Update from the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer - May 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 my May newsletter for 2023. On May 5, we celebrated International Day of the Midwife and on May 12, it was International Nurses Day. I would like to thank all nurses and midwives for the selfless work they do every single day to improve the lives of the people they care for. 

The 2023 Federal Budget came with updates to the nursing and midwifery sector. Due to the volume of updates, you will receive a separate newsletter this month outlining the Government initiatives.

Influenza vaccine public awareness campaign

A flu vaccine offers the best protection against influenza this winter. It is especially important for those who are at a higher risk of developing complications from the flu, including pregnant women and their developing babies, children aged 6 months to 5 years, and First Nations peoples.

As nurses and midwives, you have an important role to play by offering and recommending the influenza vaccine to your patients. It is safe and free through the National Immunisation Program (NIP) to those most at risk of complications.

An 8-week public awareness campaign launched on 24 April to help raise awareness of the serious risks of influenza and encourage those most at risk to get the free influenza vaccine. We encourage you to promote the campaign materials across your channels and centres.

For supporting materials and information about free influenza vaccines available under the National Immunisation Program visit www.health.gov.au/flu.

Topics in the new National Postnatal Care Guidelines

Following an open tender process, Monash University has been awarded a contract to update the Clinical Practice Guidelines: Pregnancy Care (Pregnancy Care Guidelines) and develop new Postnatal Care Guidelines. Both projects will incorporate living evidence processes into clinical practice recommendations.

The Pregnancy Care Guidelines are used by health professionals to provide consistent, high-quality, evidence-based maternity care to pregnant women. Initial priorities include aligning the alcohol chapter with the Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol, incorporating stillbirth and preterm birth prevention content, and including a new topic on miscarriage prevention and support.

Topics in the new national Postnatal Care Guidelines will include recuperation from the birthing process, physical and psychological birth trauma, breastfeeding education and support, and perinatal mental health.

The Australian Government has committed $5.9 million to expand the Pregnancy and Postnatal Care Guidelines to include targeted consultation and guidance for culturally and linguistically diverse people and First Nations peoples.

National Palliative Care Week 21-27 May - 'Matters of Life and Death'

National Palliative Care Week this month offers an important moment of reflection for all Australians. Between 21 and 27 May 2023 the theme of ‘Matters of Life and Death’ will focus on and celebrate the ‘people at the heart of quality palliative care’ and recognise the incredible dedication of all those working and volunteering in palliative care across Australia.

Palliative care is so much more than end-of-life care. Palliative care helps people, of all ages, live as fully and as comfortably as possible with a life-limiting illness. It can be provided in all kinds of health settings, including at home, a hospital, a hospice, or an aged care facility. Palliative care can also sit alongside and complement active treatment.

The Australian Government is committed to the provision of quality palliative care for all Australians and invests in education and training aiming to support the health workforce deliver the best care. For more information visit Department of Health and Aged Care - Palliative care initiatives and programs, Palliative Care Australia or the Palliative Care Education Directory.

Practical palliative care resources for nurses

To support nurses providing quality palliative care and care at the end of life, CareSearch has developed a Nurses resource pack. It contains practical information and tools including;

  • SPICT (Supportive and Palliative Care Indicator Tool)
  • Needs Assessment Tools
  • Communication with patients, carers, and families information sheet
  • Abbey Pain Scale
  • Medicines information sheets
  • MBS information sheets

To view the entire resource pack visit caresearch.com.au/resourcepacks.

Auslan Health Professional Survey

Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA), on behalf of the Department of Health and Aged Care, is exploring how Auslan interpreting services are arranged and delivered in primary care settings (i.e. healthcare settings other than hospitals and aged care facilities). Anyone working in primary care can participate, regardless of their level of experience working with Auslan interpreters. Nurses working in primary care can share their perspectives in a short survey, available in two formats:

The survey is open until 11:59pm AEST on 30 June 2023. Everyone who completes it will have the option of entering a gift card draw.

Care and Support Sector Nursing Clinical Placements Program

Following a competitive tender process, 5 suppliers will commence implementation of the Care and Support Sector Nursing Clinical Placements Program. The suppliers are:

  1. The University of Canberra, leading a consortia with University of Wollongong, Edith Cowan University and Curtin University
  2. The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA)
  3. Pop-Up Health
  4. Brightwater Care Group
  5. Hunter Primary Care

The program aims to support up to 5,250 nursing students with positive, high-quality clinical placements in the care and support sector (aged care, veterans’ care and disability support). Students will be supported throughout their placement by Clinical Facilitators and the establishment of an online resources hub. The program will be implemented nationally and run until December 2024.

More information is available at: Care and Support Sector Nursing Clinical Placements | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care

Aged care scholarships now available

The Aged Care Nursing and Allied Health Scholarships program is open to enrolled and registered nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals working in aged care. Vocational education, undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship opportunities are available.

These scholarships include the study areas of:

  • palliative care
  • dementia care
  • infection prevention and control
  • leadership and management. 

All scholarship recipients will be eligible for a completion bonus on successfully finishing their course. A guaranteed number of scholarships will be available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Applications opened on 2 May 2023 and will close as soon as all of the available places have been filled.

Find out more information on the Australian College of Nursing website.


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