Tracey Meacham, a registered nurse in the Murray River town of Wodonga, is “thrilled” with the outcome of the nine-month Victorian ratios campaign, but admits there were times when she feared nurses might lose.”We were in dispute for so long, we all thought at different times that maybe the result wouldn’t be anything like we were hoping for,” Tracey, who works in the surgical ward of Albury-Wodonga Regional Health Service, said.
“Now I couldn’t be happier – I think the result is fantastic for nursing and the future of nursing.
“We achieved much more than we were expecting after such a long drawn-out dispute.” After seven years of nursing, Tracey was one of thousands of nurses driven out of the profession by spending cuts imposed by the Kennett Liberal Government in the 1990s.
Six years and a change of government later, she returned to nursing in 2000 under improved conditions, including nurse-to-patient ratios. She was stunned and dismayed when the current government tried to take it all away.
“It was a hard fight but it was worth it in the end,” she says.
“I have a daughter doing nursing and midwifery at university and hopefully I put in a good fight for her future too.
“I’m just so happy for what’s been achieved and what our union representatives have been able to negotiate.” She says the dispute taught nurses a vital lesson: “If it’s worth fighting for then keep fighting, and stay united.”
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