Media event date: 
12 May 2020
Date published: 
12 May 2020
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The tireless work of Australia’s nurses – particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic – has been recognised by the Federal Government as part of International Nurses Day.

Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the virus emergency had created challenges for many, none were tougher than for our world-class health professionals working on the frontline.

Today, 12 May, marks the day one of the founders of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, was born.

“Her pioneering work during the Crimean War focused on the importance of sanitation and hygiene including handwashing,” Minister Hunt said. 

“These hygiene principles are now at the heart of Australia’s coronavirus response and we have seen it work.”

Minister Hunt said there are more than 390,000 nurses registered in Australia.

“Today is a day when all Australians should stand as one and applaud our amazing nurses,” he said.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, said more than 31,000 registered nurses and more than 18,000 enrolled nurses are working in aged care across Australia.

“Aged care nurses make up around 14 per cent of Australia’s total nursing workforce and care for more than 1.2 million senior Australians,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Nurses working in aged care lead multidisciplinary teams working in residential aged care facilities and the community.

“In particular, they are ensuring vital infection prevention and control processes are in place to better protect senior Australians in care from this virus.

“The nurses working across aged care are more important than ever.”

Minister for Regional Health, Mark Coulton, said more than 95,000 nurses work outside of Australia’s metropolitan areas — around 27 per cent of the total nursing workforce.

“Nurses are the lifeblood of small communities responding to increasingly complex health needs away from major hospitals,” Minister Coulton said.

“Rural nurses are highly skilled generalists that country communities rely on—often with reduced access to the clinical supports and assistance found in our cities.

“Whether in charge of a clinic or providing nursing care to outback patients, our nurses are valued and respected health professionals in rural, regional and remote communities.

“Remote nursing organisation CRANAplus has provided important local insights throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure the government’s health response meets the needs of regional communities.”

The Australian Government recently provided $4.1 million to fund up to 20,000 new online education places so Registered Nurses (RNs) can further assist in the delivery of care in intensive care and high dependency units across Australia.

Additionally, an online refresher course to allow 3000 RNs who are not currently in clinical practice to update their knowledge to re-join the health workforce is also available. 

“Together, we thank and acknowledge Australia’s extraordinary nurses for their ongoing commitment and dedication to deliver exceptional frontline health care during this unprecedented time,” Minister Coulton said.

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