Thursday, 03 August 2023
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation SA Branch Conference
It is my great pleasure to be with you today and to launch the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation SA Branch Conference for 2023.
I begin by thanking you all, as nurses, midwives and personal care workers, for your outstanding efforts to meet the challenges of recent years.
The demands and unknowns of a global pandemic, workforce shortages, an ageing South Australian population and other factors have, and continue to, put healthcare workers under considerable pressure.
I thank you sincerely for the dedication and resilience you have shown during this time.
I trust you are looking after yourselves and, as much as possible in our busy lives, prioritising your own rest.
I note that Taryn Brumfitt, 2023 Australian of the Year and body image advocate, is your keynote speaker this afternoon.
Last week Taryn took part in our Winter Conversations Series at Government House, where we open the house to the public to hear from influential South Australians on topics of importance to the wellbeing and prosperity of our state.
On the topic of mental health and body image, Taryn had a lot of very useful and practical things to say about resilience, which I trust will be helpful to you all.
Today’s conference theme, ‘Stronger Together – uniting nurses and midwives for global health’, is an excellent reference both to the need for peer support in the workplace and to the larger issues at play at home and beyond our borders.
My years in leadership as a diplomat, and now as Governor, have taught me the vital importance of unity and collaboration within our workplaces and between our professions.
Part of this is having great respect for, and actively encouraging, diverse voices in our workplaces, as this makes for better decision making and an overall stronger workforce.
As a former diplomat, I am also naturally mindful of the value of an informed world view which helps shape our actions and positions us to seek to influence where we can.
I should also say I have great respect for nurses and am proud to have a first cousin twice removed, Sister Patricia Cashmore, who served in the East African Nursing Service during the Second World War.
Tragically, she was killed in 1944 while travelling on a troopship which was sunk by a Japanese submarine.
Sister Patricia is remembered by ‘Cashmore Street’ in Loxton, one of many streets in the town named after Australian World War II nurses who died in service.
I am also extremely grateful to the midwives who supported me during the birth of my four children, now adults, at four different hospitals – three in Canberra and one in London.
As we are all well aware, obstetricians will try to get there in time, but midwives are always there when it counts.
I have the highest regard and heartfelt appreciation for your skills and professionalism.
I thank all the nursing professionals here today for the contribution you are making to the health of our community.
It would difficult to find a single South Australian who has not been cared for by a nurse.
You support us from birth to death, from the most joyful to the most difficult times in our lives.
I firmly believe that nursing is not just an occupation, it’s a vocation, and I thank you all for choosing this path.
Today’s speaker program contains a wide range of intriguing topics, from how digital technologies are widening capacities for patient care, to how having compassion for patients affects your health as a nursing professional, and even how nurses can play a role in tackling climate change.
I trust you will take valuable learnings from, and considerable enjoyment in, today’s proceedings.
I am now pleased to declare the conference officially open.