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Issue 15 30/07/12 fortnightly

Mental Health and Drug & Alcohol Services

Recruiting NOW! w w w. y o r a n g e . c o m . a u

Be part of the effort to improve Indigenous health

Are you a Registered Nurse, RN/Midwife or Allied Health professional? Have you thought about being part of the effort to close the gap in Indigenous health outcomes? Now is the time to get involved. RAHC has opportunities for urban-based health professionals to undertake short-term paid placements in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. Visit our website now to apply or register your interest then let us know your availability. Our team can find remote placement opportunities that work around your current job and you.

Get involved. Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 3 Issue 15 30 July 2012 We hope you enjoy perusing the range of opportunities included in Issue 15, 2012. If you are interested in pursuing any of these opportunities, please contact the advertiser directly via the contact details provided. If you have any queries about our publication or if you would like to receive our publication, please email us at “FACT, NOT FICTION”

Advertiser List AHN Recruitment Aspen Medical Australian College of Applied Psychology CCM Recruitment International CQ Nurse

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Published by Seabreeze Communications Pty Ltd Trading as NCAH. ABN 29 071 328 053. © 2012 Seabreeze Communications Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher. Compliance with the Trade Practices Act 1974 of advertisements contained in this publication is the responsibility of those who submit the advertisement for publication.

Quick and Easy Finance Regional Nursing Solutions Remote Area Health Corps Royal College of Nursing Australia The Royal Children’s Hospital University of New England University of Technology Sydney

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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 5

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Mercy Ships urgently requires nurses for Guinea mission by Karen Keast The world’s largest hospital ship, the Africa Mercy, urgently needs about 40 volunteer nurses for its first mission to Conakry in Guinea, West Africa.

“If we don’t have sufficient medical staff, the scheduled surgeries cannot take place and it is very difficult to notify patients as they aren’t always contactable,” he said.

Global charity Mercy Ships’ Australian headquarters has made an urgent appeal for nurses ahead of its 10-month mission, which will provide thousands of free life-saving surgeries to some of the world’s poorest people.

“We have 15 national offices around the western world recruiting staff so normally it is not a problem.

Mercy Ships Australia CEO Gary Regazzoli said five paediatric ICU nurses, 14 paediatric ward nurses and another 20 adult ward nurses were needed for stints aboard the Africa Mercy, ranging from one to two months or even longer. Mr Regazzoli said without the volunteer staff, patients would miss out on vital surgeries. Page 6 |

“However from time to time, we have a shortage and the word goes out to see if we can fill the gaps. “We are also trying to work further in advance so as to avoid any potential shortfall.” Mr Regazzoli said the 16,000 tonne hospital ship would leave the Canary Islands on August 15, arriving in Conakry, Guinea, on August 21. For the full article visit

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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 9

Psychologists to help athletes focus on their Olympic performance by Karen Keast Sport and exercise psychologists will play a vital role in shaping the mind-set of Australian athletes as they compete for gold at London’s Olympic Games. A team of sport and exercise psychologists will work as part of a multi-disciplinary approach to help athletes perform at their peak. Australian Psychological Society College of Sport and Exercise Psychologists chair Dr Gene Moyle said psychologists will help athletes manage their stress and cope with the pressure of competing on the world stage. “I think sport and exercise psychologists are essential and I think any elite athlete will say the mental side of what they do is a crucial component,” she said. Dr Moyle, who works with athletes for the Winter Olympic Games, said one of the greatest hurdles facing athletes was maintaining their focus in the face of “gold medal rush fever”. “I think the biggest challenge in going to the Olympics is keeping people focused on the process and not the outcome,” she said. “They might change something because they think it might make that difference and get them a medal. “Often it’s about refocusing for them, in the middle of the biggest spectacle on earth; they know what they need to do. “They just need to really focus on doing what they usually do.” A former professional ballerina, Dr Moyle has been working as a sport and exercise psychologist for the past 13 years and was the squad psychologist for two Australian Page 10 |

Olympic Winter squads, including assisting the sliding sports athletes at the Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in 2010. Based in Brisbane, Dr Moyle operates a private practice where she works with athletes, dancers and other performing artists. Dr Moyle said there were many factors that could impact on an athlete’s ability to perform well at the games, ranging from the expectations of the nation and the pressure of the four-year Olympic cycle to the threat of terrorism and also the ability to rest and sleep in the athletes’ village. “You can be sharing rooms with people you don’t know, their training schedule could be completely different to yours…you have got people that snore or don’t snore, it can even come down to the blinds on the windows and whether they are heavy enough,” she said. “I think the best thing for an athlete is to be able to adapt to change and be flexible because anything could happen.”

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Nganampa Health Council (NHC) is an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation delivering comprehensive primary health care on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in the remote north west of South Australia. In addition to primary health care, NHC delivers 24-hour emergency care and delivers a range of public and population health programs, including community health screening of targeted population groups, health education, preventative health care, referral to secondary and tertiary level services, public health interventions and surveillance and a residential aged care facility. NHC provides these services through six major clinics located in the major communities on the APY Lands.

The health service has a sustained national reputation for best practice clinical services, leading edge collaborative program research and development and for the collection of outcome data as a basis for ongoing evaluation. Our clinics are AGPAL accredited, modern facilities staffed by a multidisciplinary team comprising Anangu Health Workers and Nurses, supported by Program Coordinators and experienced Medical Officers to provide clinical care to each local community. NHC has a national and international reputation for delivering programs that have resulted in sustained health improvements to the residents of the APY Lands. These achievements include: • Sustained childhood immunisation rates of 100% of our permanent population. • Reductions in the rates of sexually transmitted infections by up to 99% since 1994. • Improved birth weights. • Increasing numbers of completed child health and adult health checks. The achievements have been recognised in a number of publications, a summary of which can be obtained from NHC continually has employment opportunities available for both fulltime and locum nurses. A generous salary package of between $166,000 - $183,000 (including superannuation and non-cash benefits estimated at $28,350) is offered. Nursing staff are entitled to up to 12 weeks leave per annum including two weeks study leave. Modern furnished accommodated is provided. Further information on us, including current employment opportunities, can be accessed from or our Facebook page.

Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 13

Grow Your Mental Health and Drug & Alcohol Career In Orange It’s where you can make a difference. It’s where you matter! The Bloomfield Campus, Orange, NSW is one of the largest Regional Mental Health Facilities in Australia and provides a variety of career opportunities for nurses, doctors and allied health professionals. The vast campus boasts not only new state of the art facilities, but also beautifully refurbished historic units. The campus offers exciting career paths in an array of Mental Health fields, including Child and Adolescent, Adult Acute, Intensive Care and Non Acute, Older Persons Acute and Non Acute, and a number of state-wide rehabilitation units including the new medium secure Macquarie Forensic unit. The campus will also proudly commission one of two new and innovative state-wide Involuntary Drug and Alcohol Treatment (IDAT) Facilities later this year. This service will be the first of its type in Australia. This new program provides short term involuntary care to protect the health and safety of people with severe substance dependence who are at risk of serious harm and whose decision making capacity is compromised due to their substance use. The IDAT unit will be the first in NSW to provide a comprehensive treatment program in a therapeutic environment based on new Drug & Alcohol Legislation. This is a truly exciting opportunity for nurses, medical and allied health staff to be a part of the development and implementation of this new treatment model. The allure of career fulfilment has already attracted many staff. Kylie and Mario moved to Orange and joined the Bloomfield team: We had thought about moving out of Sydney for many years, but then we had twin boys and staying with what we knew seemed like a good idea. Early in 2010, as the children were getting bigger, and our house in Sydney was getting smaller we revisited the idea. Our thoughts were that a move to the country would need to be somewhere within 4 hours of Sydney, with good schools and a university – Orange seemed to fit the bill, and as we are both health professionals Orange had the added bonus of Bloomfield for work and after a few visits to Orange saw us unable to say no to a lovely house on a few acres. The boys are active, healthy and happy, with their Sydney activities continuing here in Orange – soccer, athletics and gymnastics. We were also thrilled that the strong music program has meant that they have both found excellent teachers for their chosen instruments – oboe and euphonium. We love our new life in Orange. Sydney is an easy drive away, which means friends and family have often come to visit and stay for a short while. Sydney’s accessibility is beautifully counterbalanced by Orange’s genuine country identity and strong sense of rural community. - Mario, Kylie and family - happily relocated

If you are interest in talking with us about the many career and lifestyle opportunities that living and working in th Orange affords, come and speak with us at Taste Orange @ Sydney, Martin Place, 23rd and 24 August or visit For more information on working with us at Bloomfield visit

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Grow your Drug & Alcohol Career in Orange through one of the many exciting opportunities including the...

Involuntary Drug & Alcohol Treatment Unit




A new Involuntary Drug & Alcohol Treatment unit will soon be opening in Orange, NSW. Located in a newly commissioned, state of the art facility on a campus that offers the full range of general health, drug and alcohol and mental health services, this unit will be the first of its kind in Australia. If you are an experienced Drug & Alcohol nurse looking to make a difference Y not make it you!



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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 15

Take your skills north Have you ever thought you might like a break from your day to day routine? To take your skills to a community that desperately needs them? The Remote Area Health Corps (RAHC) is an organisation helping to improve Indigenous health in remote communities in the Northern Territory by encouraging urban -based health professionals to take the plunge and do something different. Established in 2008, RAHC recruits health professionals based in the city to provide primary health care on short-term, paid placements in remote Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory. NCAH Magazine spoke to Eleanor Harris, a registered nurse from Canberra who is currently on her eighth placement, this time in Ramingining, 560 kilometres east of Darwin. Ms Harris said she loved the challenge and the experience of working in remote Indigenous communities. “When I come home I really miss it,” Ms Harris said. “I miss it because I really do feel like I’m making a difference up here.” “From my time working in the ACT health sector I have gained skills in maternal and children’s health and this really helps me with my work in the communities,” she said. “But it’s even just simple things like encouraging them to take their medication and eat healthily. Teaching them about basic cleanliness really makes a difference.” When asked what motivated her to join the RAHC program Ms Harris said it was the thought of a new challenge and opportunity. “I suppose I was a bit bored with my regular work and just thought there was a real need Page 16 |

there and if I could help in some small way it would be really good.” “Ongoing support in these communities is key and I would encourage anyone looking to make a difference to get on board.” During the last financial year, 598 GPs, registered nurses, dental and other health professionals from all over Australia engaged in short term placements in over 100 remote Indigenous communities. The opportunity for urban-based health professionals to broaden their horizons and make a difference to Indigenous health is easily achievable through RAHC. With the support of RAHC, you could be helping to vaccinate children in Timber Creek, provide aged care in Ramingining or work with young mothers in Ampilatwatja. The opportunities to work to help close the gap are endless. If you are looking to make a difference and are ready for a life-changing experience visit the RAHC website ( to find out how.

Photo: Dr Angela Woltmann

Nursing an urge to go

to the Territory? Contact us today to find out about the latest allied health and nursing opportunities throughout the Northern Territory. Funding may be available to support you and your family for up to two years through the Rural Health Professionals Program. Phone: (08) 8982 1010


This program is funded by Health Workforce Australia.

Growing and supporting an allied health and nursing workforce for Rural Australia.

Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 17

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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 19

New TV channel a boon for remote and rural professionals

One of the toughest aspects of working as a health professional in rural and remote areas is lack of access to up-to-date information that is so easily available to those operating in urban and metropolitan areas. Now, however, a new development bringing health education TV to some of the most inaccessible areas of the country looks set to change that. Developed by the Rural Health Education Foundation (RHEF), an independent, nonprofit organisation that has been providing free distance learning education programs to health professionals for the last 20 years, the Rural Health Channel is Australia’s first national free-to-air health TV channel and will bring education to health workers in rural and remote areas. RHEF communications manager Clair North explains that while the channel, which was officially launched in its current form on 26 June, has been available for many years, its reach was previously limited to health professionals in their clinics or workplaces Page 20 |

for two hours per fortnight, with no access to the wider community. “The channel is now being broadcast via satellite on the new Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) platform, which provides digital TV to people who cannot receive terrestrial digital television and currently reaches 75,000 households. Government estimates expect this number to grow to 250,000 across Australia by the end of 2013.” A government initiative, the VAST platform was set up to remedy inferior television services in regional and remote Australia, and as the first narrowcaster, or specialised noncommercial channel, to use the platform, the Rural Health Channel is something of a pioneer. Initially it will broadcast from 1.30 to 3.30pm and 7.30 to 9.30pm on weekdays, and 4.30 to 6pm on Sundays. Clair confirms RHEF’s key aim in launching the channel is to close the health gap between urban and rural Australia by providing regular

and reliable health education and information to hard-to-access areas. And with the overall mortality rate in Australia’s country towns and surrounding areas 12 per cent higher than in its metropolitan areas, it’s clear the health gap has tangible effects on communities living outside major cities. She also suggests it will make working as a nurse or allied health professional easier and more attractive, providing ongoing professional development, as well as a greater sense of connectedness for health professionals. The channel’s focus will be on delivering up-to-date, evidence based health education and information that is useful and relevant to healthcare practitioners and communities, she confirms. It will also serve as a conduit for government and not-forprofit health initiatives; with Palliative Care Australia, Lifeline and the Heart Foundation among the organisations that have used the channel to spread their health messages.

“Our aim is to deliver a diverse range of content, often bringing cutting edge information to audiences that would never have had the opportunity to receive it before,” Clair says. “For example, we recently filmed a one hour discussion on bowel cancer featuring a panel of leading experts who discussed the latest approaches to the disease including screening for early detection.” “We also packaged a palliative care forum held recently in Canberra into a one hour highlight package, which will provide indispensable information to viewers. This is the kind of programming that we’ll be delivering on a regular basis, to ensure that remote and rural professionals have access to the same quality of information that is available in towns and cities.”

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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 21

Queensland nurses outraged as payroll saga intensifies by Karen Keast More than 3800 Queensland nurses have voiced their opposition to State Government plans to deduct future overpaid wages from pay packets. As the state’s two-year-long payroll saga continues, nurses have sent a mass email to the government criticising its plans to introduce new legislation in a bid to claw back any future overpayments. Queensland Nurses’ Union secretary Beth Mohle said the legislation was unnecessary and only added to nurses’ angst. “They have just brought us a whole lot of grief for no good reason,” she said. “We don’t see why there was any necessity to introduce this legislation.” Under the proposed legislation, an autorecovery process will deduct up to 25 per cent of a Queensland Health employee’s payslip, where an overpayment has occurred.

She said many nurses tried to repay the funds but the previous government placed a moratorium on chasing overpayments while Queensland Health reimbursed the underpayments. “Our members will pay back the money if an overpayment has been incurred,” she said. “They have just got no confidence in the system. “Our members are very honest and they just want to do the right thing. We just don’t want to see our rights trampled on. “Through no fault of their own they are going to have their industrial rights diminished because of the monumental systems failure. “Our members are sick of the payroll saga. Noone can believe it’s still going on.” In a statement, Mr Springborg said the recovery process for future pay-runs would be treated with sensitivity and common sense.

But a spokesperson for Health Minister Lawrence Springborg confirmed the autorecovery process would only apply to future overpayments incurred after the legislation was introduced and not to previous overpayments.

Ms Mohle said while the union would make a submission opposing the legislation it was also prepared to sit down and work through the payroll issue with the government.

Ms Mohle said nurses were fed up and frustrated with the process and also disheartened at some people questioning why nurses have not paid back their overpayments.

She said the introduction of a new pay date, to be introduced in October, will work to solve pay variations but will also affect nurses’ regular bank account deductions.

Our members are very honest and they just want to do the right thing. We just don’t want to see our rights trampled on. – Beth Mohle Queensland Nurses’ Union secretary Page 22 |

“The next pay date will give them 10 days rather than three days to get any variations of the pay through,” she said. “It’s going to cause a whole lot of other problems. People have got mortgage payments and a whole lot of regular payments they will have to change.”

Nurse Unit Manager • Operating Theatre • Division of Surgery • Full Time - Ongoing (76 Hours per fortnight) • Parkville, Melbourne The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) Melbourne is one of the world’s great children’s hospitals. We are the major specialist paediatric hospital in Victoria and our care extends to children from Tasmania, southern New South Wales and other states around Australia and overseas. With a passionate, highly skilled and committed staff of close to 4,000, we provide a full range of clinical services, tertiary care and health promotion and prevention programs for children and young people. The Operating Theatre in the new RCH has the latest in equipment and technology and incorporates the best in evidence-based design principles. As the Nurse Unit Manager, you will lead the nursing team in a unit that performs close to 18,000 surgical procedures per year. Paediatric theatre nursing experience is not essential, but you will have to possess the right energy and passion to deliver first-class care to our young patients. As manager of the unit, you will be responsible for staffing, performance, quality, infection control, budget and business planning aligned to our strategic goals and our vision as a great children’s hospital leading the way. You will possess the ability to engage and lead staff to ensure a performance culture across the operating theatres, focused on the delivery of the organisation’s strategic objectives and goals. The successful candidate will possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills in order to liaise with our multi disciplinary team. You will need to be passionate, team oriented and experienced in working in a busy and complex health service environment. Excellent remuneration, benefits and incentives, including competitive salary packaging is on offer. Qualifications/Experience • Division 1 Registered Nurse with current Registration Certificate • Experience in Operating Theatre nursing • Demonstrated Management Experience • Postgraduate Qualification desirable Appointment is subject to a satisfactory Police Check and Working with Children Check. The RCH has attractive staff benefits along with support services on offer. With our New Hospital complete we provide world class facilities for staff, patients and families at RCH, making it an exciting place to work. Please Contact Rosemary Aisbett on 03 9345 5057 for more information.


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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 23

Study finds flagging not the solution to ED nursing violence by Karen Keast Nurses should not rely on ‘flagging’ for protection against violent attacks from emergency department patients, according to new research. South Australian clinical nurse and University of Adelaide masters student April StanleyBanks researched why nurses are flagging potential violent patients through the electronic reporting system, the Emergency Department Information System. Ms Stanley-Banks said the flagging system, used in some public hospitals in the state, was only a warning system and not a solution to escalating levels of violence in EDs. “Nurses were using the system for selfprotection as it makes them aware of violence,” she said. “Violence can make you hyper-vigilant and add stress. “If we prevented violence from coming into the department then nurses wouldn’t be so vulnerable. “There has to be some other means of preventing violence from coming into the ED and nurses feeling safe at work.” A nurse of 12 years, Ms Stanley-Banks worked at the Lyell McEwin Hospital for 10 years as one of the senior nurses in triage, and recently transferred to become a clinical nurse at the Modbury Hospital’s acute assessment unit, now being established. Ms Stanley-Banks said she experienced verbal abuse on a daily basis working in ED. “Although it’s sad and demeaning it’s something that you endure but I have also been hit physically and been spat at,” she said.

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“I was once hit by a young female patient in the face, displacing my jaw and putting it out of joint. “I have been exposed to patients who have had concealed weapons and been threatened with syringes. “I have also been exposed to bomb threats and threats like ‘I am going to kill you after you’ve finished work’.” Ms Stanley-Banks said she decided to research the issue for her thesis after noticing a growing number of violent perpetrators were male adolescents, and became concerned about their health care response and also for the safety of nurses. “The nurses, in an effort to protect themselves, were providing health care delivery that was a bit more peripheral because the patients were exhibiting violence,” she said. “Some patients would leave before their treatment was complete. “I was also concerned for the nurses exposed to this type of violence. Some of them were actually victims of violence themselves.” Ms Stanley-Banks said nurses were expected to accept violence as part of their job. “I was concerned because I didn’t think the issue was being addressed. People were ...there needs to be a consideration of making assaulting a nurse a felony. – Ms April Stanley-Banks South Australian Clinical Nurse and University of Adelaide Masters Student

just accepting it and going with the flow and making the best of it,” she said.

have the jurisdiction to implement the law,” she said.

“There was also an accumulative effect on the nurses. I could see their attitudes were changing.

“The nurses felt if they had a police officer in the department they would feel secure and safe.

“There was security in the department or police in the department all of the time and it was more or less becoming a combat zone.

“I also think there needs to be a consideration of making assaulting a nurse a felony.”

“We were accepting it as part of the job and I knew that that wasn’t right.” The study outlined a series of recommendations, including regular evaluation and feedback of nurses’ reports of violence, developing training programs and policy for flagging, and considering the introduction of police officers to EDs.

Ms Stanley-Banks said the nurses involved in the study wanted measures introduced to tackle the issue. “It’s about time we started looking after our nurses because there’s an issue of nurse retention and recruiting new nurses,” she said.

“The nurses said they felt the clients don’t really fear the security guards who are there but have more fear of police officers who

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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 25

Midwife launches ‘controversial’ new parenting book by Karen Keast Midwife Alison Williams believes new mums can avoid the trauma of letting their babies “scream it out”. The Healthcare Australia registered nurse and midwife, who honed her midwifery skills in New Zealand, is launching her book Colic and Sleep Secrets for new mums based on ‘responsive parenting’.

throughout their pregnancy, the birth and for six weeks afterwards. “I would often see new mums when their baby wasn’t sleeping and they were really stressed,” she said. “It would be really hard to resolve those sleeping problems.

“It’s about responding to your baby and knowing what your own baby is saying to you,” she said.

“When I went back to midwifery I realised there was a lot you could do about that in those early weeks.

“It’s a little controversial; it goes against the standard information.

“If you get those problems sorted quite early in the piece you wouldn’t have those six week problems or eight weeks problems or five month problems or nine month problems.”

“If your baby is starting to wake up and it’s looking like it’s not going to self-settle my book says you should pick it up and resolve the issues that caused the baby to wake up. “There are a lot of reasons why babies don’t sleep well, because something disturbs them in that change-over of sleep cycles. “The standard information is to leave that baby and let them self-settle. “What my book is about is how you can help little babies learn patterns of sleep and how you can stop them screaming.” Alison, who is based in Melbourne, said about 10 to 25 per cent of babies suffer from colic, which can also affect their sleeping. She said her book teaches new mums methods to prevent colic, with eight steps ranging from feeding right to recognising tired signs and understanding sleep cycles. Originally from Melbourne, Alison lived in New Zealand for nine years where she spent more than four years working on caseload midwifery in Gisborne, providing care for women Page 26 |

Alison, who first started nursing in 1979, became a midwife in 1996 and is now an agency nurse for Healthcare Australia, has plans to write a second book on births.

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W: E: T: 1300 981 509 Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 27

RDNS nurses celebrate new agreement by Karen Keast

Victorian Royal District Nursing Service nurses are celebrating a new agreement, putting an end to their 11-month-long industrial relations dispute. Nurses and community care aides have voted to accept a new agreement with RDNS management resulting in a 2.5 per cent per annum pay rise over their four-year agreement while also maintaining safe patient workloads. Nurses will receive a $200 one-off bonus in the first year of the agreement and a new annual $700 pro-rata allowance to put towards their re-registration professional development requirements. Under the agreement, community care aides will receive a new $300 annual pro-rata allowance. RDNS nurses, community care aides and supporters have taken to the ANF: Respect Our Work Facebook site to celebrate news of the agreement, posting messages of congratulations. “Congratulations and well done ANF team,” one woman posted while another stated “thank you so much for all of your hard work”. The new agreement was reached through conciliation talks between Australian Nursing Page 28 |

Federation Victorian branch representatives and RDNS management before Fair Work Australia. The deal comes after more than 800 nurses at Australia’s oldest and largest provider of home nursing and health care services began protected industrial action mid-June and escalated their campaign in early July with a four-hour stop work meeting and community rally outside RDNS’ St Kilda headquarters. ANF Vic branch acting secretary Paul Gilbert said nurses were relieved the agreement had finally been resolved. “After an extremely long and frustrating period of negotiation, the resulting agreement ensures RDNS nurses have safe patient workloads and improved wages and conditions,” he said. “ANF and RDNS nurses thank the patients and their families who have supported the campaign. “It has meant a lot to RDNS nurses to know the community understands what they were fighting for.” RDNS has 20 centres across Victoria, providing care to about 35,000 clients.

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Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 29

Occupational therapists give a helping hand by Karen Keast Most people don’t know hand therapy is a specialised field of occupational therapy until they are injured.

Alison said it was rewarding to work as an OT in hand therapy, with the aim of making people’s lives easier and better.

Then again, Perth occupational therapist Alison Bennett believes many people, including other health professionals, often have little knowledge or understanding of occupational therapy.

“It’s amazing how important our hands are in the day to day operation of our lives,” she said.

“I think the biggest challenge that faces OTs is the lack of awareness of who we are and what we do,” she said. “I would regularly get from my patients ‘so are you a physio?’ or ‘what’s an OT?’. “This is not only in the general population but also specifically in the health field.” Occupational therapy helps people fully participate in activities in their day-to-day lives. According to Occupational Therapy Australia, the profession helps people cope with demands, adapt to tasks and overcome every-day challenges. “They do this by using a person’s usual daily activities and tasks (their ‘occupations’) in a therapeutic way,” the OTA website states. An OT for five years, Alison is the clinical manager of Hand Works Occupational Therapy – a Western Australian practice that specialises in treating patients with hand and upper limb injuries ranging from finger amputations to fractures and soft tissue injuries. The practice, which has five clinics across Perth, provides services ranging from orthoses to neoprene braces, scar and wound management to rehabilitation for elbow, wrist and hand conditions. Page 30 |

“We definitely take them for granted but once they are injured it can severely impact our function. “Not any day is the same as the one before. Sure the diagnoses are the same but each hand is attached to a different person that comes with their own specific circumstances. “I personally love that fact that at work I get to problem solve, create and make things using sewing machines and moldable plastics and decrease patients’ pain whilst increasing their abilities to get back to work or normal day-to-day life.” Alison, who is also a senior occupational therapist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, said OTs’ main treatment tools are thermoplastic splints/orthoses, which are used instead of plaster. “The splints/orthoses are custom made to our patients’ hands or arms and are just as good or even better than Plaster of Paris,” she said. “The plastic is light-weight, breathable and waterproof.” Alison said she was thrilled to help one patient, who received a nasty injury working in the mines, achieve his dream of competing in Perth’s renowned two-day kayak event, the Avon Descent. “Unfortunately a very heavy pole landed on his dominant right hand. The pole traumatically amputated his hand,” she said.

“He was transferred to one of our major hospitals where his hand was replanted. He unfortunately lost his index finger but the rest of his hand was reattached. “I was lucky enough to see him through all of his post-operative treatment. “To gain maximal function back he underwent hand therapy for almost a year and he had some small operations to assist in increasing the function of his hand throughout that time,” she said. “The year after his accident my patient competed in the Avon Descent and completed the race. At last contact he was training to represent Australia in the Paralympics.”

their particular field. This will give you the opportunity to mingle with them and ask questions • Try to arrange work experience within the OT field • Attend career days at your local universities to see the variety of areas OTs work in. OTs can work in hand therapy or work specifically with children or the elderly, in mental health, physical rehabilitation and vocational rehabilitation. It’s amazing how important our hands are in the day to day operation of our lives.

Want to be an occupational therapist? Here are Alison’s tips for anyone considering occupational therapy:

– Alison Bennett Perth occupational therapist

• Head along to the interest groups run by OTA so you can hear OTs talk about

For more articles visit

Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 31

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ANF to launch positive nursing campaign by Karen Keast The Australian Nursing Federation plans to shine the spotlight back on the positives of nursing, with a new national campaign set to be rolled out next month. While details of the campaign are being kept under wraps, Queensland Nurses’ Union secretary Beth Mohle said the campaign would target the different issues facing the nursing profession in each state. Ms Mohle said nurses and midwives will put forward solutions to the problems and urge politicians to get on board. “The role that nurses and midwives play day in and day out and saying we know the community is frustrated with the problems,” she said. “This is something we certainly want to partner with the community on and highlight these Page 32 |

concerns and to put pressure on politicians state and federal to start delivering the solutions that nurses and midwives will put forward. “This campaign will highlight issues across health and aged care, like whether funding is adequate, workloads and skills mix and concerns but not just the problems but also providing solutions. “We will promote things like seamless care and nurses working to the full scope of their role; a greater empowerment of nurses and midwives.” Ms Mohle said the positive nursing campaign would be a welcome relief from the negative issues swamping nurses, such as the ongoing payroll debacle affecting Queensland nurses. For the full article visit

What job do you want? Thinking about a new job opportunity? Perhaps a change of scenery or a step-up to a leadership role? Post your target job details and your resume on the website. You can enter your: • Target job title. • Your desired salary. • The locations in which you’re interested in working. • Your field of specialisation. • How soon you’re interested in taking on a new job. Recruiters will use the NCAH website to find & then contact you. Your first step is to visit and click the ‘Upload Your CV Now!’ button on the home page.

Nursing Careers Allied Health - Issue 15 | Page 33

New Zealand physiotherapists compete at London Games by Karen Keast Four physiotherapists will form an integral part of New Zealand’s gold rush at the London Olympic Games.

achieved and the fact they have reached this level in sport shows their commitment to excellence,” she said.

Qualified physiotherapists Sarah Cowley (heptathlon), Karen Hanlen (women’s crosscountry mountain bike), Quentin Rew (50 kilometre race walk) and Alexis Pritchard-Todd (women’s boxing) will compete in the games.

“This is also win-win for the people they treat in their jobs as physios – as they’ve had real experience on the other side of the fence.

The four athletes will also have the support of 13 physiotherapists working in the 27-member health crew for the New Zealand Olympic team. Ms Pritchard-Todd, a physiotherapist at Auckland’s Carrington Road Physiotherapy, has been balancing part-time work with training to compete in the women’s boxing; an event being included in the Olympics for the first time in its 116-year history. “The excitement is definitely mounting as the games draw close,” she said. “I’m looking forward to getting into the ring, to do what I’ve trained so hard for.” Physiotherapy New Zealand president Gill Stotter said it was no surprise four physiotherapists had made the Olympic team as physios were often fit, active and interested in sport. “I think the advantage our physios have as athletes is they have a great knowledge of the body - a really good understanding of biomechanics and injury prevention,” she said. “This should help them perform at their best while minimising any injuries.” Ms Stotter said it was also a boost to the profession. “We are really proud of how highly they have Page 34 |

“They understand the pressures of performing at this level and can empathise really well with any athletes that they treat. “Physiotherapy New Zealand is very proud of Sarah, Karen, Alexis and Quentin and of course of the 13 physios who will be working at the games supporting our high performing athletes.” The 13 physiotherapists will join doctors and massage therapists in supporting 185 New Zealand athletes, ensuring they remain injury-free and performing at their peak for the games. The New Zealand physiotherapy team includes Jordan Salesa, Louise Johnson and Helen Littleworth in the health crew, James Saunders in canoe/kayak, Mark Hollands and Kirsty Walker in cycling, Jeffery Roland and Jen Sayer in football, Gavin D’Souza and Fiona O’Connor in hockey, Craig Newslands in rowing, Phillippa Charlesworth in sailing and Michael Lovell in triathlon. I think the advantage our physios have as athletes is they have a great knowledge of the body - a really good understanding of biomechanics and injury prevention. – Gill Stotter Physiotherapy New Zealand President

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