In the lead up to the Federal Election, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has formed a political report card on major political parties, Independent MPs and Senators’ commitments to healthcare.
At the start of the election campaign, the ANMF wrote to politicians for their positions on priority areas essential to reforming Australia’s health and aged care system.
ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said that an overview of politicians’ health priorities was essential for members when voting this weekend.
“Our politicians must place the health and wellbeing of the Australian people at the heart of their policies.”
Yet while both Labor and Greens outlined their priorities for health, the Liberal National Government failed to respond to the ANMF.
“It is astounding given the current state of our health and aged care systems that the Government did not respond to our request,” Ms Butler said. “Their silence speaks volumes about their non-existent vision for Australia’s healthcare and the value they have for nurses, midwives, other health professionals and the wellbeing of Australians.”
Consequently, the ANMF sought other means to determine the Government’s position on health priorities to complete their report card.
Disappointingly, the ANMF found that the Liberal-National Government lacked commitment to any of the critical reforms desperately needed in aged care.
However, Ms Butler said it was encouraging that the ANMF’s critical aged care reforms were supported by the two other major parties- the Labor party and Greens.
“If elected, both parties have promised to legislate requirements for at least one RN in nursing homes at all times; fund and legislate minimum staffing ratios; legislate clear transparency measures that require funding to be tied to care and improve conditions and fund increased wages,” she said.
Other positive promises made by the Labor party included the expansion of the Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria to a national program for access by all nurses and midwives.
The service provides free, confidential and independent support for health issues for nurses and midwives related to substance use, mental health issues and family violence concerns. They also support employers with expert guidance and advice.
The ANMF has long campaigned for the successful Victorian service to be implemented nationally, believing it essential for nurses and midwives, especially at this time.
“This investment is good news for all nurses and midwives across the country when support is needed more than ever,” Ms Butler said.
Ms Butler said it was also reassuring that Labor and the Greens would work towards gender equality in the workplace, including measures to eradicate the gender pay and superannuation gap and ensure equal rights for women.
“Conversely, the Government has made very little commitment towards equal rights for women at work,’’ Ms Butler said.
Further, the Labor party and Greens have pledged to a national plan on climate, health and wellbeing based on the framework developed by the Climate and Health Alliance.
Both parties have also said they will back programs and initiatives that support those most adversely impacted by climate change, including people living in drought and natural disaster affected regions in Australia and neighbouring regions in the South Pacific.
Ms Butler said much-needed funding for healthcare and healthcare reform was also amiss from the Government’s pre-election platform. She said this included the Government’s lack of intention to implement nursing or midwifery ratios or develop a robust, supported post-pandemic healthcare workforce.
“It is hugely disappointing that after the past two years of a pandemic where we have seen the cracks in the system widen, the Government has not indicated any vision or intention to develop a sustainable healthcare system,” Ms Butler said.
“In contrast, the Labor party and the Greens have committed to supporting healthcare reform.”
Additionally, Ms Butler said key Independent MPs have also supported ANMF’s priorities for improving healthcare outcomes.
“Independent Member for Indi, Helen Haines and Independent Member for Clark Andrew Wilkie, amongst other independents, have backed ANMF priorities,” she said.
“What Australia critically needs is big picture healthcare reform, which is necessary and urgent for the wellbeing of all Australians. Currently, it appears there is no intention this will happen under a Liberal-National Government.”
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