Relying on the union in aged care

Joane writes: I’m a Certificate 3 AIN with over 10 years experience in aged care. I joined the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association in 2009, when the Association visited my very first aged care workplace.  I was not quite sure if I should join as I was very new in the industry.  So I called my mother and I specifically remember her saying ‘Yes! You definitely should, you need to be a member’.  I knew my mother would know what to do because I come from a family of nurses, from my grandma (and her sister), 2x aunties, to my mother and sister (who were members of the Association).

I am also doing a Bachelor of Nursing and hope to continue working as a Registered Nurse in aged care once I’ve completed my degree. My dream is to make a difference for the better caring for the most vulnerable elderly with dementia.

But with current government legislation against RN24/7, my dream of getting a job as an RN in aged care is under threat. With penalty rates also at risk, I know I can rely on the union to support aged care nurses to fight against these threats.

My current role as Branch President of the NSWNMA at my facility has given me first-hand exposure to the important work the Association performs on behalf of its members.

I’ve seen in practice that belonging to the NSWNMA has many practical benefits for my working life – for example, last December, the Association was able to get an EBA passed at my workplace.

NSWNMA advocates for and provides members with a lot of assistance with workplace matters. They also make sure that the mental health of members during difficult times is well looked after by providing plenty of emotional support.  I also feel more secure when travelling from home to work and vice versa because the Association offers travel accident cover.

NSWNMA provides over-the-phone advice. This is very convenient, especially if members require urgent advice regarding their rights at work or for any industrial matter.

The Association also provides training programs for members who have become branch officials.

Some of the practical experiences I’ve gained include:

  • Recruiting new members and coordinating branch meetings.
  • Providing advice and assistance on workplace matters for NSWNMA members.
  • Acting as a support person for employees during performance related matters.
  • Liaising with the NSWNMA to mobilise facility staff in preparation for a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.
  • Coordinating and disseminating information to members regarding the EBA throughout the bargaining process – we had a successful outcome!
  • Development and Implementation of a new workplace contact system to improve the communication structure between employees and management.