On the day the nation stops to remember past and present servicemen who have fought and died in war this ANZAC day, spare a thought for Australian nurses who bravely looked after the sick and injured during the World Wars as well as those involved in all conflicts and peacekeeping missions since.
Just as their predecessors before them, nurses serving for the Australian Defence Force today can often work in dangerous, trying conditions which could involve anything from working as part of a relief effort to caring for sick or injured troops during times of conflict or at peace. This month’s feature delves into some of the experiences of military nurses and describes some of the highs and the lows of their job.
Equally brave are civilian nurses such as our South East Asian Treaty Organisation (SEATO) nurses who volunteered to serve in Vietnam during the war. Like Vietnam veterans many of them experienced the traumas of conflict and have consequently been affected by the same mental and physical conditions as their counterparts. However, unlike those who served in the military, SEATO nurses do not have access to veterans’ entitlements because they are viewed by the government as civilians.
The SEATO nurses along with the support of the ANMF have been campaigning tirelessly for some time to have them recognised under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation will pay tribute to all military and civilian nurses this ANZAC day by placing a wreath at the Nurses War Memorial in Canberra.
Last month the ninth Closing the Gap report card, handed down by the government, indicated just one of the seven Closing the Gap targets was on track to be met. It has been almost a decade since the federal government committed to addressing Indigenous disadvantage, making it crucial that these targets are addressed immediately.
While there is much to be done, nurses and midwives are working hard towards improving health and social outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as indicated in this month’s ANMJ focus section on Indigenous health.
However it is up to all of us to make change. To find out more about Closing the Gap and to take action, go to Oxfam’s campaign website www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/indigenous-australia/close-the-gap/
As I sign off I would like to congratulate Sally-Anne Jones on her re-election as ANMF’s Federal President. We also welcome Lori-anne Sharp who was elected ANMF’s Federal Vice President, replacing Maree Burgess.
I look forward to closely working with both Sally-Anne and Lori-anne on tackling the crucial issues impacting nurses and midwives.
I would also like to thank our previous Vice President Maree Burgess for her commitment over the past two years. Her support, assistance and counsel have been greatly appreciated.
To read more articles from ANMJ, view the full journal online at https://issuu.com/australiannursingfederation/docs/anmj_april_2017_issuu_254b95647bcb50