Page 1867 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 May 2013

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now educating midwives at both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The first group of locally educated Bachelor of Midwifery graduates, a three-year degree program, entered the workforce at the Canberra Hospital and at Calvary Health Care at the start of 2013. They are contributing significantly to the midwifery workforce in the ACT. Many midwives have gone on to complete masters degrees and several are currently enrolled in doctoral studies.

Education requirements for nurses and midwives continue to increase, with enrolled nurses now requiring diploma entry level to the profession. Similarly, registered nurses require a minimum three-year undergraduate degree, and many nurses go on to gain graduate certificates, diplomas and masters qualifications in areas of clinical specialty such as emergency nursing, critical care and mental health nursing—often studying while working full time and managing the demands of a family.

The ACT has a highly skilled nursing and midwifery workforce with more than 30 per cent having achieved higher qualifications to better prepare them for the challenges of today’s health system and ensuring that they are adequately prepared to work in such a diverse range of healthcare settings.

The contribution of good health to the social and economic attributes of the ACT community cannot be underestimated. All members of the community hope to remain free from illness or suffering, and governments must act to produce social and public policies to ensure optimum health and wellbeing for individuals. As the largest health profession in the world, the work of nurses and midwives is integral to achieving those aims.

Once again, congratulations to nurses and midwives and best wishes for International Nurses and Midwives Week.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (3.57): I thank Dr Bourke for bringing this matter of public importance before the Assembly today, and I would like to add my voice to acknowledge publicly the vital role nurses and midwives play in the health and wellbeing of the ACT community.

All Canberrans are in the debt of our professional and compassionate nurses and midwives. At difficult times when we or our loved ones are at their most vulnerable, nurses and midwives are there tending to us. When we experience the joy of new life, engage the challenges of sickness or face the sadness of death, nurses and midwives are there administering to us with skill and compassion.

It is true that modern medical practice requires teams of medical, scientific, administrative and support professionals. However, it is usually the case that it is the nurses and midwives that are the human face of health care when all around is strange, unfamiliar and even frightening.

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency records that the ACT has over 4,300 practising nurses and midwives. Many work in our hospitals and clinics, but many also work as community nurses, in doctors’ surgeries and in schools. Nurses and midwives deliver care in private businesses and in government departments.

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