Page 1872 - Week 06 - Thursday, 9 May 2013

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Now that we have all talked about how much we need and rely on our nurses, I would like to raise a few issues around how we support them. I recently met with the nurses federation, and I understand that they have a range of issues that they feel, if addressed, would better reflect the importance of their work. Some of these, of course, relate to wages, but it is not all about money; it never is with people who care and follow a vocation of caring for others. They also want to have clear career paths provided for. This means that if nurses are working for many decades and become more experienced, they will have jobs to move into where their expertise is valued. If there are no clear career paths, many nurses unfortunately leave the profession to work in areas that pay better. This is clearly not an ideal outcome for the healthcare sector or for our community. And they want greater certainty about the future of their conditions, something I am sure we can all appreciate.

Another issue we need to address, and it has been raised before, is how to reduce the pressure on our hospitals—in particular, the number of people using our emergency departments. This is something which clearly involves nurses, and is an area which would also benefit patients, the health budget and other staff in emergency departments. Many of the solutions to this involve the use of nurses in regular check-ups and early intervention. This could be through increasing people’s use of the walk-in centre or increasing the number of walk-in centres in Canberra, just by way of a couple of examples.

Let me conclude by saying that nurses and midwives live and breathe our triumphs and failures. They are there from the beginning to the end and they do an extremely hard job well, in often adverse conditions. I take my hat off to them every time I need their services, and I applaud them here today for all the times when they are hard at work and I do not see it. Let us never forget the very important role that they play.

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education) (4.13): I thank Dr Bourke for bringing this matter of public importance here today, recognising the work of nurses and midwives, not just here in the ACT but nationally and internationally.

International Nurses Day will be celebrated on Sunday, 12 May and has been an important day in the health calendar, celebrated by the International Council of Nurses since 1965. It is a day for the community to acknowledge the work that nurses and midwives do across the community, to thank them for their efforts in looking after us when we need it and to promote the work that nurses and midwives undertake.

In the ACT this week the Nursing and Midwifery Office has organised a range of activities that allow nurses and midwives to celebrate their profession collectively, such as the awards ceremony tonight and, additionally, locally, morning teas, barbecue lunches and a range of other activities. Indeed, I think the Governor-General was at the nurses memorial earlier this week, recognising the work that nurses and midwives have done in time of conflict. Tonight the ACT Nurse of the Year, Midwife of the Year, public and private sector teams of the year and a number of other awards will be given out.

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