The speciality of rehabilitation nursing and the Australasian Rehabilitation Nurses’ Association: 30 years of practical partnership

Brendan Bakes1

1Royal Hobart Hospital, Hospitals-South, Hobart, Tasmania


The World Health Organization defines rehabilitation as ‘a set of interventions designed to optimize functioning and reduce disability in individuals with health conditions in interaction with their environment’. Rehabilitation is a distinct specialty and the rehabilitation nurse assists individuals with a disability to attain and maintain maximum function. The nurse assists clients in adapting to an altered lifestyle, while providing a therapeutic environment for them and their families.

Whilst many Australian rehabilitation units have been impacted by pandemic related bed demand, we are fortunate that Tasmanian units have remained largely unaffected. In Tasmania approximately 2.2 percent of nurses identify as working in the area of rehabilitation and disability. Nurses in rehabilitation units across Tasmania provide holistic care as part of a multidisciplinary team. They do so competently and resiliently in an ever-changing environment and increasingly more complex patients.

The Australasian Rehabilitation Nurses’ Association (ARNA) is the peak body representing rehabilitation nurses in Australia. For over thirty years ARNA has sought to advance the practice of rehabilitation in nursing to promote the wellbeing of individuals and communities. This occurs through activities such as regular study days, annual conferences, production of a journal and strategic leadership.

This presentation will highlight the relationship between the professional association and members, and reflect on the positive work that Tasmanian rehabilitation nurses do.


Brendan is Nurse Unit Manager for the Acute Rehabilitation Unit at Royal Hobart Hospital. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Orthopaedics and Master of Nursing by Research. He has professional and research experience in the areas of orthopaedics and the acute management and rehabilitation of spinal cord injuries. Brendan is an ARNA member and past president of the Victoria / Tasmania Chapter.