Top Nursing Statistics for Australia

Nursing is undeniably one of the most important professions around. Nurses care for, treat and manage patients in all areas of medicine, helping to keep us healthy and ensure the health service can cope with demand.

These nursing stats provide an insight into the current state of the profession in Australia. Many of these statistics show how the profession is evolving and could give an indication of what the future holds for nurses, healthcare professionals and those that use the Australian healthcare system.


1. Nurses are the Biggest Clinical Workforce in Australia

Altogether, there are around 450,000 registered nurses and midwives in Australia. Of these, 337,000 are registered nurses, 72,000 are enrolled nurses, 28,800 have dual registration and 6,500 are midwives only. This makes nurses the largest clinical workforce in the country and shows just how important nurses are to the nation’s hospitals, clinics, health centres and general health services.


2. There are More Than 4 Times as Many Nurses as Doctors in Australia

In 2020, there were 104,000 medical practitioners registered in Australia. That’s less than a quarter of the number of nurses working in the country. Of these 104,000 doctors, 31,000 were GPs, 36,000 were specialists, 80,000 worked in major cities and 20,000 worked in regional areas. Just 1,500 worked in remote or very remote corners of the country.


3. The Average Age for a Nurse in Australia is 43.6

According to the 2019 Nurses and Midwives Factsheet (the most recent nursing stats available from the Australian Government), the average age for practising nurses in the country is 43.6 years old. This shows that most nurses have a huge amount of experience under their belts, something that can greatly enhance the care they give their patients.

4. Almost 90% of Nurses are Female

When you look at historic stats nursing has long been a profession dominated by women. And although more men are entering the profession, and demographics are slowly changing, the current stats in nursing show the vast majority of nurses are still women, with 88.7% of registered nurses and midwives in 2019 female.


5. Over a Third of Nurses and Midwives Come from Overseas

Immigrants have contributed a huge amount to numerous Australian industries, and nursing is no different. According to government stats, 62.4% of nurses working in Australia were born in the country. That means an incredible 37.6% of registered nurses and midwives were born overseas.


6. Just 1.3% of Nurses Identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander

Just 1.3% of the nurses and midwives currently working in Australia identify as aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. However, 3.3% of the population identifies as belonging to these ethnic groups. This indicates that more needs to be done to encourage a broader spectrum of Australian society into the profession.

7. Over Two Thirds of Nurses Work in Metropolitan Areas

The majority of people in Australia live in built up, urban areas. So, it’s no surprise that most nurses in the country work in these settings as well. According to government stats, just over two-thirds (72.6%) of nurses work in metropolitan areas, with the remainder working in towns, rural areas and remote settlements.


8. Nurses Work an Average of 33.5 Hours per Week

The average nurse in Australia works 33.5 hours per week. This is slightly less than the 37.5 hours worked by the average Australian.


9. Most Nurses in Australia Work in Aged Care

In 2019, 48,955 nurses worked in aged care. With the country’s population ageing rapidly, it’s likely that the demand for nurses in this area of care will grow over the coming years.


10. The Northern Territories Have the Most Nurses per Person

The Northern Territories have the highest ratio of nurses to residents with 1,763.2 nurses per 100,000 people. New South Wales has the lowest ratio, with just 1,083.2 nurses per 100,000 residents.


11. Australia Needs More Nurses

Nursing shortage stats reveal that 62% of Australian hospitals have a nursing vacancy rate higher than 7.5%. What’s more, research carried out on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic shows that a significant one-fifth of Australia’s essential workers (including nurses) are considering quitting their jobs. This could mean an even bigger shortage of nurses in the near future.


12. Nurses and Midwives are 5 to 12 Times More Likely to Experience Violence in the Workplace

Workplace violence in nursing stats continue to make uncomfortable reading. According to a Violence in Nursing and Midwifery study carried out in New South Wales, nurses are 5 to 12 times more likely to experience violence in the workplace compared to workers in other industries. The study included a survey of nurses and midwives working in the New South Wales area. Of the 1,454 participants, 80% had experienced violence within the previous six months.


13. Most Nurses Work in a Hospital

The vast majority of nurses in Australia work in hospital settings. Of the 450,000 registered nurses in the country, 211,516 work in hospitals. The next largest group (numbering 44,179) works in residential healthcare, while the third most common role for nurses is in community healthcare services (25,136).


14. Most Nurses Qualified in Australia

Around 80.5% of the nurses working in Australia today qualified in the country. The remaining 19.5% have transferred their qualifications from their home country so that they can live and work in Australia.


15. The Number of Nurses is Increasing

According to the 2019 Nursing and Midwifery Factsheet, the number of nursing graduates is increasing at five times the rate of the population. The midwifery workforce is increasing at almost two times the rate of the population. If these newly qualified nurses and midwives can be retained in the profession, it should ensure a good standard of care for Australians everywhere.


16. Abuse in Aged Care is Still Common

The majority of nurses working with the elderly provide an excellent standard of care. However, nursing home abuse stats show that abuse in aged care is still common with four in 10 aged care residents reporting that they’ve experienced some form of abuse or neglect.


17. Nurses Specialising in Aboriginal Health Work the Longest Hours

While the average nurse works 33.5 hours per week, those specialising in aboriginal health services worked considerably more, with most putting in 38 hours every week.


18. Small Rural Towns Need More Nurses

In most areas of Australia, there are around 1,300 nurses for every 100,000 residents. However, small rural towns have significantly fewer nurses with just 643.3 per 1000,000 people. This is in especially sharp contrast to large rural towns which, with 1,524.6 nurses per 100,000, have the highest ratio of any setting.


19. Nurses Were Almost 3 Times More Likely to get Covid-19

Nursing health stats reveal that nurses were around 3 times more likely to get Covid-19 than the average Australian. This put nurses at a higher risk of developing serious illness during the pandemic.


20. Less than 1% of Nurses Work in Very Remote Communities

Just 0.7% of nurses work in very remote communities, while 1.1% work in remote communities. Many of these are aboriginal settlements located well away from Australia’s cities and urban areas.


How Stats Help Nursing?

Nursing stats offer a fascinating snapshot of life in the nursing profession. This information can be used to help drive recruitment, improve patient care and make the job even more rewarding.

If you’re considering a career in nursing, we offer a fantastic range of products that are designed specifically for nurses. Explore our collection, or get in touch with a member of our team, to find out more.

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