The key findings from the most recent Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia quarterly data profiling Australia’s nursing and midwifery workforce.
Since 2012, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has been publishing quarterly data that profiles Australia’s nursing and midwifery workforce, including a number of statistical breakdowns about registrants.
For those not aware, the functions of the NMBA include:
Registering nurses, midwives and students of nursing and midwifery
Determining national registration requirements
Developing professional codes, standards, guidelines and position statements to guide the practice of nurses and midwives
Managing notifications, investigations and panel hearings
Overseeing the assessment of internationally qualified nurses and midwives who wish to register in Australia
Approving national accreditation standards and accredited programs of study leading to registration and endorsement
Delegating to state and territory boards and committees of the NMBA, and Ahpra staff, the power to determine individual applications for registration and notification of a nurse’s or midwife’s health, performance and/or conduct, and a student’s health or criminal history
(For more information on nursing and midwifery registration, please see the NMBA’s website)
The most recent NMBA report came out in June 2021. Here are the key findings.
Principal place of practice
There were 429, 258 registered nurses (general, non-practising and provisional) across the country (up from 415, 433 12 months before) with 97% of these being general practising enrolled nurses (EN) or registered nurses (RN).
In line with being the two most populous states in Australia, NSW and Victoria comprised nearly 54% of the total, with Queensland next at 20% and WA at just under 10%, figures similar to 12 months before.
Of those listed as nurse and midwife (29, 248), Victoria led the field (31%) followed by NSW (27%) and Queensland (21%).
Registrants classified just as midwives followed a similar pattern.
In terms of general registration by age group, the totals paint a picture of a workforce that is relatively evenly distributed across age brackets:
The key takeaway from this is comparing the numbers at the younger end of the workforce (nearly 18%, marginally up from 17.5% of the total 12 months before) up against those approaching retirement (over the age of 60 or 16.5%, marginally down from 17% of the total from 12 months before).
However, while on the surface this may appear to indicate that the replacement rate is sufficient, it’s well documented that there is a nursing shortage in Australia.
In a recent article in The Age, Australian College of Nursing chief executive Kylie Ward said there were more than 12,200 vacant nursing positions in Australia.
The longevity of the profession is also worthy of note, with a substantial number of nurses working beyond the standard retirement age.
The gender breakdown of nurses has female identifying general nurses the vast majority (87.6%).
Females make up an even greater number of midwives (98%) and midwives (99.6%). These figures are essentially unchanged from the year before.
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