Health care needs Registered Nurses, not replacements

Australia’s health system is becoming increasingly reliant on unregistered carers with limited training and this is negatively impacting on levels of care in all settings and patient outcomes.


“Following tragic stories of neglect and mistreatment, a Royal Commission was established to investigate the current state of Australia’s aged care sector,” Australian College of Nursing (ACN) CEO, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said.


“A recurring theme in the evidence presented to the Royal Commission has been the need to invest in our registered and regulated clinical workforce to ensure care is overseen by skilled professionals.


“As at 2016, unlicensed health care workers made up 70 per cent of the residential aged care workforce, while the number of registered nurses (RNs) had fallen from 21 per cent in 2003 to less than 15 per cent ¹.”


ACN has today released its Regulation of the Unregulated Health Care Workforce* (UHCW) across the health care system White Paper. Developed by the ACN Workforce Sustainability Policy Chapter, the paper calls for unlicensed health care workers to obtain a minimum qualification before working within primary, acute or residential aged care and for regulation of this workforce.


“This is a valued group of healthcare workers and our health system could not operate without them. However, their responsibilities, level of supervision, and even their job title differs across the country,” ACN Workforce Sustainability Policy Chapter Chair, Professor Lee Boyd MACN explained.


“We are seeking UHCW regulation and nationally consistent nomenclature, scope of practice, minimum educational requirements and ongoing professional development.”


“The aged care and chronic illness tsunami is bearing down on us,” Adjunct Professor Ward said. “We urgently need to work together to ensure our health workforce can match future demands and expectations before it is too late.”


A full copy of the ACN Regulation of the Unregulated Health Care Workforce* across the health care system White Paper is available here.


*this term refers/includes health care workers who are unregulated (however titled)

¹ Mavromaras, K., Knight, G., Isherwood, L., Crettenden, A., Flavel, J., Karmel, T., Moskos, M., Smith, L., Walton, H. & Wei, Z. 2017, The Aged Care Workforce, 2016, Department of Health, viewed 18 February 2019, <>


29 March 2019.