Update from the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer – July 2023

A newsletter from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan with updates from the nursing and midwifery sector, some personal priorities and highlights, and an insight on what's happening across the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Date published:
Health sector

A message from Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan PSM

Hello and welcome to the July edition of my newsletter. I write to you this time from Montreal in Canada where I am attending the 29th International Council of Nurses Congress. The theme this year is Nurses together: a force for global health.

As is the nature of the health sector, June was yet another busy month for nurses and midwives. In this newsletter, I share recent updates to national strategies and programs, as well as details about upcoming events.

I would also like to acknowledge the nurses and midwives who were recognised in the King's Birthday Honours. Congratulations to you all!

National Nursing Workforce Strategy update

The Australian and Victorian governments are working on Australia’s first National Nursing Workforce Strategy (Strategy) in earnest. Members have been appointed to the Strategy Advisory Group and the Strategy Steering Committee to guide development.

The first round of Strategy consultation is expected to be open from September to November 2023. Workshops will be held at a number of conferences and we hope to see you there. See the dates below:

  • Australian College of Nursing – National Nursing Forum – 9-11 August 2023
  • 47th International Mental Health Nursing Conference – 13-15 September 2023
  • CRANAPlus conference – 10-12 October
  • Australian College of Nurse Practitioners conference – 12-14 October.

Release of the Nurse Practitioner Workforce Plan

On 16 May 2023, the Government released the Nurse Practitioner Workforce Plan (Plan). The Plan aims to increase utilisation of nurse practitioners in primary care to meet consumer needs. It details ways to build the nurse practitioner workforce, while increasing access to care.
Implementation of the Plan is to begin immediately, with the Government committing at Budget 2023-24 to:

  • Increase Medicare rebates by 30% for care provided by nurse practitioners.
  • Allow nurse practitioners to prescribe PBS medicines and provide services under Medicare.
  • Expand the future nursing and midwifery workforce through a new Primary Care Nurse and Midwifery Scholarship program.
  • Facilitate more nurse practitioner training in primary care.

Read more about Budget 2023-24.

Medical Benefits Schedule access for Nurse Practitioners

From 1 July 2024, the Government will increase the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fees and rebates for nurse practitioner general attendance items by 30%. This will assist eligible nurse practitioners to deliver services for Australians under Medicare. From 1 July 2024, the Government will also expand eligibility for nurse practitioners to participate in MBS subsidised multidisciplinary case conferences, which will bring providers together to better support patients with chronic conditions.

Removal of Collaborative Arrangements

The Government has committed to removing the legislated requirement for collaborative arrangements between participating midwives, or nurse practitioners and medical practitioners. The timing is subject to legislative drafting processes and passage through the Parliament.

Strategic Direction for Australian Maternity Services - Baseline Report

The Baseline Report of the Strategic directions for Australian maternity services is now available. It highlights developments since the Woman-centred Care Strategy was released in 2019. This includes the Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy, the national Clinical Practice Guidelines for Pregnancy Care, and the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan.

The Baseline Report provides a snapshot of Australia’s maternity services; where Australia is now; and how we can measure future progress.

Health Care Sector Response to Reproductive Coercion and Coercive Control

Reproductive coercion and abuse are a form of gendered violence, in which a person's reproductive autonomy is restricted or controlled. This is associated with higher rates of unintended pregnancies, abortion, and negative reproductive, maternal, parental, and child health outcomes.1
Primary care providers are usually the first point of contact for victims of reproductive coercion. The Australian Institute of Family Studies have developed a practice guide on reproductive coercion. National Principles are being developed to address coercive control in family and domestic violence, which will be finalised later this year. The Department of Health and Aged Care will work with the Attorney-General's Department to promote the National Principles and to help raise awareness within the health care sector.

  1. Reference: The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs' report -  Ending the Postcode Lottery – Addressing Barriers to Sexual, Maternity and Reproductive Healthcare in Australia.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan 2021-2031 (Workforce Plan) aims to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in health roles, and improve cultural safety across the health sector.

The Workforce Plan was co-designed in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the Department of Health and Aged Care is committed to working with the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM) to progress implementation.

Evaluation of Pregnancy Care Guidelines 

Monash University was awarded a contract to update the Clinical Practice Guidelines: Pregnancy Care (Pregnancy Care Guidelines) and develop new Postnatal Care Guidelines. Monash University is seeking insights from those who have been involved in developing or have used the Pregnancy Care Guidelines. These will be used to improve the current guidelines and facilitate their transition into ‘living’ guidelines.
Input is sought from policy makers and practising health professionals. The anonymous survey (10-15 minutes) is now open and closes at 5pm on Friday 7 July 2023. Click on the links below to access the surveys:

  • Survey for policy makers.
  • Survey for health professionals.

CATSINaM and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia partnership investment agreement

  • On 1 June 2023, CATSINaM and the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) signed their partnership investment agreement which breaks new ground on system and education reform for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives across Australia.
  • CATSINaM have announced their regional congress, to be held in Kingscliff NSW on 28-30 November 2023. Registrations are now open and close on 28 July 2023.

Nursing in Primary Health Care Program

The Australian Government has provided $6,396m in funding over three years to the Australian Primary Health Care Nurse Association (APNA) to continue delivery of the Nursing in Primary Health Care (NiPHC) program. The NiPHC program aims to increase the capability and capacity of the primary health care (PHC) workforce by investing in training programs for nurses in team-based and multi-disciplinary care. Further information is available at APNA’s website.

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.