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The ANMF believes the government’s response to engage international nursing students to fight the COVID-19 pandemic is only part of the solution when nursing graduates have not yet secured permanent positions.

The ANMF stated engaging international nursing students is only one part of the solution in workforce preparedness, arguing that the government must commit to employing nursing graduates who have not yet secured permanent graduate positions and nurses who are underemployed.

The public need and deserve the protection of fully-qualified and trained staff.

“With more than 2,500 Australian nursing graduates unemployed, the government should genuinely give them the first opportunity to be employed, before taking the option of recruiting international nursing students. We have unemployed graduates who are out there and willing to work,” ANMF Acting Federal Secretary Lori-Anne Sharp said

“As frontline workers, nurses, midwives and carers understand how the rapid spread of COVID-19 is placing enormous strain on the health and aged care systems right now and in the months to come. Engaging international students should only be one part of the solution. It will be essential that students feel confident and have sufficient training to deal with this pandemic. They must work under the supervision and guidance of a registered nurse at all times,”

The ANMF said the government must:

  • Commit to engaging with the more than 2,500 unemployed Australian nursing graduates and underemployed nursing workforce in health and aged care, before solely depending on international nursing students;
  • In the event that we need to surge a larger workforce of international nursing students, we must ensure they are working within their scope and adequately supported and supervised by a registered nurse at all times;
  • Confirm that international nursing students have access and are appropriately trained in the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Ensure that international nursing students are educated in best practice infection control and prevention, are adequately supported and appropriately remunerated.