Deborah says: ‘Don’t let it happen here’

Deborah Ashford, now an RN at Berkeley Vale Private Hospital, worked in Auckland as a theatre nurse during the early 1990s.

‘When I came to Australia in 1995 after working as a nurse in New Zealand, I couldn’t believe the difference,’ said Deborah.

‘In New Zealand we earned much less money. Penalty rates were lower. There was no leave loading.

‘Not only were your earnings lower, but the cost of living was higher – much more so than Australia. You couldn’t get ahead.’

Deborah says that – at the same time that the IR changes were brought in – the health system was broken down and corporatised into separate regional ‘Crown Health Enterprises’ (CHEs). This had a big impact.

‘The managers had no health background. They came from companies like NZ Telecom,’ she said.

‘Nurses working in different CHEs were earning different rates and had different work conditions – even though they were doing the same job.’