Nurses and midwives: our 70th Conference

The impacts of health funding cuts, attacks on penalty rates, importance of nurse-to-patient ratios, violence in the workplace and family violence are just some of the issues to be highlighted during the 70th Annual Conference of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) in Sydney.

From today, more than 720 nursing and midwifery delegates, members and guests from across NSW will converge on Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion to canvass issues effecting their professions, as well as the challenges unfolding in the broader health workforce.

NSWNMA General Secretary, Brett Holmes, said the three-day Conference was an important opportunity to discuss the changing landscape of the health sector, including the public, private, aged care, disability and community services sectors.

“Our members stand at the very frontline of the health sector and are well aware of the implications that are arising within our communities, as a result of the decisions being taken in Canberra or made at the state level,” Mr Holmes said.

“We represent more than 61,000 professional nurses and midwives who are constantly advocating for safe patient care in all aspects of the health and ageing sectors and who are compelled to speak out for their patients or those who are less fortunate.”

Mr Holmes said throughout the Conference delegates would also discuss growing concerns surrounding unreasonable workloads; increased health privatisations and the dismantling of Medicare; and the implications of changes to paid parental leave and the Border Force Act.

During today’s Professional Day agenda eight guest speakers will address the Conference floor, covering a range of topics from non-communicable diseases and antibiotic resistance to low-value and missed care, as well as issues surrounding the ageing workforce.

Keynote speaker and Australian of the Year 2015, Rosie Batty, will outline her role in leading the crusade against family violence and the ‘Never Alone’ campaign she has undertaken to raise community awareness about the family violence epidemic underway in Australia.

On Thursday, 410 nurses and midwives will hear from the Acting NSW Minister for Health, Pru Goward, and use the opportunity to raise questions from the floor regarding state health funding, the government’s Wages Policy and why NSW is lagging behind Queensland and Victoria to mandate nurse-to-patient ratios. Federal Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King, will also address the Conference and take delegate’s questions on Thursday.

During the final day of Conference, a number of resolutions will be debated on the floor, many of which aim to improve the level of support provided to hardworking nurses and midwives on the job.

Mr Holmes said the Conference was an important forum for Branch delegates statewide to celebrate the milestone theme 70 years: still putting patient safety first, exchange their experiences and discuss the clinical, professional and social issues they feel most passionate about.

Delegates attending the Conference will also participate in a daily chartered train from Central Station to Rosehill Station. The 70th Annual Conference runs from today, 29 July, through until Friday, 31 July at Rosehill Gardens Grand Pavilion.

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