Recognition of nurses grows – December 2009

The pressures and challenges faced by nurses arising from tighter budgets and increased demand may not have abated in 2009 but the wider community is becoming more aware of nurses work and roles.

2009 is drawing to a close and it is a good time to take stock of what we have achieved together during the year.

This year the Association made it a priority to show the tireless efforts and professional demeanour of nurses and to allow nurses to articulate their love of their jobs to the public.

We all know nurses are always going that extra mile to ensure quality care and are continuously being asked to do more with less – often with little appreciation.

Our TV ad campaign aimed to showcase the professional nature of nursing and the commitment of our members. With the relentless negativity in the media towards the health system, we wanted to show the enormously positive contribution of nurses to the community’s wellbeing.

I’d like to thank the nurses Kim Rodgers, Scott Neirinckx, Sharon D’Souza and midwife Edwina Eastwood who are brilliant ambassadors for the profession and the Union in these advertisements.
Similarly, a key component to our Because we care campaign, which we have been running with our colleagues in other states, has been to win recognition of the role of aged care nurses.

Better funding, better pay and in-creased staffing remain key objectives as we continue this campaign into 2010.

In our public health system, workloads, the lack of resources and the often bizarre decision-making of management has been the bane of our members’ lives.

Our Right Nurse campaign has been successful in exposing the tactic of the area health services to replace experienced nurses with AiNs and led to significant backdowns from area health services on the dilution in the skills mix.

Of course, we have maintained focus on our core business of improving pay and conditions in all sectors (see p18).

We launched two initiatives this year: one that gave nurses their own online space; and the second a cultural event that encourages nurses to express themselves through film.

Nurse Uncut, our new blogging site, is our social media initiative that nurses can use to converse with each other in a wider realm than the workplace.

The NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival was an exciting and entertaining event that showcased the creativity of our members.

The public health system award expires next year
The Award for public health system nurses is up for renewal at the end of June 2010.
We aim to translate the increased awareness by the public of what a nurse does into tangible rewards in next year’s pay and conditions campaign.

This will not be easy. The economic outlook remains uncertain after several years when the global economy has been in turmoil – even if there are recent reasons for optimism. In this environment, governments have been cautious about spending and focussed on the economic health of the nation.

Australia’s robust economic performance during these testing times has been widely attributed to the success of the Federal Government’s stimulus initiatives. We will continue to argue that investment in public health and aged care should be a major component of infrastructure spending.
Both our public health system and our aged care sector are in urgent need of increased funds for nursing.

The dwindling numbers of experienced nurses in aged care, where pay lags a long way behind the public sector, is of great concern.

Report after report documents the precarious condition of our public health system. The need for increased investment in health is obvious and it should start with the people who hold it all together – nurses and midwives.

It won’t be easy, but if we are organised and united we can improve the system and our own working lives.

I’d like to wish all members of the NSWNA a happy festive season with family and friends.