Nursing in Australia: National Standards

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council


The purpose of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council is to develop national standards for nursing as well as midwifery regulations. It works in collaboration with the territory and state nursing as well as the Nursing and Midwifery Regulatory Authorities to develop national standards, which are fundamental components of the regulatory framework that aids nurses and midwives in delivering safe and evidence-based care.

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Significance of ANMAC

The ANMAC plays an important role in setting national standards as well as processes for guidelines of nursing practice, and this helps in achieving evidence-based care. It also develops and reviews the nursing code of ethics for all the nursing practice within Australia to guide professional conduct of nurses. The ANMAC also ensures that all the nurses practicing in the country are qualified including overseas-qualified/immigrant nurses. The body conducts assessment of overseas-qualified nurses before they are allowed to practice in the country; and this helps guarantee safety as well as competency in nursing practice.

Content and meaning

The ANMC is the body mandated to set standards for accreditation of nursing and midwifery courses. This means that it has to accredit all the nursing, plus midwifery courses to ensure that they meet the standards set by the ANMAC and regulations of other nursing and midwifery regulatory bodies. The body specifies the subjects and courses required for one to be enrolled for any nursing course, and develops courses leading to accreditation, registration, enrolment as well as authorization to practice in Australia. Thus, it provides the guidelines for designing curriculum for any nursing or midwifery course as well as the standards for recruiting teaching staff and students. It also reviews these guidelines from time to time to ensure that they meet the changes in nursing and midwifery practice. The body also accredits institutions providing nursing and midwifery courses to ensure that their practices, policies, procedures as well as learning resources are adequate and help nursing and midwifery students achieve competency and skills in evidence-based practice.

It defines the differences that exist between different nursing professions and levels, and sets the roles of each nursing profession in regards to their professional, legal as well as ethical responsibilities. It sets the competency standards required of registered nurses to ensure that they function in line with legislation regulating nursing as well as health care. It also sets standards which guide nurses and midwives in ensuring evidence-based practice and continuous professional development. Finally, the body provides a framework for coordination, organization as well as delivery of nursing care which also includes how to go about therapeutic practice.

The role of the Australian Health and Professional Regulatory Authority (AHPRA)

The role of the AHPRA includes registration of all the health practitioners and students so as to ensure that only practitioners with appropriate qualifications and skills are allowed to provide safe care to the community. It also receives and acts upon complaints and notifications received from the public as regards the conduct, health as well as performance of health practitioners and students in collaboration with the Health Complaints Commission in every territory and state. In addition, it supports the National Health Practitioner Boards in developing and implementing the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme which includes registration standards, codes as well as guidelines. Finally, it offers advice to the Ministerial Council as regards the administration of the accreditation scheme as well as national registration.

The role of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)

The roles of the NMBA include registering nurses and midwives as well as nursing and midwifery students; establishing standards, codes as well as guidelines for practitioners; and approving accreditation standards as well certified courses of study. Just like AHPRA, it also handles notifications and complaints and conducts investigations as well as disciplinary hearings for its members. Besides, it assesses overseas-qualified practitioners who apply to practice in the country.

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Both the AHPRA and NMBA register health practitioners and students; the NMBA only registers nurses and midwives while the AHPRA registers all the health practitioners. They all set standards, guidelines as well as codes of practice, and handle notifications, complaints, and investigations in addition to disciplinary hearings. Finally, they all ensure that practitioners possess the necessary qualifications.

The role of the Australian Nursing Federation

The Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) is a nationwide union for midwives, nurses, students, as well as, assistants in nursing. Therefore, its main role is to represent the professional as well as industrial interests of its members at every level, federal, state and territory levels. Its roles, therefore, include providing legal and industrial representation, resolving workplace disputes, and negotiating awards as well as enterprise bargaining agreements. It also provides education and training to its members on health care practices. Finally, it also represents its members in campaign for improvement of workplace environment on issues, such as occupational health and safety.

The responsibilities of registered nurse in relation to Continuing Professional Development

Registered nurses are expected to continuously participate in their professional development. As such, they have to utilize the best available evidence and appropriate guidelines as well as standards to appraise their nursing performance. In doing this, they have to continuously perform self-evaluation and use feedback from their colleagues to appraise their nursing practice.

Registered nurses have to participate in professional development so as to improve their nursing practice. This means that they have to identify deficiencies in their nursing practice and discover more knowledge with the support of colleagues to enhance professional development.

Again, registered nurses have the responsibility to enhance the professional development of others. Thus, they have to engage in knowledge sharing with colleagues, preceptors and students while supporting their professional development.

Finally, they have adopt appropriate strategies in managing and improving the professional work environment by creating and connecting to support networks to acquire and share experience useful for enhancing their nursing practice.

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Ways of meeting the responsibilities.

In my professional development in nursing practice I will undertake the following:

  • I will continuously seek for the opinions of my colleagues on how they evaluate my performance and nursing practice and use their feedback to improve my nursing practice.
  • I will also participate in nursing research activities in collaboration with colleagues within the clinical setting to enhance my professional development.
  • Again, I will guide, coach and mentor preceptors as I help them acquire nursing practices.
  • Finally, I will participate in support networks to help me share useful experiences that will enable me improve nursing practice.

Guidelines for delegation of nursing aspects by registered nurses and midwives

The ANF recommends that before a registered nurse/midwife delegates nursing care, he or she is to assess the needs of the patient and develop nursing or midwifery care plan. While assessing the patient/client, the registered nurse/midwife is to keep in mind that the wishes, wellbeing as well as interests of the client/patient remain the key in the assessment as well as care delivery process; therefore, he or she has to incorporate them in the care plan before delegating the needed aspects of nursing. However, the registered nurse/midwife is not allowed to delegate aspects of nursing care to a nursing assistant whose competency level can not meet the roles to be assigned. Besides, a registered nurse/midwife is not allowed to delegate aspects of nursing/midwifery to an assistant in nursing who he or she believes that the needed aspects of nursing care are outside his or her role. The registered nurse is to be aware that he or she remains accountable for the aspects of nursing delegated, and, therefore, they must engage in an informed as well as responsible approach.

Finally, the ANF recommends that a registered nurse/midwife consults the body as regards the regulations, protocols, practices as well as policies adopted by the employer to be able to establish their conformity with the legislative requirements.

Ancillary staff

One such important ancillary staff is the assistant in nursing (acute care). Assistant in nursing (acute care) will assist me in providing dietary needs, such as meal set up as well as feeding patients. He or she will be important for moving patients around and answering call bells as well as ward telephones. Finally, the acute care assistant in nursing will help me to provide hygiene care to patients.

Again, I will utilize the services of an enrolled nurse to provide medications prescribed to patients, subcutaneous as well as intramuscular injections.

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Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. (2011). What we do. Web.

Australian Nursing Federation. (2011). About ANF. Web.

Australian Nursing Federation. (n.d). Delegation by registered nurses and registered midwives. Web.

Australian Nursing & Midwifery Council. National competency standards for the registered nurse. Web.

Hesta Super Fund. (2011). Nurses and midwives. Web.

Government of Western Australia, Department of Health. 2011 assistant in nursing (acute care) traineeship. Web.

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia. (2011). Functions of the Board. Web.

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