In 2005, there were 285,619 nurses in Australia, of which:

  • 230,578 (80.7%) were registered nurses and
  • 55,042 (19.3%) were enrolled nurses.
Eighty five per cent (244,360) of all nurses were employed in the nursing labour force in Australia. Of those not employed in the nursing labour force, there were:
  • 7,488 on extended leave
  • 3,108 looking for work in nursing
  • 2,081 overseas and
  • 28,582 not looking for work in nursing.
The Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force Survey 2005 also identifies the principal nursing role in which nurses work (Table 3.1.2). The survey found that 91.2% of all nurses work clinically with over half of these working in medical/surgical, critical care and aged care areas.

Table 3.1.2: Employed nurses: Principal nursing role, 2005

Number

Proportion

Clinical nurses

Medical/surgical70,23328.7
Perioperative16,7236.8
Midwifery18,8207.7
Critical care32,17313.2
Family & child health5,2762.2
Community health13,9265.7
Aged care34,03113.9
Mental health12,6495.2
Rehabilitation/disability6,9282.8
Other10,8514.4
Not stated1,3640.6
Total222,97491.2

Non-clinicians

Teacher/Educator7,2263.0
Researcher1,9760.8
Other12,1835.0
Total21,3858.8
Total244,360100.0

Source: AIHW, Nursing Labour Force Survey, 2005

Nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioners are a small, emerging speciality field in the health workforce with an estimated 222 working in Australia at June 20079.

9Victoria Government Health Information. www.health.vic.gov.au/nursing/furthering/practitioner