is available up to $2,500 (GST exclusive) each time you use the ELS program. There is no limit to the amount of times you can access the Program each year. However, the ELS Program is limited on the basis of available funds. Lodging an application does not guarantee access to the ELS Program. Consequently, Community Pharmacies satisfying the Eligibility Criteria will not necessarily receive access to the ELS Program.

  13. Emergency locum placements are for a minimum of one day and a maximum of seven consecutive days.

  14. ​ELS can be contacted anytime 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  15. ELS funding is only intended to be used to contribute to the travel costs between the locum’s home and the Pharmacy location. Other costs such as locum wages, accommodation, meals etc. will not be covered.

  16. ​The Pharmacy should pay the Locum pharmacist as soon as is reasonable, but not more than seven (7) days after the completion of the assignment.

  17. No, locum placements are organised by the current ELS provider and the Program Rules stipulate that applicants must accept the locum provided to them.

  18. The standard locum Pharmacist pay rate in an emergency is $85/hour to $110/hour plus superannuation (Monday-Sunday) and $90/hour to $110/hour plus superannuation (Public Holidays), as required and amended from time to time.

    The locum can be paid as an employee, or if they have an ABN, you can pay them as a contractor.

  19. ​Accommodation needs to be of a reasonable standard, e.g. a self-contained unit or hotel / motel / guesthouse.

  20. Raven's Recruitment in association with our preferred partner, will organise all transportation requirements between the locum's home and the Pharmacy location. The ELS program funds up to $2,500 + GST to contribute to these costs.