industry & reform place , and a safety plan to able to navigate leaving a relationship with family or domestic violence .
The fourth committee is again important because of the nursing profession ’ s role with children and violence . There are just too many adults who were children and experienced family and domestic violence that go on to work in our industry , and to be cared for by our industry , including children who need us right now all over Australia .
How do you think policymakers have responded to these rates of workplace violence ? To be fair , everybody is concerned . I ’ ve had nurses tell me they ’ ve been spat on , sworn at and abused . I ’ ve had nurses tell me , ‘ I ’ m used to getting abused in my shift , but not this much .’
It ’ s alarming that it ’ s considered normal that you ’ re going to get abused . Everybody I talk to definitely has empathy and concern , and I think part of the challenge is asking , what can we do about it ? How can we change this ?
In my meetings with influential leaders , politicians and department heads , it ’ s about what policies we need , but I ’ m also acutely aware that we also need a societal change . Policy can do a certain amount , but then if we as a society keep tolerating this and it ’ s just part of our job , then we are never going to help the daughters of the future and those that come into the nursing profession .
How are nurses affected by gender bias in their day to day working lives ? This year ’ s IWD theme ‘ Break the bias ’ is so incredibly important because I think we have our own bias as well in what we tolerate , and what we ’ re expected to tolerate .
It really is around safety and equality and equity , and all of the discriminations that we face . Whether it ’ s pay , promotion , opportunities , or whether it ’ s around having flexibility in the workplace .
We need that diversity and inclusiveness to say , how can we support people to be able to have career pathways ?
What sort of practical solutions do you think we need in hospitals and healthcare ? Somebody who chooses to go into nursing represents the best of humanity . We should be paid for the time that we care and for what we do .
But effectively , we ’ ve got the health system and the aged care system in Australia being held up and boosted by the incredible generosity of individuals , particularly nurses , who always give more , and we don ’ t get the time out that has been negotiated in other professions for leave , or to do research or pursue education .
All we get is industrially negotiated meal breaks . I mean , sometimes I ’ ve done a shift in aged care and you ’ ve got 15 minutes to get a handover and do drugs . Really ? It ’ s really important to me that we ’ re not seen as a number , and that we ’ re seen for our values-based approach to care , and not as an item on the cost sheet .
In fact , if every nurse stopped work today , there is no health system . What we ’ ve seen through COVID is that we are very generous . We want to do more , we want to give more . There ’ s nothing wrong with that , that ’ s part of being professional . But that also needs to come with appropriate recognition . A lot of that ’ s financial – to be paid as graduated experts with multiple qualifications .
There ’ s so many nurses with graduate certificates and masters still fighting for basic access and basic rights , as well as the time out as a professional to be able to practise autonomously , to invest in leadership , and study and contribute to policy , research and to excellence in clinical practise , and to have that higher level thinking and reflective practice .
I would also like to see that every nurse has access to clinical supervision and a really supportive environment of knowing that what we give in our therapeutic relationships is more than transactional , and that there should be an allocated time out to go and talk to a professional and debrief . The lack of ability for nurses to be able to congregate together and come together with other health professionals , support each other with nights out or in the tea room , I think that ’ s taken its toll .
The humanness of what we do and how we care for each other has been very important . If we go back a hundred years to World War I , women stepped up and really kept the economies and communities going . Then when the men returned , they were expected to go back . I ’ m hoping for something different .
It ’ s been women who have turned up in the shopping centres and the schools and the health facilities that have kept this nation safe , to have the outcomes that we ’ ve been able to experience . I would hope that respect would be shown by decision-makers and politicians and those that could then change the game for the pay that we deserve , and to get an equal seat at the table and ask for the opinion and the voice of the nursing profession .
That ’ s really what I ’ m for through this . We ’ ve actually led this nation incredibly through this time , and that should be proportionately represented everywhere a decision is made .
What ’ s your message for the emerging generation of nurses and our younger female graduates ? The nursing profession has been formally in Australia for 152 years , but people have been nursed throughout history for thousands of years and people will need to be nursed for thousands more . So what will nursing look like and who will choose to do our profession is a very important question that I ask myself regularly .
For me , it ’ s not transactional . It ’ s not for the faint hearted . People who choose to do nursing need to understand that it ’ s not just what we do , it ’ s who we are .
The best you can do for the people you look after , the people you work with , and the people you ’ re responsible for is to take care of yourself , to invest in yourself and be the best version of yourself and keep evolving as a person and keep your own health and wellness in check . It ’ s the reason I started Nurse Strong a few years ago , because I realised nurses are very classic givers and sometimes forget to take a bit of time out to care for themselves .
Know that you will be committing to the most honourable and noble profession . Surround yourself with good people , whether that ’ s digitally or in your physical environment , and work to the highest level that you can .
That does mean fighting for our rights and fighting for equity , and doing a little bit extra when it ’ s called upon us on behalf of the profession .
There ’ s being a nurse , and then there ’ s being part of the nursing profession . There ’ s about 400,000 nurses in Australia . We all have different personalities and do different roles , but I think that for me , I ’ ve always been very proud to be a woman in this day and age that can get educated , that can have financial independence and that can own property . Our grandmothers and those that went before us couldn ’ t . ■
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