Recently I attended the Australian Council on Social Services (ACOSS) annual conference, Community: the Heart of the Economy. The range of social issues discussed included: unemployment; the realities of living on income support; income management; social exclusion; the National Disability Insurance Scheme; energy affordability; workplace gender balance; housing affordability and homelessness; racism; Australia’s retirement system; women and poverty; and, climate change and extreme weather effects on the community. Through ACOSS membership, the ANF contributes to policy and advocacy work aimed at improving the lives of those who are disadvantaged in our community.
As nurses and midwives, you are the health professionals closest to people across all socioeconomic situations. You see the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system. These are the social determinants of health. In your daily work you encounter people in crisis times, in vulnerable times, and those trapped in poverty. You see firsthand the effects of poverty and disadvantage on people’s health; and, the outcomes of inequities in access to health care.
Along with 25 other organisations, the ANF is a partner in the Social Determinants of Health Alliance, formed in 2012. The Alliance works with governments to improve health outcomes for all Australians, and especially among those who are subject to social or economic disadvantage. It aims to influence development of social, economic and health policies which will deliver greater equity and fairer outcomes for the health and wellbeing of our community.
Through membership of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the ANF also demonstrates a concern for the broader international community by providing professional, industrial and/or financial support to nurses and midwives situated in impoverished countries. Many ANF members regularly contribute to the Australian People for Health, Education and Development Abroad (APHEDA) fund, created in 1984 as the overseas aid agency of the ACTU.
On 12 May each year, the global nursing community celebrates the birth date of Florence Nightingale, through International Nurses Day activities. This year’s theme: Closing the Gap: Millennium Development Goals 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 fits well with the ethos of the ANF - to create a fairer society, a fairer world, where everyone shares health and economic benefits.
As Professor Moore says: “Australians ought to get it, because it is just about a fair go…” (Commonwealth of Australia 2013).The ANF Federal Office Professional Team encourages you to visit the following websites to keep informed of social justice programs in which the ANF participates on your behalf.
Commonwealth of Australia. 2013. Community Affairs References Committee: Australia’s domestic response to the World Health Organization’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health report “Closing the gap within a generation”. Senate Printing Unit, Parliament House: Canberra.
Federal Professional Officer