APNA Workforce Survey

Let’s unleash the power of primary health care nurses

Australia's primary health care nurses are ready, willing and able to do more to keep the nation healthy, according to the results of our latest APNA Workforce Survey released on International Nurses Day 2020.

It's clear that nurses are highly motivated by patient contact and care, with 80% of our 1,678 survey respondents either satisfied or very satisfied with their job.

Yet many nurses report they could do more with their skills and experience to contribute to the health team in their workplace.

A snapshot of key findings show:

  • 45% of primary health care nurses feel that often or most of the time their skills aren't being fully used
  • That's despite 81% being highly experienced, with an average 21 years in nursing
  • 30% of nurses who suggested a greater role based on their training and qualifications had the request refused by their employer
  • Underscoring the fact that many nurses feel overlooked in the workplace, more than half reported not having had a formal job appraisal in the past two years

APNA is using this data to lobby for greater recognition of the vital role played by nurses who work outside the hospital system. As part of ongoing primary health care reform, APNA is in discussion with Ministers, Departments, Primary Health Networks and peak bodies.


See APNA Workforce Survey Detailed Report

APNA's response 

APNA President Karen Booth says the under-utilisation of nurse skills represents a significant lost opportunity for the Australian health system.

"Primary health care nurses must be empowered to work to their full potential as Australia faces the twin challenges of an ageing population and rising rates of chronic disease beyond COVID-19. Nurses not only need the support of their employer but the system has to change too," she says, pointing out that the main reason given for refusing an extension of the nurse role was no financial incentive for the employer under Medicare.

"We need flexible funding models that make the most of everyone in the primary health team. This will enable better care for patients and prevent serious illness from developing. Paying for episodic care dependent on face-to-face, come-to-the-doctor-when-you-are-sick or in-crisis visits, is not a sustainable model for complex care.

"We need predictability and assured funding that supports proactive, preventive, managed care to keep people well and supported in their community, avoiding unnecessary hospitalisations." 

APNA collaboration with AIHW

APNA has been working with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) on their first profile of primary health care nurses. The AIHW report, also released on International Nurses Day 2020, has been informed by APNA Workforce Survey and APNA membership data. 

AIHW is Australia's national agency for information and statistics on the nation's health and welfare. Their data is used extensively to inform discussion and policy on health and community services.


APNA thanks the NSW Rural Doctors Network for their support and analysis of data for the latest APNA Workforce Survey. We appreciate their assistance and applaud their commitment to the health of rural and remote communities in New South Wales through the provision of a well-supported health workforce.

APNA's Workforce Survey

APNA has commissioned a national workforce survey annually since 2004, with the aim of equipping nurses working in primary health care with information on the workforce conditions of their profession.

The APNA Workforce Survey is the only workforce survey exclusively designed for primary health care nurses across Australia.

Collection of this information enhances APNA’s ability to develop evidence-based policy and programs relating to the primary health care nurse workforce.

APNA’s Workforce Survey offers an indication of the average pay and conditions of nurses working in Australia. If you are interested in the minimum pay and conditions for a nurse or worker in Australia please visit our Nurses Award page.



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