Department of Health

Nursing and midwifery - legislation and regulation

Learn about legislation and regulation requirements for nurses and midwives working in the Victorian health sector.

Safe Patient Care Act 2015

The Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Act 2015 (the Act) sets minimum nursing and midwifery staffing requirements for certain publicly funded health services. The Act recognises that nursing and midwifery workloads impact on the quality of patient care.

Minimum staffing ratios assist in maintaining patient safety, contribute to better patient outcomes and create safer workplaces for nurses and midwives.

Nurse and midwife to patient ratios were first introduced in Victoria in 2000 through the Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement.

The Act was established in 2015 following a government commitment to protect in law the minimum numbers of nurses and midwives to care for patients.

Since establishment of the Act, the government has delivered a number of ratio improvements. These reflect increasing patient complexity, changing models of care and the growing demand for health services. The government has also committed to deliver further improvements to the Act.

The Act can be accessed at Victorian LegislationExternal Link .

Further information about the ratio improvements delivered to date is available in these resources:


All nurses and midwives must be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) to work legally in the Australian health sector.

The National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS)External Link was established in 2010. It is underpinned by the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law which is in force in each state and territory. The NRAS includes 16 health professions, including nursing and midwifery.

From 1 July 2010, all nurses and midwives have national registration. This means they can work in all Australian states and territories.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra)External Link administers NRAS and works with the national board of each profession. Ahpra works to ensure health practitioners are suitably trained, qualified and safe to practise.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)External Link is responsible for the regulation of nurses and midwives. A nurse or midwife must be registered with the NMBA to practise in Australia. If you're unsure if your course is recognised under the national registration scheme, see a list of approve programsExternal Link on the NMBA website.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC)External Link is responsible for accrediting education providers and programs of study for the nursing and midwifery professions.

Enterprise agreements

The terms and conditions of employment of nurses and midwives in Victorian public health services are typically specified in enterprise agreements.

The Nurses and Midwives (Victorian Public Sector) (Single Interest Employers) Enterprise Agreement contains the relevant information on wage rates and allowances in public sector nursing and midwifery.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) holds enterprise agreements, see Find an enterprise agreementExternal Link on their website.

Reporting suspected child abuse

In Victoria (as in all Australian states and territories) nurses, midwives, medical practitioners, teachers and police have mandatory reporting obligations under the Child, Youth and Families Act 2005 to report suspected cases of child abuse and neglect.

For more information, see Child protectionExternal Link on the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing website


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More information

Reviewed 22 November 2023


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Nursing and Midwifery Workforce

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