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New plan to tackle Australia's nursing workforce shortage

Last Updated: 18-11-2013

Australian Nursing Federation federal secretary Lee Thomas

A blueprint set to combat Australia’s workforce shortage of nurses, including mental health nurses, is expected to be released within months.

Australian Nursing Federation federal secretary Lee Thomas said the union had been involved in Health Workforce Australia plans to find solutions to the “myriad” of problems facing recruitment and retention in Australia’s nursing sector.

“I think particularly there are a range of factors that impact on nurses generally and that certainly includes mental health nurses,” Ms Thomas said.

“There are issues of shortage and that group of workers is not exempt from the shortage.”

Ms Lee said the average age of mental health nurses posed a major challenge.

“One of the things that we do see specifically
around mental health is they are a little bit older than the general demographic of registered nurses. There are issues of how are we going to maintain that workforce into the future.”

Ms Lee said Health Workforce Australia was working to develop solutions to help ease the workforce shortage.

“Health Workforce Australia is doing a lot of work around the nursing challenges of recruitment and retention,” she said.

“We are going to start to see the end of that work and future plans in the next few months.

“I think it’s going to be targeting nurses generally but we know that mental health nurses would be a part of those plans in the future.

“Shortages are a problem in some areas, and in some states more than others, and certainly in rural and remote areas.

“We are working closely with the Federal Government and closely with Health Workforce Australia to work through the issues and put in place a plan for the future.”
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