Setting the pace

Shaping the future

The theme of the 63rd NSWNA Annual Conference, Setting the Pace, Shaping the Future, underpinned three days of inspiring presentations from industry experts, national and international union leaders and government representatives, firing dynamic discussion and debate among NSWNA officials and delegates. Conference topics explored the lasting impact of WorkChoices on nurses, an expanded and stronger professional role for nurses, creative solutions to attract and retain nurses and developing recruitment practices to inspire and develop younger nurses as tomorrow’s professional leaders.

A year to be proud of
Report from NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes

The election of a new Federal Government committed to overturning the worst aspects of the previous government’s WorkChoices legislation was without doubt a remarkable achievement, NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes told the Conference.

‘It is the result of the efforts of the combined union movement and the community in the Your Rights At Work campaign that will be marked in history. I am proud to say that the NSWNA played a significant part in that history,’ he said.

‘There is no doubt our ability to add paid media campaigns to our well-proven unpaid media capacity, provides our membership with power beyond the critical ability to organise, campaign and take action on the ground.’

Brett also outlined the various successes and challenges in all our main sectors.

A 7.95% outcome in the public health system over two years and an opportunity to pursue our claims for increased night duty penalty rates, and improved pay for experienced nurses in the State Industrial Relations Commission, carried some unpalatable offsets. But in the face of a State Government under political and economic siege, and unwilling to cave in to unions over their wages policy, it proved an acceptable outcome to the vast majority of our branches.

‘While successful for around a third of our aged care members, almost exclusively in the not-for-profit sector, aged care bargaining still leaves us with enormous challenges. Many employers in the for-profit sector continue to refuse to engage with the NSWNA, with the notable exception of the Hardi group.

‘Work is underway with the federal office of the ANF and the other state and territory branches to prepare and run a national aged care campaign highlighting the importance of qualified nurses for quality outcomes, the need to close the wages gap, and licensing of all aged care workers.’

Brett said the constant campaigning has translated into growth for the union.

‘I am glad to be able to report that in contrast to last year’s report the NSWNA has recorded an increase of 808 members in the financial membership for the 12 months to 30 June. This brings the NSWNA financial membership, to 30 June 2008, to 51,744.’