Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC)

Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration

The Melbourne Ageing Research Collaboration (MARC) is a unique collaboration of health, research, aged care and advocacy organisations working together to improve the lives of older people.

Our vision is that older people received the best possible care and support through services, programs and policies which support health and optimal quality of life.

Logos of MARC partner organisations


Focusing on nurses, the largest and fastest ageing cohort in the health workforce, the aim of this project was to investigate the benefits and challenges nurses (aged 45+ years) face when working in the public health system. The objectives of the study were to develop recommendations for individual nurses and organisations on how older nurses should be recognised for their experience and skills, and how age discrimination for nurses working in the public health system can address. These recommendations could be adopted by Human Resources divisions at each partner organisation and used for staff strengthening initiatives.


This study involved a comprehensive scoping of nurses data in an existing dataset, The Victorian Public Sector Commission’s People Matters Survey, to identify barriers and enablers associated with workforce retention of nurses working in the public health workforce. The focus was on opportunities for further learning and development, experiences of ageism and other discriminations and change management processes.


NARI, VPSC, Victorian Department of Health (DH), University of Melbourne, Melbourne Health, Northern Health, Austin Health, St. Vincent’s Health


  • Overall the percentage of people being (very) satisfied is quite high (74%) with nurses younger than 25 years of age being most satisfied and engaged and nurses between 35-55 years being least so.
  • Hidden discrimination and fear of discrimination seem to exist with substantial numbers of nurses preferring not to say what groups they belong to. For example, 17.4% of nurses preferred not to say what their sexual orientation was and 3% preferred not to say whether they were Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander while only 0.6% said they did have that status. 2.6% of the nurses preferred not to disclose their disability status while 1.8% said they did have a disability.
  • CALD nurses showed more satisfaction and engagement with their jobs than NON-CALD nurses. 76.9% of CALD nurses were (very) satisfied and 73.6% engaged as opposed to 73.7% and 70% for the NON-CALD nurses. This is counterintuitive as minority groups are in general less satisfied and engaged than majority groups.
  • In times of change, the well-being of staff is significantly compromised with staff experiencing higher stress levels, feeling less in control, feeling too high workloads and unfavourable work-life balances. Nurses between 25-35 years old experience the highest levels of stress then, closely followed by the nurses aged 35-55. The latter group feels the least in control of the situation that causes their stress.
  • Professional Development opportunities tend to drop off as nurses age.


  • Organisations need to do more to avoid or diminish discrimination. Create a culture of inclusiveness and openness and have a universally designed space and create work conditions where all nurses feel they are appreciated and are able to do their work to their fullest ability without being judged or disadvantaged for being part of a minority group or for simply getting older.
  • Staff needs more and better support in times of change: keep them informed about changes and give them support in various ways;
  • Better management of staff stress levels, especially in times of change is important. Not only beginning nurses need support, but all generations of nurses also need support;
  • There need to be more and better professional development opportunities for older nurses. They also need to keep up to date with the latest techniques and methodologies and generally stay in their jobs for longer so it’s worthwhile investing in them.

Completed February 2019

Project Summary Infographic