Change to ethical decision-making documents for nurses and midwives in Australia

04 Dec 2017

International codes of ethics will be adopted for Australian nurses and midwives from 1 March 2018.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), Australian College of Midwives (ACM), Australian College of Nursing (ACN) and Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) have agreed to jointly 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) as the guiding documents for ethical decision-making for nurses and midwives in Australia.

The current NMBA Code of ethics for nurses in Australia (2006) and Code of ethics for midwives in Australia (2006) (the codes of ethics) were developed in 2006 collaboratively 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.

A series of collaborative meetings, comprising representatives from the NMBA, ACM, ACN and ANMF (the steering group), have been held to determine the shape of the review of the codes of ethics.

The steering group considered an academic literature review on ethical guiding documents and the mapping and analysis of the current codes of ethics. The research examined academic literature relevant to codes of ethics and a comparative analysis of multiple international and national codes of ethics, and made recommendations on the findings.

The research found that the ICN Ethics and ICM Ethics documents provide high-level, contemporary guidance on ethical practice and cover the ethical content in the current codes of ethics.

Based on this research, the steering group recommended that the NMBA, ACM, ACN and ANMF should accept the ICN and ICM Ethics documents as the guiding documents for ethical decision-making for nurses and midwives in Australia.

‘Referring nurses and midwives to the existing international publications is a natural progression as the ICN Ethics and ICM Ethics documents are recognised globally and are contextually relevant for all nurses and midwives in Australia,’ Associate Professor Lynette Cusack, Chair of the NMBA, said.

The NMBA, ACM, ACN and ANMF will provide links to the documents on their respective websites to ensure nurses and midwives can readily access the documents.

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

 
 
Page reviewed 4/12/2017