International Nurses Day | SPEECH


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 12:06 :03 ): It is a pleasure to support the member for Elder and bring this fantastic motion forward that we recognise International Nurses Day and that we recognise this year’s theme—Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective—and that we congratulate South Australian nurses for their dedication and professionalism and the pivotal role that they play in the advancement of all South Australians’ health. This is a fantastic example of a very genuine heartfelt motion being brought to parliament by a person who knows firsthand what she is talking about and it is fantastic to listen to all of the contributions from both sides of this house because it is genuinely heartfelt from our own particular perspectives.

I do not have the perspective of the member for Colton; I have never been inside nurses’ quarters anywhere, but I am pleased, as others have been, to brag about the fact that I am married to a nurse. The theme for this year—Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective—is the way Rebecca contributes to our household and in many other ways as well. It really is a very apt description, not just about nurses and not just about the way they go about their work and about the profession overall, but about the people as individuals.

In my electorate of Stuart—which runs from Kapunda, through the Mid North, a little bit of the Riverland, and all the way up to the Northern Territory/Queensland/New South Wales borders—nurses are contributing absolutely everywhere. Whether it is the largest hospital in our electorate at Port Augusta or whether it is essentially a medical centre at Oodnadatta, nurses are the backbone of those establishments and so I thank them. I thank the ones who do that in our electorate and I thank nurses across the state for their contribution to our state’s health. It is a very important thing that you do and it is appropriate that it is recognised by this house so, again, thanks to the member for Elder for bringing it forward.

Of course, as others have said, there is a very wide range of nursing that can be done. My wife, Rebecca, is a theatre nurse and works in cardiac, orthopaedic, and major accident and emergency nursing. She assures me that there is no blood and guts at all in those things. She actually says, ‘If you see blood, there is a problem.’ It is generally a very clean, very well organised, very thorough area of work and she thoroughly loves it. But, of course, there are lots of enormously wide areas that people can work as a nurse. One of the great attractions of the profession is that there is a huge range of directions that a person—man or woman—can take their career if they want to embark upon a nursing career. They could stay in all sorts of mainstream health. They could end up in administration. There is an enormous array of choices and I think that is very important.

Rebecca tells me that hospital-trained nurses are much better than the current tertiary-trained nurses. Those in the room who know about these things will have their preferences. Those in the room who know about these things will also know that that gives her age away as well, but she has a strong view that that is the case. I also have a view that the work that has evolved over the last several years with nurse practitioners is something that could be developed further and used more for the benefit of our community.

I am sure the others agree; they are just very polite. Particularly from my perspective in a country electorate where it has become harder and harder to find GPs and other doctors who want to come and visit or live and work in our electorate, I think there is a huge role for nurse practitioners that could be expanded to help us, but I am sure it is true in metropolitan Adelaide as well.

I get back to something that the member for Colton discussed about trust. Nurses are extremely well trusted. It is very normal for a patient, after the doctor has left, to want the nurse to actually explain what was really said, what they were really told. ‘What does it really mean? Can you get away from the strict medicine and the technicalities of it, put it into layman’s language and, perhaps more importantly, tell me what it means for me, my life, my family, and what I am going to do for the next five minutes, five hours, five weeks or five years?’ That is the sort of thing that people go to nurses for probably more than they do to doctors, on average.

A bit has been spoken about nurses’ hands-on work. I think it is a two-way street. I think that people who are attracted to the nursing profession are typically caring, nurturing, practical, hands-on people, but then of course people who stay with that career, by definition, must be caring, nurturing, practical, hands-on people.

If you then add to that the realities of shift work and what that brings for lots and lots of people, you have got to be a practical person to be prepared to work all day, all night, start early in the morning, start early in the afternoon—whatever it happens to be. You need to be a hands-on, down-to-earth sort of a person to be dealing with patients, dealing with the practicalities of the work and dealing with the time constraints that the work can put on you.

The trust that comes out of those types of people doing that work very well means that not only does the community trust nurses about their own personal and their own immediate family’s health needs, they actually trust nurses about their views on health and health policy. The member for Elder touched on the fact that for some nurses it is very hard to go to the supermarket without having to interpret, diagnose or share personal views, and that must be very hard at times.

I would just like to add to that the fact that the broader community trusts nurses with regard to their views on health policy. I think it is well and truly in line to remind this house that the health minister, Jack Snelling, said here in parliament that any SA Health professional was welcome to share their personal view on health policy without any fear of retribution from him or from the department.

I give him great credit for having said that. I think that is a very important statement, and I think it is a statement that needs to be shared far and wide across metropolitan Adelaide and across our entire state. From Mount Gambier to Marla to Port Lincoln, people need to know that the health minister has said that government employees, public servant health professionals, are entitled to share their views on government policy. I think it is particularly important that nurses do that because they are probably the most trusted of all the people who work in health.

Again, it is a great pleasure to support the member for Elder and others. The member for Fisher has a personal nursing background. I do not think we have a nurse on our side, but I think you will find that we have an enormous number of people who are immediately connected with nurses, as I am with my wife, Rebecca. I will just finish by again saying thank you to those present, and thank you to those who are not present who work as nurses, because you are the ones, more than anyone else—not exclusively but more than anyone else—who keep all of us in South Australia healthy. Thank you.