New national campaign to ensure jobs for Australia’s nurse graduates

Sunday 18th November, 2012

The Federal Executive of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) has resolved to commence a new campaign to pressure Australia’s politicians to fund a range of strategies to ensure employment of graduates and promotion of safe patient care.

The national campaign is called “Stop passing the buck, Australia's nursing grads need jobs.”

“With a predicted shortage of nurses as high as 109,000 nurses by 2025, the non employment of graduate nurses by State Governments is staggering,” ANF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said today.

“Almost every State is affected, with Queensland employing only 10% of graduates, while in Victoria more than 800 graduate nurses will be without employment.

“That’s why the new campaign is focused on applying pressure to State and Federal politicians to fund a range of strategies to ensure employment of graduate nurses and the ongoing promotion of safe patient care.”

Ms Thomas said the campaign’s strategies included:

1. Waiving HECS fees for graduates who accept employment in areas of need;
2. Funding by State and Federal governments of 24 hour, 7 day/week clinical supervision and mentoring;
3. Rotation through non-traditional graduate areas such as primary care and aged care in addition to acute settings;
4. Joint state and federal funding for graduate positions.

The ANF is also calling on Health Workforce Australia to conduct research urgently into where graduates go if they are not employed in nursing.

Ms Thomas said in recent months, highly trained nurses have been sacked; the recruitment of nursing graduates had stopped, hospital beds closed and vital mental health services and public and preventative health programs abandoned - in order to achieve so-called “savings”.

“Billions of dollars have been slashed from public health systems across Australia and it is nurses and midwives and the people they care for, each and every day, who are suffering as a result of it,” she said.

“The ANF believes these cost-cutting exercises are nothing but a direct attack on nursing, midwifery and care staff and their daily working conditions across the public health system.”

Ms Thomas said the ANF and its growing membership was now “extremely concerned that these slash and burn budget-cuts will dramatically impact the amount of safe, quality, patient care nurses and midwives can deliver.”

“Cost-cutting measures achieved through the loss of nursing jobs and the closure of hospital beds will only lead to excessive and dangerous workloads for nursing and midwifery staff which leads to compromised patient care,” she explained.

“In addition, there will be longer overall patient stays in emergency departments and a blow-out in elective surgery waiting times throughout the public hospital system.

“At a time when Australia faces a chronic shortage of nurses, the country cannot possibly lose so many qualified nursing staff, without a decline in the overall standard of public healthcare.”

State and federal politicians have a unique opportunity to ensure safe patient care by investing in new graduates, maintaining public health funding and stop passing the buck.

The ANF, with over 220,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.

Media Contact: Richard Lenarduzzi at The Premier Communications Group on 0411 254 390