The ANMF (Victorian Branch) is appointing a Waste Education Officer to help streamline environmentally sustainable practices in healthcare.
A highly active and effective ANMF (Vic Branch) Green Nurses and Midwives Facebook Group , where members can share knowledge and experiences in trying to establish green initiatives, has in part inspired the Branch to lobby for the position.
Ros Morgan, Environmental Health Officer for the ANMF (Victorian Branch), says activity on the page, and her own prior experience as a clinician trying to establish waste reduction schemes in her workplace, made it clear there was a need for the position that could educate about the resources available, and facilitate the uptake of best practice waste management systems in hospitals and healthcare facilities.
“We were aware of a lot of people giving up time and energy, and in a lot of cases reinventing the wheel – often pulling teeth trying to find out answers to questions,” Ms Morgan explains. “So the ANMF lobbied the Victorian government on behalf of its members, and in the last Victorian state Budget, secured funding for a new Waste Education Officer. This role will provide a resource base and support members implementing environmentally sustainable practices.”
Ms Morgan says while the appointment is being made, a project working group consisting of representatives from the ANMF (Victorian Branch), Sustainability Victoria, Victorian Human Health Services (VHHS, formerly DHHS), and other senior healthcare professionals is working to furnish the Waste Education Officer with accurate, EPA-endorsed materials.
“We know, for example, that there is often inconsistency with healthcare policy documents because quite often the authors are not sure on how to interpret the guidelines from the EPA,” Ms Morgan says.
“As a direct result of ANMF intervention, we now have an EPA member on that project working group, so that they can endorse the materials that are released by the new Waste Education Officer, with the intention of bringing clarity to some of these areas of confusion. As a result, healthcare organisations can feel confident in developing or amending some of their protocols.”
The Waste Education Officer role will help to create a consistent approach across healthcare facilities and departments, says ANMF (Victoria Branch) Assistant Secretary Pip Carew.
Ms Carew believes that these improved efficiencies, and increased connections with stakeholders, should help to drive behavioural change for best practice in waste management.
“We’ve had success with government support for this role because improved waste management makes sense from an economic point of view. We can demonstrate a clear value proposition – less waste means less disposal costs.”