Preparing the next steps
Our work is undervalued
NSWNMA works towards zero emissions
Your rights and entitlements at work p.32 Crossword p.41 Reviews p.43 Nursing research online p.45
THE MAGAZINE OF THE NSW NURSES AND MIDWIVES’ ASSOCIATION VOLUME 79 NO. 3 JUNE/JULY 2022
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CONTENTS Contacts NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association For all membership enquiries and assistance, including The Lamp subscriptions and change of address, contact our Sydney office. Sydney Office 50 O’Dea Avenue, Waterloo NSW 2017 (all correspondence) T 8595 1234 (metro) 1300 367 962 (non-metro) F 9662 1414 E email@example.com W www.nswnma.asn.au
VOLUME 79 NO. 3 JUNE/JULY 2022
Hunter Office 8–14 Telford Street, Newcastle East NSW 2300 NSWNMA Communications Manager Janaki Chellam-Rajendra T 1300 367 962 For all editorial enquiries, letters and diary dates T 8595 1234 E firstname.lastname@example.org 50 O’Dea Avenue, Waterloo NSW 2017 Produced by Hester Communications T 0414 550 376 Press Releases Send your press releases to: F 9662 1414 E email@example.com Editorial Committee Brett Holmes, NSWNMA General Secretary Shaye Candish, NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary O’Bray Smith, NSWNMA President Michelle Cashman, Long Jetty Continuing Care Richard Noort, Justice Health Liz McCall, Byron Central Hospital Diane Lang, South East Regional Hospital, Bega Valley
COVER STORY Hope for aged care It has been a tough few years for aged care but Labor’s election win promises a better future for the troubled sector.
Printed by Ovato Print Pty Ltd, 37–49 Browns Road, Clayton VIC 3168 Advertising Danielle Nicholson T 8595 2139 or 0429 269 750 F 9662 1414 E firstname.lastname@example.org Information & Records Management Centre To find archived articles from The Lamp, or to borrow from the NSWNMA nursing and health collection, contact: Adrian Hayward, Coordinator. T 8595 2175 E email@example.com The Lamp ISSN: 0047-3936 General Disclaimer The Lamp is the official magazine of the NSWNMA. Views expressed in articles are contributors’ own and not necessarily those of the NSWNMA. Statements of fact are believed to be true, but no legal responsibility is accepted for them. All material appearing in The Lamp is covered by copyright and may not be reproduced without prior written permission. The NSWNMA takes no responsibility for the advertising appearing herein and it does not necessarily endorse any products advertised. Authorised by B.Holmes, General Secretary, NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association, 50 O’Dea Avenue Waterloo NSW 2017 Privacy Statement The NSWNMA collects personal information from members in order to perform our role of representing their industrial and professional interests. We place great emphasis on maintaining and enhancing the privacy and security of your personal information. Personal information is protected under law and can only be released to someone else where the law requires or where you give permission. If you have concerns about your personal information, please contact the NSWNMA office. If you are still not satisfied that your privacy is being maintained, you can contact the Privacy Commission. Subscriptions for 2022 Free to all Association members. Professional members can subscribe to the magazine at a reduced rate of $30. Individuals $84, Institutions $140, Overseas $150.
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Labor’s ambitious health agenda Easier patient access to GPs and reduced pressure on hospital emergency departments are among a host of healthcare improvements promised. COVER STORY
Brighter outlook for wages, job security Millions of Australians on low wages may be in line for a substantial pay rise under the Albanese government.
5 6 30 32 36 41 43 44 45
PHS RATIOS CAMPAIGN
Maintaining the momentum Our two strikes in the public health system in February and March have made the NSW Government sit up and take notice.
Editorial Your letters What’s on Ask Shaye News in brief Crossword Book Club Your Health Nursing Research Online and Professional Issues
Preparing the next steps
Our work is undervalued
NSWNMA works towards zero emissions
Your rights and entitlements at work p.32 Crossword p.41 Reviews p.43 Nursing research online p.45
Short-staffed and ‘a culture of fear’ in rural health It’s official – health services outside the state’s biggest cities are chronically underfunded and critically short of staff.
THE MAGAZINE OF THE NSW NURSES AND MIDWIVES’ ASSOCIATION VOLUME 79 NO. 3 JUNE/JULY 2022
Wages push in aged care The NSWNMA and other unions are seeking big minimum wage increases for aged care workers. CLIMATE CHANGE
NSWNMA works towards zero emissions The Association has implemented new measures to reduce its carbon footprint.
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COVER: Glen O'Driscoll, Wendy Carriage Shaye Candish, Sue Walton Photographed by Sharon Hickey
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THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 3
Top performance through responsible investing That’s doing well and doing good Our members breathe life into their communities, seeking to improve life, not just for themselves, but for all. Inspired by them, we remain committed to doing well for our members and doing good for all. We’ll never compromise one for the other. As a top performing super fund we have delivered an average annual return of 10.62% p.a. over 10 years* at the same time as investing in affordable housing, renewable energy and critical infrastructure while transitioning our investment portfolio to be net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Already Money magazine’s Innovation – Investment Leader for 2022, we’ve also received the Canstar Outstanding Value Superannuation Award for 2022.
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NSWNMA ACTING GENERAL SECRETARY
A victory for aged care The election of a federal Labor government with a coherent plan to fix aged care is a win for the ages for our members in the sector. We should not underestimate the significance of the moment: this is a historic achievement for our union. And hats off to our activists in aged care! They have shown perseverance, resilience, patience and courage on a very long journey to this summit. Their decade (and more!) of fighting for the rights of our elderly has finally paid off. Credit must be given to the federal Labor Party for listening to the people working at the frontline of what had been an increasingly dysfunctional sector. The Albanese government has taken on board the solutions put forward by the ANMF and NSWNMA and committed to funding mandated staffing ratios in private aged care facilities, improving wages for the workforce and making sure taxpayerfunds for providers are tied to direct care for residents (see pp 8-9). There are many lessons to be absorbed from this momentous election. A clear one is that the issues that impact women the greatest have to be recognised and acted on by our governments. The success of the “teal” women candidates around issues of climate change, integrity and gender equality was striking and Scott Morrison’s tin ear towards numerous high profile incidents of sexual violence was a vote changer for many. But at a more subterranean level there were also cost of living issues that disproportionately impact on working class women: rising prices, low wages and prohibitively expensive child care. These are issues that our members are only too familiar with working in predominantly female professions
Our activists in aged care have shown perseverance, resilience, patience and courage on a very long journey to this summit. that are undervalued and routinely dismissed by politicians of all hues.
resourcing health properly cost the economy billions of dollars.
There are also lessons to be learnt and applied in our campaign for ratios in the public health system.
Even prior to COVID there was a wealth of empirical research that showed that resourcing health properly was a cost saver.
The first lesson is that we can win. But we need the same grit, determination and stamina that our aged care members have shown. We need to be engaged. We need to stay the course. The second lesson is that we should have confidence in what we are asking for. Federal Labor didn’t adopt our aged care solutions in an act of altruism. They adopted our solutions because they are the right policies to fix what is a completely broken sector. Aged care is mainly funded by taxpayers’ money and that money should be spent on care. The third lesson is, like it or not, we have to engage in the political process. We need to convince governments, no matter who they are, that as frontline workers we understand the problems in the public health system and we are central to the solution. The main argument we are confronted with when dealing with either the Liberals or Labor is the cost of our solutions, especially ratios. They always say they cost too much and they can’t afford it. The pandemic blew away that specious argument. The cost of not
When Queensland implemented ratios the government commissioned research to track their cost to the Queensland budget. That research showed a cost saving of $80 million in their first year of operation. More importantly 145 lives were saved and nearly 30,000 hospital days were avoided. This research was consistent with numerous other studies around the world. It would be a mistake for any government to think that COVID is a one-off. The prospect of future pandemics is real, even inevitable. There are health consequences from climate change that will also increase the demand on public health. In NSW we will have an election early next year. Before then we need to convince all politicians that we have solutions to the crisis in public health in this state and they need to listen to us. Implementing ratios will undoubtedly be better for the health of the NSW community but they will also be better for the state’s economy. n
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The Lamp is offering NSWNMA members the chance to win a twonight stay in a one bedroom apartment including breakfast at the Forrest Hotel & Apartments and entry for two to see Connection: Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Peoples in a spectacular immersive experience, including lunch for two at Broadbean Café to the value of $50.
Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Peoples in a spectacular immersive experience The National Museum of Australia | 8 June – 9 Oct 2022 From Grande Experiences, creators and producers of Van Gogh Alive, comes the world premiere of Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Peoples in a spectacular immersive experience, celebrating the stories, art and culture of Australia’s First Nations peoples. It explores the spiritual connections to land, water and sky through a vibrant and multi-sensory symphony of sound, light, and colour. www.nma.gov.au/whats-on/connection. Costs apply. To enter the competition, simply email your name and membership number with the subject: Canberra to firstname.lastname@example.org *Conditions apply. Rooms subject to availability and valid for stays Sunday to Thursday nights. Prize must be redeemed by 9 October 2022. Not valid during long weekends, NSW school holidays, Public Holidays or major event periods. Voucher is not transferrable, non-exchangeable and not redeemable for cash. The offer is valid for 2 people only. Voucher must be presented on arrival. Competition entries from NSWNMA members only and limited to one entry per member. Competition opens JuneLAMP 2022 and closes 31 July 2022. The prize will be drawn on 1 August 2022. If a redraw 6 | 1THE JUNE/JULY 2022 is required for an unclaimed prize it must be held up to 3 months from the original draw date.
Mental health is forgotten in this pandemic The NSW Government has announced funding for small businesses and rebates to NSW households with school-aged children; however, it has failed to invest in our public health system by not implementing safe patient ratios. Our mental health system has always struggled but it’s been especially felt during this pandemic. Mental health nurses have struggled through the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and have experienced the same issues as our nursing colleagues in the general hospital public health system. NSW Mental Health units have reconfigured units to support the admissions of mental health patients with COVID-19, and we continue to have outbreaks within these environments. It’s been quite challenging given the age of some of our inpatient units, which lack respiratory isolation rooms, firmly closed doors, and have poorly ventilated wards and shared patient rooms. Compounding this is the issue of lack of resources available to care for any patient with airborne illness. Mental health nurses, while highly experienced in caring for a patient with mental health issues, have limited knowledge about caring for patients with complex medical and physical conditions. When staffing is under-resourced, it becomes difficult to deliver safe, quality care. Staffing has remained under-resourced in mental health units for years; however, this pandemic has immensely exacerbated this issue. Excessive overtime and unfilled shifts leave a trail of exhausted and burnt-out nursing staff, and an overwhelmed system that simply cannot provide safe and adequate patient care. It’s time for this government to invest in the public health system and implement safe staffing ratios. Francesca Cavallaro, EN
Want to know why we’re fighting? Imagine being a nurse who earns less than nurses in your bordering states, who for the last two-plus years has dealt with a global pandemic with no more than a “thanks”, a pay freeze, or a slap-in-the-face 0.3 per cent rise. Imagine knowing that nurses in other states have been given a COVID bonus, and you’re still fighting for the pay rise you should have got two years ago. Then imagine that your premier and health minister continue to say the system you work for is fine and coping. Imagine seeing nurses in Victoria offered hospital surge support payments of up to $60 per shift and $300 per week, while NSW nurses are offered a virtual pat on the back.
SEND YOUR LETTERS TO: Editorial Enquiries EMAIL email@example.com fax 9662 1414 MAIL 50 O’Dea Avenue, Waterloo NSW 2017. Please include a high-resolution photo along with your name, address, phone and membership number. Letters may be edited for clarity and space. Anonymous letters will not be published.
Imagine knowing that if you worked as an RN7 in Queensland, you could earn an extra $128.10 per week (over $6500 a year more than you currently do). Imagine being told by your government that thinks your health system is coping that nurseto-patient ratios don’t work, despite massive evidence to the contrary. Imagine being told that the 5000 new nurses they employed in 2019 fixed everything, with no regard for the reality that there is not the support for 5000 new grad nurses to be educated and orientated safely into a system that is already broken. This is why we are fighting. This is why we are striking. This is why we are desperate for our state government to listen to us! We need safe staffing ratios. We deserve a fair and decent pay rise. We need to be respected. Is it too much to ask for? Rachel Hughes, EN
NHPPD is manipulated The current NHPPD system of staffing levels is not working. This system puts profit over people, it is manipulated, it does not provide appropriate staffing levels, it puts patients’ and nurses’ safety at risk, and it has not addressed major staffing issues in mental health units. Mental health units are in crisis! Mental health consumers, especially when they are at their most vulnerable, deserve better! There is inadequate resourcing of public hospital mental health wards. Workloads are unreasonable, and they are unsustainable under the current system. Wards are unsafe. What will it take for mental health consumers and those who care for them to stop being neglected? What will it take for mental health care to be acknowledged and prioritised? What will it take for the state government to adequately resource public hospital mental health units? We need mandated nurse-to-patient ratios on all wards across the state, to provide safe patient care. Nurse-to-patient ratios will improve patient care. Ratios will help nurses working in an already high-demand and high-stress job. Ratios will ensure safe wards, safe workplaces, and reassure families that their loved ones are getting the best possible care. Nurse-to-patient ratios save lives! Skye Romer, EN
Letter of the month If there’s something on your mind, send us a letter and have your say. The letter of the month will WIN a gift card. The letter judged best each month will receive a $50 Coles Group and Myer gift card.
LETTER OF THE MONTH ‘Our families miss us’ Not only are more patients presenting at our hospitals and our wards and with more pre-existing comorbidities, but more are also acutely unwell. Yet we deal with constant reminders that we are “fully staffed” and gaslit with promises of brighter days. Yet here we are. We are pushed to: • discharge patients to clear our overflowing emergency departments • discharge enough patients in time for the day’s elective surgery lists • quickly move patients who have passed to the morgue, to bring in the next • attend more mandatory education, but expected to squeeze it into our busy shifts, or worse, in our own personal time • attend to follow-up phones calls, yet we struggle to give patients personal care. And if that’s not bad enough, we are harassed daily with calls, messages, and requests for extra or overtime shifts. Our rostered days off are no longer ours to enjoy, as our personal phones are bombarded with messages of deficits and pleas to assist. We are called in early and asked to stay late. We are cornered in the hallways to swap shifts, only to see a message that they now need to cover the shift you swapped.
Our kids are going to bed without us. We are missing their lives. Our days off are playing catch-up on housework that was left undone as we ran out the door a few hours earlier than rostered. Or was not done as we slept because we didn’t return home until the morning, after our afternoon shift turned into an 18-hour overnighter. We squeeze in a catch-up with loved ones here or there. Our social lives no longer fit within our work lives. The balance between life and work has tipped to the latter. Our families miss us. We lose ourselves as we give more and more of our time. Our bank accounts don’t show how hard we work, as after so much overtime the government reaches in and takes it back in taxes. All we have to show for our efforts are bags under our eyes, the aches of walking halls for days on end, the hunched shoulders from the weight of unfinished tasks, and the reminders of all the time we have lost. And yet we are told we are coping. We are told we are fully staffed and not working short. We are treated as though we are replaceable, as no incentives are provided to keep staff. We shoulder the mental load of an underfunded, out of touch, broken system. Jasmine Moore, EN
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Hope for aged care It has been a tough few years for aged care but Labor’s election win promises a better future for the troubled sector.
Together we can fix the crisis in aged care.” This was one of Anthony Albanese’s key points in his election night speech as Labor swept to victory in the 2022 federal poll. The new prime minister said his philosophy was “no-one left behind” and “no-one held back”, and that he wanted to see an economy that works for the people of Australia and not the other way around. Consistent with this commitment was his pledge to support the outcome of the Fair Work Commission for a wage rise for aged care workers (see pp 22–23). During the campaign, the ALP made it clear that fixing aged care – and especially staffing – would be a high priority for them in government. Anthony Albanese said that the Royal Commission recommendation to require a nurse to be on duty 24/7 in residential care was “core to improving clinical care for frail Australians”. “Nothing will change without reform to the workforce,” he said. The ALP also promised an additional $2.5 billion for the aged care sector, with strong checks to ensure that the funding was spent on care.
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A GOVERNMENT WITH A PLAN ANMF Secretary Annie Butler welcomed the election of a new government that was committed to tackling the massive challenges facing the aged care sector and the public health system. “We are delighted that we finally have a federal government that has a real plan to fix the systemic issues in health and aged care,” she said. “Mr Albanese and his team, including Mark Butler (Shadow Health and Ageing) and Clare O’Neil (Shadow Senior Australians and Aged Care Services), have listened to the ANMF and have committed to working with us to develop a health workforce that is ready and able to respond to Australia’s health needs. “In aged care, the ALP has committed to funding mandated staffing ratios in private aged care facilities, improving wages for the depleted workforce and making sure taxpayerfunds for providers are tied to direct care for residents.” NSWNMA Acting General Secretary Shaye Candish said the election of an Albanese government, with a strong commitment to addressing the crisis in aged care, was a landmark moment for the union. “It is historic from our perspective
‘Together we can fix the crisis in aged care.’ — Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
because it has been a long fight to bring attention to the calamity that is aged care, let alone to fix it. “Aged care has been on a long trajectory into crisis since the Howard government’s ill-judged
‘Residents know something will happen and their lives will change. They will have more dignity.’ — Aged care AiN Susan Walton
reforms in the 1990s. “COVID exposed the folly of taking the ‘nursing’ out of nursing homes and the negligence of successive governments that allowed providers to put profit before care. “Our aged care members have toiled tirelessly for more than a decade to right this wrong and have stood up for the safety and wellbeing of their residents. “The Association has put a lot of resources – paid advertising, lobbying, and countless grassroots actions – into getting a better deal for Australia’s elderly. “Finally, we have a government that has listened to us and has a credible plan to rescue the sector.”
RESIDENTS ARE EXCITED TOO NSW South Coast aged care AiN Susan Walton says she “can’t describe the feeling of now having hopeful change after all these years. It’s unbelievable that we won’t be forgotten anymore”. “The road is not finished. We’ll be holding the government to account. We can’t wait three years. We don’t want to be put to the bottom of the pile.” Susan says she is optimistic about a good outcome from the aged care work review case before the Fair Work Commission. “The support of the federal government must mean something. It must give it weight.” Susan says residents are just as excited as staff. “They know something will happen and their lives will change. They won’t be left alone in their rooms. There will be more staff. They will have more dignity. “There is more hope in aged care when before we had none.” n
What the new federal Labor government has committed to for aged care • 24-hour registered nurse care in every nursing home • A mandated minimum 215 minutes of care per resident per day • Funding real wage increases for aged care workers • Mandated standards for nutrition in nursing homes • Residential care providers must report – in public and in detail – what they are spending government funding on.
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Labor’s ambitious health agenda Easier patient access to GPs and reduced pressure on hospital emergency departments are among a host of healthcare improvements promised under the incoming Labor federal government.
“Every day, everywhere I go, people talk to me about how it’s getting more and more difficult to see a doctor,” said Anthony Albanese during the election campaign. Federal Labor comes to office promising to spend $750 million over three years on a “Strengthening Medicare” fund to roll out from 2023–24. The fund will aim to improve patient access to GPs, particularly after hours. It includes Medicare Urgent Care Clinics as part of a trial of a new model of care. The ALP also promised a $220 million grants program to upgrade local GP practices. In summary, Labor’s healthcare promises include:
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MEDICARE URGENT CARE CLINICS
NATIONAL NURSE AND MIDWIFE HEALTH SERVICE
Labor will deliver “at least 50” Medicare Urgent Care Clinics (MUCCs) across Australia, in a trial based on a similar New Zealand program. Designed to take the pressure off hospital emergency departments, MUCCs will be located in the same general areas as EDs and will bulk bill. Labor says that in 2020–21, 47 per cent of ED presentations were classified as either semi-urgent or non-urgent and could therefore have been addressed by doctors and nurses in MUCCs.
Labor wants to establish a counselling and referral service to help nurses and midwives who are “concerned about their stress levels, feel exhausted or anxious, or who are struggling with their mental health.” Labor will spend $23 million to set up a National Nurse and Midwife Health Service. It will provide free and confidential support, “delivered by nurses for nurses”, with information, advice, treatment and specialist referrals. Labor says Victoria’s successful Nursing and Midwifery Health Program has been inundated with calls from nurses struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, after working beyond exhaustion. It wants to expand such a service nationally, because “we can’t afford to lose more nurses because of unnecessary burn-out”.
GP GRANTS Labor says that “almost a decade of Liberal neglect” has left primary care in crisis, particularly in outer suburbs and regional and rural communities. Labor will give grants of up to $50,000 for GPs to train staff, upgrade IT telehealth systems, buy equipment and improve ventilation and infection control. It will also boost workforce incentives for rural and regional GPs to hire nurses and allied health professionals and provide multidisciplinary team-based care.
NATIONAL MELANOMA NURSE NETWORK Melanomas kill one Australian every six hours and Labor wants to reduce the toll by giving more people early advice and better continuity of care from a melanoma nurse.
‘Australia is already facing dire nursing shortages – we can’t afford to lose more nurses because of unnecessary burnout.’ — ALP policy statement
The Melanoma Institute of Australia has melanoma nurse programs in Sydney, Wagga Wagga, Perth and Hobart. Under Labor, this service will be expanded nationwide, with up to 35 more melanoma nurses by early 2025. Telehealth support will also be available, “to make sure no one misses out based on where they live.”
BETTER FIRST NATIONS AUSTRALIANS HEALTH CARE Labor promises to train 500 new First Nations health workers, increase access to lifesaving dialysis treatment for First Nations Australians with chronic kidney disease, and expand efforts to eradicate rheumatic heart disease in remote communities. The ALP says First Nations Australians are five times more likely to die from rheumatic heart disease, four times as likely to have kidney disease and more than twice as likely to die from suicide in youth. It says it will work with community-controlled and other health services to help close this gap.
Promised measures include a First Nations Health Worker Traineeship Program to support up to 500 trainees to complete Certificate III or IV accredited training.
CHEAPER MEDICATIONS Millions of Australians will save $12.50 on medical scripts under Labor. Labor has committed to reduce the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payment from the current maximum of $42.50 per script, to a maximum of $30 per script. The changes to the PBS will take effect from 1 January 2023.
COMMONWEALTH SENIORS HEALTH CARD An additional 50,000 Australians will be eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card from 1 July 2022. The income test for access to the card will increase to $90,000 a year for singles (up from $57,761) and to $144,000 a year for couples (up from $92,416). With a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, you may get cheaper medicine under the PBS and other benefits.
EXPANDED NEWBORN HEALTH SCREENING Australia hasn’t updated its newborn screening program since the 1980s and Labor says children consequently are going without treatment despite tests being available. Labor promises to “end the newborn health screening lottery” by increasing the number of screened conditions from around 25 to 80. The program is aimed at identifying a wider range of genetic and other early life conditions that are the leading cause of death for young girls and the third highest cause of death for boys.
REGIONAL MENTAL TELEHEALTH SERVICES During the COVID pandemic, the Morrison government abolished Medicare Benefits Schedule item 288, a 50 per cent loading for videoconference consultations in telehealtheligible areas in Australia. Labor says this effectively ceased bulk-billed psychiatric consultations for patients in regional and rural areas and will reinstate the 50 per cent loading. n
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Brighter outlook for wages, job security Millions of Australians on low wages may be in line for a substantial pay rise under the Albanese government, which also advocates “job security” for gig economy, labour hire and casual workers.
During the election campaign, Anthony Albanese backed the idea of a sizeable increase in the minimum wage. He said his government would ask the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to lift the minimum wage – currently $20.33 an hour – by 5.1 per cent to keep up with inflation. “I don’t want people to be left behind. People are doing it really tough – the cost of living, the cost of everything is going up but their wages aren’t,” he said during the campaign. A 5.1 per cent increase is close to the 5.5 per cent being sought by the ACTU in the current FWC annual minimum wage review. The Reserve Bank predicts inflation will reach 5.5 per cent by mid-year. Wages of many workers went backwards under the Morrison government. The cost of living jumped by 3.5 per cent over the last 12 months, while wages increased by just 2.3 per cent. 12 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
JOB SECURITY Along with higher minimum wages, “job security” is a major feature of ALP policy. When Fair Work legislation was originally drafted over a decade ago, it did not foresee the emergence or growth of new forms of insecure work, like so-called gig work. The ALP promises to make secure work an objective of the Fair Work Act and extend the powers of the FWC to include the gig economy and other “employee-like” forms of work. According to Labor, this means the FWC would have to put job security “at the heart of its decisionmaking”. And it will have the power to make orders for minimum standards for new forms of work. Women are disproportionately impacted by insecure work. Labor points out that nearly as many
women as men work in Australia, but women are over-represented in casual and part-time work and lowpaid jobs.
STANDING UP FOR CASUALS The Morrison government changed the Fair Work Act to give employers the right to define someone as a casual, even if they work regular, predictable hours. The ALP says this gives a green light to casualisation and makes the problem of insecure work worse. Labor will amend this definition and legislate a “fair and objective” test to determine when a worker can be classified as casual, so people have a clearer pathway to permanent work.
SAME JOB, SAME PAY Labor says it will uphold the principle that if you work the same job, you should get the same pay.
‘Anyone pursuing a TAFE course which is on the National Skills Commission’s priority list will do it for free.’ — ALP deputy leader Richard Marles
‘I don’t want people to be left behind. People are doing it really tough – the cost of living, the cost of everything is going up but their wages aren’t.’ — Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
It will therefore ensure that workers employed through labour hire companies receive no less than workers employed directly. This is designed to stop companies deliberately using labour hire to undercut the negotiated pay and conditions of workers who are direct employees. Over the last eight years under the Liberals and Nationals, labour hire, outsourcing and back-to-back fixed-term contracts have become commonplace in the public sector. Labor pledges to only use nonpermanent employment “where it is essential”, and not as a way of simply minimising its permanent workforce numbers.
MAKING WAGE THEFT A CRIME Wage theft is the deliberate underpayment or non-payment of workers’ legal entitlements and it has reached “epidemic proportions”, Labor says. A 2019 report estimated that the underpayment of Australian workers’ entitlements was worth $1.35 billion per year. Wage theft appears across a broad range of industries and disproportionately impacts young people, overseas students, migrant workers and women. During the election campaign the
ALP promised to legislate to make wage theft a criminal offence.
FEE-FREE TAFE Australia has 85,000 fewer apprenticeships and traineeships today compared to 2013, when the Liberal/Nationals last took office. Labor promises to boost skills training and revitalise the rundown TAFE system. Labor will spend $621 million over four years to provide free TAFE courses. There will be 465,000 fee-free TAFE places for students studying in industries with a skills shortage, including 45,000 new places. Under the Labor plan, “anyone pursuing a TAFE course that is on the National Skills Commission’s priority list will do it for free,” said ALP deputy leader Richard Marles. This includes jobs in the “care economy” such as childcare, aged care, disability care, nursing and community services. Fee-Free TAFE will provide opportunities for school leavers, workers wanting to retrain or upskill, and unpaid carers – who are predominantly women – to get back into the workforce, Labor says. n
Cheaper childcare on the way With fees up 41 per cent under the Liberals, childcare is a major cost for working families. An estimated 73,000 families want childcare but can’t afford it. Labor promises to invest about $5.4 billion to make childcare cheaper. Starting from July 2023, it will lift the maximum childcare subsidy rate to 90 per cent for families for the first child in care and extend the increased subsidy to outside school hours care. It says 96 per cent of families will be better off under the ALP scheme and no family will be worse off. n THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 13
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Maintaining the momentum Our two strikes in the Public Health System in February and March have made the NSW government sit up and take notice.
he NSW Government has started to shift beyond its previous intransigent position in its talks with the Association over award conditions in the public health system. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Finance and Industrial Relations Damien Tudehope, have agreed that there will be further discussions with the NSWNMA about “staffing and pay”. Michael Whaites, NSWNMA Director, Strateg y and Transformation, says this shows some movement from the government in response to our actions. “In previous years, the Ministry of Health has rejected our claims for safer staffing without any negotiations, but our two strikes have clearly forced the NSW Government to reconsider its position,” he said. Michael said the NSWNMA has continued to strongly push its ratios claim and has sought details about the NSW Government’s plan to fix the nursing and midwifery crisis. “They have been reluctant to talk about actual numbers but they say they are responding to what they call ‘our very informative 14 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
‘While talks continue, we still need to maintain pressure and build support at workplaces for what comes next.’ — NSWNMA Director, Strategy and Transformation, Michael Whaites
discussions on staffing’. But there is still no recognition from them about the need for shift-by-shift ratios,” he said. “While talks continue, we still need to maintain pressure and build support at workplaces for what comes next.” NSWNMA members working in rural MPS facilities have also met with the newly appointed Regional Health Minister, Bronnie Taylor, who promised them she would focus her attention on workforce issues.
The government said there will be announcements about pay and staffing in the state budget on 21 June. Michael said the NSWNMA is well advanced in planning the next steps in the campaign. “We held a highly successful training day on 16 May for member leaders in the public health system (see pp 16–17). It was clear on the day that there is still a lot of anger about the crisis in our public health system and the lack of action by the government
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OVER 60 MEMBER LEADERS IN THE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEM MET ON MAY 16 FOR TRAINING AND TO PLAN THE NEXT STEPS IN OUR CAMPAIGN FOR RATIOS.
to fix the problems. “There is a high level of engagement from our member leaders and a strong commitment to make our ratios campaign successful. There is a determination to keep taking action until we win.”
WE NEED TO CONVINCE POLITICIANS ABOUT RATIOS NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said implementing shift-byshift ratios in NSW is ultimately a decision for politicians and together with the NSW Government, we need to convince more politicians over the importance of ratios. “Both the NSW Government and NSW Labor need to understand the cost of not investing in the nursing and midwifery workforce will be felt by local communities for decades,” he said. “There are politicians who have listened and are supportive of our claim but we need to take more action to convince all MPs – regardless of which political party they belong to – of the importance of ratios in solving the staffing crisis in our public health facilities.”n
Get ready: What you can do next The upcoming state budget on 21 June will give us a clearer indication of the NSW Government’s plan for the public health system. In the meantime, the voices of nurses and midwives can make a big difference. You can do this by: • making an appointment to see your state MP; tell them what your working day is like, how shift-byshift ratios will help, and ask for their support • getting in touch with other nurses and midwives and letting them know we need help to build the next statewide action • considering whether your branch should hold an own-time action about a local issue between now and the state budget on 21 June • preparing now for a large meeting on Tuesday, 28 June at 2pm at Sydney Town Hall and online to decide our response to the state budget announcements.
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Preparing the next steps PHS member leaders shared campaign experiences and planned the way forward at a recent NSWNMA training day.
Training builds skills, lifts spirits Melissa Mansell, president of the NSWNMA branch at Liverpool Hospital, was recovering from a fractured rib as a result of a workplace assault, when she got the chance to attend union leadership training. “I felt deflated after the assault. I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay the course and continue to be active in the branch,” she said. “However, I felt reinvigorated after the training course. It gave me a positive outlook that we can win staffing ratios and other improvements, because a lot of nurses are really willing to fight for a better deal. “The training was really useful. I learned new leadership and communication skills and met some great people. “I realised I wasn’t alone and that the dire conditions affecting nurses are state-wide across the public health service. We have to change the government’s approach in order to get better staffing and pay. “During the training sessions I was already messaging my other branch officials to say, ‘You guys need to do this too. You need to enrol in the next course.’” Melissa said she learned networking and communication skills that would help her to channel members’ negative feelings about their working conditions into positive action. “I want to help turn anger into hope and actions that will contribute to the NSWNMA campaign for ratios and a decent pay rise.” She agrees there is ample reason for negativity. “We have lost four senior triage level nurses in my emergency department just this month. They left because of pressure resulting from our chronic understaffing. “I need to do something to help turn the situation around. I’m one of the people 16 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
Melissa said the training course has led to more frequent communication among branch officials in South-West Sydney Local Health District. “It’s important to have ongoing social connection, so we’ve arranged monthly gatherings at a local hotel for branch members from around the district,” she said.
Course inspires community approach
‘We sometimes get lost in complaining and forget that we have the power to influence change.’ — Melissa Mansell working there so it directly affects me. I’ll end up with no senior nurse on the floor, which is extremely dangerous and worries me a lot. “However, we sometimes get lost in complaining and forget that we have the power to influence change. “Nurses often say things like, ‘I’m sick of this, there are so many people in the waiting room and we’re shortstaffed again.’ “I can ask them what they want to do about it, explain that we’ve been campaigning for ratios, and invite them to join us.” Melissa said the training had shown her that “We can fight this together. Seeing other nurses with the same passion, the same drive, gives me great hope that we will win this if we can multiply our numbers. “My goal is to make the Liverpool branch a bigger and stronger presence in the next phase of the campaign.”
Media training at the NSWNMA leadership course inspired Wagga Base Hospital branch officials Natalie Ellis and Karen Hart to write to their local newspaper, The Daily Advertiser, seeking community support for the ratios and pay campaign. Their letter took issue with false claims about the hospital by local Nationals MP Wes Fang, and informed readers that Murrumbidgee Local Health District had more than 300 nurse vacancies – “a critical shortage now impacting services on a daily basis.” The letter explained the need for staffing ratios and asked the public to support nurses by raising the issue with local politicians. The editor published their letter as a prominent opinion piece, exempt from the usual word limit for readers’ letters. Karen said the “excellent” NSWNMA course included “fast track media training” that “clarified what we can and can’t do and say and the best way to word things. It gave us reassurance that as branch members we can speak up in the media on issues like staffing and pay, as long as we remain professional.” She said the course was a rare opportunity to network with members from other branches in person following a long period of COVID-related isolation and online meetings. “During the training sessions we heard many good ideas from different branches that have been pursuing the public health campaign in their own ways.
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‘The course gave us reassurance that as branch members we can speak up in the media on issues like staffing and pay, as long as we remain professional.’ — Karen Hart “At Wagga we have had good engagement from our members, but we really want to get the community behind us. “We have decided to do a flyer drop and get the community involved in our next action. We want the public to participate and share their experiences of the public health system.”
Gaining confidence from media coaching Grace Langlands, delegate and president of the NSWNMA Orange Health Service branch, said media interviews were an important focus of the recent NSWNMA leadership training course. “We had the opportunity to get mic’d up, stand in front of a screen and learn to be comfortable with answering media questions,” Grace said. “It gave me more confidence in dealing with the media and also the reassurance that as union members and union reps we are entitled to speak to the media.
“Doing so doesn’t breach our workplace code of conduct because we’re not talking on behalf of the hospital or NSW Health.” Grace said the course was “very useful – I learned new skills and refreshed previous training in a very collaborative and supportive environment.” The course included a session on lobbying politicians. “We covered issues such as how to book appointments with an MP and plot out a meeting, the need to take your own notes, and how to put a persuasive case by giving them examples they can relate to,” Grace said. “Mapping skills” were also on the course agenda. “Mapping involves identifying where union members are located within the hospital, how involved they are in union activity, and whether they may be interested in getting further involved,” she said. “It’s a useful technique for branch officials to encourage members to get more active with a view to taking on leadership roles at the workplace level.” Grace said building union strength in the workplace is vital to the success of the ratios and pay campaign. “When the union is visible, active and supported at the local level, members will be more inclined to engage in statewide campaigns. “And when the big actions like the recent strikes are strongly supported, that will encourage more interest in and support for union activity at the branch level.” She said member involvement in the Orange branch “dropped a bit at the start of COVID because people couldn’t pay fees and were just so overwhelmed. “We’ve managed to turn that around in the last six months with the strikes. We’ve seen a lot more nurses getting involved, having conversations, and asking what they can do to help. “At times some people may not understand that it’s going to take more than one or two strikes to get this done; it’s multiple actions that will bring about change.” Grace said the strikes have shown Orange branch members that “the union is a
‘We had the opportunity to get mic’d up, stand in front of a screen and learn to be comfortable with answering media questions.’ — Grace Langlands united front. It’s not just Orange or Sydney that’s fighting for change – the whole state wants ratios and is willing to fight for it. “When the Industrial Relations Commission ordered us not to strike, it was heart-warming to see the long list of branches that voted yes to striking – and others that supported the strike but were unable to take action because their staffing numbers were already dangerously low. “I led the chants on our march up and down the main street of Orange. Hearing everyone band together and start chanting gave me goosebumps – I was so proud to see our branch making a noise and being heard for the benefit of our community. “Members in Orange can feel that something is happening, that we’re going in the right direction.” n
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Progress, but much more to do International Nurses Day and International Day of the Midwife are always days of celebration. But this year, they were also days to make a statement.
t a rally outside the John Hunter Hospital on the International Day of the Midwife, Jessica Plater, a midwife and an RN, said Australian maternity wards were shockingly out of step with the theme for this year’s IDM: “100 years of progress”. “Why does it feel that today … we have made minimal to no progress at all?” Jessica told the crowd of midwives and their supporters at the lunchtime rally on 5 May. “Why are we still fighting for our right to fair pay, ratios and to make our babies count? At any given time, a midwife can have anywhere between four to eight women in their care and that does not include their babies! “When you start to include our babies, our patient load can then be anywhere from eight to 16 patients,” said Jessica, who has been a midwife for five years. “How is this fair on our midwives and how is this fair on our women and the care they receive? “International Day of the Midwife is meant to be a celebration of our wonderful and rewarding profession,
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but instead of celebrating, we are here today, exhausted and burnt out, to fight for our right for fair pay, ratios and to make our babies count.” Chronic understaffing means midwives are doing more shifts to fill the gaps. And the poor pay for midwives in NSW compared to other states exacerbates the issue. It’s not uncommon for NSW midwives to move to other states because of better pay, Jessica told The Lamp.
PRINCE OF WALES The issue of ratios was also front and centre at a rally outside the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick on International Nurses Day on 12 May. Kath Power, a Clinical NUM1 in the Emergency Department, told The Lamp: “We’re unable to provide safe patient care at present with our current ratios.” Nurse-to-patient ratios are currently one to five in the department’s short stay area, and two to three in the resuscitation area. Kath said the union wants “a ratio of one nurse to every three in the Emergency Department, one to four in the short stay area and
general wards, and one to one in the resuscitation area”. “Nurses’ workloads are high, we are understaffed, staff morale is at its lowest and sadly, nurses are leaving. It’s disappointing that NSW is lagging behind Victoria and Queensland on this issue.” Improved wages for nurses in aged care facilities is another key issue, she added, as is having registered nurses in aged care facilities around the clock. This would stem the frequent transfer of aged care residents to emergency departments at night, Kath explained. The rally, on the corner of Barker and Avoca streets, was held in the pouring rain, but it attracted support from Matt Thistlewaite, the federal member for Kingsford Smith, and representatives from the Greens party. “A lot of people were beeping their horns in support,” Kath said. “We’ve had ratios on our agenda for years and it is not progressing. So we will do anything we can to bring it to the awareness of the general public.”
When you’re a frontline healthcare worker, anything can happen. That’s why NNT wearer-tests all our uniforms, to make sure you are protected and prepared for whatever a shift can throw at you. nnt.com.au THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 19
Short-staffed and ‘a culture of fear’ in rural health It’s official – health services outside the state’s biggest cities are chronically underfunded and critically short of staff who are ruled by “a culture of fear”.
NSW pa rlia menta r y inquiry has delivered a damning indictment of regional, rural and remote health services and NSW Health. The inquiry found that people outside Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong face “significantly poorer health outcomes, greater incidence of chronic disease and greater premature deaths” as a result of chronic underfunding and critical staff shortages. After 15 public hearings and more than 700 submissions, the inquiry’s final report called for a review of funding needs and gaps in services. “There has been a historic failure by various NSW and Australian governments to attract, support and retain health professionals, especially doctors and nurses in rural, regional and remote areas,” it said. The inquiry reserved its harshest language for NSW Health’s treatment of staff. It found there is “a culture of fear operating within NSW Health in relation to employees speaking out and raising concerns and issues about patient safety, staff welfare and inadequate resources.” It said NSW Health and rural and regional Local Health Districts (LHDs) “lack transparency and accountability” while LHD boards 20 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
‘On the issue of nurses and midwives, the evidence has shown a disconnect between the reality of the daily challenges faced by them and NSW Health’s perception of the situation.’ — committee chairman Greg Donnelly and management show “a lack of communication and genuine consultation” with the communities they supposedly serve. Inquiry chairman Greg Donnelly, a Labor MP, said staff were “pushed to breaking point” by “unsustainable working hours, poorly coordinated recruitment and retention strategies, inadequate remuneration, lack of resources, threats to physical safety and a culture of fear”. “On the issue of nurses and midwives, the evidence has shown a disconnect between the reality of the daily challenges faced by them working in rural, regional and remote areas, and NSW Health’s perception of the situation,” Donnelly added. “In order to expand and develop the workforce, the committee has recommended that NSW Health expedite its review of the nursing and midwifery workforce with a view to urgently increasing nurse and midwifery staffing numbers based
on local need across rural, regional and remote NSW.” The NSW Opposition pledged to act on the inquiry’s recommendations “from day one” if elected in 2023. However, both Liberal and Labor MPs – accounting for five of the seven committee members – refused to back Greens and Animal Justice Party MPs in calling for mandated nurse-to-patient ratios in regional and rural hospitals. A spokesman for Labor leader Chris Minns told the Sydney Morning Herald the opposition would not allow other parties to dictate its election policies and there were no up-to-date costings for increased staffing. NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard declined to comment on the report to the Herald. However, the new Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said: “We need to be able to look at
‘Urgent implementation of safe staffing ratios is paramount and would help to address these issues.’ — NSWNMA Acting General Secretary Shaye Candish
(workforce issues) in a courageous way and a different way. I certainly don’t want to keep doing the same thing because then you can only expect the same outcomes.” The NSWNM A called on the government to immediately adopt the committee’s recommendations. Acting General Secretary Shaye Candish said that while the union welcomed the committee’s recommendation for a workforce review, “the urgent implementation of safe staffing ratios is paramount and would help to address these issues.” Shaye said services would remain at risk until the government adopted safe staffing ratios. “The NSWNMA will continue to fight for safe shift-by-shift ratios regardless of which party is in government,” she said. “The goodwill of nurses and midwives to continue working understaffed and keep the doors of their rural and regional hospitals open must stop being exploited. It’s not safe for our members; it’s not safe for our communities. “Nursing and midwifery understaffing in rural and regional health must change. The poor skills mix issues must change. The lack of enough clinical nurse and midwifery educators to provide supervision and mentoring must change.”n
What the RRR inquiry recommended The parliamentary inquiry made a number of recommendations specific to nursing and midwifery in rural, regional and remote parts of the state. It called on NSW Health to: Work with the federal government to establish a 10-year plan, to improve health outcomes and address staff shortages including GPs, nurses and midwives, nurse practitioners, mental health nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, paramedics, allied health practitioners and rural generalists. Expedite its review of the nursing and midwifery workforce with a view to urgently increasing staffing numbers based on local need. “Widely implement” the nurse practitioner model of care by funding the recruitment and training of additional NPs, particularly in facilities without 24/7 doctor coverage, or that use virtual medical coverage. Employ a geriatric nurse in all peer group C hospitals in addition to peer group B hospitals. Where a geriatric nurse is not employed, NSW Health should give staff members annual training in geriatric care. “Formalise and remunerate” on-call arrangements for nurses and midwives across all rural and regional public health facilities “in accordance with industrial awards”. Implement professional, financial and career enhancement incentives for nurses and midwives who work in rural and remote locations. Commit to a model of care “under which virtual care technology is used to supplement, rather than replace, face-to-face services.”
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Wages push in aged care The NSWNMA and other unions are seeking big minimum wage increases for aged care workers.
he Fair Work Commission (FWC) has received evidence from NSWNMA members in a historic case that aims to lift award wages in aged care by 25 per cent. O u r memb er s joi ne d a ge d care workers from around Australia in providing written statements and giving evidence to the FWC. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found that aged care work was undervalued, and recommended unions apply to the FWC to improve award wages. As a result, the NSWNMA’s federal body, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, applied to vary the Aged Care Award and the Nurses Award. The application seeks a 25 per cent increase in award wages of registered nurses, enrolled nurses, assistants in nursing, and personal care workers employed in aged care. That would lift award wages by $5.16 per hour for an AIN Certificate 3 and $6.19 per hour for an EN – based on a 38-hour week. RNs would get hourly award increases of $6.29 or $7.56, depending on classification and based on a 38-hour week. 22 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
‘ We are really staring down the barrel of a long-term workforce crisis if we don’t do something to improve the pay for these workers.’ — Shaye Candish, NSWNMA Acting General Secretary
The unions a re seek ing to vary the two awards for ‘work value’ reasons. Unions argue that wages no longer ref lect the nature of the work being done, the level of skill and responsibility involved, and the value of that work.
75% OF WORKERS CONSIDERING LEAVING SECTOR ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said witness statements from aged care workers described their work, the challenges it involves, and the many skills they bring each day to provide safe and quality care to residents and people living at home (see pages 24-25) “Our evidence a lso includes statements from union officials and academic experts who explain the
historical and gender-based reasons aged care work has not been properly valued,” Annie said. In the run-up to the federal election, NSW aged care nurses and supporters campaigned in several electorates in order to focus public attention on the aged care crisis. A group of RNs, ENs and AiNs from nursing homes across the state travelled to Canberra to meet with MPs. Meanwhile, a survey of more than 2000 NSWNMA aged care members revealed that 75 per cent were considering leaving the sector in the next year, unless urgent aged care reforms occurred. Unsafe workloads and low wages were the main reasons for people wanting to leave the sector.
Sector can’t draw student nurses
In a radio interview, NSWNMA Ac t i ng G enera l Se cret a r y, Shaye Candish, said the Royal Commission “pointed out strongly that we don’t pay aged care workers highly enough for the work they do. That is why it’s so difficult to attract people to the sector. “We are really staring down the barrel of a long-term workforce crisis if we don’t do something to improve the pay for these workers,” she said. “We need to see the government do so much better. They need to invest in aged care, they need to pay workers appropriately, they need to invest in nurses in aged care facilities. “The government needs to ensure that appropriate people are there to staff facilities, look after these residents and give them the life that they deserve.” As The Lamp went to print, the Fair Work Commission had completed its hearings and finished accepting submissions. A decision in the case is expected later in the year. n
A leading nurse educator has told the Fair Work Commission that low pay and an absence of defined career pathways make it hard to attract undergraduate student nurses to work in aged care. Maree Bernoth, Associate Professor at Charles Sturt University School of Nursing, Paramedicine and Healthcare Sciences, said she regularly speaks to young student nurses and “it is difficult to convince them that a career in aged care is worth thinking about and pursuing. “Unlike in the acute sector, the career options for an RN in aged care are limited. As a result, RNs in aged care must be remunerated better to attract and retain them in the aged care industry,” said Professor Bernoth in a statement to the commission. Professor Bernoth, who is an RN and NSWNMA member, said aged care staff are paid too little for their required skills and knowledge and level of responsibility. “The aged care sector needs to attract and retain many new staff over the next 10 years. We already have a deficit of staff in rural and remote areas. “We must start paying people properly to work in aged care in order to retain and attract staff. “If staffing in aged care facilities cannot be increased with the increasing demand, older people will have to stay in their homes, shifting the burden of care onto families to care for them.” Since the introduction of the Aged Care Act 1997, the emphasis in aged care has gradually shifted to community-based care and keeping people in their homes for longer. As a result, people being admitted to facilities are generally older and frailer, with multiple needs and “complex nursing issues”. “Assessing those needs and determining a priority of care requires a lot of assessment and decision-making from the RNs and the care workers,” she said. “PCAs or AiNs do not necessarily have all the all skills to do this but are being asked to perform this work with little support to help them.” n
‘ We must start paying people properly to work in aged care in order to retain and attract staff.’ — Associate Professor Maree Bernoth
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‘Our work is undervalued’ Aged care staff tell the FWC their wage rates do not match the range, quality and importance of their work.
registered nurse who gives in-home care to elderly pat ient s in nor t her n NSW told the Fair Work Commission (FWC) her work is valued by her patients and their families, “but not by my employer”. In a written statement to the FWC, RN Pauline Breen, who has worked in aged care for the past 15 years, said she drives her car to the homes of between eight to 11 patients per day. Most have dementia. “I enjoy working with my patients and speaking with them when I visit,” she said. “I also enjoy working with my colleagues, even though we do not see each other very often. I like seeing my patients achieve better health outcomes and find that a very satisfying part of my job.” She said, however, that her workload had increased due to clients’ growing care needs and COVID-19. She is sometimes allocated only 15 minutes per client and 15 minutes’ travelling time between each client, and only 30 minutes per week for administration. “This often does not reflect the actual work I need to perform. It is very difficult to fit in our meal breaks and contend with traffic conditions. “We are all so busy, which makes it very difficult to properly manage the clinical care needs of patients, particularly when we are required
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‘ We are all so busy, which makes it very difficult to properly manage the clinical care needs of patients.’ — Pauline Breen to travel such long distances in a rural area.” As a result, it was getting harder to visit patients during their preferred times. “Also, relatives of some patients do not understand my workload and the number of patients I need to see in a shift, and express disappointment about the limited time I am able to spend with their loved one,” she added. “Dealing with suspected cases of elder abuse is a particularly challenging part of my role. “Caring for palliative patients and going through the end-of-life process with them and their families can also be quite stressful and upsetting.” Training offered by her employer has become increasingly computerbased and not always in paid time, with only one computer terminal available for nurses to use in an office that is soon to close. “I do not know what we will do for training when the office is closed,” she said.
She said COVID-19 has made work more hazardous and she now needs to don PPE, for example, to provide wound care and attend to suprapubic catheters. Another health and safety concern is the failure to properly assess a client’s environment before the nurse’s initial visit. “There are many issues that need to be assessed, such as access to dangerous driveways, vicious dogs, domestic violence, guns in the house etc. “In many cases the client will have relatives living with them. Sometimes those relatives have drug or alcohol problems. This can be dangerous and unsafe for our staff.” Pauline uses her own car, “and when the price of petrol goes up, this is an additional cost that I have to pay for”. “Many of these additional issues are not factored into our wages or the time that is allocated for us to do our work.” n
ABOVE: LINDA HARDMAN
Working weekends to get by An assistant in nursing (AiN) with 20 years’ experience told the FWC she believes aged care work is undervalued partly because the workforce is mostly female. Linda Hardman, who is employed permanent part time for 75 hours per fortnight at a South Coast nursing home, said she worked weekends in order to get loadings. “If I did not, I would not have enough money to get by,” said Linda, who gave written and verbal evidence to the FWC. “I do not think that the pay is adequate for the work that is done. “The sense I get is that people who are not actually on the floor, working in aged care, do not know or care how difficult the work actually is. “I do not do it because it pays well. I do it because I feel like an AiN in my heart. I enjoy caring for people.” Linda said she does feel valued by residents.
“They know what I do. They are encouraging and I have relationships with them. “That is another difficult part of working in aged care. I do not think it is well understood that aged care workers have relationships with the residents, sometimes over many years. “When someone passes away, you do not even have time to grieve. If you are lucky, your RN will tell you to go and have a cup of coffee because they know it has affected you. “These are people that I look after and care for. That’s the heart of it.
It is not just a job. “I also feel valued by other aged care workers for the same reasons. They know what it is like. There is camaraderie and we uplift each other.” Linda said COVID-19 had made it harder and sometimes impossible for families to visit aged care facilities. “For me to provide proper care means that I spend an extra five or ten minutes with residents. Sometimes they cry and need a bit of TLC. That has to be done, but then it is harder to fit in all the other work.” n
‘ When someone passes away, you do not even have time to grieve. If you are lucky, your RN will tell you to go and have a cup of coffee because they know it has affected you.’ — Linda Hardman THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 25
NSWNMA works towards zero emissions The Association has implemented new measures to reduce its carbon footprint.
n April this year, the NSWNMA began printing The Lamp on paper produced from sustainable forests and carbon-neutra l production processes, and wrapping the magazine in recyclable and biodegradable film. This change is just one of many the Association is implementing to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75 per cent by 2030, with the aim of reaching net-zero emissions by 2035. The Association has introduced a range of measures to meet the targets, including purchasing hybrid cars, trialling an electric car, progressively replacing office lighting with lower energ y-consuming LEDs, and making videoconferencing a regular feature of organising. Reducing the NSWNMA’s carbon footprint is in line with the target set by the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), a coalition of health-sector organisations working for climate action and sustainable health care. General Secretary Brett Holmes said, “As an active member of CAHA, we should commit to achieving CAHA’s target for reducing GHG emissions.” As part of its emission reduction strategy, the NSWNMA Council recently approved the purchase and 26 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
‘ We need to make the Association more sustainable and closer to achieving carbon neutrality.’ — Brett Holmes, General Secretary
installation of solar panels on the roof of its Waterloo headquarters. It is estimated the panels will supply 19 per cent of the building’s energy needs. Brett said that the “estimated cost of solar panels will be recovered in reduced energy bills within 5.8 years”. To meet the balance of the office’s energy usage, the NSWNMA Council also recently approved the purchase of carbon-offset power.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE The green plan for the Association’s future was developed after an internal environmental committee conducted an environmental audit to assess the organisation’s carbon footprint. The committee began its work in 2019 and found that the Association reduced its emission of
all gases by 33 per cent between 2019 and 2020. Much of this reduction could be attributed to the impact of the pandemic, with Association staff and members taking fewer flights, and more staff working from home. “Some of the changes introduced during the pandemic, such as video conferencing, will be incorporated into the way we work going forward,” Brett said. “The challenge for us will be making changes without disrupting services to members and/ or negatively impacting staff.” Brett said reducing emissions will need to be balanced with demands of strengthening the union, as staff need to travel to consult with members, and to meet with non-members. “We need to make the Association more sustainable and closer to
SARAH ELLYARD (RIGHT) WITH FELLOW NSWNMA MEMBER DAMIEN DAVIS-FRANK WHO SPOKE AT THE SCHOOLS STRIKE FOR CLIMATE IN EARLY MAY
achieving carbon neutrality, but we can’t dispense with democracy. It is especially important that regional delegates can attend Association meetings in person.” A motion recently approved by the NSWNMA Council will see the Association purchasing GHG offsets for all air travel. To meet its targets, the Association is also moving its car fleet to more environmentally friendly vehicles, with the purchase of 12 hybrid vehicles in 2020, and the recent trial of an electric car. “We will need to find ways of reducing our emissions and at the same time ensure our services to members and our democratic decision-ma k ing processes are at least maintained, if not enhanced,” Brett said. “Adopt ing a nd v igorously pursuing these targets is consistent with our strategic plan, and our organisational values of leading by example and being a role model for sustainable health care.” n
“It is important to practise what we preach” Sarah Ellyard, secretary of the Macquarie Hospital NSWNMA branch and a climate movement activist, welcomes the Association’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint. “The Association is saying all the right things about climate change and climate action, and making the link between climate change and health, and I think it is really important that the union practises what it preaches. It is the right thing to do, but it also shows leadership by the union on the issue. “There are so many ways that climate and health are connected. Climate change exacerbates chronic health conditions and, in addition, climate change is changing the spread of a range of
infectious diseases. “New pandemics can emerge as a result of climate change, and preexisting diseases can spread further from the equator. Air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, meanwhile, impacts health, food supply and water supply. “The link between climate and health can’t be highlighted enough. The WHO recognises that climate change is the biggest threat to health this century. There is going to be massive pressure on the health system going forward, if the system isn’t strengthened and given the additional resources it needs, and I think there is a real need to raise awareness amongst the health profession and the wider public.” n
‘ The link between climate and health can’t be highlighted enough.’ — Sarah Ellyard, secretary, Macquarie Hospital NSWNMA branch
THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 27
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28 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
An exclusive offer for NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association members
Purchase any new Mitsubishi vehicle and you’ll receive*: • National Fleet Discount • Diamond Advantage • Mitsubishi Motors Business Advantage Talk to your Mitsubishi Dealer and discover a tailored solution today!
V I S I T Y O U R L O C A L M I T S U B I S H I D E A L E R | B U YA M I T S U B I S H I . C O M . A U | 1 3 0 0 9 1 1 8 5 0 *Not applicable to deals already negotiated. THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 29
ANNUAL STRONG CONFERENCE STRONGER
ICC Sydney » 3–5 August 2022
COUNT TOWARDS CPD HOURS
Nurses and midwives
Leading the Way WEDNESDAY 3 AUGUST
ICC Sydney, Pyrmont Theatre and online COST
(register by 24/6) (25/6 – 24/7)
Retired associate members and $75 student members
Branch Officials & Prof. Ref. Group Free (New Grad)
Online conference Member $60 registration Non-member $90 Registration closes Sunday 24 July/ Monday 1 August for online conference
Register @ nswnma.info/pd2022
30 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
NSW NURSES & MIDWIVES’ PROFESSIONAL DAY
Jane Caro AM
A Walkley Award winning Australian columnist, author, novelist, broadcaster, documentary maker, feminist and social commentator. Jane also appears frequently on ABC Radio, The Drum, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise.
Australia’s funniest nurse will bring the lols to our Professional Day. Author of Off the Charts and creator of the viral stand up clip 3 Stages of Nursing is happy to show you her funniest bits in this session. You won’t be learning, you will be in stitches, the good kind.
Shane Fitzsimmons AFSM
Commissioner Fitzsimmons is the current inaugural Commissioner for Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management with the Department of Premier and Cabinet. He is also the 2021 NSW Australian of the Year.
MC: Julie McCrossin AM
Julie is renowned across Australia for her warmth, humour, intelligence, professionalism and commitment to justice and diversity. She has worked with ABC Radio National, ABC TV and Network Ten.
ition s o p d curin a r g a New G
Flying Start – Securing a New Grad Position is a webinar series hosted by the NSWNMA to assist participants with the application process for New Graduate employment, both through the NSW Health GradStart program and with private employers. Registration is open to all nursing and midwifery students. If you are interested but unable to attend the webinars, the recordings available to Associate (student) members of the NSWNMA in the NSWNMA online student portal.
Part 1: Applying – Thurs 9 June 4.30-6pm CV and cover letters • Demostarting competencies • Meeting selection criteria • Tips and strategies for maximising your chances of securing interview. Part 2: Interviewing – Wed 27 July, 4.30-6pm The interview process • How to best showcase yourself to potential employers • Answering tricky questions • Tips for online interviews • Q&A session. Registering with the NMBA – Thurs 11 August, 1-2pm Assist final year’s student nurses and midwives with the initial application process for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA).
REGISTER ONLINE AT bit.ly/educationNSWNMA
EDUCATION REFERENCE GROUP The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association is seeking members to join the Education Reference Group. The group will meet 4-6 times per year to discuss current issues and challenges facing education within the nursing and midwifery professions. Meetings are held in a blended Zoom/face-to-face format to allow members to be involved regardless of geographical location. Current NSWNMA members who work in, are involved with or have an interest in education are invited to join.
Being a member of the Education Reference Group gives you the opportunity to: be a voice for educational issues impacting nurses, midwives and the profession assist in the development and reviewing of policies be a link between members and the Association
MORE INFORMATION + EXPRESSION OF INTEREST: email firstname.lastname@example.org THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 31
When it comes to your rights and entitlements at work, NSWNMA Acting General Secretary Shaye has the answers.
The power of nurses and midwives
Changing a contract
Over the last few months the voices of nurses and midwives – in NSW or across the country – have become louder and increasingly heard. This reflects an increasing belief of the need to speak collectively and powerfully as a profession, as sadly, who else will? Whether in the NSW public health sector or across the country during the recent federal election, the community is displaying a more attentive ear to the concerns being raised by nurses and midwives: The need to address chronic inadequate staffing and funding, along with ensuring decent wage increases.
I would like to reduce my contracted hours. What are my rights to do so? A contract is a legally binding document that can only be made or amended by way of mutual agreement by both parties (employer and employee). You can generally only do this by reaching an agreement with your employer. Your employer is not obliged to agree, so you may need to consider how you put forward this proposal, to negotiate the best possible outcome. If you have any difficulties, you can always contact the Association for further advice. If you are seeking a reduction of hours for a reason other than preference (e.g. due to carer’s responsibilities or a health condition), please contact the Association for more specific advice, as you may have rights to a reasonable adjustment under anti-discrimination legislation.
This momentum must be maintained. It is clear that it will be left to us, nurses and midwives, to fight for the improvements needed across all those sectors and services we work within. We need to do this for each other as well. The caring profession must also take care of itself: Our health, our wellbeing, our ability to continue in our chosen profession in a safe working environment. Despite the challenges, despite the discomfort, despite the ongoing and entrenched resistance from some, we must continue, together, and be stronger for it.
32 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
Caring for family member I am a registered Nurse working in a public hospital. My partner will be requiring extensive support because of illness. Beyond FACS Leave, what other leave entitlements do I have? Clause 32B of the Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwifes’ (State) Award recognises that in such situations, access to sick leave, and other forms of paid leave, may be available if one is required to provide care and support to a person. The definition of the connection between the person and the employee to trigger access to personal/carer’s leave is extensively set out in the clause, and is by design meant to encompass a wide range of
situations and relationships. An option to access flexible work practices as an alternative to leave is also set out in Clause 32D of the Award. Overtime and 12 hour shifts I work in a public hospital and our department is about to start 12 hour shifts. But due to so many vacant positions, I am worried we’ll just end up doing overtime on top of the shift. Clause 5(v)(j) of the Public Health System Nurses’ and Midwives’ (State) Award explicitly sets out that “no overtime shall be worked in conjunction with a 12 hour shift”. You may elect to work an overtime shift on a rostered day off, but overtime by way of an extension to the 12 hour shift is not permitted. Remember, the minimum break between 12 hour shifts is to be 11.5 hours. FACS leave for floods Due to the floods, I was unable to get to the public hospital where I work. Is there leave I can claim, or do I have to use my annual leave? Where an emergency is declared, you can claim the shifts you were unable to work as Family and Community Services (FACS) leave. If your FACS leave balance is exhausted, you can access up to five days of special leave. Check the NSW Government website to find out when and where an emergency has been declared. Your employer cannot compel you to use your annual leave, particularly if you’re able to access FACS leave or special leave instead.
RATS time and compensation
Payment for a cancelled shift
I work in aged care. We have been directed by our employer to attend work 15 minutes earlier than our usual starting time, so that we can undergo COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing before each shift. Is this allowed? Should I be paid for this time?
I am a casual employee and I pick up shifts in the specific units/wards I want to work in. The other week I arrived at the ED for my shift, only to be informed that I was being sent to the medical ward. I refused this and was sent home by the NUM. Am I entitled to payment because my employer cancelled my shift?
NSW Health currently recommends that aged care workers undergo a RAT prior to every shift. If your employer makes this a requirement, to protect residents as well as staff, and you are required to attend work earlier than normal as a result, then you must be compensated for this time by being paid as if it were work time. Your employer should also provide the RATs at no cost to you.
Unfortunately you will not be entitled to payment. A shift is a span of hours during which work is performed, it is not a span of hours during which work is performed in a particular deployment. When you accept a shift you’re agreeing to work from a specified time to a specified time, so if your employer decides to move this shift to another ward that shift
is still offered – it’s just in a different clinical setting. Therefore by declining to perform your shift in a different ward you – not your employer – are cancelling your shift as that shift continues to be offered. As a casual you certainly have the right to cancel shifts at short notice, but keep in mind that if you do so regularly then your employer may eventually cease to offer you shifts. Of course, any deployment must be within your scope of practice and if you are asked to work outside your scope of practice you should raise this with your manager immediately. n
NSWNMA’s fortnightly podcast
Hope for Change The Fight for Aged Care Speaking Truth to Power
The shift advert.indd 1
Listen on 26/5/20222022 2:02 |pm THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 33
The Edith Cavell Trust is now able to receive non-tax deductable donations/bequests. The Trust – named in honour of Edith Cavell – assists in the advancement of NSW nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing/midwifery through further studies and research, made available through scholarship. The knowledge and expertise gained by nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing/ midwifery, supported by the Edith Cavell Scholarships, is an asset to the care of their patients and clients. Bequests to the Trust continue to support this important work. Edith, a British nurse serving in Belgium in WW1, is a hero to most nurses and midwives. She helped some 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium. Her actions saw her arrested, accused of treason, found guilty by a court-martial and sentenced to death. Despite international pressure for mercy, she was shot by a German firing squad. NAME ADDRESS
BEQUEST/ DONATION AMOUNT
PREFERRED METHOD OF PAYMENT
Electronic Fund Transfer Account name: Edith Cavell Trust Bank: Commonwealth Bank BSB: 062-017 Account no: 10017908 Credit Card I authorise the Edith Cavell Trust (processed via NSWNMA) to debit my credit card for the amount of Mastercard
Name on Card
Signature of Cardholder
Roz Norman was an outstanding
activist, branch official and Councillor of the NSWNMA and ANMF. In honour of her outstanding contributions, the Roz Norman Scholarship was created to further humanitarian, social or community causes.
Scholarship Activism • Campaigning • Advocacy
The scholarship covers fees for an approved course promoting activism and the development of campaigning skills or public advocacy, including ongoing financial support for reasonable costs associated with campaigning for a period of one year, up to a maximum of $5,000. NSWNMA Branch Officials or highly active members who can demonstrate leadership qualities are encouraged to apply. Successful recipients are required to report back to Committee of Delegates (COD) at the end of the scholarship period.
Applications open 1 July, closing 30 September 2022 To apply go to
bit.ly/RozNormanScholarship Further enquiries 34 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
Email: email@example.com Metro: (02) 8595 1234 • Rural: 1300 367 962
APPLICATIONS CLOSE 5PM ON 31 JULY 2022
SCHOLARSHIPS FOR THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2023 Applications for the Edith Cavell Trust Scholarships are being accepted from 1 May 2022, closing 31 July 2022, for studies being undertaken in the academic year 2023. Members or Associate Members of the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association or the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (NSW Branch) are invited to apply.
www.nswnma.asn.au CLICK ON ‘EDUCATION’ For further information contact: Scholarship Coordinator, The Edith Cavell Trust 50 O’Dea Avenue, Waterloo NSW 2017 T 1300 367 962 E firstname.lastname@example.org
All grants, awards or loans shall be made to financially assist nurses, midwives, assistants in nursing, assistants in midwifery (including students of those disciplines), and accredited nursing or midwifery organisations, schools and faculties in the furtherance of: (i) accredited nursing or midwifery studies; (ii) such academic research programs as are approved by the Trustees in the theory or practice of nursing or midwifery work; or (iii) clinical nursing education programs at graduate, post-graduate and continuing education professional development level; in accordance with a number of categories. Full details of the scholarship categories, how to apply and to obtain the official application form is available from the NSWNMA website. Prior to applying, please ensure you have read the Edith Cavell Trust Scholarship Rules.
THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 35
NEWS IN BRIEF
IMAGE: JUDEUS SAMSON
True global death toll from COVID-19 almost 15 million: WHO The global death toll has been severely underreported, the World Health Organization says. WHO estimates that 14.9 million direct and indirect deaths occurred from SARS-CoV-2 in 2020 and 2021 – almost three times the 5.4 million reported by governments around the world. The undercount is the result of a lack of COVID-19 testing and death certification, said William Msemburi, technical officer at WHO. Seventy countries do not produce cause-of-death certificates and even before the pandemic, six in every 10 deaths went unreported, he said. Of the excess deaths around the world, 68 per cent are concentrated in just 10 countries: Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, and the US. Middle-income countries accounted for 81 per cent of the excess deaths, while high-income countries accounted for 15 per cent and low-income countries 4 per cent. Men made up a larger proportion of deaths from COVID-19 (57 per cent) than women (43 per cent). The estimates of excess deaths were roughly in line with official tallies in the US, where WHO modelled 932,458 excess deaths, and in Brazil, where it modelled 681,267. But in India, WHO’s models estimated 4,740,894 excess deaths, nearly triple the figure in government reports. The report has caused controversy in India, where the government has challenged WHO’s figures.
US exceeds one million COVID deaths The US passed one million deaths from COVID-19 on 4 May 2022, according to NBC News.
‘ Of the excess deaths around the world, 68 per cent are concentrated in just 10 countries.’ IMAGE: MUFID MAJNUN, INDONESIA
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that more than 80 per cent of US deaths had been among unvaccinated people. However, during the Omicron surge in January and February this year, some 42 per cent of deaths were among vaccinated people. Most were over 75s who had been vaccinated but had not received boosters. On 3 May, the CDC reinstated its recommendation for people to wear masks on planes, trains and buses. Although 70 per cent of the US population aged over five is fully vaccinated, vaccines for young children are still not available. Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have asked the FDA for approval of vaccines for children under five. A CDC report found that 60 per cent of Americans have had COVID, including three out of four children. The highly contagious Omicron variant was responsible for most of the infections. The study found that roughly 64 per cent of adults aged 18 to 49 years, about 50 per cent of those aged 50 to 64 years and about 33 per cent of older adults had been infected.
‘A CDC report found that 60 per cent of Americans have had COVID, including three out of four children.’ 36 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
NEWS IN BRIEF
China sticks to “zero COVID” In a country of 1.4 billion people, “let it rip” is not an option. China’s zero COVID policy is generating strong debate both at home and abroad, but a recent study outlines what a massive risk it would be to abandon it. The peer-reviewed study, published in Nature magazine, said a decision by Chinese authorities to lift such measures could see “a tsunami” of more than 112 million symptomatic cases of COVID-19, 5 million hospitalisations, and 1.55 million deaths.
vaccination campaign would be insufficient to prevent an Omicron wave that would result in exceeding critical care capacity with a projected intensive care unit peak demand of 15.6 times the existing capacity,” the research found. The World Health Organization has warned China that its current policy might not be sustainable, considering “the behaviour of the virus”. But it did recognise that China’s tough measures to curb the contagion had been very successful.
Researchers also noted that the health system would come under severe stress.
China counters that its approach is flexible and alert to changing circumstances.
“We find that the level of immunity induced by the March 2022
The country has registered 15,000 deaths since the virus emerged in
Wuhan in late 2019, compared with over 1 million deaths in the United States and the WHO’s estimate of more than 4.5 million deaths in India. Shanghai has been the epicentre of the current outbreak and was put into a stringent lockdown in April. As of mid-May there was a significant drop-off in case numbers.
‘A reversal of the policy “could see more than 112 million symptomatic cases of COVID-19, 5 million hospitalisations and 1.55 million deaths.’ Quality legal advice for NSWNMA members • Workers Compensation Claims • Litigation, including workplace related claims • Employment and Industrial Law • Workplace Health and Safety • Anti-Discrimination • Criminal, including driving offences • Probate / Estates • Public Notary • Discounted rates for members including First Free Consultations for members
Call the NSWNMA on 1300 367 962
and find out how you can access this great service
Offices in Sydney and Newcastle with visiting offices in regional areas (by appointment) THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 37
NEWS IN BRIEF
COVID relief funds misused for aggressive company buyouts: study
ACTU ups minimum wage claim to 5.5%
A new US study found that at least US$5.3 billion stumped up by the US government for COVID pandemic relief went to 113 private equity-owned companies, which already had $908 billion in cash reserves available in 2020.
This increase would lift the hourly rate in the minimum adult wage from $20.33 to $21.45, the weekly rate from $772.60 to $815.09 and the annual rate from $40,175.20 to $42,384.84.
Many of these companies used their reserves to pursue aggressive new buyouts, and in many cases shed workers, according to the report by the Anti-Corruption Data Collective (ACDC). The $5.3 billion in public funding was authorised by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in response to the public health and economic crisis brought on by COVID. The legislation imposed few conditions on recipients – such as requirements to support workers and maintain business operations – and failed to prohibit recipients from using public money to enrich investors. “Public money not only went to companies that already had deep-pocketed backers, but also effectively allowed private equity owners to continue and even expand their predatory tactics during an economic and public health emergency,” the ACDC report said. “With improved balance sheets shored up by government money, private equity firms were able to finance a buyout spree during the pandemic-driven economic downturn, as well as to extract dividends and fees from their portfolio companies.” Over $4 billion, or 76 per cent of the total pandemic relief to the industry, went to just 10 private equity firms.
‘ With improved balance sheets shored up by government money, private equity firms were able to finance a buyout spree during the pandemic-driven economic downturn.’ 38 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
The ACTU has revised its minimum wage claim from 5 per cent to 5.5 per cent, to protect the low paid in the midst of an accelerating cost of living crisis.
When the ACTU submitted its initial claim on 31 March, the federal budget had predicted inflation would peak at 4.25 per cent in the middle of this year. By May, inflation was already at 5.1 per cent and the RBA is predicting it will reach 5.5 per cent by mid-year. A pay rise of 5.5 per cent for the one in four workers who rely on the outcome of the minimum wage case aims to ensure that they do not go backwards in real terms, the ACTU said. ACTU Secretary, Sally McManus, said the claim was designed to break the trend of the deep real wage cuts that she attributed to “Scott Morrison missing in action on wages”. “A 5.5 per cent increase is what is now needed just to ensure people tread water; anything less has them drowning in bills,” she said. “People have already cut back discretionary spending; they will have no choice but to cut it completely as for so many workers – cleaners, aged care and retail workers, there is nothing left after the rent, groceries and petrol.”
‘A 5.5 per cent increase is what is now needed just to ensure people tread water.’ — ACTU Secretary Sally McManus
NEWS IN BRIEF
Formula milk companies using “insidious marketing” Formula milk companies are paying social media platforms and influencers to gain direct access to pregnant women and mothers at some of the most vulnerable moments in their lives, says a WHO report. The global formula milk industry, valued at some US$55 billion, is targeting new mothers with personalised social media content that is often not recognisable as advertising, it said. UNITED STATES
Overdose deaths cost US $1 trillion annually More than 100,000 people died of overdoses in the past year, a bipartisan US Congress report has found. “Whether measured in lives or in dollars, the United States’ drug overdose epidemic should shock everyone,” the report said. “It is unacceptable.” Three years ago, A White House Council of Economic Advisers assessment estimated the cost of the opioid crisis at $700 billion.
Through tools like apps, virtual support groups or ‘baby-clubs’, paid social media influencers, promotions and competitions, and advice forums or services, formula milk companies can buy or collect personal information and send personalised promotions to newly pregnant women and mothers. The report summarises findings of new research that sampled and analysed 4 million social media posts about infant feeding published between January and June 2021 using a commercial social-listening platform. These posts reached 2.47 billion people and generated more than 12 million likes, shares or comments.
That figure has skyrocketed to $1 trillion based on the increase in overdose deaths seen since 2018.
Formula milk companies post content on their social media accounts around 90 times per day, reaching 229 million users – representing three times as many people as are reached by informational posts about breastfeeding from non-commercial accounts.
Drug overdose deaths have more than doubled in recent years, from about 44,000 in 2013, to more than 100,000 between May 2020 and April 2021.
This pervasive marketing is increasing purchases of breast-milk substitutes and therefore dissuading mothers from breastfeeding exclusively, as recommended by WHO.
Overdose incidents are responsible for more deaths in the US each year than firearms, suicide, homicide or car crashes, according to the report.
“The promotion of commercial milk formulas should have been terminated decades ago,” said Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the WHO Nutrition and Food Safety department.
The report said “transnational criminal organisations used trafficking routes through Mexico to maintain an expansive supply chain, which has funnelled fake versions of Oxycontin, Vicodin and Xanax, or stimulants like Adderall”.
‘The promotion of commercial milk formulas should have been terminated decades ago’
“The United States has never experienced such a rapid and unprecedented shift in illegal drug markets, especially a shift that is causing so much death,” it said.
— Dr Francesco Branca, Director of the WHO Nutrition and Food Safety.
The report said as well as law enforcement measures, there is also a need for public health solutions. Methadone and buprenorphine, two treatment medications designed to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, are identified as two of the most effective intervention methods.
‘ Whether measured in lives or in dollars, the United States’ drug overdose epidemic should shock everyone. It is unacceptable.’ — US Congress report THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 39
RECRUIT A NEW MEMBER AND GO INTO THE DRAW TO WIN A REJUVENATING HOLIDAY AT THE SEBEL SYDNEY MANLY BEACH THE 2021– 22 NSWNMA MEMBER RECRUITMENT SCHEME PRIZE Enjoy a stylish retreat just steps from the water in Sydney’s vibrant seaside suburb at The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach. Located a short 30-minute ferry ride from Sydney CBD, Manly offers laidback vibes and plays host to one of Sydney’s most stunning beaches. Stay in a recently refurbished Studio Ocean View room, offering a stylish furnished balcony – the perfect spot for morning coffee. You’ll be within walking distance of Manly’s many restaurants, cafés, bars and shops and the area’s picturesque coastal walks. You and a friend will experience: • 4 nights’ accommodation in a Studio Ocean View Room • Welcome bottle of wine • Daily a la carte breakfast for two adults • Complimentary parking • Complimentary WiFi • The NSWNMA will arrange return flights for two to Sydney (if flights are required)
PRIZE DRAWN 1 JULY 2022 RECRUITERS NOTE: Join online at www.nswnma.asn.au Every member you sign up over the year gives you an entry in the draw! If you refer a member to join online, make sure you ask them to put your name and workplace on the online application form, so you will be entered in the draw. Conditions apply. Prize must be redeemed by 1 July 2023 and is subject to room availability. Voucher must be presented upon request. Voucher is not transferrable nor redeemable for cash. Block-out dates may apply. The prize will be drawn on 1 July 2022. If a redraw is required for an unclaimed prize it must be held up to 3 months from the original draw date. 40 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
10 12 13
ACROSS 1. A hereditary disease marked by tonic spasm and rigidity of certain muscles when attempts are made to move them (8.9) 10. A distress signal code (1.1.) 11. Hypnotic, inducing sleep, soporific (11) 12. Thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins (1.1.1) 13. Ultraviolet Radiation (1.1.1) 14. Curative (13) 15. Increased and decreased in volume or pitch (9) 17. An edge or a margin (3) 18. An engine type (6) 19. A stain (3) 20. Residents of a central European country (9) 22. Pile, stack (3)
25. A region in the medulla oblongata of the brainstem that regulates movements of respiration (11.6) 27. Symbol for astatine (1.1) 28. The female gonad (5) 29. Stroking movement in massages (11) 30. Someone who has inability to sleep (9) 34. A pulsating effect in music (7) 35. Sweat glands (12.5) DOWN 1. Thigh muscle (8.9) 2. Oestrogenic hormones (11) 3. The bony cavity containing the eyeball and its adnexa (7.6) 4. To examine visually (7) 5. An officer in command of a military unit (10.7) 6. Without a sound (11)
8. 9. 16. 21.
23. 24. 26. 31. 32. 33.
Chemicals that conduct electricity when dissolved in water to hydrate the body and help rebuild damaged tissue (11) Rigid, fixed (8) The lowest detectable intensity of a given signal eg. sound or light (8.9) A gene on chromosome that encodes ectodysplasin A (1.1.1) A picture of an object formed by a lens, a mirror or other optical system (5) Resides (8) Cutaneous evidence of systemic illness (8) A type of animal virus (5) Sorrow, unhappiness (3) A combined vaccine given to young children (1.1.1) A type of assisted reproduction (1.1.1) THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 41
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Kata Sea Breeze Resort
Deals starts at $142 for 3 nights with the following inclusions: • Daily breakfast • Transfer out from resort to Phuket International Airport (one-way) • One time Pin Toh Thai setdinner per room per stay • One x 60-minute massage for two adults per stay• One signature cocktail per adult per stay • Free wi-fiin room (2 devices). Use your $20 voucher to save even more. Cosy resort featuring 4 swimming pools including a swim-up pool bar, a restaurant, signature ‘Z’ bar and a relaxing spa. Just a few minutes walk to the town centre and Kata beach.
Rawai Palm Beach Resort
Stay in a luxurious deluxe pool access room for as low as $379 for 7 nights with these inclusions: • Daily breakfast • Free room upgrade to deluxe room with pool access during low season • Free 30 min massage per person • 4 pm late check-out (subject to availability) • Welcome drink, fruit basket on arrival and free wi-fi. Use your $20 voucher to save even more. Designed for a relaxing and luxurious Thai retreat, the resort features outdoor pools, a wellequipped fitness centre and beautiful tropical gardens. ALL OFFERS: rate based on 2 adults, minimum 3-night stay and subject to availability. For full t&c’s go to https://travelbenefits.ubookdirect. com. BALI OFFER: valid for travel 1 May 2022 until 30 June 2023. PHUKET OFFERS: valid for travel 1 May 2022 until 31 October 2023.
All books can be ordered through the publisher or your local bookshop. Call 8595 1234 or 1300 367 962, or email email@example.com for assistance with loans or research. Books are not independently reviewed or reviewed using information supplied by the publishers.
Pomegranate & fig Zaheda Ghani Hachette Australia RRP $32.99: ISBN 9780733647604
Taking us from Afghanistan to Australia, this is an evocative and beautifully written debut novel about tradition, family, war and displacement. Tracing the lives of three young people: Henna, her brother Hamid, and a man who will become her husband, Rahim, this lyrical and evocative story reveals the political entanglements and family dynamics that are heightened and shattered by conflict. Taking us from the streets of Herat, invaded by Soviet forces in the 1970s, to India in the 1980s, and then to the suburbs of Sydney, Pomegranate & Fig vividly illuminates the disruption, displacement and tragedy that war unleashes.
The Mutual Friend Carter Bays Hachette Australia RRP $32.99: ISBN 9781529392180
New York, 2015. In a city of more than 8 million people, there are always new places to visit, new connections to be made, new experiences to be shared. Filled with warmth, humour and heart, The Mutual Friend is an unforgettable debut novel that perfectly captures the choreography of navigating life and love amidst the chaos of contemporary life.
As a nurse for nearly fifty years, Keith Cox provided expert care and comfort to countless people facing the unimaginable. With insight and sensitivity, A Caring Life takes us behind the scenes of his remarkable nursing career and the moving stories of hope, determination and loss that underpinned it. Along the way, he shares lessons gained from a career spent confronting mortality, from finding joy in difficult circumstances to understanding that true strength comes in thinking of others and being part of a community.
Macmillan Australia RRP $34.99: ISBN 9781760987251
Keith Cox OAM
A Caring Life
IN T E
We have four copies of A Caring Life to give away, thanks to Macmillan Australia. Email your name and membership number to lamp@nswnma. asn.au by 31 July to be in the draw to win!
Assisted Dr Stefanie Green Allen & Unwin RRP $32.99: ISBN 9781760529154
A transformative and compassionate memoir by a leading pioneer in medically assisted dying, who began her career in the maternity ward and now helps patients who are suffering to explore, and then fulfill, their end-of-life choices. Dr Stefanie Green shares the most intimate moments of her first year as a doctor, delivering medically assisted dying. She recounts the courageous stories of her patients and the tender, funny and sometimes absurd and confronting details of how our last days can unfold. This is also the story of her transition from assisting births to assisting deaths, and how she sustains herself in order to be able to assist others. THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 43
fitness+wellbeing 4 exercises for your shoulders and a strong posture Karl and Eddie from Vitruvian Health share a short workout you can do at the gym or at home to improve your posture. For a nurse or midwife, a typical workday is spent either standing or hunched over a desk. This tends to lead to shoulder tightness, neck stiffness and aches after finishing for the day. If you’ve ever wondered why this is happening, it’s an accumulation of postural fatigue over time.
You can follow this workout on Vitruvian Health’s Instagram channel. 44 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
To help with your posture, we’ve put together some workout ideas to strengthen your shoulders: Shoulder Extension • Sit with your • f eet hip-width apart in front of you and your arms behind you with palms on the floor and thumbs pointing outwards •P ush your palms and heels into the floor for support and lift your hips. •O nce your body and thighs are parallel, hold for a moment. •L ower hips to floor and repeat for 20 reps. Single Arm Lat Row • Hold a bar, handle or stretch band with your right hand using a firm grip. • Stand with your feet hip distance apart. • Lean your hips backwards until your back flattens and you feel the stretch through your lats. • Knees can be bent or straight, depending on how you feel the stretch. • Pull bar or band towards you till your elbow touches your hip for 10 reps. • Repeat on the left-hand side.
Long Bar Short Pull • Hold a bar or band in front of you with both hands placed wider than shoulder width. • Stand with your feet hip distance apart. • Lean your hips backwards until your back flattens and you feel the stretch through your lats. • Knees can be bent or straight, depending on how you feel the stretch. • Pull bar or band towards your thighs for 10 reps. • As you lengthen, bring your back in line with your eyes and keep your arms straight. Rhomboid Wide Row • Hold a bar or band with both hands placed apart twice the width of your shoulders. • Stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. • Pull bar or band towards your chest, pulling your elbows out as wide as you can when they are in line with the body.
NURSING RESEARCH AND PROFESSIONAL ISSUES There is one certainty about pandemics: there will be others. Nursing online looks at the proposal for a Pandemic Treaty to prepare for future pandemics. “Effective post-pandemic governance must focus on shared challenges” Williamson, et al. The Lancet, 16 May 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted profound weaknesses in the global governance of health: inadequate preparation, coordination and accountability hampered the collective response of nations at each stage. Changes to the global health architecture are necessary to mitigate the health and socioeconomic damage of the ongoing pandemic, and to prepare for the next major global threat to health. Against this backdrop, on 4 April 2022, the London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK, hosted a meeting on the topic “Paying the Pandemic Piper: Global Health and Economic Security”. The cross-sectoral stakeholders who participated in the meeting arrived at several insights. They recommended international institutions focus on their core missions and unique capabilities to respond to global externalities – i.e. policy areas and challenges where the actions or inaction of any one country affect all global actors. Their core recommendation was for international institutions to focus on fulfilling their unique capabilities by sharing knowledge between countries, pooling resources and distributing benefits equitably between countries, monitoring the preparedness of health systems within and across countries, and convening national actors effectively and in real time. https://www.thelancet.com/ journals/lancet/article/PIIS01406736(22)00891-1/fulltext What is the proposed WHO Pandemic Preparedness Treaty? UK Parliament Research Briefing 18 May 2022
In March 2021, a group of world leaders announced an initiative for a new treaty on pandemic preparedness and response. This
initiative was taken to the World Health Organization (WHO) and will be negotiated, drafted and debated by a newly established Intergovernmental Negotiation Body. This briefing gives an overview of the background, progress and developments of the treaty as of May 2022. https://researchbriefings.files. parliament.uk/documents/CBP-9550/ CBP-9550.pdf “Why the WHO is pushing for a global ‘pandemic treaty” A. Taylor, Washington Post, 11 November 2021
The global response to COVID-19 was a disorganised, inequitable disaster. At least 5 million people around the world have died from COVID-19. There are still around 50,000 reported deaths a week. Even wealthy and vaccineabundant places like the United States and Western Europe are seeing persistently high cases, while lower-income nations are running roughly a decade behind them in vaccination rates in one analysis. Later this month, officials from around the world will convene for a special meeting to discuss how the global system that responded to COVID-19 can be fixed before future pandemics. The meeting, an exceedingly rare special session of the World Health Assembly to begin on 29 November, will see deliberations on how to strengthen the World Health Organization among its member states. Though less hyped than the UN climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, the event has ambitions almost as lofty – and perhaps almost as difficult to achieve. Among the more radical ideas is a binding piece of international legislation on pandemic preparedness – a “pandemic treaty” – that would set in place new global architecture for dealing with future outbreaks, to avoid the mistakes of COVID-19. The idea has high-profile backers,
including WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and scores of world leaders from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. But some countries are less enthusiastic: the United States, Brazil, China and Russia have not backed calls for the treaty. Opponents argue that such a measure could impinge on national sovereignty and curtail private sector innovation. https://www.washingtonpost.com/ world/2021/11/11/who-global-pandemictreaty/ “The World Needs a Post-Pandemic Health Treaty With Teeth: WHO has no power to demand openness or independently confirm data at present” Gostin, et al, Foreign Policy, 5 April 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the devastating and deadly shortcomings of current global health cooperation and governance, leading 25 world leaders to call for a powerful upgrade: a pandemic treaty. The International Health Regulations (IHR) is the world’s current global health treaty, but from the beginning of the pandemic the regulations failed. What would an effective and powerful treaty look like? A joint press briefing by WHO and European Council last week argued for a rapid and verifiable alert system, data sharing, transparency, improved supply chains for vaccines and therapeutics, and equity in the distribution of personal protective equipment and medical countermeasures. The treaty should include much more. To begin with, WHO needs power to independently verify official state reports – and it needs to be honest in alerting the world when countries don’t act responsibly and transparently. There is no sure solution, but one model could be the kind of inspection and notification regime that currently exists on nuclear weapon de-proliferation. https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/04/05/ who-un-pandemic-treaty-healthregulations/ THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022 | 45
New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association
Summary of Financial Information for the Year Ended 31 December 2021
he financial statements of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association have been audited in accordance with the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act 1991, and the following summary is provided for members in accordance with Section 517(2) of the Act, as applied by section 282(3) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1996. A copy of the Financial Statements, including the independent Audit Report, will be supplied free of charge to members upon request. Certificates required to be given under the Act by the Accounting Officer and the Committee of Management have been completed in accordance with the provisions of the Act and contain no qualifications.
SUMMARY STATEMENT OF PROFIT OR LOSS AND OTHER COMPREHENSIVE INCOME FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2021 2021 ($) Membership revenue 47,419,540 NursePower fund subscriptions 967,753 Other income 3,262,791 Total income 51,650,084 Less total expenditure (46,794,849) Result for the year 4,855,235 Remeasurement of retirement benefit obligations 29,315 Total comprehensive income attributable to members 4,884,550 SUMMARY BALANCE SHEET AS AT 31 DECEMBER 2021 Total equity 53,422,384 Represented by: Current assets 15,920,466 Non-current assets 45,450,997 Total assets 61,371,463 Current liabilities 7,659,497 Non-current liabilities 289,582 Total liabilities 7,949,079 Net assets 53,422,384 INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED TO MEMBERS OR REGISTRAR In accordance with the requirements of the Industrial Relations Act, 1991 [NSW] the attention of members is drawn to the provisions of Sub-Sections (1) and (2) of Section 512 which read as follows: (1) A member of an organisation, or the Industrial Registrar, may apply to the organisation for specified information prescribed by the regulations in relation to the organisation. (2) An organisation must, on the making of such an application, make the specified information available to the member or the Industrial Registrar in the manner, and within the time, prescribed by the regulations. 46 | THE LAMP JUNE/JULY 2022
2020 ($) 44,654,489 922,663 2,659,577 48,236,729 (45,300,812) 2,935,917 (45,662) 2,890,255
48,596,464 19,714,935 36,446,990 56,161,925 7,255,919 309,542 7,565,461 48,596,464
Summary Financial Statements The summary financial statements do not contain all the disclosures required by section 510 of the Industrial Relations Act 1991 [NSW] or Australian Accounting Standards. Reading the summary financial statements and the auditor’s report thereon, therefore, is not a substitute for reading the audited financial report and the auditor’s report thereon. The Audited Financial Report and Our Report Thereon We expressed an unmodified audit opinion on the audited financial report in our report dated 5 April 2022. 1/ Our Independent Auditor’s Report to the members on the Financial Report did not contain any particulars of any deficiency, failure or shortcoming as referred to in the Industrial Relations Act, 1991 [NSW], as applied by section 282(3) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1996. Committee of Management’s Responsibility for the Summary Financial Statements The Committee of Management is responsible for the preparation of the summary financial statements. Auditor’s Responsibility Our responsibility is to express an opinion on whether the summary financial statements are a fair summary of the audited financial report based on our procedures, which were conducted in accordance with Auditing Standard ASA 810 Engagements to Report on Summary Financial Statements.
REPORT OF THE INDEPENDENT AUDITOR ON THE SUMMARY FINANCIAL STATEMENTS TO THE MEMBERS OF THE NEW SOUTH WALES NURSES AND MIDWIVES’ ASSOCIATION
Opinion The summary financial statements, which comprise the summary balance sheet as at 31 December 2021 and the summary statement of profit or loss and other comprehensive income for the year then ended are derived from the audited financial report of New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association for the year ended 31 December 2021. In our opinion, the accompanying summary financial statements are a fair summary of the audited financial report. 5/
5 April 2022, Wollongong
Liability limited by a Scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation
A copy of the Financial Report, including the Independent Audit Report, is available to members on the Member Central portal accessed via www. nswnma.asn.au. Members can obtain a hard copy by emailing the General Secretary, NSWNMA at gensec@ nswnma.asn.au or calling 1300 367 962.
Join the bank that puts healthcare professionals first hpbank.com.au/Joinus
Membership is open to citizens or permanent residents of Australia who are current or retired employees in the Australian health sector or are family members of members (i.e. shareholders) of the Bank. Teachers Mutual Bank Limited ABN 30 087 650 459 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 238981 | BE02138 NSWNMJ 0522
Authorised by B. Holmes, General Secretary, New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association, 50 O’Dea Ave, Waterloo NSW 2017