Update from the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer – September 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 September newsletter for 2023. I write to you from the nation's capital, where the weather is heating up and hay fever season is well and truly upon us!

In this month's newsletter, I share recent updates to national reviews, scholarships and training program announcements within the nursing and midwifery space. I also share a link to a survey that is currently open that seeks feedback from those who work within primary care. I encourage you to have your say, to help us improve service delivery across primary care settings nationally.

Australian College of Midwives "Midwife of the year"

Congratulations to Melina Connors on being awarded the Australian College of Midwives ‘Midwife of the Year’. Melina is a proud Gurindji woman from the Northern Territory who works as a clinical midwifery consultant in the Queensland Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer.

Melina and her team up in Queensland have delivered the Growing Deadly Families Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Maternity Services Strategy, which sets out a vision for all First Nations babies in Queensland to be born healthy and into strong, resilient families. This aligns with the national, overarching Woman-centred Care: Strategic Directions for Australian Maternity Services. Congratulations Melina!

Scope of Practice Review

The Australian Government provided funding for the now under way scope of practice review through the 2023–24 Budget. Unleashing the Potential of our Health Workforce is an independent review to identify opportunities to remove the barriers preventing health professionals working to their full scope of practice.

The first public consultation stage for the review opened on Monday 11 September 2023. See Minister Butler’s Media Release. You are encouraged to have your say in the submission survey by 16 October 2023.

Find out more about the review and receive important news and updates by contacting scopeofpracticereview@health.gov.au.

Complete survey

Routine Childhood Immunisation – health professionals' kit

The Department of Health and Aged Care’s Routine Childhood Immunisation kit for health professionals is now live on our website and includes resources to help health professionals have conversations about childhood immunisations.

We encourage you to share the resources across your channels and networks, to provide up to date information.

For more information and materials about free childhood vaccines available under the National Immunisation Program

Point of care testing for respiratory conditions in First Nations and remote communities

As part of the COVID-19 response for First Nations and remote communities, the Department of Health and Aged Care implemented a point-of-care testing program. The program provides access to accurate and timely PCR testing for COVID-19 in remote primary health care services.

In 2022, testing expanded to include influenza A and B, and respiratory syncytial virus. This enables prompt identification and treatment for respiratory illnesses.

In September 2022, the program was evaluated to assess the appropriateness, implementation, effectiveness, and lessons learned, focusing on health outcomes for First Nations people.

For more information, read the Evaluation of COVID-19 point-of-care testing in remote and First Nations communities.

National Women's Health Advisory Council – #EndGenderBias Survey

The Australian Government has established a National Women’s Health Advisory Council to provide strategic advice and recommendations to improve health outcomes for Australian women and girls.

The council has launched the #EndGenderBias survey to hear from women, girls, and people assigned female at birth, along with researchers, health care professionals, consumer representatives and peak stakeholder groups. The survey is available in 17 languages, with audio and video upload options also available. Results will be used to inform the council's advice and recommendations to the  Government to improve health outcomes for women and girls in Australia. The survey closes 13 October 2023.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder – PHD

September is International Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Awareness Month. You can join the conversation by wearing red shoes in support of Red Shoes Rock, a global campaign giving voice and support to those affected by prenatal alcohol exposure.

To find out more about the impacts of alcohol when pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding, visit Every Moment Matters, a national awareness campaign funded by the Australian Government. The campaign includes an online learning module for health professionals, Supporting alcohol-free pregnancy and safe breastfeeding, which is accredited by relevant health practitioner colleges. Alternatively, you can contact NOFASD Australia, a national telephone and online support service for individuals, families and carers affected by FASD. 

Tobacco and E-Cigarettes

On 13 September 2023, Minister Butler introduced the Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) Bill 2023 into Parliament. The Bill reflects the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to improving the health of all Australians by reducing the prevalence of tobacco use.

This is consistent with Australia’s obligations as a Party to the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which aims to protect present and future generations from the harms of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

The reforms complement the 2023–2030 National Tobacco Strategy, which aims to achieve a national daily smoking rate of less than 10% by 2025 and 5% or less by 2030. It also aims to reduce the daily smoking rate in First Nations communities to 27% or less by 2030.  

Commonwealth funded Transition to Practice Program applications now open

The Transition to Practice Program (TPP), delivered by the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA), provides ongoing education, support and mentoring to nurses. It is an Australian Government-funded 10-month program, commencing in October 2023.

Eligible newly graduated, and experienced enrolled and registered nurses seeking to transition to primary health care settings are encouraged to apply. The TPP aims to build skills, knowledge and confidence in primary care delivery. Experienced nurses are also encouraged to apply to participate as paid mentors to transitioning nurses.

Further information is available on APNA’s website.

Aged care scholarships

Scholarships are now available for enrolled and registered nurses, personal care workers and allied health professionals working in aged care to further develop their skills and gain qualifications. 

The scholarship program will support the aged care workforce to improve its expertise in palliative care, dementia care, clinical gerontology, behavioural management and infection prevention and control. Courses include vocational education training, postgraduate allied health and undergraduate and postgraduate nursing.

The application period closes on 10 October 2023. For more information, visit Australian College of Nursing.

Equip Aged care Learning Packages

The Department of Health and Aged Care contracted the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, University of Tasmania, to develop Equip Aged Care Learning Packages. These packages consist of 14 modules designed for nurses, carers, personal care workers, allied health professionals and volunteers working in the aged care sector.

Each module takes around 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed from a phone, tablet, or computer. A free, downloadable certificate of completion is available for each module, with an additional certificate for completion of all modules. All 14 modules are free of charge and available now.

New survey for Infection prevention and Control (IPC) Leads

The Department of Health and Aged Care is running a survey for infection prevention and control (IPC) leads in aged care to evaluate the role’s impact during the COVID-19 response. 

Healthcare Management Advisors (HMA) will conduct the survey to determine how the IPC lead role was implemented; experiences of the role; how IPC leads were supported; how the role impacted nurses; and training and education for IPC leads. HMA will also consult with residential aged care homes and other stakeholders.

The survey is now open for IPC leads until 31 October 2023. For more information on the IPC lead role.

Complete survey

National Nursing Workforce Strategy consultation opportunities

Face-to-face consultations on the National Nursing Workforce Strategy are under way, with Department of Health and Aged Care representatives travelling to meet with nursing stakeholders.

During these sessions, we hope to capture views on nursing workforce issues and better understand the enablers and barriers which impact on the delivery of care. Consultation opportunities are being held in metropolitan and regional areas in each state and territory until November 2023. Tailored webinars and an online survey will be available in October for participants who are unable to attend a face-to-face session.

Dates, location details and booking links will be available soon on the Strategy website. We encourage you to participate and spread the word among your networks.

COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program (CVPT)

As we transition the COVID-19 response from emergency settings to more sustainable long-term operations, CVTP will be coming to an end as of 1 October 2023.

From 1 October 2023, the department will no longer be producing new COVID-19 Vaccine Training Modules and the COVID-19 learning platform will close and no longer be mandatory for participation in the COVID-19 Vaccine Program.

Please note: CVTP completion will remain a mandatory requirement up to and including Saturday 30 September 2023. 

The learning platform continues to be available as module completion and certificate downloads will still be required during this period. From 1 October 2023, COVID-19 certificates of completion will no longer be issued.

COVID-19 reference resources, including the COVID-19 Vaccines in Australia and ATAGI Recommended COVID-19 Vaccines Doses posters, will continue to be updated and available.

Attention health professionals – we want to hear from you!

If you are a health professional and aren't already subscribed to our primary care newsletter, you can sign up here.

We send regular health updates including details to our live webinars on important health topics.

To help us continue to deliver information and resources that are relevant to you and your patients, we'd love to get your feedback. Complete the survey to let us know how we can best help you.

The survey will close on 30 September 2023.

Complete survey

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