Getting better together: NZNO's annual conference provides the opportunity for the organisation's professional and industrial activists to come together and discuss and debate issues important to the organisation and to the profession.
Article Type: Conference notes
Subject: Medical societies (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Medical societies (Aims and objectives)
Author: O'Connor, Teresa
Pub Date: 10/01/2010
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Oct, 2010 Source Volume: 16 Source Issue: 9
Topic: Event Code: 220 Strategy & planning
Product: Product Code: 8622000 Medical Associations NAICS Code: 81392 Professional Organizations SIC Code: 8621 Professional organizations
Organization: Organization: New Zealand Nurses Organisation; New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 241179356

Getting better together was the theme of NZNO's annual conference in Wellington last month. Attended by close to 300 delegates and guests, the first day was devoted to NZNO business--the annual report, the state of the finances, what the membership looks like, rule and policy remits, endorsements of the strategic plan 2010-2015 and the timetable for further consultation on a new draft constitution.

The most important feature of the first day was honouring the work of regional NZNO activists and national leaders. The day ended with the announcement of the winners of NZNO's and Te Runanga o Aotearoa NZNO's top honours. Former president Marion Guy received the Award of Honour and long-time Maori health activist and academic Janice Wenn was awarded the Akenehi Hei Memorial Award (see p17).

The second day of conference began with a fast-paced, thought-provoking debate, New Zealand health system--world leader? Two teams, each of three speakers, tackled the subject in a lively fashion, which kept delegates engaged throughout (see pp20-21). The day also featured four workshops and four presentations, each exploring a different aspect of nursing.

In a joint opening address, president Nano Tunnicliff and kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku reviewed the achievements of the last year, both drawing inspiration from the speech given by United States health care commentator Suzanne Gordon at last years centennial conference.

Nuku told delegates NZNO's strength was in its collective voice. "We are not just a nurse, just a student or just a health care worker. We are valuable and we must value the work we do. We must acknowledge who we are as an organisation and acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses. At times of crisis and significant change in the health sector, we come together," she said.

Gordon's "four Rs for RNs"--respect, recognition, rewards and resources--and her plea to educate communities about the nature of nursing were important guides, Nuku said.

Tunnicliff said it was important to reflect on achievements and celebrate successes and she thanked all activists and staff for their dedication to the work of NZNO. "We are privileged to be working alongside you all."

Achievements of the last year included:

* ratification of the National Terms of Settlement, which saw three unions in the health sector negotiating together;

* the continuing Te Rau Kokiri campaign which, uniquely, saw employees and employers working together to a common end;

* improved union density in aged care;

* the work of the Safe Staffing Healthy Workplaces Unit;

* the formation of the primary health care nurses' college;

* whanau ora funding;

* the appointment of a former NZNO president Jane O'Malley as chief nurse;

* an expanded scope of practice and education programme for enrolled nurses; and

* publication of the centennial history, Freed to Care, Proud to Nurse.

Referring to the chief nurse appointment, Tunnicliff said O'Malley had a sound understanding of the impact of government policy on nurses' work. The fact she had come through NZNO ranks and her activism in Canterbury in the mid-80s gave Tunnicliff confidence that the rights of patients and those who cared for them would be paramount for O'Malley.

Nuku said ENs' collective and persistent voice had paid off and there was now a staircasing approach to nursing education. "That was my nursing pathway and one of which T am immensely proud."

Tunnicliff said NZNO was building momentum to fight the Government's proposed changes to employment law. "If the changes are passed into law it will mean the return of the Employment Contracts Act and I don't need to remind you of what that was like. Nursing took a long time to recover. It will not be a level playing field but one heavily weighted in favour of employers."

'Nurses must be politically visible'

Gordon had said that nurses were gritty, persistent and smart and those attributes needed to be displayed proudly and without fear, Tunnicliff said.

"Nurses must become politically visible. We are the backbone of health and should have huge input into health policy. We are change agents who can ensure nurses are freed to care and proud to nurse."

Nuku quoted the director general of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan, who said at the World Health Assembly in Geneva earlier this year, "if you miss the poor, you miss the point".

"We must get better together. Let's create tension because out of tension comes action," Nuku concluded.

* Both acknowledged what Canterbury delegates had endured through the earthquake and paid tribute to the work of nurses in its aftermath.

Conference coverage by co-editor Teresa O'Connor
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