Primary Health Care Nurse Day 2024 - APNA goes to Federal Parliament

By Nick Buchan, APNA Corporate Affairs Advisor - Health Care Solutions

8 February 2024

APNA launched the first annual Primary Health Care Nurses Day (PHCNDay) at Parliament House in Canberra, meeting with numerous government ministers and politicians to highlight the Scope of Practice Review, the challenges facing PHC nurses, and to celebrate #PHCNDay. 

Every 7th February we celebrate the amazing work done by the 96,000+ nurses working outside of the hospital setting, in aged care, community, general practice, custodial, schools and a range of other primary health care settings.

APNA CEO Ken Griffin, President Karen Booth, General Manager Health Care Solutions Mia Dhillon, and Advocacy Manager Frances Cieslak spent the day walking the halls of Parliament House in Canberra, accompanied by three APNA nurse members. Their bottom-line message to politicians: Australians will be healthier if primary health care nurses can work to their full scope of practice. To do this, we need to reform funding, care models and the national nursing curriculum. 

First up APNA met with Health & Aged Care Minister Mark Butler to discuss attracting and retaining nurses in primary health care, including scope of practice. They also noted the inaugural PHCNDay, with 62 organisations taking part in the celebration. 
Minister Butler said “his priority is nursing and primary care from the scope of practice review”. He agreed that removing the ‘supervision’ interpreted 'on behalf of’ MBS billing would be a game-changer for nurses. 

APNA member Sue from Bega explained to Minister Butler that her whole practice saw 3660 drop-in patients in one year when it opened for one hour in the morning, keeping those people out of hospital A&E. Sue said however that with nurse prescribing and a change of funding model, she could see many of those patients without GP involvement, thus improving access to care and sharing the workload more evenly. 

Next up they met Shadow Health & Aged Care Minister Anne Ruston to discuss attracting and retaining nurses in primary health care.  Sen. Ruston heard about the critical role primary health care nurses play, and about workforce shortages, and discussed why it is so important to embed qualifications, skills and training into the primary health care system. Sen. Ruston said she is well and truly on board in terms of reform.

APNA also met Assistant Health & Aged Care Minister Ged Kearney and Assistant Rural & Regional Health Minister Emma McBride to celebrate PHCNDay, and to discuss scope of practice for nurses, as well as the situation confronting rural nurses and rural nursing students.

To round out the day APNA met the Hon. Helen Haines MP to acknowledge PHCNDay and discuss supporting rural nurses and rural nursing students.


Later in the day APNA also received special recognition from Minister Butler who thanked nurses, as well as mentioned APNA and PHCNDay, during Parliamentary Question Time. Watch the callout below: 


On behalf of all primary health care nurses we would like to thank every politician and Minister for their support. We look forward to speaking again soon.



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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