Australia owes a debt of gratitude to our nurses and midwives, who are some of the heroes of the pandemic. Too often, nurses bear the brunt of people’s frustrations about a healthcare system that’s been underfunded by the Morrison Government.
As restrictions ease and life looks a little more normal for many of us, there is still no finishing line in sight for our frontline nursing heroes, who are looking after thousands of Australians in hospital with COVID each week.
Many nurses are close to breaking point – one survey of 7,800 Australian health care workers found 40 per cent had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. It is estimated that one in five frontline workers, including nurses, are considering quitting their job because of the pandemic.
The long established and successful Nursing and Midwifery Health Program in Victoria has been inundated with calls from nurses struggling with their mental health and wellbeing after working beyond exhaustion. But for nurses working in other parts of the country, a service like this isn’t available.
Australia is already facing dire nursing shortages – we can’t afford to lose more nurses because of unnecessary burn-out.
Under an Albanese Labor Government, nurses and midwives around the country who are concerned about their stress levels, feel exhausted or anxious, or who are struggling with their mental health, will be able to access a range of personalised and professional support services to help them manage their challenges.
Labor will set up a National Nurse and Midwife Health Service across other States and Territories to provide free, confidential and independent support, delivered by nurses for nurses, with information, advice, treatment and specialist referrals.
Local services will be based on the highly successful Nursing and Midwifery Health Program model already available in Victoria. Services will deliver holistic, case-managed support with a focus on early intervention so nurses and midwives can avoid unnecessary burn-out.
The program will be open to enrolled and registered nurses, midwives and students. Labor will work with the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program in Victoria and nurses around the country to establish services nation-wide.
Labor will commit up to $23 million to the National Nurse and Midwife Health Service that will help keep nurses in the job, caring for Australians. This funding will be for all States and Territories.