Celebrating the modern nurse

This year the NSWNA sent a clear message that nurses are highly educated professionals. The NSWNA produced a series of  TV ads starring NSWNA members that show the skills and roles of nurses, and the inaugural NSWNA short film festival also gave members a chance to tell their stories. 2009 saw the introduction of new work laws – a good win for the Rights at Work campaign – and some strong bargaining outcomes that secured good Enterprise Agreements for nurses working in aged care and private hospitals, as well as a pay rise for public-sector nurses. Our successes over the past 12 months provide a strong foundation for our public health pay campaign next year. There will be some challenges ahead, but the NSWNA is ready for them.

TV ads show nurses’ professionalism

The NSWNA broke new ground this year by launching a TV ad campaign that promotes the professionalism of nurses. The four-part series shows nurses as real people doing a vital job in a caring and professional way. The campaign raised public awareness of the roles of paediatric, community and aged care nurses, and midwives. Each ad follows a nurse – paediatric, community mental health, aged care and midwife – through their daily routine. In particular, the ads aimed to show the high level of education, skills and professionalism of nurses.

Inaugural NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival

T o celebrate International Nurses Day in May, the Union ran the inaugural NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival. This provided an opportunity for members to get creative and portray nurses in a realistic and positive light and to tell their stories. The diverse range of films included comedies, dramas, documentaries, and sci fi. Robo Nurse, a futuristic film by Frances Usherwood offering a scary solution to critical nursing shortages, was the winner.

Because we care about nurses in aged care

In March, the ANF and NSWNA launched the Because we care campaign to address issues facing nurses and residents in aged care. Research commissioned by the ANF and NSWNA showed strong support among the families of aged care residents for better pay and increased staffing in the sector. The NSWNA has led the charge in promoting this campaign, which included a Day of Action to collect signatures on postcards for nurses and the public to send to their MPs asking them to commit to delivering on aged care, and the handing over of just under 20,000 Charters for Quality Aged Care signed by aged care nurses and the public.

Bargaining wins 

This year, bargaining by the NSWNA and members achieved enterprise agreements that delivered better pay and conditions for many nurses working in private hospitals and aged care facilities. Negotiations for a new template agreement between Aged and Community Services (NSW) (ACS), the NSWNA and the Health Services Union (HSU) were finalised in late June and at time of printing around 60 aged care employers had signed up to it. The benefits include a 3% pay increase for the next two years, a clause for dealing with unreasonable workloads and paid maternity leave.

With the NSWNA’s help, the first ever union collective agreement to cover Regis Group’s six nursing homes in NSW came into force. It included pay increases of 3.25% paid every October during the three-year agreement, paid maternity leave and a reasonable workloads provision.

The new Agreement negotiated at Peninsula Village was a particularly pleasing win because the company initially tried to implement a non-union agreement in June that would have seen staff badly off in terms of pay and conditions. Due to collective bargaining through the NSWNA, the employer finally offered a fair agreement based on the ACS template.

Members in private hospitals have also won new agreements and NSWNA campaigns are currently happening at more hospitals.

Public sector nurses also received a 3.9% pay rise this year, thanks to campaigning by the NSWNA.