Nurses and midwives use their voices for change

Rebuilding the nursing and midwifery workforce and increasing sustainability throughout health systems has taken centre stage on day one of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s (NSWNMA) 78th Annual Conference in Sydney.

Welcoming more than 700 nurses and midwives from across the state, NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, said the conference theme ‘Stronger than ever – a voice for change’ acknowledged ongoing challenges facing the professions and the need for further collaboration to advocate for workplace improvements, adequate staffing, and best practice care models.

“As the cornerstone of our healthcare systems, nurses and midwives are often most comfortable working behind the scenes to get the job done. There’s been unprecedented activity over the past year, and we hope this will deliver systemic changes at the state and national level for our professions,” said Ms Candish.

Professor of Nursing at the University of Sydney, Mary Chiarella, championed the competencies of nurses and midwives and encouraged those present to continue using their voices for professional advancements.

“You are going to have to become even stronger, more passionate, more persuasive and persevere more if necessary – the evidence is already out there. We must continue the quest to have the excellence of nursing and midwifery acknowledge and legitimised by our governments,” Professor Chiarella reflected.

The growing opportunities and applications of artificial intelligence in healthcare, along with the progress of environmentally sustainable and climate resilient practices in health and aged care were also canvassed during the day.

Investment in the health workforce and the need to rebuild because of the pandemic was explored by Professor James Buchan from the University of Technology Sydney and University of Edinburgh.

“Vital and universal policy interventions to protect and support the nursing and midwifery workforce to rebuild includes adequate staffing levels, attractive pay and conditions, support for health and wellbeing, as well as participation in rebuilding strategies,” said Professor Buchan.

Long-term unionist, social justice and human rights activist, Craig Foster AM, discussed the importance of solidarity to affect change and achieve outcomes during a keynote address.

“We can lend our power across to other people, both within this environment, within your industry and in broader society, which is what I try to do. We will all have a range of power or social and political capital often that we don’t really recognise or realise how much of a voice we have and whether that’s just within your local team, or within your environment or hospital or industry or indeed outside,” Mr Foster said.

There were cheers from the crowd when news broke the Voice to Parliament referendum was confirmed for 14 October.

Tomorrow, NSW Premier Chris Minns and Minister for Health and Regional Health Ryan Park will address the NSWNMA delegates and members.

The 78th NSWNMA Annual Conference runs until Friday, 1 September at Sydney International Convention Centre, Darling Harbour.

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