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 Rural and Remote Nursing Generalist Framework 2023–2027
The Australian Government has released the National Rural and Remote Nursing Generalist Framework 2023–27 for registered nurses. The framework will help nurses working in rural or remote locations across Australia, or who those looking to relocate there.
National Nursing Workforce Strategy
The National Nursing Workforce Strategy will set out the future of nursing in Australia. The strategy will focus on supporting a capable, resilient nursing profession to deliver person-centred, evidence-based, compassionate care to the Australian community across all sectors. We expect the strategy to look at:
- workforce sustainability
- diversity of the profession
- the challenges of regional, rural and remote nursing
- plans to address the pathway from novice to expert, clearly setting out the pathway to nurse practitioner.
We are developing a nurse practitioner strategic plan, Increasing access to health and aged care: a strategic plan for the nurse practitioner workforce. The plan will develop short, medium and long-term goals. The plan sets out actions to address nurse practitioner workforce issues of national significance and improve the delivery of nursing care in the Australian community.
More information on the strategic plan is available 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 way we are training and educating our nurses. The review looks at whether this preparation meets the service needs of Australia’s future health system. The 2019 report Educating the nurse of the future presents the results of that review.
The Australian Government has tabled a response to this review, which made 26 recommendations, in parliament.
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
- give greater clarity for nurses, employers, consumers and policymakers to what the term advanced nursing practice describes in the Australian context
- help in providing national consistency.
Pregnancy care guidelines
We developed the Clinical Practice Guidelines – Pregnancy Care to support health care professionals to give 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:
- give national strategic direction to support Australia’s high-quality maternity care system
- improve service delivery 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.
Maternity Model of Care Mapping
We are mapping existing collaborative maternity service models across Australia. This will inform best funding models to support sustainability and viability through workforce, infrastructure and service delivery to increase patient choice.
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 the plan we are funding a wide range of stillbirth initiatives, some of which improve processes for nurses and midwives.
Nursing Workforce Supply and Demand Study
We are developing a Nursing Workforce Supply and Demand study of the nursing workforce over 10 years from 2021. The published results of the study will inform how we develop of the National Nursing Workforce Strategy and the Nurse Practitioner 10 Year Plan.
In 2018, we commissioned KPMG to do 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:
More information on the MBS review is available on our website.
We administer legislation to do with 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 general practices to employ nurses and health professionals as part of a multidisciplinary team.
- The Australian Government funds the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association to deliver the Nursing in Primary Health Care Program. The program promotes employment and support for nurses working in primary health care.
- Australia's National Registration and Accreditation Scheme ensures only qualified and registered people can call themselves a nurse or midwife.
- The Coalition of National Nursing & Midwifery Organisations is a group of more than 60 national nursing and midwifery organisations. It promotes communication between the different professional bodies in Australia.
- The Australian Government funds the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives. The congress promotes the recruitment and retention of First Nations people.
- The Australian Government funds CRANAplus to deliver training to isolated, remote health professionals that targets remote area practice, including rural and remote nursing and midwifery.
- The Aged Care Transition to Practice Program provides new registered and enrolled aged care nurses with intensive training and mentorship.
- Nurses at all stages of their career can apply for an Aged Care Nursing Scholarship. These scholarships give nurses the chance to gain qualifications in gerontological nursing.
- The Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment rewards clinical skills and leadership. Registered nurses who work for the same aged care provider over the eligibility periods can receive the payment.
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 affecting health. Search our consultations hub for details of any open consultations to do with nursing and midwifery.
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 to do with 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
- Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council
Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer
The Australian Government appointed Adjunct Professor (Practice) Alison McMillan PSM as its Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer in November 2019.
This role supports nurses and midwives by:
- giving high-level policy advice to Ministers in the Health and Aged Care portfolio, and staff in the Department of Health and Aged Care
- representing the department at national and international levels
- being a member of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, along with several other committees
- working with colleagues in the department to support the nursing and midwifery workforce across all areas of the health system
- representing the department in the news media
- participating in training videos and webinars.
The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer publishes a monthly newsletter, giving updates about what is happening across the nursing and midwifery sectors.