The incoming NSW Labor Government has announced a $76 million investment in the NSW public health system, aimed at attracting staff and retaining talent. One of the major components of this investment is the introduction of 2,000 new scholarships for healthcare students from 2024.
The scholarships, which will be spread amongst students studying healthcare disciplines including nursing, midwifery, paramedicine, allied health and medicine, will provide eligible students with a study subsidy of $12,000 to help pay for their degree. The subsidy will be paid at $4,000 a year for three years, however, students must commit to working a minimum of five years in the NSW public health system.
NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns said the cost of the study was a financial burden for prospective healthcare workers and the scholarships will help boost recruitment of the next generation of paramedics, nurses and doctors for the public health system. Applications for healthcare student subsidies will be prioritised based on geographic areas and vocations of need.
The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has welcomed the scholarship announcement but has called for a commitment from NSW Labor to mandated nurse-to-patient ratios.
NSWNMA General Secretary Shaye Candish said the union welcomed the Labor government’s investment to help attract and retain nurses and midwives in NSW. However, she added that the subsidy commitment on its own isn’t the solution and minimum and enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios are needed on every shift in NSW.
The Minns Labor Government also announced its commitment to implement safe staffing levels in NSW hospitals and to remove the wages cap, which unfairly keeps wages low for key frontline workers such as nurses and hospital staff.
The announcement follows the federal government’s initiative to remove HELP debts for doctors and nurse practitioners who relocate to regional Australia and the Victorian Government’s announcement of 10,000 scholarships for nursing and midwifery undergraduates in August 2022.