About the strategy
We are developing a National Nursing Workforce Strategy to create a national strategic approach to nursing policy. We are partnering with Victoria and working in collaboration with all states and territories and the nursing profession to develop the strategy.
Why it is important
Nurses are the largest health profession in Australia, comprising over 40% of the health workforce. They provide high-quality care and perform key functions across all health and aged care service settings in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote areas.
All jurisdictions invest substantially in nursing. Despite this, there has never been a national strategic approach to nursing policy.
The strategy will provide for nurses to work to their full scope of practice to address Australia's health and aged care needs into the future. The strategy will look at:
- workforce sustainability
- diversity of the profession
- workforce planning
- data sharing
- the challenges of regional, rural and remote nursing
- the pathway from novice to expert.
The strategy will identify and address national priorities that aim to:
- maintain and deliver quality, evidence-based, patient-centred care
- build and sustain an experienced workforce
- encourage the uptake of positions in regional, rural and remote areas
- support the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce.
Who we work with
We are working with a broad range of stakeholders to develop the strategy. This includes:
- peak bodies
- health professionals
- the community
- educational and regulatory nursing organisations
- members of parliament
- government departments
- state and territory Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers and health departments.
Structure of the strategy
The strategy will provide future-focused national guidance and direction for the profession and the health system. This ensures the nursing profession meets the care needs of Australian communities. With a focus on workforce planning and policy reform it will:
- establish a common vision for nursing in Australia and promote strategies for enacting that vision
- develop a range of actions for the nursing workforce to implement at all levels across the health and aged care system
- create a framework for collaborative action between all stakeholders (government and non-government) on developing and supporting the future nursing workforce
- acknowledge and inform state and territory nursing strategies and plans (and other relevant Australian Government plans.
Once published, we will develop an implementation plan and a monitoring and evaluation framework to track progress.
The strategy will cover:
- Registered Nurses (RN)
- Enrolled Nurses (EN)
- Nurse Practitioners (NP)
- Assistants in Nursing (AIN) – however named
- students of nursing.
- AINs are recognised as an integral part of the nursing workforce. They deliver care under the supervision of RNs and ENs and as part of career pathways into nursing.
Out of scope:
- Midwives are a separate profession. Many midwives have dual registration so their perspective on nursing issues and the impact of the strategy on them will be considered.
- Industrial issues including awards and enterprise agreements.
This strategy will focus on building the nursing workforce and continuing to embed the trusted reputation of the profession both in Australia and internationally. The strategy will consider immediate nursing workforce issues however actions will be aimed at strategic, long-term reform.
Process to develop the strategy
From October to December 2023, we consulted with nurses and providers to identify issues facing the nursing workforce. We held:
- face-to-face workshops
- online webinars
- yarning circles
- focus groups
- an online survey.
Visit our consultation page for more information.
We are now analysing the results of these consultations. We intend to hold another round of consultation in the second half of 2024.
The strategy development will be full of opportunities to provide feedback on the draft before finalisation.
There will be two stages of development (outlined below in Figure 1):
- Project implementation. This includes the foundational work for the development of the strategy.
- Execution phase. Drafting and finalising the strategy.
We are currently in the research synthesis and analysis phase of stage one. We are analysing the evidence from:
- national and international environmental scans
- a supply and demand study
- extensive public stakeholder engagement.
Stages for development
Development of the strategy is being overseen by two committees:
- the Strategy Steering Committee (SSC) - oversees the development of the strategy
- the Strategy Advisory Group (SAG) - provides advice on the development of the strategy.
The SSC will also report progress to the Health Workforce Taskforce, which is a cross-government group that is responsible for health workforce matters. Health Chief Executives will consider the strategy before Health Ministers finally approve it.
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