The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) today calls for a national approach to abolish current and future debt for nurses in all sectors after Victoria’s announcement addressing the financial barriers affecting aspiring nurses.
Acting ACN CEO Yvonne Mckinlay FACN said a one-off national waiving of Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS) fees and debt would help sustain and grow the domestic workforce across all settings nurses deliver care.
The call comes ahead of the National Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra this week.
“ACN advocated for a national HECS waiver at the Health Workforce Roundtable in Canberra last week,” Ms Mckinlay said.
“This one-off measure is crucial to retaining nurses and addressing shortages in both public and private sectors including primary care, hospitals, aged care and mental health. Every nurse everywhere contributes to the health system.
“People aspiring to enter the nursing profession usually want to make a difference in the community. It is important to attract these people, so a waiver would be an important step to support them on their journey.
“Additionally, it will provide much-deserved recognition of the immense sacrifice nurses have made to protect our communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ms Mckinlay also said the waiver should be supported by a suite of other strategies focused on retaining and attracting nurses.
“As ACN has consistently advocated, a multi-faceted approach is needed to establish a sustainable nursing workforce that shapes the health of all Australians for generations to come,” Ms Mckinlay said.
“Other solutions, such as speeding up the visa and registration process for nurses from overseas who wish to call Australia home, will help fill immediate shortages in areas of need like aged care and rural settings.
“We stand willing to work with any Government or political party to advance these solutions in the interests of the health of all Australians.”