Celebrating 21 years of nursing impact - APNA marks a milestone in making Australia healthier by supporting primary health care nurses

Media Release 9 August 2022 


When Primary Health Care (PHC) nurses needed a voice, when student nurses needed a reliable pathway to primary care placements, when rural communities urgently needed nurses to help tackle COVID, APNA was there. 

Since 2001 APNA has been there for PHC nurses to ensure they could continue taking care of Australia. In doing so, it has given a national voice to the 91,000 nurses who work outside of the hospital system and became the largest PHC nurse association in Australia, 

Today the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) turns 21 and celebrates making a difference for PHC nurses, and making a difference for Australia: 

  • When COVID struck vulnerable communities in remote western New South Wales in 2021 health services were overwhelmed. APNA answered the call and had 140 nurses available in 72 hours to run vaccine clinics. 

  • APNA’s Transition to Practice (TTP) Programs have helped build the capacity, knowledge, skills, and confidence of over 200 PHC nurses  

  • APNA has supported more than 95 nurse-led clinics in the last eight years enabling innovative, timely care across Australia.  These have been so successful, 40 more are in the pipeline over the next two years 

  • Call volumes to APNA’s Nurse Support Hotline soared 20-fold in 2020 

  • More than 900 student nurses have secured placements in primary health care settings through APNA’s Student Nurse Placement Program 

  • The APNA Workforce Survey, the largest survey of its kind, informs government and workforce policy with its insights into the PHC nursing cohort not found anywhere else. 

  • APNA was the only nursing organisation on the Primary Health Care Reform Taskforce, which forms the basis of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce. 

For a body representing the greater primary health care workforce, APNA had very humble beginnings. While nurses have played an integral role in the general practice setting for more than 50 years, prior to the 1990s, practice nurses received little recognition and their scope of practice was limited.  

APNA founder Sam Moses changed this in 2001 when she registered the original APNA organisation in 2001. The milestones came quickly - APNA launched a website in 2002, offered its first workshops in 2004, and in 2006 offered its members a professional indemnity insurance product specifically tailored to nurses working in general practice.  

APNA continued to evolve and in 2009, members voted to expand APNA’s membership to include nurses working in the broader PHC sector, not just those working in general practice.   

Today APNA is one of Australia’s fastest-growing membership-based health care professional organisations, engaging with more than 27,000 PHC nurses across Australia. 




‘APNA has seen a dynamic shift in how primary health care nursing is viewed by policymakers. APNA represented our members on all the major primary health care reform committees for more than a decade. We are now seen as the go-to organisation for all things PHC nursing.’ 

"APNA’s future is bright. Nurses recognise the strength of a united voice and that they are demanding recognition for the contribution they make to the primary health care space.” 



“I created a network specifically for nurses working in general practice. I felt strongly that the association should be run by practice nurses for practice nurses: nurses who worked with patients in the primary care setting and recognised the needs of PHC workers. APNA has grown to cover nurses working right across the primary health care sector and I could not be prouder.” 

“I remember the day when APNA was officially incorporated. I will never forget the feeling of achievement – it was a very special moment for me.  

“The role of the nurse within primary health care has grown so much. Today’s nurses are so multiskilled and knowledgeable, and they understandably want recognition for this. Nurses are what make primary health care work.” 


Media enquiries: Nick Buchan, nick.buchan@apna.asn.au, 03 9332 9540 



The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association is the peak professional body for the    91,000 nurses who work outside the hospital system. This includes nurses in general practice, aged care, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, schools, correctional facilities, and other community settings. 

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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