Nurses hit the big screen – June 2009

The NSWNA celebrated International Nurses’ Day this year by making sure nurses’ stories were seen and heard by a wider audience.

The NSWNA celebrated International Nurses’ Day in blockbuster style this year with the inaugural NSWNA Nurses Short Film festival and our latest television advertising campaign.

Nurses have thousands of important stories to tell. This year the Association entered into the worlds of film and television to make sure some of those stories were seen and heard by a wider audience.

Unions have a long history of involvement in the arts. During the 1950s and 1960s some even had their own film units as well as their magazines or papers.  This involvement has faded over time as circumstances and various pressures have refocussed union priorities elsewhere.

But there is a strong case for a union re-engagement with the arts and a creative use of modern communications.

We will not further the professional, industrial and political interests of nurses by being invisible to the wider community. I am confident our authentic stories will resonate with the public and engender their support for our issues.

Different genres, different themes, one profession
The Nurses Short Film Festival was run to tap into nurses’ unique view of society and have it expressed through the medium of film.

In January this year the NSWNA invited nurses across New South Wales to write and produce a short film, of up to five minutes in length, telling a nursing story. The film could be in any style including documentary, comedy, drama, animation, horror or musical. The NSWNA commissioned three film and advertising industry specialists to do the judging.

This inaugural Festival produced a range of quality amateur films, which touched on some of life’s biggest questions and intimate moments. The first year’s films presented a number of evocative and provocative themes to the wider community.

Nursing the dying, mental health crises such as suicide, alcohol abuse and drug psychosis, what the future nurse might look like, violence, family support, community nursing, rural nursing, the personal needs and stresses of nurses themselves and helping people cope with catastrophic disease and injury – these big issues were all covered creatively, sensitively and, at times, humorously.

In taking up the challenge nurses participating in the festival made a valuable contribution to the cultural life of NSW.

The film portfolio produced will also provide an excellent historical record of New South Wales nursing in 2009.

Taking it to the regions
The films will now ‘hit the road’ and be shown at venues across the State, as part of the NSWNA’s Regional Roadshow visits. I encourage you to come along and enjoy the experience of watching these great films on the big screen.

I expect this innovative amateur film festival will become an annual event on the NSW arts calendar and we have committed to running the festival again next year.

I would like to thank the National Institute for Dramatic Art (NIDA), which provided the Nurses’ Association with considerable support and expert advice.

First State Super, as many times before, were enthusiastic principal sponsors. Shannon’s Way, Union Shopper, Lindt’s chocolate and the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald newspapers provided minor sponsorship.

I thank them all for their support.

Our television ads will continue to play throughout the year and promote to the public the highly-skilled and professional nature of nursing. We have started by showing in a mini documentary form the life of a general ward nurse. Keep your eyes peeled for the sequels, which will feature a midwife, mental health and aged care nurses.