South Australia's original Aboriginal nurses have been honoured at the Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards held at the Entertainment Centre last night.
The women - Linda Jackson, Lowitja O'Donoghue, Grace Sopar, Muriel Olsson, Faith Thomas, Margaret Lawrie and the late Nellie Nihill – overcame the racial barriers of the 1950s and became nurses during a time when Aboriginal women were only employed as domestics.
Health Minister Lea Stevens says the ceremony provided a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution Aboriginal nurses have made to the nursing profession.
“The perseverance of these Aboriginal nurses led to their dreams becoming reality,” she says.
“Today, the State Government is doing all it can to encourage more Aboriginal people to take up careers in the health sector, including Health Department scholarships to help Indigenous people through their university studies.”
Ms Stevens says the Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards are an important way of acknowledging the hard work and dedication of all South Australian nurses and midwives.
“Nurses are the backbone of our health system and these awards are all about recognising their important contribution to the South Australian community,” she says.
Awards were presented in seven distinct nursing Clinical Practice categories and in three other categories - Leadership, Education and Research (see over for details of winners.)
The Minister also presented the 2005/2006 Premier's Nursing Scholarships - three overseas scholarships valued at $12,000 each, and one Australasian scholarship valued at $5,000.
Those Scholarship recipients are Judy Deimel from The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Tracey Doherty from Flinders Medical Centre, Michelle Muncaster from the Children Youth and Women's Health Service and Deryn Thompson from Allergy SA.
To arrange interviews with the award recipients contact the Department of Health Media Line on 8226 6488
NURSING AND MIDWIFERY EXCELLENCE AWARDS
Nursing Clinical Practice Community Registered Nurse/Midwife - Kathy Wooldridge, Community Health Nurse, Roxby Downs/Woomera Community Hospital.
Kathy is undertaking health promotions programs with organisations like Western Mining Company to target men's health issues in her local area. She has also conducted a successful immunisation program for 0-5 year olds and local schools.
Her primary health care goal is to build the capacity of the community to look after its own health and well being.
Nursing Clinical Practice Community Enrolled Nurse - Jane McCallum, Enrolled Nurse, Booleroo Centre District Hospital and Health Service.
Jane has been an Enrolled Nurse for 24 years and currently works as a Health Promotion Officer and also in the Casualty/Outpatients, theatre and general wards.
Some of her major achievements have been the partnerships formed with government bodies and other community groups, working together to implement projects that will improve an individual’s health. An example of this is the Drug and Alcohol programs that SAPOL and Jane have implemented into the local school. One of these projects the “Smashed” drug and alcohol awareness project won the “Country Health Award in 2004” for the most Creative Primary Health Care project.
Nursing Education - Alyson Smith, Director of Nursing and Midwifery Education, Flinders Medical Centre.
Alyson leads a team of nurse and midwife educators responsible for providing education and training opportunities to over 1500 registered nurses, midwives and enrolled nurses.
Her professional achievements include Flinders Medical Centre being chosen as the runner up in the Large Employer Category of the 2004 South Australian Training Awards.
Nursing Research - Lyn Helbig, Clinical Nurse/Quality Coordinator, Barossa Village Incorporated.
Lyn has conducted research into depression occurring as a co-morbidity to dementia. Lyn has developed a website for use by health professionals and this has been recognised nationally through an invitation to present it as a poster display at a conference on depression in the elderly in Sydney in June.
Nursing Clinical Practice Residential and Aged Care Registered Nurse/Midwife - Beverley Lawler, Director of Nursing, The Vales Aged Care Facility.
Beverley is proud to provide high care services to 96 elderly residents. Her position focuses around community spirit, bringing together residents, their families, friends, volunteers and employed staff at the facility.
Beverley works to promote that ageing is not a disease but simply a part of life's journey.
Nursing Clinical Practice Rural and Remote Care Enrolled Nurse - Gillian Squire, Enrolled Nurse, Mount Gambier Hospital.
Gillian works mainly in the perioperative area and also in the Emergency Department. She regularly takes students from local primary schools and TAFE on tours through the Emergency Department and helps organise and take part in community functions.
Nursing Clinical Practice Rural and Remote Registered Nurse/Midwife - Jodie Altschwager, Rural Liaison Nurse, Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Jodie is coming up to her 10th year as the Rural Liaison Nurse at Royal Adelaide Hospital. She liaises with rural and interstate hospitals, community base health care providers, general practitioners, patients and their carers/families as they access metropolitan-based services.
On most days, up to 25 to 30 per cent of in-patients within Royal Adelaide Hospital are from a rural or remote area, with Jodie assisting to ensure the hospital has support systems in place for the patients and relatives to make the transition between country and city less stressful.
Nursing Clinical Practice Metropolitan Acute Care Enrolled Nurse - Debbie Muir, Enrolled Nurse, Repatriation General Hospital.
An enrolled nurse within the cardiac/endocrinology ward at the Repatriation General Hospital, Debbie's philosophy is for nurses to "get back to basics" where the patient is treated and cared for as a whole person, not just an illness. At the Repat, she says many veteran patients are admitted regularly and often become part of the Repat family.
Nursing Clinical Practice Metropolitan Acute Care Registered Nurse/Midwife - Christine Walsh, Nursing Unit Head, Boylan Inpatient Services, Children Youth and Women's Health Service.
Christine has worked in the field of child and adolescence mental health for 25 years in community and hospital settings. She has been instrumental in the introduction of the after hours mental health nursing service and expanding the role within the inpatient setting with the creation of the position of Nurse Therapist.
Christine’s goal is to continue to provide the best possible care for young people with mental health issues and their families and carers.
Nursing Leadership - Judy Smith, Executive Director Nursing and Client Services, Royal District Nursing Services.
Judy provides leadership, ensuring that the RDNS nurses are adequately resourced; facilitates ongoing professional development and ensures the working environment is safe. She is a nationally recognised advocate for "the voice of nursing", in particular community nursing and for championing the role community nurses play in the health of the community.