The Australian Nursing Federation has a new leadership team with Lee Thomas assuming the role of federal secretary and Yvonne Chaperon taking on the federal assistant secretary position from today (1 July 2010).
Ms Thomas said she felt honoured to be leading Australia’s third largest and fastest growing union. Prior to taking on the role of assistant federal secretary of the ANF in 2008 Ms Thomas was secretary of the South Australian Branch of the union. “I feel a great sense of pride and responsibility in working to achieve outcomes that are important to the ANF’s 175,000 members, the residents of aged care facilities and patients across Australia who need nursing and midwifery services.”
Ms Thomas says her experience working in a South Australian nursing home when she was 17 solidified her ambition to become a nurse. “When I was 17 years-old I worked part time as a personal care worker in a South Australian nursing home. Staff to resident ratios were about one to eight back then,” she said.
Ms Chaperon has a background in nursing and the law and joined the ANF Victorian Branch, first in 2003 as a professional officer and then an industrial officer, because she wanted to “make a difference”. Her hard work and dedication to the nursing and midwifery workforce saw her rise to assistant branch secretary of the Victorian ANF in 2007.
Ms Chaperon says she is proud to take up the position of assistant secretary with the ANF federal office and looks forward to the challenges ahead. “Nursing and midwifery have come a long way and we have achieved great things for our members but much work remains to be done, particularly in aged care where many nurses are paid up to $300 per week less than their colleagues.”
Ms Thomas and Ms Chaperon take on the leadership of the ANF at a time of great challenges for the aged care sector in particular. “Health reform and aged care will be our number one priority in the lead up to the election and post-election where we are keen to pursue issues of licensing, staff ratios and pay equity,” Ms Thomas said.
Ms Chaperon said the ANF welcomed the federal government aged care initiatives in the May Budget but said there was a long way to go. “Our Because We Care campaign will continue for as long as it takes to gain equity for nurses and assistants in nursing in aged care. Our members deserve better and older Australians who need expert care deserve the best quality care.”