Aus, NZ labour schemes 'killing nursing'

PACIFIC labour mobility schemes are being blamed for making it easier for nurses to leave their countries and take up employment opportunities as aged care workers in New Zealand and Australia.
Aus, NZ labour schemes 'killing nursing' Aus, NZ labour schemes 'killing nursing' Aus, NZ labour schemes 'killing nursing' Aus, NZ labour schemes 'killing nursing' Aus, NZ labour schemes 'killing nursing'

Dr Paula Vivili

Staff Reporter, RNZ Pacific

Kiribati's health boss Benny Teuea said there is "a lost generation of doctors and nurses" being swept up by Australia's Labour Mobility scheme, Radio New Zealand Pacific reports.
Nurses trained in the Pacific Islands cannot automatically work as fully trained nurses in Australia and New Zealand, so many of them choose work in the aged care sector instead.
Teuea said nurses' skills were being wasted.
"We are grateful for the opportunities that are given to our nurses under the Pacific Labour scheme, but this has also been a struggle," Teuea told a crowd of about 600 healthcare workers at the Pasifika Medical Association conference in Rarotonga last week, RNZ Pacific reported.
"For this year we have seen 50 of our nurses leave the country for greener pastures for opportunities in Australia.
"Most of them end up in aged care; their skills become useless; the training that they obtained becomes lost."
A depleting healthcare workforce is becoming a major problem for Pacific nations.
Cook Islands secretary of health Bob Williams said his country lost about 40 staff over the last year and "borrowed" nurses from Fiji to help fill vacant positions.
Williams said the Cook Islands was struggling with the lack of healthcare workers, along with other countries in the region.
"That's the struggle and challenge that all of us go through, especially post-Covid," he said.
Fiji lost around 800 nurses last year and Tonga lost about 80.
University of Auckland's associate professor of public health Dr Collin Tukuitonga said nurses' training and skills should be recognised, and developed countries had an obligation to not devalue workers.
"It's really a form of exploitation," Tukuitonga said.
"If you take a fully qualified nurse from Kiribati to work in an Australian aged care facility, that's exploitation and it's clearly a problem around the region and a lot of island nations are suffering."
He said labour mobility schemes were a "double-edged sword" because there were still "clear benefits".


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