Newly appointed ANMF Federal Vice President Lori-anne Sharp believes nurses and midwives have the ability to become influential leaders.
“Nurses and midwives are often the pillars in our society that many people refer to when they need help,” she explains. “Nurses and midwives’ ability to empathise and show compassion is a great strength. I’d like to encourage nurses and midwives to be leaders within their workplace and get involved with their union because they have much to offer and it can open the way to many different opportunities.”
A Registered Nurse with more than two decades of experience, Lori-anne has spent the majority of her career in district nursing working for the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) across a variety of roles and sites.
A decade ago she took up a role with the RDNS Homeless Persons Program (HPP), a specialised team of Community Health nurses who provide healthcare to people experiencing homelessness.
She is currently a Team Coordinator managing a team of nurses who deliver healthcare to some of the most vulnerable.
“My values and ideals around social justice and equity in health lent itself to joining the HPP,” Lori-anne recalls.
Lori-anne says she’s never met anyone who chose to be homeless.
Her passion for the sector stems from a desire to offer hope, understanding, and ensuring those experiencing homelessness receive the same level of healthcare as the rest of the population.
“Circumstances that lead people to homelessness are often complex. We see a lot of generational poverty, a history of childhood trauma and mental illness. Homelessness is not just having a safe place to live but also having the family and community supports that many people often take for granted.
“In terms of nursing, it’s an honour to be a nurse. You experience intimate relationships with people and that is a privilege. It’s also fantastic working amongst nurses, who understand the frailties of life and what is important.”
Looking back, given Lori-anne’s drive to advocate for others and improve conditions in the workplace, becoming a more active member within the ANMF seemed a logical step.
She rose from a Job Representative to joining the Victorian Branch Council in 2004 and became a pivotal cog in the union effort negotiating EBAs on behalf of members and securing landmark policies such as nurse-to-patient ratios.
Several campaigns stand out for Lori-anne, including the 2007 EBA where she felt the flood of emotion watching Victorian Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick walk into Dallas Brooks Hall to announce victory. “There’s been many monumental moments along the way. It’s a fantastic experience to be part of the leadership team and have inspirational role models to learn from.”
Lori-anne officially began her new post last month, taking over from predecessor Maree Burgess.
Undoubtedly, the role presents new challenges and a chance to trigger change. Lori-anne says she is looking forward to tackling numerous key areas of focus within the ANMF, including protecting penalty rates, ensuring qualified staff in aged care, safeguarding universal healthcare, and supporting assisted dying legislation.
On a personal note, she plans to use her newfound voice to raise awareness about social justice issues like affordable housing and how a well-considered national housing strategy could positively impact the health of those disadvantaged.
Lori-anne describes herself as a natural leader, approachable and able to connect people together.
She is committed to the nursing profession and mobilising the nursing workforce. She says her promotion to Federal Vice President heralds a great opportunity to further her dedication to the union movement.
“I’ll be on a learning curve but I’m certainly ready for it. I’ll really enjoy the national perspective and challenge. I will be mindful of looking at issues from a national standpoint.”
As part of her new appointment to Federal Vice President, Lori-anne will write regular columns in the ANMJ throughout the year.
She says topics of interest she’d like to delve into include increasing activism within communities, mobilising the nursing workforce, and the benefits of reflective practice.
Now an integral part of the ANMF’s Federal Executive, Lori-anne says she hopes to bring people together and build on the union’s reach. “I’d like to empower all nurses to get active within their union, organise and support each other to speak out about injustices. Nurses should be encouraged to hold leadership roles within their workplaces and communities.”
To read more articles from ANMJ, view the full journal online at https://issuu.com/australiannursingfederation/docs/anmj_may_17_issuu