BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Currently when undergoing Australian general practice training, a registrar must determine when clinical supervision is needed. The aim of this study was to identify situations in early Australian general practice training requiring closer supervision and consider how this can be achieved. METHOD: The study used a qualitative approach involving 75 registrars, supervisors and medical educators from seven focus groups in Victoria and Tasmania. RESULTS: Eighty circumstances in which a registrar should call their general practice supervisor were identified. Participants indicated the 'call for help' list should be modified early in the term after considering the registrar's prior experience, and through the term as supervision and teaching identifies readiness for independent practice. DISCUSSION: The size of the list developed by the focus groups reflects the breadth of general practice. It is a 'call for help' list rather than a safety checklist as it is not exclusively concerned with high-risk scenarios and includes broad triggers to call for help. The 'call for help' list is an aid to patient safety and the supervisor-registrar alliance.