Strengthening the Remote Workforce in the NT

Mr Paul Connolly1, Mrs Heather Keighley1

1Northern Territory PHN, Winnellie, Australia


Strengthening the Remote Nursing Workforce in the NT

The purpose of this presentation is to provide an overview of the initiatives being implemented by Rural Workforce Agency NT (RWANT) to develop the rural and remote workforce in the Northern Territory. There are significant challenges in establishing and maintaining a quality health workforce in remote Northern Australia. These challenges span from fragmented career pathways, to recruitment, retention and skills gaps. RWANT has adopted an integrated needs assessment approach to identify and address specific requirements to provide a sustainable and quality primary health workforce. Solutions are documented and addressed through the development and execution of an activity work plan which outlines priority needs and the activities that will be delivered to address those needs. This presentation will outline the needs assessment process and showcase some of the key results and strategies that have been achieved in the NT thus far. Some of the key activities that will be showcased include:

  • A Nursing and Midwifery Career Pathways Mapping Project which comprises a detailed research paper identifying current pathways and a strategic workshop involving industry leaders and peak bodies such as state government and local universities, to develop agreed strategies to strengthen and expand the career pathways into nursing and midwifery and subsequently into remote practice
  • A new integrated approach to career development and education support for health professionals designed to facilitate further education/upskilling and subsequently retention
  • A number of activities designed to map and strengthen career pathways into primary health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

The intended outcome of the proposed presentation is to highlight the innovative work being done in the NT to optimise the primary health workforce and provide delegates the opportunity to engage and consider whether similar strategies may be relevant to them.


Ms Heather Keighley BN, MIHM, AFACHSM, MACN

Heather Keighley is a Registered Nurse and Midwife who leads the Rural Workforce Agency NT and Primary Health Care Outreach Services, providing strategic guidance for teams that implement PHC Workforce Strategies and services throughout the NT.

Heather appreciates the importance of strong professional and organisational partnerships across the PHC and Education sectors both nationally and within the NT, in achieving workforce reform to meet health and community needs into the future.