November 2021

Contents


Message from the Chair

We know that across Australia, nurses and midwives are doing it tough. On behalf of the NMBA, I urge you to support your colleagues and get double-vaccinated as soon as possible. I sincerely thank all of you who have already done so – you are keeping yourselves, your colleagues and the public safe. 

I’d like to remind you that training and education around COVID-19 can count towards your CPD hours for this registration period. You can read more tips on meeting CPD requirements in this edition. Midwives can also find resources about COVID-19 vaccination and pregnancy below. 

For nursing and midwifery students who are graduating soon – congratulations on your achievement. Please see information in this newsletter on how to make the registration process as quick and smooth as possible. We look forward to welcoming you to the professions. 

Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey, registered nurse and midwife

Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Veronica Casey   

Call for applications 

Ahpra is recruiting for a part-time (0.8FTE) on-going Clinical Advisor role for nursing and midwifery. The Clinical Input team is responsible for providing our regulatory staff with profession-specific clinical input in line with Ahpra’s risk-based approach to managing notifications, compliance and registration matters. 

The position can be based in any Ahpra office. 

More information

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NMBA news

Frontline midwives and nurses urge their colleagues to get vaccinated

Midwives and nurses working on the frontline of care have urged their colleagues to get vaccinated as soon as possible to ease the strain on health workers and the people they care for. 

Sari Holland, Midwifery Unit Manager at Midwifery Group Practice & Townsville Birth Centre (Townsville University Hospital), said that protecting pregnant women and mothers was at the front of her mind. 

‘I’m a line manager for 22 midwives and work closely with the frontline maternity teams,' Sari said.

'Managing a tertiary maternity service with the added pressure of having potentially COVID-19 positive cases in our community has made me a big advocate for as many people as possible getting vaccinated. We want to continue to provide an excellent maternity service without the restrictions that COVID-19 can bring.

‘We know that pregnant women are more likely to require ICU support if they are diagnosed with COVID-19, which is why I support COVID-19 vaccination. I also want the mothers we care for to feel safe knowing they are coming to a hospital whose staff are vaccinated,’ Sari added.

Sari’s colleague Samantha West, a caseload midwife at the practice, voiced her support, saying that ‘it was a very easy decision to make for me, personally, to consent to having my COVID-19 vaccines.’  

The National Boards strongly encourage all registered health practitioners and students (particularly those doing placements) to have the full COVID-19 vaccination course as scheduled unless medically contraindicated. For more information read the COVID-19 vaccination position statement.

Please remember that the NMBA supports a free, independent and confidential health support service run for and by nurses and midwives. Contact Nurse & Midwife Support 24/7 on 1800 667 877.

Sari Holland and Samantha West from Townsville University Hospital
Image: Sari Holland and Samantha West

Get the facts about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy

Midwives can access a free e-learning course about COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy from the Australian College of Midwives (ACM). The course delivers an analysis of the latest evidence to make sure you’re equipped to answer women's questions and address their concerns.

Find the course and many more COVID-19 resources for midwives on the ACM website

Updates from recent NMBA meetings

The NMBA approved its regulatory plan for 2021-25, which includes focus on:

The NMBA Chair has met with the Chair of the Medical Board of Australia to discuss the problem of bullying and harassment in healthcare workplaces and possible joint approaches to the issue. 

The NMBA is also working with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board on a joint project to further health practitioners’ understanding of the role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners. 

Each month the NMBA makes decisions on approved programs of study leading to registration and endorsement. To see the up-to-date, searchable list of approved programs, please visit the Approved programs of study section our website.

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Registration

Plan and record your CPD

Nurses and midwives will need to meet their continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for the current registration period (June 2021-May 2022) before they renew their registration in May next year.

The NMBA recognises that many forms of CPD are now available online or are delivered in a COVID-safe way.

New skills and knowledge related to COVID-19 can also contribute to your CPD hours, such as:

It’s a good idea to keep a CPD journal with your reflections on what you’ve learned and how you will apply it to your practice. For more tips on how to meet the CPD registration standard, please view the fact sheet.

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Registration fees frozen for 2021-22

The NMBA has frozen the registration fees for nurses and midwives at $180 for the next renewal period.

The NMBA’s work to set and maintain the standards of the professions and support nurses and midwives to practise safely is funded by fees and the Board receives no ongoing government funding.

See the news item.

NMBA streamlines supervised practice for pandemic response

We have reduced the supervised practice documentation requirements so that registered nurses (RNs) returning to the profession who haven’t started supervised practice yet can join the pandemic response quickly. 

RNs who hold provisional or general registration with supervised practice conditions for re-entry to practice will receive an email from the NMBA and Ahpra about the changes. 

You can also view the fact sheet

Ministers extend insurance exemption for privately practising midwives

Health Ministers have agreed to extend the professional indemnity insurance (PII) exemption for privately practising midwives (PPMs) until 31 December 2023.

PPMs must meet the requirements of the Safety and quality guidelines for privately practising midwives in order to be eligible for the exemption from PII for providing intrapartum care for homebirths. The guidelines also apply to PPMs who provide care in discrete areas such as postnatal care, antenatal care and/or specialist lactation services.

The guidelines provide PPMs with clarity and support to practise their role with safety and quality, while facilitating workforce flexibility and access to services. The guidelines are available on the Professional codes & guidelines section of the NMBA website.  

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Students and graduates

Finishing your course soon? Apply for registration now!

Before you can start working as a nurse or a midwife, you must be registered with the NMBA.

If you're set to complete your course within the next three months – apply for registration now. We'll start assessing your application while we wait for your graduate results.

Find out how to apply

Clinical placement delayed? When to apply

We know for some your final clinical placement may be delayed.

To help you get registered as soon as possible we recommend you apply three months before you expect to finish your final placement or complete your course. 

For example, if your final placement is finishing in late February then you should apply in late November. 

We will assess your application while we wait for your final results. 

Check out our graduation video and webinar for more information on the application process.

English language requirements

When you apply to register you’ll need to meet the NMBA’s English language skills registration standard (the standard).

You can choose one of four pathways to show us how you meet the standard. Quick tip: check first if you meet the primary language pathway.

View our fact sheet to see the answers to common questions about meeting the standard. You can also view a pathways diagram and evidence guide on the NMBA website.  

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Join the COVID-19 response

If you’re a second year or above nursing or midwifery student, you may be able to join the COVID-19 pandemic response in your state or territory. 

The NMBA recognises the highly valuable contribution that nursing and midwifery students have made to the workforce in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage all nursing and midwifery students to get involved in the response, particularly the vaccination campaign. This can be a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills as you prepare to become a nurse or midwife.

Visit your state or territory’s health department website for more information, or visit Ahpra’s COVID-19 health workforce page

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Nursing and midwifery regulation at work: notification case studies

Tribunal suspends nurse after misogynistic social media posts

A tribunal has reprimanded and suspended a nurse after he published ‘disgraceful’ content about women on social media. 

Read the news item

Tribunal disqualifies former nurse after theft from employer

A tribunal has reprimanded a former nurse and disqualified her from reapplying for registration for one year after she stole at least $10,000 from her employer. 

Read the news item

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National Scheme news

COVID-19 and vaccines: new joint statement helps sort fact from fiction 

A joint statement has been released by Ahpra and the National Boards, the Health Care Complaints Commission, the Office of the Health Ombudsman and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Its message is: You need reliable, evidence-based information to be able to make good choices about your healthcare. But in a climate thick with commentary about COVID-19 and vaccines, how do you sort fact from fiction? 

The statement covers four main points: 

  • Get advice from the experts (with a link to the public register of practitioners).
  • Be safe in the knowledge that registered health practitioners must meet national standards (with links to the National Boards’ websites).
  • Don’t get swayed by opinions.
  • Reach out to a trusted person, like your GP.

It also lists and links to reliable sources of information on COVID-19 and vaccinations in Australia to help people make sure they have the best, most accurate and evidence-based information for their specific needs when making decisions about their own or their loved ones’ health. 

The statement has been translated into Arabic, Farsi, Greek, Simplified Chinese and Vietnamese. These versions are available on Ahpra’s Translations page.

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Thousands more health practitioners now able to join the pandemic response

From 22 September, thousands of extra health practitioners, including nurses and midwives, can join the COVID-19 response through a new temporary sub-register established by Ahpra and the National Boards.

Key points

  • Ahpra and National Boards have established a new pandemic response sub-register for 2021 (the 2021 sub-register).
  • Nearly 29,000 practitioners who recently stopped practising are now eligible to practise for up to 12 months.
  • This surge workforce will make more practitioners available to help with the pandemic response if they choose to do so.
  • Practitioners can opt out of the 2021 sub-register at any time and don't need to explain why.

The 2021 pandemic response sub-register was established in response to the changing needs of Australia’s health system due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes 12 regulated health professions whose members can work to the full scope of their registration.

On the 2021 sub-register are key professions identified by governments in their pandemic response planning. These include medical practitioners, nurses, midwives and pharmacists along with dental practitioners, diagnostic radiographers, occupational therapists, optometrists, physiotherapists, podiatrists and psychologists. Eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners are being added to the 2021 sub-register if they choose to opt in.

The extra health practitioners on the 2021 sub-register join 26,000 practitioners who are on the 2020 pandemic response sub-register first established in April 2020 and extended in April 2021 for a further 12 months. 

What’s different about the new sub-register?

Those on the new 2021 sub-register can practise to the full scope of their registration, while practitioners on the 2020 pandemic sub-register are restricted to working in areas directly supporting the COVID-19 response, such as administering the COVID-19 vaccination or backfilling for furloughed staff.

Health service needs are constantly changing across Australia. The 2021 sub-register is a tool to help health authorities meet current workforce needs and those that might arise in the next 12 months. 

Read more on Ahpra’s website.

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Updated regulatory principles – supporting trust and confidence in regulated health professions

We’ve updated our regulatory principles to foster a culturally safe, responsive and risk-based approach to regulation. 

The regulatory principles guide the National Boards and Ahpra when making regulatory decisions. 

The changes reflect community expectations and new policy directions from the Health Council, as well as feedback from public consultation. They recognise that community confidence in the regulation of health practitioners is key to a safe and effective health system.

Overall, the changes:

  • reinforce that public protection is the paramount objective of the National Scheme
  • recognise the role of the National Boards and Ahpra in developing a culturally safe and respectful health workforce
  • consider the risks to the public including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and members of the community who are vulnerable to harm 
  • embed fairness and transparency, and 
  • highlight the importance of maintaining community confidence in regulated health professions and working with consumer bodies to achieve this. 

More information about the review of the regulatory principles is available on Ahpra’s website

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New independent accreditation committee established

A new independent accreditation committee has been established by Ahpra in line with Health Ministers’ policy direction issued earlier this year and as a key element of Health Ministers’ response to the Independent review of accreditation systems final report.

The broad stakeholder membership of the committee will bring a wide range of perspectives to the new committee’s work, recognising the importance of professional and accreditation expertise as well as community, employer and education provider involvement.

Accreditation provides a framework for assuring that individuals seeking registration are suitably trained, qualified and competent to practise as health practitioners in Australia. 

The new committee brings together a broad range of expertise that will help inform health practitioner education to support future workforce needs and protects the public. The committee’s terms of reference have been published on the Ahpra website.

Members have been appointed for a three-year term and have been drawn from categories identified by the Health Council, with the addition of a member who identifies as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. 

Read more in the news item.

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Alerts

Information for practitioners on voluntary assisted dying law in Western Australia

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 (WA) (the Act) came into effect on 1 July 2021. Registered health practitioners need to be aware of the Act and its requirements. There are some provisions that are relevant to all registered health practitioners (and healthcare workers) and some provisions that are more specifically relevant to medical practitioners, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and paramedics.

Resources have been developed by the WA Department of Health and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Implementation Leadership Team in collaboration with stakeholders. These are available on the WA Department of Health website.

The following resource provides a starting point for health practitioners in understanding their obligations, responsibilities and protections under the Act: VAD What every health practitioner and healthcare worker needs to know.   

Information for practitioners on changes to Queensland Criminal Code: Child Sexual Offences

As of 5 July 2021, Queensland’s Criminal Code Act 1899 is amended under the Criminal Code (Child Sexual Offences Reform) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2020 to include two new offences (Criminal Code, Chapter 22 – Offences against morality):

  • ss. 229BB – Failure to protect a child from a sexual offence: will make it an offence to fail to protect a child from a sexual offence in an institutional setting. The offence will be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment for an ‘accountable person’ who fails to protect a child from a sexual offence.
  • ss. 229BC – Failure to report sexual offending against a child to police: will make it an offence for any adult not to report sexual offending against a child by another adult to police. This obligation extends outside of the workplace to our responsibility as members of the Queensland community to protect children. The offence will be punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment for any adult who fails to report child sexual abuse to police.

These new offences recognise the difficulties victims have in disclosing or reporting abuse, the vulnerability of children, and the risk that perpetrators of child sexual abuse may have multiple victims and may continue to reoffend against particular victims over lengthy periods of time.

The Criminal Code amendment does not replace the mandatory reporting obligations of doctors and registered nurses under the Child Protection Act 1999 (Qld) (the CP Act). 

This advice applies to all registered health practitioners; for further information please visit the Queensland government website.

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Keep in touch with the NMBA

  • Visit the NMBA website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQs.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9285 3010 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Adjunct Professor Veronica Casey AM, Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 9/11/2021