Future Nursing Shortages in Australia

Nurse holding a stethoscope in a medical practice

The Australian Government regularly conducts research to identify skills shortages in the Australian labour market and the predicted nursing shortage in Australia has caused concern for more than a decade.

In a detailed report on Australia’s future health workforce published in 2014, the Department of Health forecast a nursing shortage in Australia of about 85,000 nurses by 2025, growing to 123,000 nurses by 2030. 

Future workplace modelling by the health department provides evidence there will not be enough nurses to provide care for Australia’s rapidly growing population and  


consequently it has been recommended that nursing remain on the national list of identified skills shortages (Skilled Occupation List), which can be filled by skilled migrants who apply for a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa subclass 457. This allows holders to be employed for a period of up to four years.

Skills shortages occur where there is a mismatch between available staff and the needs of the industry, which can create problems for Australia’s economy and the quality of life for Australians.

The Skilled Occupation List identifies roles and professions that will benefit from independent skilled migrants to meet the needs of the Australian economy in the medium to long term.

The Skilled Occupation List is also relevant for those on a Temporary Graduate visa subclass 485 and who intend to live, study and work in Australia after completing studies. All classes of nursing profession – including nurse practitioner, registered nurse, enrolled nurse, and midwife – are currently on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List which must be nominated on applications for 457 visas.

The nursing shortage in Australia is being driven largely by an ageing population living longer with complex health problems. In 2012, there were over a quarter of a million (273,404) Registered Nurses and almost 60,000 Enrolled Nurses registered in Australia.

At that time a report on nursing workforce sustainability undertaken by Health Workforce confirmed that population health trends combined with an ageing nursing workforce would lead to a nursing shortage in Australia.

Areas of nursing that are more at risk were identified as aged care and mental health. Future health care is predicted to involve greater health promotion, chronic disease monitoring and management, and care of older patients with complex health needs.

Research shows that for every 110 health professionals who retire, only 84 qualified people will join the workforce. Improved retention rates and assumed slower economic growth are predicted to reduce the nursing shortage Australia to approximately 29,000 by 2025 or 45,000 by 2030.

Australia needs nurses more now than ever. If you’re interested in joining Australia’s nursing workforce, then please browse our selection of nursing jobs for your next opportunity.