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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1338 ..


I move:

That the Assembly take note of the paper.

DR PATERSON (Murrumbidgee) (11.00): I wish to thank Minister Stephen-Smith for bringing to the attention of the Assembly the importance of recognition of our nurses and midwives. It seems appropriate that International Day of the Midwife is 5 May and International Nurses Day is a week later, on the 12th, with Mother’s Day this year in between.

It is a week to recognise all the women and men in our community who provide services for the health and wellbeing of us all. I note both the women and men who work in this sector. I think it is commonly regarded, as with the teaching profession, as a sector which is largely comprised of a female workforce. The statistics definitely support this. In 2018, 88 per cent of people practising as nurses and midwives in the ACT were female. Of the 170 midwives in the ACT, only one was male. There are comparable statistics across all jurisdictions in Australia. I find this really interesting in the context of the gendered landscape and commonly-held gender norms in which we live.

Undoubtedly, midwifery in particular is historically and traditionally a role undertaken by women. To a lesser extent, but still prevailing, is nursing. In much the same way the construction industry, among others, is typically a male-dominated space. I recognise that a range of different factors influence our career choices and life aspirations, but I also believe that it is really important that both men and women have the opportunity to challenge our society’s gendered norms and landscapes.

It is great to see more and more women joining what have been traditionally male-dominated industries, and the positive promotion given to this through media articles and awards of recognition. It is often said that nursing and related professions require good communication skills, together with empathy, care and patience. I believe both men and women are more than capable of possessing and demonstrating these qualities. I would like to challenge more men to take up positions in nursing and midwifery. Often, like many of the professions and industries that sustain us as a community, the daily work and achievements of nurses and midwives go unnoticed and unrecognised. This week is an opportunity to change that.

The annual midwifery day has been held since its formal establishment in 1992 and 12 May was chosen as the International Nurses Day, coinciding with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing in the late 19th century. Some of Nightingale’s key social reforms included improving health care for all sections of British society, advocating for hunger relief programs in India, helping to abolish prostitution laws that were harsh for women, and expanding the acceptable forms of female participation in the workforce.

Nurses work across many different areas in our community. They may be specialised nurses in areas of mental health, intensive care, theatre and neurology, and they might not work in our hospitals but in practitioner clinics, in aged-care homes, in child health centres, schools and community health centres.


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