NSWNA Recency of Practice Petition


A National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for health professionals has been established. The key purpose of the national registration scheme is to protect public safety. Only health practitioners who are suitably educated and able to demonstrate that they are qualified to practise their profession in a competent and ethical manner are registered.

Each profession has one National Board setting standards and policies for each of the 10 health professions supported by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). For nursing and midwifery the National Board is the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (the Board).

There are now 5 mandatory standards that must be met in order to register. Among these is the new recency of practice standard.

The requirement to demonstrate recency of practice in order to register is new to nurses and midwives in NSW. Prior to the introduction of this new system, nurses and midwives seeking to return to the register could apply to the Nurses and Midwives Board of NSW (NMB) and, at the discretion of the NMB, they were integrated into the workforce through a period of paid, supervised employment.

Under the new system, nurses and midwives will meet the recency of practice standard if they can demonstrate one of the following:

a. practice in their profession within the past five years for a period equivalent to a minimum of three months full time;

b. successful completion of a program or assessment approved by the Board, or

c. successful completion of a supervised practice experience approved by the Board.

This new recency of practice standard is being retrospectively applied. This means that many nurses and midwives who have taken extended breaks from their professions under the previous regulatory regime do not meet the new requirements.

The main option for nurses seeking to re‐enter practice in NSW is an 8 week course in Sydney at the cost of $10,000. The cost is prohibitive and few if any regional or rural nurses have access to this option.

For midwives there is no accredited course available in NSW.

The option of a supervised practice experience approved by the Board has been granted to only a small number of applicants.

The requirement that health professionals demonstrate some recency of practice in order to maintain competency and their registration is supported. However, the barriers that now confront a small cohort of nurses and midwives who have taken breaks from their professions under the previous arrangements and are now seeking to re‐enter are impractical and inefficient and serve merely to deny the health system experienced health professionals.


You can download the petition pdf at the NSWNA website here:


To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales.

The Petition of citizens of NSW brings to the attention of the House a significant threat to the provision of safe patient care in the NSW public health system and other facilities that provide nursing care arising from retrospective application of new barriers to the registration of nurses and midwives under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, specifically the new Recency of Practice Standard and the lack of affordable and accessible re-entry to practice courses for nurses and midwives who cannot meet the Standard.

For nurses who are now unable to register due to the new recency of practice standard, there is only one re-entry to practice course accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Australia. The cost of this 8 week course is exorbitant and prohibitive for most nurses. It is available through one provider in metropolitan Sydney, effectively excluding nurses in regional and rural areas of NSW.

For midwives who are unable to meet the new Recency of Practice Standard, there is no accredited re-entry to practice course available in NSW, the closest being offered in Adelaide.

The undersigned petitioners therefore ask the Legislative Assembly to immediately release funding to increase the number of nurses completing the College of Nursing course and to develop additional courses accredited by Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council for delivery by Local health Districts.

Image credit: NSWNA



  1. This issue has got to be at the top of an all-time list of ‘Nursing Issues’ …

    There are a number of Nurses ( and former Nurses ) concurrently pushing this issue forward.

    Google the Illawarra Mercury, and ABC local radio ( illawarra ). Both media options gave this issue prime coverage today.

    The message is finally getting out to the community, thanks to the efforts of those with the courage to put their name to the cause …


  2. Lets hope this is addressed soon. In particular women with young children are being discriminated against. People are losing their whole careers! Is any one stopping to think about the reality of this situation . . .nurses need to be supported to return to work.

  3. I agree that re entry courses should be delivered with local health districts; but here’s an extension of that idea…why not return nursing (re)practice education back to where it mostly originated from; universities. Universities could have a provisional/trial before ongoing authorisation from AHPRA and the Department of Health and Aging to conduct 3 month ft/pt equivalent courses, which would be eligible for a HELP loan, applications would be direct entry, prior to admission interviews to explore the applicant/prior nurses’ career. Competencies could be based on final year/pre graduate checklists with CONNO member involvement/consultation (as not to discriminate against former nurses who have substantial specialists experience). Classes would be delivered mostly online with occasional campus attendance and practice hours alike to clinical placement, would be done at the student’s home facility for convenience, or at request and university negotiation, completed at another location if a different setting, specialty or demographic was sought, supervision from clinical nurse educators and RN mentors would occur. Upon completion, Renewal certificates would be given which satisfy re entry requirements, graduates are then subject to normal AHPRA registration processes & standards. Renewal (not re entry) sounds less exclusive/more welcoming, extends rejoining training to more providers; for regional/rural access, and de-powers current dominators. RN renewals support earlier nurses to achieve modern proficiency updates for a consistent workforce and most importantly, restores the recognition, value and respect nurses so deserve!

  4. Retrospective recency of practice is a joke.
    APRAH are now telling me that I haven’t got recency of practice in Nursing, even though with a Grad Dip in Midwifery I have to be an RN to practice Midwifery.
    Further as a Midwife I nursed general overflow patients every shift I worked in one Maternity Unit. However along the lines of Nurses/Midwives “eating their own” the NUm of this Maternity unit won’t even sign a statement that her Maternity unit had general patients – even though she knows they did – she “doesn’t want to put her name to anything”.
    What wonderful support we give each other as a profession! Who’s going to stand up for us if our collegues aren’t willing to. i got the impression that those employed were more than happy to look after each other, but not those trying to return to the workforce…..that is until they start complaining that they don’t have enough staff! It’s not good enough.

  5. Hi beautiful nurses, interested in a comment someone made about being able to work whilst registration is being processed. I am in a similar situation trying to make up hours!! Knowing I could work in the month after my reg date is due would certainly help…any more advice would be amazing..it may only be a matter of a week’s work but could make all the difference in the world. Crazy as this means I can stay at work or face a 10,000 dollar course over a few weeks work…how is that for fairness? So in theory can I work into the following month . . .I know in theory it may mean going over the 5 year period, but if I am still registered maybe it will help me to squeeze the extra hours in? x x Thanks x x


    Agree with your sentiment, and your idea has merit as well …

    but just a quick word on ” … return Nursing back to where it mostly originated from … ”

    No, no, no. There is much written about Nurse Education, in NSW, Australia, and around the world. Don’t think that “universities” first provided Nurse Education. You may well be young, but you should be aware of the history of Nursing in your home State ( at least ).

    From the earliest days of Lucy Osburn at Sydney Hospital from 1868, Nurse Education was typically an ‘apprentice-style’ affair, primarily concerned with gaining workplace skills ‘on-the-job’. Certainly not ‘university-style’.


  7. Is anyone planning on discussing the issue of Nurse Re-entry Courses with Jillian Skinner, The Health Minister? Jillian Skinner will be at at Dee Why RSL on Wednesday 29th February 2012 7:30pm-9pm to discuss community ‘local issues for action’. I will be there.
    Please register your attendance at NSW2021northernsydneydeewhy@dpc.nsw.gov.au or call 02-9513-2000.
    If you can not attend, please HAVE YOUR SAY online at http://www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/nsw2021.
    Kind regards, Sarah Thornthwaite

  8. Why isn’t anyone addressing the situation of those of us who have taken extended time out ie over 10 years, and are not being given permission at all to do the re-entry courses, and being told to re-do our qualifications completely!
    Where is the fight for us to have courses designed to satisfy AHPRA?
    I’m really disappointed that this issue has not been included in this petition.
    There is just this assumption that we are totally incompetent.

  9. i got my letter from AHPRA today!!! as expected i have a referel letter to do a assessment of competence course.

    has anyone made a submission to the board to reconsider? and if so-what was the outcome?

    has anyone actually done the assessment course?

  10. This is a truly disgusting way to treat nurses. Bad enough that they’ll have to fork out thousands to return to their profession but to enact this retrospectively? No way is this fair on those nurses who left work (usually for family reasons). A few years back, the State Government was actually paying nurses to re-skill.

  11. For 18 months now I’ve been keeping an eye on comments here. For any new nurses out there who have just got the news they need to do the expensive re-entry course, here’s some advice. Look to Victoria or QLD for courses. NSW is impossible to get into and is fulltime. I’m doing a course in Victoria with the Institute of health and Nursing Australia online part time over a period of 6 months. Sure, I have to do 1 month block of “prac”, but it is a little more friendly for people with families, as I can study from home. The cost is better too. $8,250. Look into scholarships from the state Gov and college of Nursing.
    You may waste a little time being angry about it all, the whole system of costs is totally unfair but this is the process we have to do. For those over 10yrs, I didn’t get far checking, but I think it is possible to get some credits in doing the degree again. I almost had to go down this path myself but snuck in at 9yrs and 10 months out of practise. Hope this helps.


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