“We are very supportive of the government’s commitment to make healthcare more accessible for all Australians,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.
“In practice, this is easier said than done. Australia already has a shortfall of nurses and modelling shows that this will get worse with a further 85,000 nurses needed by 2025.
“Our universities graduate around 16,000 nurses each year. This is well short of demand.
“Part of the problem is not having enough clinical placements in the system so that students can complete the qualifications needed to proceed to professional registration.
“COVID-19 highlighted this issue. Nursing completions dropped during the pandemic, largely due to constraints on the system limiting the availability of necessary placements.
“Universities are reliant on health service providers to deliver placements for students. We cannot educate more nurses without more – and the right type of – clinical placements.
“One way we can do this is by establishing compacts with health services to ensure sufficient clinical placement capacity.
“It’s also vital that our sector has a voice in health workforce planning and policy discussions. Education experiences in universities have substantial impacts on workforce outcomes and skill development.
“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue in more depth with government and health service providers to ensure Australia has the health workforce it needs.”