New leadership at the helm of NSWNMA

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) has announced General Secretary, Brett Holmes, will conclude his leadership at the end of this week after two decades in the top job.

Mr Holmes, who was elected General Secretary in August 2002, formally announced his retirement to delegates and members during the NSWNMA’s 77th Annual Conference in Sydney this morning.

“After careful consideration, I decided now is the appropriate time to conclude my roles as General Secretary, and Branch Secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation NSW Branch, and to make way for new leadership of our union,” Mr Holmes said.

“I am honoured to have served the Association and its members for the past 32 years in my roles as an Organiser, Organiser Team Manager, Assistant General Secretary, and then as General Secretary for the last 20 years.

“I have returned that privilege by working as hard as I possibly can each day with the interests of our membership, both at work and in the communities in which they live and care for, as my driving purpose.

“It has been very humbling and rewarding. However, I believe it is a good time to extend our membership a chance for renewal and allow our two exceptionally talented new leaders the opportunity to map the union’s best path forward.”

Mr Holmes first trained as a registered nurse in Sydney in 1980, then as a psychiatric nurse for several years before becoming a midwife. He transitioned from clinical practitioner to trade union organiser when he started work at the NSWNMA in 1990.

Mr Holmes was elected as Assistant Secretary of the union in 1999. He was elected by the Council in August 2002 as General Secretary and subsequently elected by members in 2003, and then re-elected unopposed in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2018.

Regarded as measured and approachable by his peers, Mr Holmes has dedicated his career to fighting for improved pay, conditions and workers’ rights, as well as acknowledgement of the nursing and midwifery professions in NSW, nationally and around the globe. The NSWNMA’s membership has grown from 48,000 to almost 75,000 under his leadership.

Mr Holmes is a director on the board of superannuation fund, HESTA. For many years, he has also sat on the ACTU Executive, Unions NSW Executive, ANMF Federal Executive and Council, the NSWNMA Council, chaired the Edith Cavell Trust, and a director of legal firm, New Law.

Today Mr Holmes also announced the NSWNMA Council had appointed current Assistant General Secretary, Shaye Candish, as his successor and the Director of Strategy and Transformation, Michael Whaites, was appointed as the new Assistant General Secretary.

“Shaye and Michael are a dynamic team. Together, they’ll continue pursuing improved outcomes for all nurses and midwives, as well as persisting in our campaign for safe nurse-to-patient ratios across all sectors,” said Mr Holmes.

“Shaye’s genuine advocacy for nursing and midwifery, and the broader union movement, are reflected in her strong leadership qualities.

“Michael has been a dedicated advocate and strategic campaigner for our members over many years, as well as for the betterment of nurses and midwives globally.

“I congratulate Shaye and Michael wholeheartedly on their appointments and look forward to them confidently leading our union at the forefront of the movement.”

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