This code of conduct & ethics 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 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.

These codes of conduct 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.


The purpose of the Code of conduct and 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
  • Indicate to the community the human rights standards and ethical values it can expect nurses to uphold.

Code of conduct and ethics for Nurses

  • Nurses value quality nursing care for all people. Valuing quality nursing care involves nurses accepting accountability for the standard of nursing care they provide, helping to raise the standard of nursing care, and taking action when they consider, on reasonable grounds, the standard of nursing care to be unacceptable. This includes a responsibility to question and report what they consider, on reasonable grounds, to be unethical behaviour and treatment.
  • Nurses value respect and kindness for self and others. Valuing respect for self and others encompasses valuing the moral worth and dignity of oneself and others. It includes respecting the individual ethical values people might have in the context of health care. Kindness is the demonstration of simple acts of gentleness, consideration and care. The practise of kindness as a committed and everyday approach to care reduces the power imbalance between a person requiring or receiving care and a nurse, by placing the nurse at the person's service, which is the appropriate relationship.
  • Nurses value the diversity of people. Valuing the diversity of people requires nurses to appreciate how different cultural backgrounds and languages may influence both the provision and receipt of nursing and health care.
  • Nurses value access to quality nursing and health care for all people. Valuing nursing and health care for all people requires nurses to uphold the principles and standards of the right to nursing and health care as measured by the availability, accessibility, acceptability, quality and safety of nursing and health care services. Specifically, access refers to the extent to which a person or community can obtain health care services. This includes knowledge of when it is appropriate to seek health care, the ability to travel to and the means to pay for health care. Access does not mean the ability to provide all services imaginable for everyone, but rather the ability to reasonably and equitably provide services based on need, irrespective of geography, social standing, ethnicity, age, and race, level of income, gender or sexuality.
  • Nurses value informed decision making. Nurses value people's interests in making free and informed decisions. This includes people having the opportunity to verify the meaning and implication of information being given to them when making decisions about their nursing and health care. Nurses also recognise that making decisions is sometimes constrained by circumstances beyond individual control and that there may be circumstances where informed decision making cannot always be fully realised.
  • Nurses value a culture of safety in nursing and health care. Valuing a culture of safety involves nurses actively engaging in the development of shared knowledge and understanding of the crucial importance of safety in contemporary health care. Nurses who value a culture of safety appreciate that safety is everyone's responsibility. Nurses support the development of risk management processes and a practice environment designed to reduce the incidence and impact of preventable adverse events in health care. Nurses also support the open disclosure of any adverse events to any person affected during the course of their care.
  • Nurses value ethical management of information. The generation and management of information (including health care records and other documents) are performed with professionalism and integrity. This requires the information being recorded to be accurate, non-judgemental and relevant to the health, care and treatment of a person. All health documentation is a record that cannot be changed or altered other than by the addition of further information. A notation in a record or a document used for health care communication can have a powerful positive or negative impact on the quality of care received by a person. These effects can be long-lasting, either through ensuring the provision of quality care, or through enshrining stigma, stereotyping and judgement in health care decision making and health care provision experienced by a person. The ethical management of information involves respecting people's privacy and confidentiality without compromising health or safety. This applies to all types of data, including clinical and research data, irrespective of the medium in which the information occurs or is stored.20 Personal information may only be shared with the consent of the individual or with lawful authorisation.
  • Nurses value a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable Environment promoting health and wellbeing. Nurse's value strategies aimed at preventing, minimising and overcoming the harmful effects of economic, social or ecological factors on the health of individuals and communities. Commitment to a healthy environment involves the conservation and efficient use of resources such as energy, water and fuel, as well as clinical and other materials.