Policy and strategy
We work with the nursing and midwifery professions to improve systems and processes. The following reviews and guidelines inform our policies on nursing and midwifery to improve the health of all Australians.
National Nursing Workforce Strategy
The National Nursing Workforce Strategy (the Strategy) will set out a vision for the future of nursing in Australia. It will set out priorities for supporting a capable, resilient nursing profession delivering person-centred, evidence-based, compassionate care to Australian communities across all sectors. The Strategy is expected to look at:
- workforce sustainability,
- diversity of the profession,
- the challenges of regional, rural and remote nursing, and
- plans to address the pathway from novice to expert, clearly setting out the pathway to nurse practitioner.
The Department of Health and Aged Care is also developing a nurse practitioner strategic plan - Increasing access to health and aged care: a strategic plan for the nurse practitioner workforce (the Plan), with one to three, five and ten year goals. The purpose of this Plan is to describe a set of actions for addressing nurse practitioner workforce issues of national significance and enhance the delivery of nursing care to the Australian community.
The development of the Plan will occur concurrently with development of the National Nursing Workforce Strategy.
Additional information on the NP strategic plan can be found on the Nurse Practitioner Steering Committee webpage.
Educating the Nurse of the Future
As part of the Australian Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy, we commissioned an independent review of the education of nurses. The review investigated whether this preparation meets the service needs of Australia’s future health system. The 2019 report Educating the nurse of the future presents the outcomes of that review.
The Australian Government has tabled a response to this review in Parliament, where each of the 26 recommendations made in the report were considered and responses provided on each recommendation.
Advanced nursing practice guidelines
The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officers of Australia produced the report Advanced Nursing Practice – Guidelines for the Australian Context in 2020. These guidelines aim to:
- reduce confusion about the scope of advanced nursing practice roles
- provide greater clarity and understanding for nurses, employers, consumers and policy makers as to what the term advanced nursing practice describes in the Australian context
- assist in providing national consistency.
Pregnancy care guidelines
We developed the Clinical Practice Guidelines – Pregnancy Care to support health care professionals to provide high-quality, evidence-based care to pregnant women.
The guidelines cover a wide range of topics including routine physical examinations, screening tests and social and lifestyle advice for pregnant women without complications. We also developed summary sheets for health professionals to use with patients.
Woman-centred maternity care
After extensive consultation, we developed Woman-centred care: Strategic directions for Australian maternity services to:
- provide overarching national strategic directions to support Australia’s high-quality maternity care system
- enable improvements in line with contemporary practice, evidence and international developments.
This national strategy supports the delivery of maternity services to women from conception until 12 months after the pregnancy or birth.
National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan
In response to a senate inquiry into stillbirth, we developed a National stillbirth action and implementation plan. The main goal is to reduce stillbirth rates in Australia by 20% or more by 2025.
As part of implementing the plan we are funding a wide range of stillbirth initiatives, some of which improve processes for nurses and midwives.
Australia’s Future Health Workforce Report
We developed long-term, national workforce projections for nurses and midwives to 2030.
Cost–benefit analysis of nurse practitioner models of care
In 2018, we commissioned KPMG to undertake a cost–benefit analysis of nurse practitioner models of care in Australia.
Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) review
As part of their review of more than 5,700 MBS items, the MBS Taskforce responded to input from the:
We administer legislation related to health, including:
- Midwife Professional Indemnity (Commonwealth Contribution) Scheme Act 2010
- Midwife Professional Indemnity (Run-off Cover Support Payment) Act 2010.
Regulation and compliance
We work with Services Australia to support nurse practitioners and midwives with compliance with Medicare claiming. Services Australia provides a Health Professional Education Resources Gateway which has a large range of e-learning modules and other education resources.
Initiatives and programs
We support nursing and midwifery at a national level through a range of initiatives and programs:
- The Workforce Incentive Program – Practice Stream provides financial support for practices to employ practice nurses.
- The Transition to Practice Program provides 12 months of support to nurses who have transitioned to primary health care. We fund the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) to provide this program.
- Australia's National Registration and Accreditation Scheme ensures only suitably qualified and registered people can call themselves a nurse or midwife.
- The Coalition of National Nursing & Midwifery Organisations (CoNNMO) is a group of more than 50 national nursing and midwifery organisations. It promotes communication between the different professional bodies in Australia. We fund CoNNMO’s twice-yearly meetings.
We fund quality clinical research through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Medical Research Future Fund. This includes support for research personnel, including nurses and midwives.
Consultation and engagement
We regularly consult the Australian public about issues that affect health. Search our consultations hub for details of any currently open consultations related to nursing and midwifery.
We have commenced a second round of consultation to test the aim, outcomes and actions of the draft Nurse Practitioner Strategic Plan. Visit our Consultation Hub to have your say. Online submissions can be made until 10 February 2023.
Who we work with
Our portfolio agency, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), publishes information relevant to nursing and midwifery, including:
- reports on the nursing workforce
- reports on mothers and babies
- the Maternity Information Matrix, a national maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity dataset.
Committees and groups
We provide the secretariat for committees that advise us on issues related to nursing and midwifery:
- National Nursing and Midwifery Education Advisory Network (NNMEAN)
- Nursing and Midwifery Strategic Reference Group.
We work with regulatory bodies and professional associations as needed to support the nursing and midwifery workforce. This includes:
- Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)
- Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra)
Nurses and midwives are the mainstay of the COVID-19 vaccination workforce. The NMBA have issued a statement for the information of health professionals in relation to the vaccine rollout.
There is also information on the Department of Health webpage.
Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer
The Australian Government appointed Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan as its Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in November 2019.
This role supports nurses and midwives by:
- delivering high-level policy advice to the Minister for Health, the Executive and staff within Health
- representing Health at national and international levels
- being a member of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC) and co-chair of the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG)
- working with colleagues in Health to support the nursing workforce within aged care
- appearing in the news media
- participating in training videos and webinars.
The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer sends a newsletter 4 times a year to keep nurses and midwives up to date with changes.