Publication Details

Halcomb, E., Ashley, C., James, S. & Smyth, E. (2018). Employment conditions of Australian primary health care nurses. Collegian: The Australian Journal of Nursing Practice, Scholarship and Research, 25 (1), 65-71.


Background: The primary health care (PHC) nursing workforce is growing to meet the demand for community based health services. To facilitate the recruitment and retention of nurses in PHC settings it is important that positive employment conditions exist.

Aim: To explore the employment characteristics ofAustralian PHC nurses, including employment patterns and remuneration considerations.

Methods: A descriptive survey of Australian PHC nurses was conducted during 2015 as part of a larger mixed methods study. This paper reports the survey findings relating to employment patterns, conditions and remuneration.

Findings: One thousand one hundred sixty six nurses responded to the survey, most respondents were employed in general practice and many were employed part-time. Rates of pay were significantly lower for those employed general practice compared to other PHC settings. Most respondents hadn't received a pay increase in the last 5 years. There were considerable differences in the allowances received between nurses employed in general practice and other PHC settings.

Conclusion: Whilst more nurses are moving into PHC, the remuneration and allowances differ between PHC settings and continue to lag behind the acute sector. To attract skilled younger nurses to meet future workforce requirements, there is an urgent need to review pay and conditions in PHC nursing. Equally, PHC nurses must develop skills to better negotiate their employment conditions and remuneration and industrial organisation must continue to support industrial advances in this area.

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