Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing (ND)

Schools and Centres

Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Dr Selma Alliex

Second Supervisor

Dr Caroline Bulsara


Nursing has a long history of providing services to families and children over the past century and more within Early Parenting Services (EPS) in Australia. Much has been written on issues regarding the general nursing workforce and requirements for the future, but little is known about the role of nursing within the EPS area around Australia in the context of an interdisciplinary team.

The aim of this study was to describe how nursing has responded to the changing needs of EPS in Australia and to investigate nurses’ and allied professionals’ perceptions of the nursing role within an interdisciplinary team. This enabled further reflection on, and consideration of, the future nursing workforce priorities required for EPS nationally.

A case study strategy using a mixed methods approach provided an in-depth analysis of the organisation Ngala (a not-for-profit EPS in Perth, Western Australia), as part of a broader network of EPS organisations around Australia. The study involved a three-phase approach, commencing with the focus on Ngala and then moving to the broader context of national services. The first and second phases used qualitative methods. The first phase employed several sources of data collection, such as archived documents, focus groups, interviews and nurses journals. Thematic analysis using the framework of Braun and Clarke (2006) informed the second phase—the national teleconferences. The data from phases one and two informed the third phase, which utilised the instrument design model of Creswell, Fetters and Ivankova (2004) to inform the development of the survey instrument. This approach ensured a strong link between the qualitative methods used and the move to the development of the quantitative phase. A commitment to a quality result in the measuring instrument meant that a reliability and validity criterion was applied. The survey had a 37 per cent response rate via online and postal responses. These data were analysed through survey monkey software. The findings were then compared with relevant literature and theories.

The three phases have informed a framework for future direction in the form of a workforce development strategy. Role theory and interprofessional practice theory have contributed to both an understanding of the findings and the recommendations for organisations, nursing practice, education and research. The study conclusions for nursing and early parenting work will assist in future workforce planning at Ngala and EPS around Australia.

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Nursing Commons