The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) is again calling on the Government to waive HECS debt for all Australian nurses after they introduced legislation to wipe the debt for nurse practitioners and doctors pursuing a career in regional and remote areas.
ACN CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said that nurse practitioners significantly impact the health of regional and remote Australians, and this legislation was a step in the right direction.
However, she urged the Government to take an inclusive approach and extend the measure to all Australian nurses.
“Every nurse everywhere plays an invaluable role in providing trusted, high-quality care to those in their local community,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.
“Nurses are often the first and sometimes the only health profession that Australians see.
“No nurse should be left behind when it comes to receiving a waiving of HECS debt, particularly after the service and sacrifices our profession has made throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We stepped up to help those who needed it most, leaving our families behind, working double shifts, working without pay, and often working in isolation, doing our civic duty for our nation.
“ACN advocated at the Health Workforce Roundtable in August for all nurses to receive a one-off waiving of HECS debt.
“A one-off national waiving of HECS would help sustain and grow the domestic workforce across all settings nurses deliver care.
“This is about the care we provide and improving the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
Adjunct Professor Ward additionally outlined the legislation overlooked increasing the scope of practice for advanced practice nurses, one of the key solutions to improving health access for rural and regional Australians.
“I welcome Health Minister Mark Butler to meet with me to discuss solutions to nursing shortages and ensure all Australians, regardless of their postcode, have access to our high-quality, expert care.”