Research Article| Volume 25, ISSUE 1, P65-71, February 2018

Employment conditions of Australian primary health care nurses



      The primary health care (PHC) nursing workforce is growing to meet the demand for community based health services. To facilitate the recruitment and retention of nurses in PHC settings it is important that positive employment conditions exist.


      To explore the employment characteristics of Australian PHC nurses, including employment patterns and remuneration considerations.


      A descriptive survey of Australian PHC nurses was conducted during 2015 as part of a larger mixed methods study. This paper reports the survey findings relating to employment patterns, conditions and remuneration.


      One thousand one hundred sixty six nurses responded to the survey, most respondents were employed in general practice and many were employed part-time. Rates of pay were significantly lower for those employed general practice compared to other PHC settings. Most respondents hadn’t received a pay increase in the last 5 years. There were considerable differences in the allowances received between nurses employed in general practice and other PHC settings.


      Whilst more nurses are moving into PHC, the remuneration and allowances differ between PHC settings and continue to lag behind the acute sector. To attract skilled younger nurses to meet future workforce requirements, there is an urgent need to review pay and conditions in PHC nursing. Equally, PHC nurses must develop skills to better negotiate their employment conditions and remuneration and industrial organisation must continue to support industrial advances in this area.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Collegian
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • ANMF
        EBA 2016 private sector.
        2016 (from)
      1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016). Wage Price Indexes FAQs. Retrieved April 9th, 2017, from

        • Australian Divisions of General Practice Ltd
        National practice nurse workforce survey 2003.
        2003 (Accessed 30 May 2010). Retrieved from
        • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
        Rural, remote and metropolitan areas (RRMA) classification.
        1994 (Accessed 14 November 2016). Retrievedfrom
        • Australian Institute of Health
        • Welfare
        Australian nursing and midwifery workforce data and additional information.
        2014 (Canberra, Australia: Retrieved from
        • Australian Medicare Local Alliance
        General practice nurse national survey report. Manuka.
        ACT: Australian Medicare Local Alliance, 2012
        • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
        2013 (from)
        • Australian Practice Nurses Association
        APNA salary and conditions survey.
        2010 (Accessed 5 September 2016), Retrieved from
        • Australian Practice Nurses Association
        APNA salary and conditions survey.
        2014 (Accessed 13 November 2014), Retrieved from
        • Australian Primary Health Care Nurse Association
        APNA salary and conditions survey.
        2016 (Retrieved from)
        • Betkus M.H.
        • MacLeod M.L.P.
        Retaining public health nurses in rural British Columbia: The influence of job and community satisfaction.
        Canadian Journal of Public Health. 2004; 95: 54-58
        • Cameron S.
        • Armstrong-Stassen M.
        • Bergeron S.
        • Out J.
        Recruitment and retention of nurses: Challenges facing hospital and community employers.
        Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership. 2004; 17: 79-92
        • Campbell S.L.
        • Fowles E.R.
        • Weber B.J.
        Organizational structure and job satisfaction in public health nursing.
        Public Health Nursing. 2004; 21: 564-571
        • Chenoweth L.
        • Jeon Y.H.
        • Merlyn T.
        • Brodaty H.
        A systematic review of what factors attract and retain nurses in aged and dementia care.
        Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2010; 19: 156-167
        • Delobelle P.
        • Rawlinson J.L.
        • Ntuli S.
        • Malatsi I.
        • Decock R.
        • Depoorter A.M.
        Job satisfaction and turnover intent of primary healthcare nurses in rural South Africa: A questionnaire survey.
        Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2011; 67: 371-383
        • Department of Human Services
        Practice nurse incentive program.
      2. Fair Work Commission. (2010). Nurses Award 2010. Retrieved April 9th, 2017, from

        • Halcomb E.J.
        • Ashley C.
        Australian primary health care nurses most and least satisfying aspects of work.
        Journal of Clinical Nursing. 2017; 36: 535-545
        • Halcomb E.
        • Salamonson Y.
        • Davidson P.M.
        • Kaur R.
        • Young S.A.
        The evolution of nursing in Australian general practice: A comparative analysis of workforce surveys ten years on.
        BMC Family Practice. 2014; 15: 52
        • Junious D.L.
        • Johnson R.J.
        • Peters Jr., R.J.
        • Markham C.M.
        • Kelder S.H.
        • Yacoubian Jr., G.S.
        A study of school nurse job satisfaction?.
        Journal of School Nursing. 2004; 20: 88-93
        • McInnes S.
        • Peters K.
        • Bonney A.
        • Halcomb E.
        The influence of funding models on collaboration in Australian general practice.
        Australian Journal of Primary Health. 2017; 23: 31-36
        • NMBA
        Nursing and Midwifery Board stat.
        2015 ([from])
        • Storey C.
        • Cheater F.
        • Ford J.
        • Leese B.
        Retaining older nurses in primary care and the community.
        Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2009; 65: 1400-1411