• critical social theory;
  • nurse practitioner;
  • nursing legislation;
  • nursing policy

harvey c., driscoll a. & keyzer d. (2011) The discursive practices of nurse practitioner legislation in Australia. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(11), 2478–2487.


Aim.  The aim of this paper was to examine the nurse practitioner legislative framework in Australia from a critical social theory perspective.

Background.  National regulation for nurses and midwives has superseded all previous state legislation with effect from July 2010. The aim of this change was to streamline regulation processes across all health professionals requiring regulation, in order to eliminate diverse state-based regulatory policies that were identified as hindering transferability of the workforce across Australia. This paper explores the changes with reference to nurse practitioners. Since their introduction to Australia different legislative practices between states have presented difficult endorsement procedures which have affected employment.

Data sources.  Information for the paper is drawn from a doctoral study which examined the politics of advancing nursing in Australia, with particular reference to the discourses of nurse practitioners. This is augmented by more recent legislative documents and policies, as well as media reports, to examine the process of change in legislation and the unfolding discourses on employment and practice.

Implications to nursing.  Nurse practitioner endorsement may be more complicated, defeating the original premise of transferability of a skilled workforce across state jurisdictions.

Conclusion.  This paper exposes the influence that powerful discourses can have on a major change to professional practice.