Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia - October 2018
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October 2018


Message from the Chair

On 1 October the new Midwife standards for practice took effect. I ask all midwives to review this important document and reflect on their own practice – this review and reflection can be counted towards CPD hours.

The NMBA has updates regarding the new assessment model for internationally qualified applicants. You can read more about it in this newsletter.

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN
Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN

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NMBA news

New Midwife standards for practice take effect

New standards for practice are now in effect for all midwives in Australia.

The Midwife standards for practice took effect on 1 October 2018, and replace the previous National competency standards for the midwife. The standards provide a framework for midwifery practice in all contexts.

The Midwife standards for practice are seven interrelated standards which are framed within a woman-centred approach and contain criteria that specify how the standard can be demonstrated.

NMBA Chair, Associate Professor Lynette Cusack, said the new standards are evidence-based and were widely consulted on.

‘The standards are enabling and suitable for all midwives in all practice settings. They will help midwives to ensure their practice meets the contemporary standards of their profession and the trust women place in them,' Associate Professor Cusack said.

The standards can be viewed on the professional standards section of the NMBA website.

‘It’s a pretty wonderful career’: A conversation with WA Board Chair M-L MacDonald

Marie-Louise (M-L) MacDonald is the Chair of the WA Board of the NMBA. The state and territory boards are responsible for making registration and notification decisions about individual nurses and midwives, on behalf of the NMBA.

I’m the CEO of the Freemasons’ charity and we operate 25 aged care and retirement sites. We have 2,000 residents and 500 staff – enough to keep us busy!

I’m a registered general nurse and I also did my psychiatric nurse training. I’ve been involved in nursing for 44 years.

It’s a pretty wonderful career really, I’ve been able to move all around the world and Australia, and use my nursing qualifications in every location. Even though today I’m not in hands-on clinical practice on the floor, I use nursing skills daily. I still use systems I learnt in my nursing career and I talk in SOAP – subjective, objective, the assessment and the plan – which seems to be reinvented every year by nurses with another acronym!

I’m a big advocate for the National Scheme – I love it.

For me as an operator, the Scheme is the best thing since sliced bread. I can recall the days when we were desperate for staff, particularly in WA when the mining boom hit, and to get a staff member to join us from interstate or from overseas was a laborious, slow process. Now it’s absolutely amazing that people can just whip across the border.

I’ve chaired the board in WA for a number of years, and one of the most exciting changes has been bringing in a broader base of board members, so that we still have nurses and midwives but we also have community members. That’s been a wonderful development in the Scheme – bringing in that broader group so we don’t get self-protective or self-serving.

I’ve seen AHPRA mature as well over the past eight years. Now AHPRA and the Boards can reflect back on the way we respond to registrants – is it ideal or can we improve that? We really are on a continuous improvement pathway.

One of the great things about the Scheme is the close working relationship between the Board and AHPRA staff. Sometimes we have 3,000 or 4,000 pages to read before a meeting and AHPRA staff add so much value to our meetings it’s unreal, they provide so much clarification.

There’s a very big distinction between AHPRA and the Boards and that’s decision-making – the Boards make the decisions. There’s nothing I feel more proud of than when I speak at forums of thousands of people and I stand up and say that I’m a nurse. It’s important to have our own Board and I don’t ever want to lose that terminology for nurses and midwives.

One of the things I’d like to improve is employers’ understanding about the difference between public safety and industrial issues. Some of the issues coming to us are actually industrial or human resource issues, and should be dealt with by the employer through a management process.

It’s very clear in the legislation what the Boards are here for – maintaining the safety of the community, guaranteeing that the person standing in front of them, working with them, meets a certain level of competency that we’re very proud of.  

Image of Marie-Louise MacDonald
Image: WA Chair M-L MacDonald 

Updates from the August 2018 NMBA meeting

In August, the NMBA reviewed findings from its research into how it can communicate better with students and new graduates. This work will help to ensure new nurses and midwives are engaged with the standards of their professions and have the support they need to practise safely. The NMBA will be making exciting developments in this area soon.

To see the August 2018 decisions on approved programs of study leading to registration and endorsement, please view the communiqué:

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New assessment model for internationally qualified applicants

The NMBA is moving to a new assessment model for internationally qualified nurses and midwives (IQNMs).

The NMBA has revised the current eight qualification assessment criteria for IQNMs and will implement the revised criteria in early 2019.

In the second half of 2019, the NMBA will also transition to an outcomes-based assessment (OBA) for IQNMs who hold relevant but not substantially equivalent qualifications (and who meet the mandatory registration standards), replacing the current need for bridging programs for these applicants. Further information on the OBA model will be provided in 2019.

For more information, please read the news item.  

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National Scheme news

Closing the gap by 2031: a shared commitment to improving Indigenous health outcomes

The National Scheme has made a landmark commitment to helping achieve equity in health outcomes between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians to close the gap by 2031.

Nearly 40 health organisations have signed the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme Statement of Intent, including leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations, AHPRA, all National Boards, all accreditation authorities and other entities.

AHPRA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Strategy Group is leading this work, in close partnership with a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and experts.

The group shares a commitment to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have access to health services that are culturally safe and free from racism so that they can enjoy a healthy life.

To help achieve this, the group is focusing on: 

  • a culturally safe health workforce supported by nationally consistent standards, codes and guidelines across all professions in the National Scheme
  • using our leadership and influence to achieve reciprocal goals 
  • increased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ participation in the registered health workforce 
  • greater access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to culturally safe services of health professions regulated under the National Scheme, and 
  • increased participation across all levels of the National Scheme.

More information is available in the news item, the Statement of Intent and AHPRA’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

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Keep in touch with the NMBA

  • Visit the NMBA website for registration standards, codes, guidelines and FAQ.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, call 1300 419 495 (from within Australia) or +61 3 9275 9009 (for overseas callers).
  • Address mail correspondence to: Associate Professor Lynette Cusack RN, Chair, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

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Page reviewed 27/11/2023