Department of Health

Refresher pathway for nurses and midwives

Find out who is eligible for this refresher pathway and how to apply.

The Department of Health is offering scholarships and support for nurses and midwives to return to practice in public health services through a refresher pathway.

This program is offered to nurses and midwives who are registered but have had a break from work in a hospital setting and want to refresh their skills or upskill.

Refresher programs provide education, clinical teaching and ward-based learning. This includes up to 8-10 weeks of clinical placement time at a public health service.

The funding support provided will enable you to cover the costs of program participation, such as living expenses while completing clinical placements.


Funding is available for Victorian public health services to offer refresher programs to eligible nurses and midwives. For each place in a refresher program, health services will receive a total of $15,000, including:

  • $5,000 to cover the costs incurred by health service in running the program (for example, clinical supervision and training, administration)
  • $10,000 scholarships for each candidate accepted into the refresher program to offset any loss of income incurred in the 8-10 week training period and cover any out-of-pocket expenses (for example, travel, course costs).

Funding for approximately 200 positions is available in 2023-24.

The Victorian Government has previously funded health services to deliver refresher programs for nurses and midwives, as part of the $50 million Nursing and Midwifery Workforce Development Fund.

This component of the ‘Making it free to study nursing and midwifery’ package builds on the previous work. It provides funding for both metropolitan and regional health services to deliver more refresher program places over the next 4 years (from 2022-23 to 2025-26).

Eligibility criteria

Health service

To be eligible for funding, health services must:

  • be a Victorian public health service
  • complete the expression of interest process for refresher programs by the due date
  • nominate a lead agency that will receive and manage funding where health services choose to enter partnerships to implement refresher programs (noting that all parties must be signatories to the application or an appropriate attachment)
  • commence the refresher program/s within the financial year they receive funding.

It is expected that eligible public health services will provide a refresher program that is a formal, structured program that enables registered nurses or midwives to re-enter the workforce or to move to a different area of clinical practice.

A refresher program is different to an upskilling program as it is structured and includes up to 8-10 weeks of clinical placements.

Health services have flexibility to determine how they engage nurses and midwives doing refresher programs (for example, whether as employees, students or volunteers)

Health services are encouraged to pay the $10,000 scholarship payment in milestone instalments. This is to avoid having to recall funding if a candidate doesn't complete or withdraws from their course.

Note: A candidate who is undertaking the refresher program and has received a scholarship should not be also paid a salary as the scholarship is intended to offset any loss of income. However, candidates may receive an income from an employer other than the health service where they are completing the refresher program.


To be eligible for this scholarship you must:

  • be a currently registered nurse or midwife with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia
  • have not previously received a department scholarship to complete a nursing and midwifery refresher program
  • agree to complete the course and, on completion, seek employment within Victorian public health sector in the targeted clinical area of practice for which your scholarship was awarded.

In addition, you must either:

  • not be currently employed or working in the health service while you are undertaking the refresher training. For example, you are not earning a salary whilst you are in training, or
  • you're moving into a different area of clinical practice within the health service where you are employed. In this situation, it is expected that you are undertaking this training and clinical placement time as unpaid leave.

Note: Individuals applying for refresher program scholarships are not required to be Australian or New Zealand citizens, Australian permanent residents or Australian permanent humanitarian visa holders. However, they but must ensure the conditions of their visa do not impede them from undertaking the refresher program.

Funding allocations for 2023-24

The following health services received funding for refresher programs and scholarships in 2023-24:

  • Bairnsdale Regional Health Service
  • Grampians Health
  • Barwon Health
  • Bass Coast Health
  • Central Gippsland Health Service
  • Cohuna District Hospital
  • Eastern Health
  • Goulburn Valley Health
  • Kerang District Health
  • Latrobe Regional Hospital
  • Mercy Health
  • Mildura Base Public Health
  • NCN Health
  • Northeast Health Wangaratta
  • Northern Health
  • Omeo District Health
  • South Gippsland Hospital
  • South West Healthcare
  • St Vincent’s Health
  • The Royal Women’s Hospital
  • Western Health

More information for applicants

If you are successful in gaining a scholarship, you are responsible for enrolling and completing the qualification by the due date. Also, for any study costs beyond the value of the scholarship.

If you take leave while undertaking the refresher program and your health service considers the amount of leave longer than reasonable, in light of the duration of the refresher program, they may ask you to make up the time missed or recall the funding.

If you need to defer or withdraw from studies, you must notify your employer within 1 week of the change in study arrangements.

If you plan to recommence study in the same year, and the health service provider can accommodate the change in study arrangements by offering you a place on an equivalent refresher program, you do not need to return the funds.

If you do not return to study in the same year, or the health service cannot provide an equivalent refresher program, the funds will be recalled and returned to the health service.

The department is not required to withhold tax (PAYG) from scholarships paid. You should be aware:

The department strongly recommends that recipients seek independent tax advice for their scholarship payment.

Reviewed 23 April 2024


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