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Nursing in Australia

embraceaustraliaadmin | Saturday, July 31st, 2010 at 9:12 am


Working as a nurse in Australia

If you are a qualified nurse then you have, quite literally, the world at your feet. No matter what happens to the world’s economy, nurses will always be needed. So why move to Australia? Australia is a glorious country with one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. It’s also a young country, so it’s full of vibrancy and life – and opportunities. No matter where you live in Australia, you are never very far from the coast and in Australia, an outdoors life is norm. The people are laid back and friendly and love nothing more than heading to the coast for a spot of surfing or to have a family barbecue on the beach. Its relaxed attitude and easy way of life has made it the most popular destination for people emigrating from the UK for years now.

No matter what your background, you will be assured of a welcome in Australia where more than 20% of inhabitants were born overseas and a further 40% are of mixed origin. In fact immigration has made Australia the success story it is today and its population is still growing. All of those people need a good healthcare system and Australia has one of the best, but it is always on the lookout for new healthcare professionals.

Nursing specialists are on the new Skilled Occupation List, which proves that Australia is currently experiencing a healthcare shortage. These are the occupations on the new SOL:

  • Medical practitioners
  •  Midwife
  •  Nurse Practitioner
  •  Registered nurse (aged care)
  •  Registered nurse (Child and Family Health)
  •  Registered nurse (community health)
  •  Registered nurse (critical care and emergency)
  •  Registered nurse (development disability)
  •  Registered nurse (disability and rehabilitation)
  •  Registered nurse (medical)
  •  Registered nurse (medical practice)
  •  Registered nurse (mental health)
  •  Registered nurse (perioperative)
  •  Registered nurse (surgical)
  •  Registered nurse 

If you apply for a visa under one of these occupations you will most likely receive priority processing which will fast-track your visa application.

Australia Visas

There are a number of visa options you can choose from if you want to practise nursing in Australia:

  1. General Skilled Migration – with this visa you can apply for permanent residency in Australia to live and work there. You either apply independently or you can be sponsored by an employer in Australia. Go to our Australian visa guide for more information. How to go about finding an employer will be discussed at more length below.
  2. Working Holiday – if you are unsure about living permanently in Australia then you can apply to live and work there temporarily. A working holiday visa gives you the change to work and live in Australia for up to two years. You must be aged between 18-30. Find out more about working holiday visas in Australia.
  3. Occupational Trainee Visa – for nurses who are not yet fully qualified, they can undertake a training program in Australia for 3 months or more.
  4. Temporary Business Visa – if you have an approved business sponsor you can live and work in Australia for up to four years.

The Australian visa system is based on a point scoring method. You will be given points according to your age, health, clean record, occupation, financial status and so on. Having an occupation on the SOL is certainly a plus, but you also need to ensure that you gain maximum points in other areas too. Take a look at our guide to the Australian Points System.

If you are applying under the Employer Nomination Scheme then you must be nominated by an Australian employer to fill an occupation on the ENSOL list.


Your skills and qualifications will be assessed to ensure they meet Australian standards. This will be done by the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme. It assess all nursing skills for the Australian Immigration Department (DIAC).

The registration process for nurses is relatively easy.

The registration process for nurses is relatively easy.

You must also register with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency before you can apply for work. Once registered, you will be eligible to work in any state in Australia. In order to register visit AHPRA.

Once you have obtained your registration this does not mean you can start practising as a healthcare worker in Australia, you must still pass immigration requirements.



If English is not your first language then you will be required to demonstrate your proficiency to speak, write and read English. To do this you will have to pass through the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).  The lowest score you can obtain for consideration is 5. To gain full marks you would need to score 7 in all three tests.

Nursing Jobs

If you are confident that you want to work as a nurse in Australia, then you can apply to hospitals and healthcare agencies direct, with your CV, asking them to sponsor your visa application. The benefit of doing this is that you are not restricted by agency rules and fees, you know exactly what hours you will be working and on what salary and you can communicate direct to your employer.

There are various organisations that will willingly have you on their books with the promise of full or part time work in Australia. This could be the easiest way of getting work, but you never know exactly what you are going to get or how regular the work will be. It’s fine for work on a temporary visa but those wishing to emigrate to Australia permanently may wish to consider all their options first. A few nursing employment agencies are listed below:

If you want to find out more about nursing in Australia there are many Australian expos up and down the country who can give you advice on different visa types, obtaining a job, advice on setting up a bank account and so on. These are useful places to go to meet other migrant hopefuls and to talk to people face-to-face about your aspirations and hopes. See our full guide to Australian expos.

If you want to discuss your visa options with other migrants waiting to emigrate to Australia then join our community – it’s free and you’ll be sure of a friendly welcome as well as advice and support on everything from where best to live to getting work in Australia.

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4 Responses to “Nursing in Australia”

Comment by Sheena Mae Alido — August 2, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

Hi! Would you happen to know of any scholarship grants for overseas nurses who will undergo a bridging program as part of registrarion? thank you

Comment by Susan Wareham McGrath — August 8, 2010 @ 3:02 am

Hi Lisa

Just a point of clarification – only nurses and midwives applying for permanent migration need to have their skills assessed.

Nurses and midwives applying for Working Holiday and temporary visas should apply directly to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) for registration requirements and application forms via


Comment by Lisa Valentine — August 9, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

Thanks Susan! :)

Comment by EZEASOIBE UKACHI MONICA — November 17, 2010 @ 8:44 am


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