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  • Thousands of Kiwi nurses plan Australia move

    Author: AAP

Australia is poised to steal thousands of nurses from New Zealand, with new data showing almost a tenth of the workforce has registered to move across the Tasman.

Radio NZ reports 4951 Kiwi nurses have registered with Australian health regulator AHPRA since August, a necessary step before working in Australia.

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Nurses are a precious commodity in any health system, and are in demand globally.

The International Council of Nurses says the shortage of nurses worldwide amounts to a "global health emergency", a shortfall that affects Australia and New Zealand.

Australian workforces - which already offer higher pay than New Zealand - are attempting to lure Kiwi nurses with additional benefits, including sign-on bonuses, relocation assistance and salary packaging.

Nurses can also work lucrative short-term locum contracts in regional areas, effectively becoming FIFO workers.

Recruiting nurses is a major political issue in New Zealand, where the opposition accuse the government of not moving fast enough to open migration pathways.

The nurses union (NZNO) believe the workforce, which is around 55,000-strong, is short by a few thousand.

Around a quarter of New Zealand's nurses are migrants.

After months of pressure, in December last year, nurses, midwives and specialist doctors were added to the "green list" of professions with easier immigration to New Zealand, giving them quicker access to residency.

At the same time, the Labour government agreed to lift wages for nurses - by around 14 per cent for many - which it says make pay deals comparable with Australia.

New Zealand's predicament is exacerbated by higher cost of living pressures, with the official cash rate at 4.75 per cent and climbing, compared to Australia's 3.6 per cent.

Many nurses also cite burnout from increased work pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NZNO has led protests and strikes in recent years calling for improved staffing and pay, and has issued a national day of action for April 15 for another round of nationwide rallies.


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