Boost to nursing greatly strengthens our response to pandemic

The Australian Government’s early action to rapidly increase the number of Registered Nurses (RN) who have the necessary skills to treat people infected with COVID-19, has significantly strengthened our ability to respond to the pandemic.

The Government provided $6.6 million for the delivery of two nurse training programs in response to COVID-19 – one to refresh clinical skills, and the other to provide training in critical and high dependency care in response to the pandemic.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said more than 2,700 RNs completed the refresher training, and almost 16,500 completed critical care and/or high dependency care training to upskill to meet the forecasted need during the pandemic.

“The training programs ­- separately developed and delivered by the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) and Medcast – significantly built up the skills and knowledge of Australian nurses and gave them greater confidence to redeploy to roles in response to COVID-19,” Minister Hunt said.

“Training outcomes showed the online delivery mechanisms used were cost efficient, supported rapid access, and provided consistent education across multiple health networks and hospitals nationwide.

“As Australia and the world continue to navigate the COVID-19 health emergency, nurses remain at the forefront of our health care.

“I would like to thank every nurse who stepped up during this challenging time, working hard to aid the recovery of Australians sick with COVID-19. They have saved lives and protected lives.”

Minister for Regional Health Mark Coulton said nurses continued to play an essential role in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in regional, rural and remote communities.

“Our highly skilled nurses, along with our doctors and allied health workers, have been the true heroes of the pandemic,” Minister Coulton said.

“This Nurse Practitioner Week, I thank every nurse across Australia, and pass on my gratitude to those who completed their refresher training or upskilled in order to support the nation through such challenging times.

“Nurses are the lifeblood of rural communities, responding to complex health needs away from major hospitals, and this year has exemplified the vital and necessary role they play.”

The Ministers said it was fitting nurses received special recognition in 2020, the World Health Organisation’s International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, given their immense contribution.

The Australian Government has committed more than $16 billion to the emergency health response to the pandemic.

The ACN and Medcast evaluation reports on the outcomes of the COVID-19 nurse training are available from the Department of Health website at

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