International Council of Nurses gets a taste of Australian health workforce reform

4 May 2011

(L-R) Professors Mary Chiarella and Jill White head to Malta this week for a leading international nursing conference.
(L-R) Professors Mary Chiarella and Jill White head to Malta this week for a leading international nursing conference.

Two University of Sydney nursing professors will host a forum on the topic Managing the Politics of Health Workforce Reform in a Professional Regulatory Environment at the 2011 International Council of Nurses (ICN) Conference to be held this week in Malta.

More than 8000 delegates from across the globe are expected to attend the meeting in Malta, including Professors Mary Chiarella and Jill White.

The aim of the ICN conference is to identify the nursing profession's priorities and future directions. Conference delegates will examine the latest issues and information on the nursing workforce and workplace, ethics and human rights, clinical care and patient safety.

Dean of Sydney Nursing School, Professor Jill White, said:

"The bi-annual International Council of Nurses conference represents some of the most forward-thinking and experienced minds in nursing and aims to bring real change to the international nursing workforce. It also aims to uphold quality nursing care for all, health policies, as well as the continual development of the nursing profession and respect for the profession."

The Australian team's presentation is particularly relevant at a time when workforce shortages bring pressure on health professions to increase their numbers, and which can result in pressure brought to bear on regulatory authorities to relax or lower their criteria to allow greater numbers into the professional group.

Professor Mary Chiarella, who will act as compere and moderator for the Australian-hosted forum, says health professional regulation has been her key research and practice interest for many years.

"This is about protecting the public first and foremost, but in so doing, we also protect nurses and midwives who are practising their professions by setting parameters, guidelines and standards and by addressing the management of those who have the potential to make the public unsafe," said Professor Chiarella.

Another issue raised by the team will be the dichotomy of protecting the public's interest whilst being cared for as well as protecting the nurses who care.

According to Professor Chiarella the exchange of ideas is the essence of the conference:

"With this meeting of the minds comes influence and change in delegates' home countries, with discussion from past conferences affecting change and bringing policy reform to fruition."

Australia's representatives also include Adjunct Associate Professor John Kelly and Amanda Adrian, Chief Executive Officer Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council.

Interview contact: Judith Kingston, Sydney Nursing School, 9351 0657

Media enquiries: Kath Kenny, 0478 303 173, 9351 1584,

Victoria Hollick, 0401 711 361, 9351 2579,