The ANMF National Policy Research Unit – the first five years

Casey Marnie BCom(econ) and Micah DJ Peters PhD work at the National Policy Research Unit (Federal Office), Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the University of South Australia, Clinical and Health Sciences, Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre.

Embedding high-quality research into nursing and midwifery is vital for delivering safe, effective healthcare.

This is not only important in informing best practice, but having the latest evidence is essential to the ANMF as they advocate for the rights of the nursing and midwifery workforce and support improvement to the health and wellbeing of all community members.

To grow the research capacity of the ANMF and, in turn, to enhance and embed research into nursing and midwifery more broadly, in 2018, the National Policy Research Unit (NPRU) of the ANMF Federal Office was established in partnership with the University of South Australia’s Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre.

As we approach the end of the 5th year since inception of the NPRU, we reflect on the work we have undertaken, the ANMF’s achievements, and future opportunities for how the Unit can continue to best support nurses and midwives.

In concordance with the priorities of the ANMF at a federal level, we have led significant bodies of work across a range of issues. Ongoing and Australia-wide focus on aged care has seen us make many contributions to submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. In doing so, all submissions have included evidence drawn from published literature, including our own.1-8

Subsequent work in aged care, following on from the release of the Royal Commissions Final Report has contributed to the aged care campaigns of the ANMF leading into the 2022 election and in the momentous legislation of mandatory staffing levels in residential aged care facilities including 24/7 registered nurse presence and wage increases for staff.

Another focus of the unit has, of course, been COVID-19. As the pandemic evolved, our priority has been to ensure that nurses and midwives are provided with up-to-date, accurate, and reliable information to inform decision-making at all levels. We have published many evidence briefs on COVID-19 and variants, personal protective equipment, and contemporary information regarding vaccines and vaccination strategies.9-12

Importantly, the voices of members have been critical with responses to national surveys of Australia’s nursing, midwifery, and personal carer workforce underpinning national reports that highlight the struggles that nurses and midwives face as the pandemic evolves.8,12

We have also provided regular comprehensive updates to the ANMF leadership on the state of COVID-19 around the nation. These updates ensure the state of COVID-19 is clear and interpretable as the ANMF advocates for the conditions of staff on the ground.

Another primary function of the Unit is, in collaboration with branches, oversight of the national research program of the ANMF via the national Research Strategy and Advisory Committee. We facilitate collaborative relationships with national and international research centres and inform ANMF participation in research aligned to the needs and interests of ANMF members.

This function of scholarly engagement is also embedded in our editorial work and stewardship of the ANMF’s Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing. Here, we seek to promote a wide variety of original research and scholarly work to inform and empower nurses and midwives to deliver evidence-based practice.

Located within a university, we also support nurses and midwives to develop research capacity, providing supervisory support at the PhD and Masters levels. Further, through a vacation scholarship opportunity for UniSA undergraduates, we have developed a program to support research engagement for undergraduates seeking to build research skills and confidence. Early exposure to research supports nurses and midwives to pursue future research opportunities and has greater influence in clinical environments.

Over the coming years, we will use our diverse and multi-disciplinary expertise to lead and collaborate on a variety of research projects focussing on key topics from the aged care workforce and nurse practitioner models of care to cancer nursing, climate change impact, workforce policy, and First Nations health and wellbeing.

While this brief column can’t cover all the work we’ve achieved over the last five years, we hope to continue working with the ANMF and its members to strengthen the contribution of nursing and midwifery to improving Australia’s health and aged care systems and the health of our national and global communities.

1 Peters MDJ, Marnie C, Butler A. Delivering, funding, and rating safe staffing levels and skills mix in aged care. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2021;119(103943).
2 Peters MDJ, Marnie C. Human costs of aged care productivity: innovation versus staffing and skills mix. Collegian 2021; 28(3):351-355.
3 Bonner R, Peters MDJ, Butler A. Workforce – the bedrock of aged care reform. Australian Economic Review. 2021;54(2):285-293.
4 Peters MDJ, Marnie C, Butler A. Royal Commission into aged care recommendations on minimum staff time standard for nursing homes. Australian Health Review. 2022;46(4):388-390.
5 Peters MDJ, Marnie C, Butler A. Putting people first: the importance of recommending minimum staffing levels and skills mix. Journal of Law and Medicine. 2022;29(2):380-387.
6 Peters MDJ, Marnie C, Butler A. ANMF National Aged Care Survey 2019 – Final Report. ANMF: Online. 2019.
7 Peters MDJ, Marnie C, Butler A. National aged care survey 2019 – community member companion report. ANMF: Online. 2019.
8 Peters MDJ, Marnie C. National Aged Care COVID-19 Survey 2022 Final Report. ANMF: Online. 2022.
9 Peters MDJ. Addressing vaccine hesitancy and resistance for COVID-19 vaccines, International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2022;131(104241):1-16.
10 Peters MDJ, Marnie C, Butler A. Policies and procedures for personal protective equipment: does inconsistency increase risk of contamination and infection? International Journal of Nursing Studies. 2020;109(103653):1-4.
11 Peters MDJ. N95 respirators for healthcare workers: the importance of fit, comfort, and usability. Medical Journal of Australia. 2022;217(2):83-84.
12 Peters MDJ, Marnie C. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation National COVID-19 Survey 2022 – Public and Private Hospitals. ANMF: Online. 2022.

Casey Marnie BCom(econ) and Micah DJ Peters PhD work at the National Policy Research Unit (Federal Office), Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the University of South Australia, Clinical and Health Sciences, Rosemary Bryant AO Research Centre.

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