Dan Andrews announces thousands of university students will study nursing and midwifery for FREE to ease pressure on the health system: ‘We will pay their entire HECS debt’
- Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the funding scheme on Sunday
- More than 10,000 students will get free nursing and midwifery degrees
- The $270 million package is aimed to ease pressure on the healthcare system
More than 10,000 budding nurses and midwives will have their university degrees paid off in full to ease workforce pressures on Victoria’s stretched health system.
The nurses and midwives will be recruited and trained for free from next year as part of a $270million initiative announced by the Victorian government on Sunday.
Under the five-year program, all new domestic students enrolling in a professional-entry nursing and midwifery course in 2023 and 2024 will receive a scholarship of up to $16,500 to cover course costs.
Students will receive $9,000 over their three years of study and the remaining $7,500 would be paid off if they work in Victorian public health services for two years.
Nurses and midwives will be offered their courses for free under a new scheme announced by Victorian Premier Dan Andrews (pictured)
‘We will pay their entire HECS debt,’ Premier Daniel Andrews said on Sunday to applause from dozens of workers gathered at Melbourne’s Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) office.
‘They’re clapping not for themselves; they’re clapping because they know the best thing is an extra pair of helping hands.’
Scholarships worth an average of $10,000 will also be handed to postgraduate nurses to complete studies in specialist areas, including intensive care, emergency, pediatrics and cancer care.
Mr Andrews said the Victorian government has been working on the package for months, as hospitals across the state were buckling under the weight of the latest COVID-19 wave.
‘Our hospital system is under very, very significant pressure,’ he said, adding up to 2000 health workers were off sick with the virus on any given day this winter.
‘If Covid is raging, well, nurses are not immune from that.’
Shadow health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said the opposition would match the commitment, flagging the coalition will release its full staffing policy closer to the November state election.
‘Daniel Andrews has had eight years to do this and has failed to do anything,’ she said.
‘This government is bereft of ideas and are coming at this late time to make an announcement.’
State Secretary of the ANMF, Lisa Fitzpatrick, said she was thrilled with the Victorian government’s announcement but concerned about the opposition’s pledge to match it.
‘It sort of seems like the Meg Ryan (quote) ‘I’ll just have what she’s having’,’ she said, referencing a well-known scene from the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally.
‘I’m concerned that they would just say that when they don’t know the detail of the commitment, so that’s troubling.’
The funding scheme will bring in more staff to hospitals to ease pressure on the healthcare system (pictured: Dan Andrews at Austin Hospital in Melbourne on Tuesday)
Ms Fitzpatrick believes the $270 million package will make it easier to fill rosters and allow more nurses to take up flexible work arrangements.
Health has been earmarked by both major parties as a key focus area for the upcoming state election after two-and-a-half pandemic-plagued years.
The opposition has promised to shelve the Andrews government’s multibillion dollar Suburban Rail Loop to redirect funding to build and upgrade hospitals in Melbourne and regional Victoria if it wins the November poll.