STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS - Health Care Main Image

 I rise today to pay tribute to our incredible nurses and to thank them for their ongoing work on the front lines of this pandemic. Our nurses undertake incredibly valuable work, and the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated just how much we rely on our highly skilled nursing workforce. However, they work in often extremely difficult environments, and, tragically, nurses experience ridiculously high levels of workplace violence. In fact, a 2018 study found over 90 per cent of our nurses and midwives had experienced workplace aggression, and 25 per cent had experienced inappropriate physical or sexual contact while at work. We've heard horrible stories of nurses and midwives being forced to work 12-hour shifts or longer in full PPE, which is no mean feat; having sick leave denied; and having gag orders put in place on their comments. We have a depleted workforce, particularly in aged care, and people are leaving the profession in droves.

I recently met with the Australian College of Nursing, which identified a number of crucial priorities for the government to address this crisis. Firstly, the ACN is seeking an enhanced pandemic bonus to thank and help retain our valuable healthcare workers. We need to enable families and carers to visit their loved ones. Among other core objectives, the ACN wants the government to highlight and actively prevent the trauma and abuse that our dedicated healthcare workers frequently experience. The pandemic and the coalition's ongoing aged-care crisis need immediate action. I thank our nurses for everything they do. (Time expired)