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TAFE NSW Ballina helping future proof Northern Rivers nursing workforce

TAFE NSW Ballina

TAFE NSW Ballina helping future proof Northern Rivers nursing workforce

The national peak body for nurses has highlighted the important role TAFE NSW Ballina is playing to address a skills shortage in the Northern Rivers region and helping future-proof the local nursing workforce.

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) said there was never a more important time to invest in the future of nursing, saying training providers like TAFE NSW were critical.

Research by Health Workforce Australia found that due to an ageing workforce and growing population, there could be a national shortfall of 100,000 nurses by 2025.

APNA CEO Ken Griffith described TAFE NSW Ballina’s role in training the next generation as a “positive sign for Australia’s health”.

“It’s essential that nurses entering the health system are trained well and can have the opportunity to develop their skills where we need them most, particularly in primary health care and in rural and remote settings,” Mr Griffin said. 

“The increased interest in studying nursing at TAFE NSW is a positive sign for Australia’s health. 

“We know that nursing is a fulfilling career. The role that Enrolled Nurses play in the health care system is vital and this will only grow over the coming years.”

The NSW Government is investing $3 million over the next three years to upgrade nurse training facilities at TAFE NSW campuses across the state.

Brett Swalling is one of many TAFE NSW Ballina graduates armed with the practical skills and work experience to make a running start into his nursing career. Brett graduated with a Diploma of Nursing in 2023 and now works as an enrolled nurse at Lismore Base Hospital, one of only 10% of Australian men in enrolled nursing. He is advocating for more young men to choose a career in health.

“Nursing is a great lifelong career that can take you anywhere and you meet so many new people. TAFE NSW offers practical, hands-on learning, and the teachers are so supportive. I want to help remove the stigma for men in nursing and I encourage more men to consider it as an incredibly rewarding career path.

“Through my placements during the course, I learned about the complex issues faced by our ageing population and the practical skills to help me hit the ground running. Since graduating, I’m continuing to learn so much now working in orthopedics, and acting as a leader and a mentor to other graduates coming through.

“There’s many opportunities for future leaders – like many industries, nursing is about knowing your personal strengths and finding a pathway that will fulfil your skills,” Brett said.  

Data from Economy ID reveals the Health Care and Social Assistance workforce is the largest industry by employment in the Ballina Shire, generating over 4,000 jobs in 2022/2023.

TAFE NSW Nursing Lead Dr Zach Byfield said TAFE NSW worked closely with health providers and organisations such as APRA to help ensure TAFE NSW was keeping pace with workforce needs.

“We meet regularly with all our industry partners to come up with new and innovative ways to keep learners in communities and create a constant pipeline of new nurses,” Dr Byfield said.

“Nurses are an indispensable part of the healthcare system, as was again highlighted during the pandemic and TAFE NSW is committed to continue training the nursing workforce of the future.”

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756