Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia

Australian Nursing Federation, Australian College of Nursing, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia


This Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia has been developed for the nursing profession in Australia. It is relevant to all nurses at all levels and areas of practice including those encompassing clinical, management, education and research domains. This Code is framed by the principles and standards set forth in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the World Health Organization’s Constitution and publication series entitled Health and Human Rights; and the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Report 2004: Cultural liberty in today’s diverse world.

In considering this Code and its companion, the Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia, it should be borne in mind that they are designed for multiple audiences: nurses; nursing students; people requiring or receiving nursing care; the community generally; employers of nurses; nursing regulatory authorities; and consumer protection agencies. It is also noteworthy that the concepts of ‘ethics’ and ‘morality’ are substantially the same and have been used interchangeably throughout this Code.

This Code outlines the nursing profession’s commitment to respect, promote, protect and uphold the fundamental rights of people who are both the recipients and providers of nursing and health care.

It is supported by, and should be read in conjunction with, the Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses in Australia and the National Competency Standards for the Registered Nurse, National Competency Standards for the Enrolled Nurse and National Competency Standards for the Nurse Practitioner.

These three documents, together with other published practice standards (e.g. decision-making frameworks, guidelines and position statements), provide a framework for accountable and responsible nursing practice in all clinical, management, education and research areas. This Code is complementary to the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Code of Ethics for Nurses and is intended to be interpreted in conjunction with that code and related ICN position statements. It is further intended that the Code be read in conjunction with other ethical standards and guidelines developed by state and territory professional nursing organisations.

Code of Ethics for Nurses

  1. Nurses value quality nursing care for all people.
  2. Nurses value respect and kindness for self and others.
  3. Nurses value the diversity of people.
  4. Nurses value access to quality nursing and health care for all people.
  5. Nurses value informed decision-making.
  6. Nurses value a culture of safety in nursing and health care.
  7. Nurses value ethical management of information.
  8. Nurses value a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable environment promoting health and wellbeing.


The purpose of the Code of Ethics for Nurses in Australia is to:

  • identify the fundamental ethical standards and values to which the nursing profession is committed, and that are incorporated in other endorsed professional nursing guidelines and standards of conduct
  • provide nurses with a reference point from which to reflect on the conduct of themselves and others
  • guide ethical decision-making and practice, and
  • indicate to the community the human rights standards and ethical values it can expect nurses to uphold.

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