The Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance Program is aimed at supporting access to PBS medicines and pharmacy services for people living in rural areas by providing financial support to eligible pharmacy owners in regional, rural and remote areas.

The Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance (RPMA) consists of a monthly Allowance paid to eligible proprietors of Section 90 Approved Pharmacies, in recognition of the additional financial burden of maintaining a Pharmacy in rural and remote areas of Australia.

Applicants for the RPMA must meet the following Eligibility Criteria:

  • Be approved as a Section 90 Pharmacy under the National Health Act 1953
  • Have a prescription volume under the upper limit of the RPMA Payment Matrix
  • Reside and work in a Pharmacy Accessibility Remoteness Index of Australia (PhARIA) category 2 to 6. Information on PhARIA locations can be found on the PhARIA website
  • Trade and be accessible to Patients with a Registered Pharmacist in attendance, for a minimum of:
    • 20 hours each week
    • 4 days each week
    • 48 weeks each allowance year.

Applying for the First Time

If you are applying for the Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance for the first time, please submit a new application via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator Portal. Eligible Community Pharmacies only need to apply for the RPMA once. The allowance is then renewed each financial year (see Annual Renewal below). The RPMA payment schedules are based on information in the application and renewal.

Annual Renewal

To continue receiving payments under the RPMA Program, a Community Pharmacy must submit an annual renewal via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator Portal that includes re-certification of eligibility. The renewal must be submitted by 14 June for the allowance year beginning the following 1 July.

The RPMA is calculated annually, based on the remoteness of the Community Pharmacy according to the PhARIA, and the level of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) prescription volumes. Community Pharmacies with low prescription volumes in more remote areas receive the higher levels of funding under RPMA. Successful applicants who meet the Eligibility Criteria under the RPMA are entitled to payments according to the RPMA payment matrix. The payments range from $5,468 to $45,930 per annum. Payments are made for the first month after the Pharmacy submits an application for the RPMA, and for each subsequent month during the financial year as long as the Pharmacy maintains its eligibility.

Rural Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance FAQ

  1. The RPMA payment matrix for 2020/21 is provided below.

         PhARIA Category

    Prescription volume ranges 2 Accessible (group 1) 3 Accessible (group 2) 4 Moderately accessible 5 Remote 6 Very remote
    0 – 21,893 $12,029 $15,036 $22,964 $34,447 $45,930
    21,894 – 43,786 $10,935 $13,669 $20,777 $31,166 $41,555
    43,787 – 54,733 $9,842 $12,302 $18,590 $27,885 $37,180
    54,734 – 65,679 $8,748 $10,935 $16,403 $24,605 $32,806
    65,680 – 76,626 $7,655 $9,568 $14,216 $21,324 $28,432
    76,627 – 87,572 $6,561 $8,202 $12,029 $18,043 $24,058
    87,573 – 98,519 $5,468 $6,835 $9,842 $14,763 $19,684
    Median 43,786


  2. Refer to the Portal User Guide -RPMA, available from the Downloads section of this page.

  3. PhARIA values can be downloaded here. Search for the suburb your Pharmacy is in and your PhARIA will be displayed next to that.

  4. If your Pharmacy is located in a PhARIA 2-6 rating then you may be eligible to receive the RPMA.

  5. Currently, the maximum annual script volume is 98,519. However, this volume can change from year to year. The RPMA script volume limit is updated at the end of each financial year and is available on the Pharmacy Programs Administrator website.

  6. The Pharmacy must be located in PhARIA 2-6, and be open with a registered Pharmacist in attendance for at least:

    • 20 hours per week
    • 4 days of each week
    • 48 weeks of each allowance year.

    A Pharmacy cannot include the times if the Pharmacy is open but with no registered Pharmacist in attendance.

  7. The RPMA runs in line with the financial year. The allowance year means 1 July – 30 June.

  8. RPMA payments are made 1 month in arrears. For example, the Allowance for July will be paid in August.

  9. You can apply for a program variance. Details on how to apply can be found in the Program Rules. A case will be presented to the Department of Health who will approve or decline the applications. Approval could result in partial payments.

  10. You will be required to submit a new claim every time that a s90 approval number changes for a Pharmacy. If eligible, the Pharmacy will receive payment for the first whole month after the RPMA Claim is submitted via the Pharmacy Programs Administrator portal. Under these circumstances, it will be the responsibility of Community Pharmacy owners to ensure their contracts of sale include provision for sharing the payment or liability on a pro rata basis depending on the day of the month that the Section 90 Approval Number changed. No partial payments will be allowed for partial months of ownership.

  11. You are required under the Program Rules to inform the Pharmacy Programs Administrator of any change to the Pharmacy that can affect eligibility for any Program within 14 days of the change.

  12. RPMA renewal applications are accepted from 1 May – 14 June each year.

  13. Yes, if you miss the renewal application window you will be required to submit a RPMA application (rather than renewal) on the Pharmacy Programs Administrator portal. No back payment of months missed will be allowed.

  14. A renewal is only allowed when the same Pharmacy, with the same s90 number received the RPMA Allowance the previous year. This form is due between 1 May and 14 June each year. On all other occasions a new application needs to be submitted.

  15. Inform the Pharmacy Programs Administrator as soon as possible. Failure to inform the Pharmacy Programs Administrator within 14 days of a change in eligibility may result in payments being recovered from you.