Professional Day

On the final day of conference nurses were brought up to speed on important professional issues with presentations by leading national and international speakers.

Chief Nurse reflects on profession’s gains

Commonwealth Chief Nurse Rosemary Bryant reflected on some of the gains made in nursing over the past year.

‘There’s no question it’s a busy and challenging time for the profession,’ she said, noting first of all the significant benefits about to come to Nurse Practitioners, who will gain access to a Medicare provider number and to the PBS from 1 November this year.

‘This is one of the biggest changes to Medicare and many people over the years said it would never happen. It’s very exciting for me personally and professionally,’ said Rosemary.

She also talked up the maternity services reforms, which she said had been challenging to implement, and praised initiatives such as the expansion of the existing Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program that will provide midwives and allied health professionals’ services in rural Australia in places where there are currently none.

Rosemary commended the Government’s announcement of funding for aged care and said we need to get nurses interested in pursuing aged care as a career path. ‘In the past, aged care has been the poor relation but we don’t want that tag for it anymore,’ she said.

Mary Chiarella addresses national registration concerns

Professor Mary Chiarella, member of the new Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA), talked about the new national registration scheme.

She noted a key issue of concern to delegates was the new requirement for continuing professional development (CPD).

‘CPD must be relevant to your practice as a nurse or midwife and you must keep a record of it,’ Professor Chiarella said. She allayed fears that self-directional CPD is not acceptable. ‘Self-directional CPD is fine. For example, rural nurses can read for an hour – it’s not just about spending money on attending conferences. But you must identify your learning needs, form a plan, do an activity statement and write up how the CPD was relevant to your practice. So if you are a nurse in a hospital, doing a fire drill or CPR may be relevant to your practice and help to keep you a safe practitioner and you’d have to show it is relevant if you were audited.’

Professor Chiarella confirmed the audits will not start until next year. ‘So you’ll have 12 months to collect CPD, and attendees at this conference would most likely have already done their 20 hours,’ she said, adding that auditing will be done on a random basis.

Another issue of concern was the requirement for nurses and midwives to demonstrate they are covered by professional indemnity insurance.

‘For the majority of you, who are employed, you will be covered already and continue to be covered but check with your employer as you will have to prove it when you renew your registration. If you are self-employed, there are insurance packages you can take out,’ Mary said.

Visit the AHPRA website for more information and to check your details on the register at

ACTU reminds nurses of national OHS laws

The importance of health and safety legislation was the focus of an address by Jarrod Moran, Senior OHS & Workers’ Compensation Officer at the ACTU.

Jarrod discussed the new national OHS laws that come into effect on 1 July 2012. He reminded delegates of the losses of certain standards that are currently included in the NSW Health & Safety Act. These include the downgrading of risk management, the loss of third-party right to prosecute OHS breaches and the loss of reverse onus of proof.

However, he noted an important clause that states health and safety representatives have the right to point out possible OHS situations where staff may be harmed and to demand the employer address them.

Other speakers at the Professional Day included Kuini Lutua from the Fiji Nursing Association, who spoke about the challenges of national nursing organisations in her country; and Deborah Burger from the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United Council of Presidents in the US, who offered an insight into the challenging role of RNs in disaster relief, looking at lessons learned from the Haiti experience.

ANF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas talked about staffing and skill mix in aged care.

Darren Flanagan, the man nick-named ‘The Gun’ because he charged and fired 65 shots of explosives that eventually released two miners trapped underground at Beaconsfield mine, rounded off the day with some inspiring observations about achievement, motivation and risk management.