Nurse Practitioners to help tackle Intervention health issues

3 February 2009

As the NT Intervention transits its second year, the health of Indigenous Territorians in remote communities remains at crisis point.

In response to the chronic disease and mental health issues that continue to plague remote communities, Charles Darwin University in partnership with the NT Government has developed a new Master of Health Practice (Nurse Practitioner) degree specifically to assist practising nurses to work in the challenging NT environment.

The two-year, part-time Masters program recruits only practising nursing and midwifery health professionals with at least three years' clinical experience and a Graduate Diploma level qualification in their speciality area. It will enable NT registered nurses to upgrade their skills to the nurse practitioner (NP) level.

The program is the first of its kind in the NT and course co-ordinator, CDU Professor of Nursing, Clinical Practice, Sandra Dunn said the qualification had been created in response to a direct request from the NT Government.

Nurse practitioners are equipped to make advanced diagnosis, prescribe medication, order, interpret and manage patient pathology results and, in general, operate within a broader and more complex scope of nursing. Employing nurse practitioners to help address some of the NT’s health care challenges has been supported by high-level governmental and non-governmental agencies, Professor Dunn said.

“The Government has now moved into phase three of the Intervention where they are actually trying to address the gaps that have been identified,” she said.

“The Government has recognised that there is not only a lack of health professionals in the NT, but there is also a lack of health professionals experienced in working in remote communities.

“The idea of the new course is to ‘grow our own’ by taking Territory-registered nurses already experienced at working with Indigenous people, and therefore skilled in the cultural sensitivity and appropriate practice that goes alongside that, and advancing their skills to nurse practitioner level.

“That way, on completing the course they can hit the ground running and get straight out into the more remote areas and help those in need,” she said.

While not every nurse on the course would choose to work within the NT’s remote communities, Professor Dunn said it was hoped the course would go some way toward solving the current health crisis.

The first students will begin the course in Semester 1 this year, starting on March 2.

A limited number of places are still available. For information, contact Professor Sandra Dunn at or see the CDU website




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The Partnership Agreement provides for the economic and social development of the Northern Territory to be supported by a robust and resilient University working in partnership with government agencies and the wider community to contribute to education, research, policy development and program delivery.