Adoption of Code of Ethics will support nurse decision-making

Nurses and midwives around Australia will have clearer guidance when faced with making ethical decisions, following agreement by the country’s leading nursing organisations to adopt the International Council of Nurses’ Code of Ethics for Nurses (ICN Ethics) and the International Confederation of Midwives Code of Ethics for Midwives (ICM Ethics).

“We are pleased to have worked cooperatively with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), the Australian College of Midwives (ACM) and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation (ANMF) to reach this joint position,” Australian College of Nursing (ACN) CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.

“Nurses and midwives now have clear, and widely endorsed, tools they can access when tackling difficult issues. These Codes guide nurses in everyday choices and support their refusal to participate in activities that conflict with caring and healing.”

The current NMBA Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia (2006) and Code of Ethics for Midwives in Australia (2006) were developed collaboratively in 2006 by the then Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, ACM, ACN and ANMF.

In January 2017, a joint review of the Codes of Ethics was commenced by the NMBA, ACM, ACN and ANMF.

Following significant research, including an academic literature review on ethical guiding documents, and mapping and analysis of the current Code of Ethics, the organisations determined that the ICN Ethics and ICM Ethics documents provide high-level, contemporary guidance on ethical practice.

The ICN Ethics and ICM Ethics will take effect from 1 March 2018.