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More employed nurses but 14 500 still looking for work

The number of employed nurses has increased by 13 per cent since 2005, a report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has found.

In 2009, 276 751 or 86 per cent of registered and enrolled nurses were actually employed in nursing, up from 244 360 in 2005.

However, nationally 14 500 registered and enrolled nurses said they were currently unemployed but looking for work. A further 15 000 nurses were identified as outside of the labour force altogether.

On average, those in the nursing workforce worked 33.3 hours per week, a slight increase on 2005.

“This at least partially reflects fewer nurses working part-time in 2009,” said AIHW spokesperson David Braddock.

31 000 nurses reported having a second job, working on average an additional 12.6 hours.
Ninety per cent of nurses were employed as clinicians – working mostly in medical and surgical areas (32 per cent), followed by critical care (17 per cent) and aged care (10 per cent). Overall, 52,273 nurses were authorised as midwives.

Of the non-clinical workforce, 37 per cent reported working in lecturing, education and supervising new nurses, and nine per cent as researchers.

Regionally, very remote areas had the highest supply of employed nurses and major cities had the lowest.

Nursing continued to be a female dominated profession, with only 9.6 per cent of nurses being male in 2009, up from 7.9 per cent in 2005.

The average age of employed nurses was 44.3 years. However, the nursing workforce is an ageing profession, with the age profile of nurses shifting toward the older age groups in recent years.

In 1999, the 40–44 years age group included the greatest number of nurses. By 2009, it was the 50–54 years age group that included the most nurses.

In 2009, there were 1,605 employed nurses who identified themselves as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, representing 0.6 per cent of nurses for whom indigenous status was provided.

The report’s findings were based on data collated from the AIHW’s annual Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force survey in 2009. 


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