Community unites behind sacked nurse

It was rustic and peaceful outside the Kapooka Army Base until a bright orange bus arrived and disembarked a battalion of very angry nurses and supporters. They were there to do battle with ADF management over the outrageous sacking of their colleague Anne Woodward.

There were nurses from Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, Leeton and Henty Hospitals and from Calvary Private. There were nurses from community heath and aged care. Members of other unions – the LHMU, the Teachers Federation, PSA and NTEU – also turned out in support.

Nervous but determined, 14 very brave nurses still working at Kapooka stood with their sacked colleague outside the gates of the camp and told their military management they could not wash their hands of responsibility for her unfair dismissal.

In the midst of this supportive throng, in her crisply pressed uniform, was Anne Woodward.

‘It’s over-whelming to see so many nurses coming out in support of me,’ she told the crowd. ‘I’m ready for work today.’

NSWNA Assistant Secretary Judith Kiejda explained how the federal government’s new laws allowed the ADF to summarily dismiss an employee without accepting responsibility.

‘Anne was sacked for doing her duty – advocating for someone in her care. These laws now put nurses’ jobs at risk if they dare to question management procedures.’

Carmel Price, secretary of the NSWNA branch at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital read out a resolution of support to be presented to the ADF.

‘We’re appalled at what has happened to Anne,’ she said.

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  • Among a large contingent from Wagga Base Hospital were Vicki Hewitt, Fay Thorpe, and Julie Neill.
  • NSWNA Assistant Secretary Judith Kiejda: ‘Nurses don’t traditionally rise to anger quickly but we are a family and we’ll fight like a family to protect our own.’
  • Community health nurses Jenny Jordan, CNS and Ann Wilson, RN from Wagga Base Hospital.
  • Penny Wright, RN, and Kathleen Gaudron (left), RN, from Calvary Private Hospital with Anne (right).
  • A brave stand by nurses from ADF Health Services still working inside Kapooka’s gates, who all turned out in support of their former nurse unit manager.
  • Bev Galvin, RN Henty Hospital: ‘It was 65 years yesterday that my father was killed at Tobruk and today I find myself outside an army base fighting for a nurse.’
  • Wagga Wagga Base Branch Secretary Carmel Price, accompanied by NSWNA officer Linda Griffiths, were turned away after trying to hand the ADF a resolution calling for Anne’s reinstatement.