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New program delivers urgently needed support to Australia’s midwives and nurses: media release

The nation’s nurses and midwives will receive urgently needed support under the new $25.2 million Australian Government-funded Nurse and Midwife Health Program Australia (NMHPA).

The NMHPA is a free, confidential and independent service for nurses and midwives, as well as nursing and midwifery students, experiencing any sensitive psychological health issue.

The Government has committed to a five-year investment to deliver the NMHPA, which is being rolled out in stages. The peer-led, specialist counselling service has started with national telehealth consultations. The NMHPA is working towards establishing four hubs and regional offices later this year that will offer face-to-face and telehealth services. NMHPA is available via (phone) 1800 001 060 or (email) info@nursemidwifehpa.org.au.

Nurses and midwives are Australia’s largest group (54%) of registered health professionals. Fatigue, stress and burnout have been identified as a threat to both the Australian and global nursing and midwifery workforce.

NMHPA Implementation Director Heather Pickard said the new service enables early intervention to address sensitive health issues faced by the nursing and midwifery workforce and, in turn, supports job satisfaction and retention.

Through the NMHPA, we’re strongly promoting and advocating help-seeking behaviours
Healther Pickard

“Nursing and midwifery are very rewarding professions and have a pivotal role in the delivery of high-quality care and meeting the diverse healthcare needs of all Australians. But we recognise that the professions are also demanding and stressful, with workers facing higher vulnerability and potential exposure to psychological health risks.

“Demanding workplace environments, high workloads, long hours and emotional stressors can put nurses and midwives at greater risk of mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and burnout.

“At the extreme, such risks can result in significant harms, including drug and alcohol misuse and other diversionary behaviours, such as gambling.

We know from research, feedback and experience that stigma can hold nurses, midwives and students back from reaching out for assistance, which is why this new service offers a non- judgmental, safe space for them to deal with their sensitive challenges.
Heather Pickard

“In our professions we’re often not wired or used to putting our own needs or self-care first, so it’s important to reinforce that if we have concerns and aren’t feeling right that help is at hand.”

The Australian Government’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Adjunct Professor Alison McMillan PSM believes the new service is a huge step forward in recognising the incredible work and commitment of nurses and midwives, so providing them with the support they need when they need it is important. Adjunct Professor McMillan encourages all nurse and midwives to see accessing this service as strength.

“Global studies have confirmed that levels of burnout among nurses and midwives is higher than other health professionals, including doctors,” she explained.

The NMHPA is founded on the following principles:

  • Individual focused – focused on the mental and physical wellbeing of nurses and midwives, providing flexible, empowering and collaborative care.
  • Integrated – supporting nurses and midwives to connect to trusted health professionals, ensuring a smooth referral pathway between the participant and the health professional.
  • Equitable and inclusive – a free, welcoming, compassionate, culturally safe, and appropriate environment.
  • Clinical governance and accountability – to ensure quality standards and clinical competence and reporting requirements.

Nurses, midwives or students of these professions experiencing any health or wellbeing issue, whether it is drug, alcohol or gambling, stress, burnout, occupational violence, or a mental health concern, can connect with experienced nurse and midwife counsellors.

Access to the NMHPA can be initiated by nurses and midwives themselves (i.e. self-referral), employers (with consent of the employee involved), or via peak bodies such as unions. Referrals may also be made by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) and Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, however, it is the individual’s decision if they will engage with the service or not.

The NMHPA is an additional complimentary service and potential referral pathway from Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Nurse & Midwife Support, the national 24/7 support service that provides brief intervention counselling and referral pathways. The NMHPA differs to other services in that it offers unlimited sessions, is nurse- and midwife-specific, is independent from employers, and offers face-to-face and telehealth services (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

For more information and/or support, go to https://nursemidwifehpa.org.au


For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Chriss Mannix
Soda Communications
0418 408 035

Natalie Dragon
Nurse and Midwife Health Program Australia
0499 310 136