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Nursing occupational award decision is praised by ANF

03 February, 2009

A strong campaign by the Australian Nursing Federation, supported by the ACTU, to retain nursing as an occupational award has been vindicated by the decision of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC).

The decision continues the important principle of nursing being based on skill and educational qualifications rather than the employment setting.  
ANF federal secretary Ged Kearney welcomed the decision and said it represented a great victory for Australian nurses and women workers generally. “I am extremely pleased by this decision that confirms nursing is a valued and recognised profession in its own right.

The retention of nursing as a distinct occupational award is a good result for nurses, patients, the community and goes to the heart of issues such as recruitment and retention,” Kearney said.
The draft Nurses Occupational Award 2010 covers nurses working in all healthcare settings, with the exception of school nurses.

 “The ANF is delighted that nurses in aged care are covered by this award and that our campaign to improve patient care and nurses’ wages and conditions is bolstered by this decision.”
Despite a strong campaign by employers, particularly in the aged care sector, and some other unions to prevent the retention of a nursing specific occupational award, the AIRC recognised the validity of the ANFs arguments in favour of such a decision.

The AIRC decision states in part: The exposure draft of the Nurses Occupational Industry Award 2010 is, as its name suggests, cast as an occupational award.

Nurses are the single biggest occupational group in health and welfare services and the material advanced suggests at this stage that an occupational award is warranted.