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A new initiative to increase the number of qualified mental health nurses in South Australia has come about on the back of statistics revealing the state is set to lose up to half of its nursing and midwifery workforce in the next few years.

The initiative, developed through a partnership between the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF SA Branch) and Flinders University, aims to provide SA nurses with streamlined access to postgraduate studies at the university by enabling them to springboard from a related continuing professional development (CPD) course run by the union.

“This partnership is crucial when you consider that only qualified mental health nurses or those studying towards such qualifications are able to provide care for mental health patients,” said ANMF SA CEO/Secretary Adjunct Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM.

“Mental health is already chronically understaffed. There are hospital beds right now that remain unopened because there aren’t enough qualified nurses across the country, let alone in South Australia.

“Without strategic partnerships of this nature, the future of mental health looks extremely grim, particularly as an area set to lose the most nursing staff to retirement over the next decade.”

Flinders University Vice President and Executive Dean of College of Nursing and Health Sciences Professor Alison Kitson says the partnership reflects the University’s ability to adapt to meet workforce demand.

“This exciting partnership will make it easier than ever before for South Australian nurses to assess and engage in timely, relevant and manageable ‘bite-size’ learning from CPD level all the way through to a Masters qualification.”

Prior to the collaboration, registered nurses could only access postgraduate university studies via the SA Tertiary Admissions Centre application process once or twice a year (course-dependent).