ANMJ Featured Story


Wednesday 24th January, 2018

Recently elected ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary Emily Shepherd is passionate about ensuring all nurses, midwives and care workers feel valued in their work.

“Ensuring that members interests across all sectors are represented equally is really important to me and will be a priority, as well as achieving positive outcomes for individual members and the wider nursing and midwifery teams into the future”.

Ms Shepherd was elected ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary last November. A Registered Nurse (RN) with broad experience in the public, private and aged care sectors, she has worked across medical, surgical and oncology specialties, in education and leadership.

“Certainly, having an understanding of the public, private and aged care sectors has, and will continue to be, beneficial in the Secretary position particularly in being able to understand and effectively advocate for the individual nuances between the sectors.”

Ms Shepherd, who has a Masters in Clinical Nursing and has worked as a Nurse Unit Manager, Clinical Nurse Educator and Clinical Facilitator, has a passion for nursing education, and safety and quality.

Following her time as an active Workplace Representative Ms Shepherd joined the ANMF Tasmanian Branch Council in 2012; and after 12 months became Branch President, a position she held for five years.

“Joining Branch Council was a culmination of a desire to combine my nursing experience with my passion for supporting my nursing colleagues, the nursing and midwifery professions and most importantly fighting for transparency and equity in the Tasmanian health system,”
Ms Shepherd says.

Ms Shepherd was an active workplace representative in the public sector, at a time of massive state budget cuts.

“The government had demanded cost cutting and so the decision was made by management to close down a ward. It was a time of great uncertainty and everyone felt disempowered. Particularly those staff who were on fixed term contracts.

“However, at a time of turmoil ANMF along with staff were proactive and held a huge campaign and community rallies. Unfortunately, it didn’t reverse the decision to close the ward but with the support of the ANMF it allowed all members the chance to have their voices heard and enabled the opportunity to pursue every avenue to stop the closures and support patient care.”

As ANMF Tasmanian Branch President Ms Shepherd worked closely alongside the then Tasmanian Branch Secretary Neroli Ellis in lobbying federal politicians and “demanding that they listen to our members concerns”.

“There was mixed opinions about the federal assistance package to Tasmania and politically it was a contentious issue.

“We really lobbied for an injection of funds for Tasmania’s health system following the state budget cuts. It was a huge win which bolstered the Tasmanian health system.”

Following the ANMF President role, Ms Shepherd took up an internal position as ANMF Professional Officer in 2016. She says during that time there were key wins for all nurses and midwives across all sectors, such as additional public sector beds, recurrent state funding for the John L Grove Centre and the retention of the Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme. Significant priorities across all sectors lie ahead, she says.

The ANMF Tasmanian Branch is currently consulting with members in the lead up to   the new public sector Enterprise Agreement in March 2018. There is great concern that the state government’s wages cap would continue with a 2% pay rise. “This would leave Tasmanian nurses and midwives by the end of the year the lowest paid in Australia, and the Tasmanian nursing and midwifery professions at risk,” says Ms Shepherd.

There are already currently over 240 vacancies in the public sector. “In Tasmania recruitment and retention is absolutely essential to bothv the public and private health sectors. We want to keep our current nurses and midwives and recruit more graduates in Tasmania and even potentially from interstate.”

The ANMF Tasmanian Branch also secured in principle agreement in 2016 from the state government to explore a nurse to patient staffing ratio model and remains a priority for the ANMF Tasmanian Branch to see this improved workload model implemented.

Similarly, workloads in the private sector are a predominant concern, says Ms Shepherd. “We want to ensure that there is appropriate levels of staffing that allows members to be able to deliver quality care.”

Ms Shepherd said the Tasmanian ANMF Branch will be part of the Federation’s national aged care campaign in 2018. “The Tasmanian ANMF Branch will be joining in the national campaign to ensure it is a federal election priority and that aged care is not ignored. The priority is for legislated mandatory minimum staffing levels across all of aged care and for greater transparency around funding. We need to offer the aged care workforce as much support as we can “as it is members desire in aged care to provide the highest level of quality care but it is incredibly challenging when you may be the sole RN for 80 residents and beyond.”

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