More than 100 passionate delegates converged in Hobart last month for the ANMF’s 13th Biennial National Conference.
The conference theme, The Future We Want...What Will it Take?, was enthusiastically embraced as delegates discussed and debated important issues on healthcare and social justice issues they wanted action on. Common themes included aged care, safe staffing levels, the environment and marriage equality.
At the conference’s opening address ANMF’s Federal President Sally-Anne Jones said nurses and midwives had a responsibility to check the health and safety of all global citizens. “It will take vision and determination to create strategy to address the complex issues of the health system today such as the burden of disease, an ageing population and our workforce.”
Ms Jones said having the future we want will take some courage. “The courage of conviction, unity of purpose and strength in numbers. It’s not easy being a nurse or a midwife and a union leader, no matter what your working environment is.
“To cut through public mistrust of the union movement means that we have to work harder to demonstrate this additional responsibility of a much trusted profession. This is vital in maintaining and improving some of the basic tenets of the workforce and workplace rights.”
The future we want is ours for the making despite what may seem like overwhelming competing priorities and difficult choices and challenges, said Ms Jones. “Nurses and midwives of this union are well equipped. I know we already have what it takes it’s just a matter of getting on with it.”
ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas, who also spoke at the conference, said reflecting on the theme The Future We Want...What Will it Take? reminded her of the gains the union had made over the years.
She said the growth of the membership was an outstanding example of the ANMF’s strength. “Membership is sitting on around 270,000. We have continued to grow over the last decade without falter.
“The ANMF is the largest union in the country and because of our continued growth and the massive work you do every day in your workplaces I am very confident we will continue to be the largest union in Australia for many years to come.”
Ms Thomas said while union growth was a tangible indicator of success the campaigns run at a state and national
level have made the ANMF a creditable well-run union.
Such campaigns have included fighting cuts to Medicare and privatisation of hospitals across the country. “We’ve suggested logical solutions to hospital funding in recommending to governments tax changes such as the Robyn Hood Tax,” Ms Thomas said.
“We have joined the campaign for assisted suicide and we have fought against the reduction of penalty rates and we have also fought for marriage equality- these are just a few of the campaigns we have been involved in”.
Yet Ms Thomas said the union still needed to achieve much more.
“Like a healthy planet for our children and our grandchildren. A well financed public health system for all, assurance that all graduate nurses and midwives get jobs, exemplary wages and best conditions of employment possible.
“We also need a Fair Work Act and a modern award system that is fair and works for us all as well as mandated minimum staffing and skill mix in aged care and decent standards in aged care.
Ms Thomas said it would take the union and its members working at a state and national level to make this happen.
“We need to campaign effectively- as we always do. We need an Australian government that responds to our reasonable requests- after all we are the ones that know what is needed in our private and public hospitals, in aged care, in doctors’ rooms, in schools. In fact wherever there is a nurse or midwife I can guarantee any government that we will know what it takes to solve any problem. We are the biggest, now let us be the loudest.”
To read more articles from ANMJ, view the full journal online at https://issuu.com/australiannursingfederation/docs/anmj_october_17_book_issuu