Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer - Adjunct Professor Debra Thoms

Adjunct Professor Debra Thoms is the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer (CNMO).

Page last updated: 12 September 2017

Debra Thoms is the CNMO for the Australian Government and is responsible for providing high-level advice on nursing and midwifery issues. She also participates in the formulation and implementation of policy and strategic direction in relation to health care in Australia.

She was formerly the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the Australian College of Nursing, a position she took up in mid-2012 following six years as the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer with NSW Health.

Debra is a registered nurse and registered midwife and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Economics/Psychology), Master of Nursing Administration and Graduate Certificate in Bioethics. She has also completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts (History/French) and a Governance and Risk Management Certificate.

Debra Thoms CNMO

During her career Debra has gained broad health management and clinical experience including as a clinician in remote and rural Australia, as CEO of a rural area health service, general manager of the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney and as Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer within the Health Departments of South Australia and New South Wales.

In 2005 Debra was selected to attend the Johnson and Johnson Wharton Fellows Program and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Her contribution to nursing and health care has been recognised by an Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Technology, Sydney and she also holds appointments as an Adjunct Professor with the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Sydney.

Monthly CNMO newsletters

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Symposium discussion papers

The Advanced Practice and Registered Nurse / Midwife Prescribing Symposia, hosted by the Department of Health, were held in Canberra on March 21 and 22, 2017.

The Symposia were attended by over 120 nurses and midwives from clinical, education, service, research, management, and professional and third sector organisation backgrounds.

Day 1 addressed the concept of advanced practice in the Australian context. Participants explored the current understanding of advanced practice in the and how the profession could progress necessary work to provide greater clarity for those within the profession and for the broader health system to enhance the contribution of advanced practice nursing roles.

Day 2 explored the need to expand current models of nurses/midwife prescribing in light of the discontinuation of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia Registration standard: Endorsement for scheduled medicines (rural and isolated practice), also known as the RIPEN standard, in 2018.

The background papers providing context for the Symposia are available from the links below.

Day 1

Day 2

Nursing and Midwifery Strategic Reference Group (NMSRG)

The Nursing and Midwifery Strategic Reference Group was established to enable key nursing and midwifery experts to provide comment and advice to the Department of Health and the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer (CNMO). The NMSRG is chaired by the CNMO and membership is comprised of nursing and midwifery representatives from the following sectors:

  • Education;
  • Regulatory;
  • Professional nursing and midwifery organisations including Indigenous professional organisations; and
  • Public and private health service delivery including acute, primary and community care, rural and remote, and aged care.

National Nursing and Midwifery Education Advisory Network (NNMEAN)

The National Nursing and Midwifery Education Advisory Network (NNMEAN) is an advisory body responsible for the provision of high level strategic advice to Health Ministers on issues relating to the future planning, coordination and development of the nursing and midwifery workforce in Australia.  For further information about NNMEAN, please visit the NNMEAN website

NNMEAN Communiques


Consultations can be found on the Department of health consultations hub.

Other relevant links


For any nursing and midwifery enquiries, please email