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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 358


Senator GILES —Can the Minister for Education and Youth Affairs advise whether the interdepartmental committee on nurse education has reported to the Government and whether any decision has been taken about the possible transfer of nurse training from hospital-based courses to courses at colleges of advanced education?


Senator RYAN —It is the case that the IDC on nurse education has reported to the Government and that the Government has made a decision. It was my great pleasure to announce, just an hour or so ago with my colleague the Minister for Health, Dr Neal Blewett, the contents of that decision, which are these: The Commonwealth will support the full transfer of nurse training to CAEs. That is an historic decision and has been welcomed as such by the Royal Australian Nursing Federation, the largest organisation representing nurses throughout Australia. The timetable, which is a matter of great interest to those who are genuinely interested in upgrading the training of nurses in our country, will be that by 1990 the last intake of nurses into the old system of training-the hospital-based system of training-will be achieved. So the full transfer will be achieved ultimately in 1993.

The reason for the Government's having arrived at this decision is that we are very concerned to see an upgrading of the training of nurses in this country. We believe that the Australian community has been very well served by the nursing profession and that the nursing profession has one of the highest professional standards in the world. Nonetheless, we have been persuaded very much by the view put to us by the nursing organisations that, given the greatly increased sophistication of hospital technologies, procedures and so forth, it is time to upgrade the manner in which nurses are trained to work in our hospitals.

We will do this by putting nurse education on the same footing, in terms of tertiary education, as any other of the health professional areas. The costs for the transfer will be shared between the Commonwealth and the States and negotiations about the form the cost-sharing will take will be beginning forthwith.