Regional health push

Support local, independent journalism

The SE Voice is the Limestone Coast’s only fully digital publication. Locally owned & operated, we deliver all the latest news & sport direct to your fingertips. We're run by a creative team of local journalists all based in the region. News as we know has changed - we're delivering it first and free. Thank you for your support in keeping local news alive.

Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Regional health push

The Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation SA Branch (ANMF SA) has launched a campaign with a public petition to call on Premier Peter Malinauskas, Minister for Health and Wellbeing Chris Picton and the Department for Health and Wellbeing to provide better incentives to attract and retain nurses and midwives in regional South Australia.

As of last week, there have been over 2700 signatures received from nurses, midwives and concerned citizens from the South Australia community signing the regional incentive petition, as well as strong interest from media across the state with various television, radio and newspaper engagement conducted.

ANMF SA is calling on the State Government to improve relocation allowances to attract nurses and midwives to regional areas, provide better assistance with logistical costs of relocation, such as removal charges and improve support with HECS-HELP repayment options.

ANMF SA chief executive officer/secretary Adjunct Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars AM said while they have been expressing their concern directly to the Minister throughout the campaign, they are calling for urgent action over the matter as the state desperately need to attract nurses and midwives to the country areas and keep them there.

“We have been in dialogue with the department and the government about these issues, there is furious agreement that something should be done,” she said.

“We are very pleased they sat around the table but enough is enough, we have had enough talking, we need to see what’s on the table and what they are proposing to offer so that we can retract and retain nurses and midwives to these country communities.

“The reality is that those discussions have been so protracted and so challenging that we are now calling on that community support.”

Professor Dabars said it has recently been reported to ANMF SA the Mount Gambier Hospital has a vacancy rate of 36 full time equivalent positions, with 7.7 full time equivalent roles relating to the Emergency Department alone.

“To think that Mount Gambier is running at such an extraordinary shortfall is nothing short of astonishing and disturbing,” she said.

“The South East region is integral to the South Australian economy via the fundamental produce and tourism industries the region is famously known for.

“Yet, the reality is the community is facing a crisis where if they need to go to hospital there are just simply not enough nurses and midwives to staff those hospitals.

“This is already having devastating consequences – not only for the community in the South East being able receive immediate care locally, but state-wide, where we are already seeing the flow on effect of hospitals struggling to cope under the pressure from regional overflow, and the matter is only getting worse.”

Minister Picton said an extra 35 full-time equivalent nursing and midwifery positions for the Limestone Coast have been recruited above attrition since the State Government came to office in March 2022.

“While we are continuing to recruit to fill long-standing vacancies in the Limestone Coast, we are using highly-trained agency staff in the interim to ensure the community continues to receive quality healthcare,” he said.

“The State Government is in discussions with staff and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation to make sure we are rewarding our hard-working nurses and midwives who are based in regional South Australia.”

Professor Dabars said shortages have become so dire that it indicates a worrying trend too unimaginable to become a reality.

“This puts extreme pressure not only on the community, but on nurses and midwives,” she said.

“This impacts on the remaining staff, who face no choice but to work additional and double shifts, as well as shifts with limited breaks in between.

“Unfortunately, this results in nurses and midwives suffering from fatigue, burnout and experiencing mental decline.

“Looking at workforce morale for those new to health professions in hospitals, it is also becoming a common aspect for post graduate nurses and midwives to report fatigue, burnout and even experience mental decline due to struggling to cope with the fraught conditions – and as a result they are simply not staying within the workforce on a long-term basis.

“Sadly, this is not a recent development and is a symptom of a problem we are seeing state-wide. It is due to a failure by State and Federal governments to appropriately plan for workforce shortages, which have been predicted since the early 2000s.”

The Regional Incentive Campaign is targeting public-based health care settings in the South East, based on distance zoning from metropolitan locations as per Appendix 11 of the Nursing and Midwifery South Australian Public Sector Enterprise Agreement (NMEA) 2022.

For the past two years, the ANMF SA has also been advocating for the full employment of all graduating nurses and midwives into a graduate program by the State Government, as well as the continuing employment of those who are completing that program this year to help relieve the crisis, we are seeing statewide.

You can find the petition urging the State Government to take drastic action in attracting and keeping nurses and midwives in regional South Australia by visiting

Why wait? Get more stories like this delivered straight to your inbox
Join our digital edition mailing list and stay up to date on the latest news, events and special announcements from across the Limestone Coast.

Your local real estate guide - every Thursday


You might also like