International Nurses Day 2024

Time to value the Economic Power of the largest workforce in primary health care

Media Statement 10 May 2024

On International Nurses Day 2024 (IND2024), The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) is acknowledging the critical work of primary health care (PHC) nurses and the economic contributions they provide to our communities and call on the Federal Government and the Opposition to do the same.

The theme for IND 2024 is “Our Nurses, Our Future - The Economic Power of Care”, which acknowledges that despite being the largest health workforce in Australia, nurses are still prevented from working to their full skills and experience with 31% reporting that they only rarely or occasionally work to their full scope of practice.

“Primary health care nurses are highly skilled and trusted to keep Australians healthy and out of hospital, saving healthcare budgets millions of dollars, but are still underrecognised for their vital role of reducing healthcare costs – imagine what could be achieved if we used the whole nursing workforce effectively and the impact this could have on the cost of care,” said APNA President, Karen Booth.

“Nurses should be enabled to work to their full skills and experience, keeping the community healthy, and undertaking vital work they are trained for – women’s health checks, mental health assessments and other essential work in primary health care.”

Ms. Booth, a Registered Nurse (RN) and Manager in General Practice, highlighted that the hourly rates of enrolled and registered nurses are often lower than the national average wage across Australia.

“Some in the community would be shocked to know that highly skilled, experienced and trusted nurses are still not being paid their worth, largely because it is a female-dominated profession,” she explained.”

Despite years of training and an average of 21 years experience in primary health care, enrolled and and registered nurses are still only earning an average of $35.95 and $46.49 per hour respectively.[1]

APNA will be supporting the current work value case before the Fair Work Commission and calling for both the Federal Government and Opposition to also correct the historical gender undervaluation of the nursing profession which holds back our largest health workforce from earning and working to their full potential.

A recent decision of the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC 15 March 2024) found that ‘the federal award system has failed to set minimum award rates of pay which properly recognize the addition to work value effected by the transformation of nursing into a profession. In the context of nursing being a female-dominated occupation, the Expert Panel characterises this as a historic gender undervaluation.’


About the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA)

APNA represents over 96,000 primary health care nurses in Australia working outside of hospitals, including those employed in general practice, schools, aged care facilities, correctional facilities and in wider community settings.

Media contact: Sue Bellino 0400 188 825


[1] Data taken from APNA Workforce Survey 2023


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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