Candlelight protest greets Nationals

HE020_Lamp_250613When more than 400 NSW National Party delegates arrived at the National Racing Museum, Mount Panorama, to register for their annual conference last month, they made their entrance along a pathway lined by nurses holding candles.

The nurses handed out welcome cards reminding conference delegates of the need to extend to country health facilities the minimum nurse-to-patient ratios recently won for city nurses.

NSWNMA members from rural districts across New South Wales travelled to Bathurst to put their case. They included Tyrone Dungey, NSWNMA branch secretary at Grafton Base Hospital, who said the candlelight vigil got a mixed reaction from delegates. “A lot of them are surprised we are here. There is quite a lot of interest, a few rebuffs but mostly positive.”

Nurses, who walked the streets of Bathurst talking to the public and gathering signatures on a petition, reported a high level of awareness about the campaign. Some National Party delegates told nurses our campaign was the talk of the conference. The Nationals’ member for Bathurst, Paul Toole told the Western Advocate the nurses and midwives’ presence during the conference couldn’t be missed. “They had a mobile billboard which stalked us everywhere we went,” he said.