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Victoria’s visionary strategy to build nursing and midwifery workforce

Victoria’s visionary strategy to build nursing and midwifery workforce

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) has welcomed the Andrews Government’s detailed plans to grow the nursing and midwifery workforce by removing undergraduate and postgraduate education costs.

The $270 million plan will help thousands of young and mature age nursing and midwifery undergraduates overcome significant financial barriers to access education and become our future workforce.

It will make it easier for existing nurses and midwives who need a refresher, and those who have allowed their registration to lapse, to access education and answer the call to return to the professions.

Covering the $10,000 cost of nursing and midwifery postgraduate courses for almost 3000 nurses and midwives will increase our current workforce capacity in areas of clinical need such as emergency, critical care, mental health, midwifery and maternal and child health nursing.

It will also provide better support for students undertaking clinical placement. The plan provides for almost 500 nurses to take on the roles of supporting students, and those returning to the professions, acknowledging the important work of preceptors, clinical support nurses and educators.

ANMF is particularly excited about having the nation’s only statewide plan to support the employment and growth of nurse practitioners. The plan will fund 100 nurse practitioner candidates’ education costs and provides funding for public hospital nurse practitioner positions. It is an important recognition of our most senior clinical nurses and will create a much-needed career path.

ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said: ‘This plan builds on previous work and shows a sophisticated and targeted understanding of how to build the capacity of the current workforce and expand the pipeline of new nurses and midwives.

‘Next year’s students will be tomorrow’s emergency and critical care nurses, maternal and child health nurses, school nurses, aged care nurses, theatre nurses, mental health nurses, acute and community nurses and midwives.

‘Not only does Premier Andrews build hospitals, he fills them with the best staff, to give Victorians the best care.

‘Nurses and midwives have difficulty trusting the Victorian Opposition because they promised to keep mandated, minimum nurse patient ratios in the lead up to the 2010 state election. Within six months they broke that promise by trying to replace thousands of nurses and midwives with cheaper unqualified assistants.

‘Two thirds of those Liberal politicians who fought so hard to get rid of nurses and midwives during our 2011-12 enterprise bargaining negotiations are still there,’ Ms Fitzpatrick said.

‘Leopards don’t change their spots, the Opposition is talking about building hospitals, yet they are silent on how they will build the nursing and midwifery workforce and improve legislated nurse/midwife ratios.

‘The Andrews Government’s plan clears up the mixed messaging our students hear when they choose to study nursing and midwifery because our health system needs them and then have to cop the extraordinary personal financial cost of studying,’ she said.

Apart from course costs and materials, student nurses and midwives must undertake a minimum of 10 to 20 plus weeks of clinical placement across Victoria, with a different requirement for midwives. Many have to pay accommodation and/or travel and childcare costs while at the same time sacrificing paid employment.