Winners announced for 2024 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards

Left to right, Midwife of the Year, Skye Stewart, Nurse of the Year, Cathy Halmarick, and Outstanding Organisation rep Cassie Talbot. Photo: HESTA

Victorian nurse Cathy Halmarick, from Peninsula Health, took out Nurse of the Year in recognition of her work helping establish the Sexual and Reproductive Health Hub in Southeastern Victoria, which ensured access to sexual health services for the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sexual and reproductive health is an area of an individual’s health that is often overlooked for various reasons, including time and financial constraints, lack of knowledge, and clinic availability,” she said.

Nurse of the Year Cathy Halmarick. Photo: HESTA

“Our service aims to guarantee that women from diverse backgrounds and age groups have choices regarding their sexual health. The service provides adequate time for consultations and after-hours clinics to help mitigate barriers.”

Victorian midwife Skye Stewart, from Red Nose Australia, was named Midwife of the Year for creating the nation’s first stillbirth support guide for Aboriginal families (Jiba Pepeny: Star Baby), after having seen the unacceptable gap in stillbirth rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and the impact on communities.

Skye travelled more than 32,000 kilometres over 20 months to communities across the country to ensure the stillbirth guide was as relevant as possible to the lived experience of Aboriginal families.

Woomelang based midwife Skye Stewart, Midwife of the Year. Photo: HESTA

“My cultural role and responsibility as an Aboriginal midwife is to do what I can to ensure that Aboriginal mothers and their babies stay safe, alive, well, and together,” she said.

“To be recognised with this award means I’ve paid attention to where it matters, and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. The award is a privilege, and I feel incredibly honoured and humbled.”

Lastly, the Healthy Communities Foundation Australia was recognised as the Organisation of the Year for improving access to primary healthcare services in remote and Aboriginal communities.

In addition to providing local access to healthcare, the organisation established the Dhirri-li Education for Work Centre to train Aboriginal people for entry-level roles in the health and social care system.

Cassie Talbot, registered nurse and manager of Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities, and The National Rural & Remote Suicide Prevention Program, said it was an incredible honour to be recognised in the 2024 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards.

“Winning such an award acknowledges our team’s hard work. It’s an amazing recognition of our nursing team’s dedication, skills, and contributions to rural healthcare,” she said.

“They’re a nursing team I am proud to nurse alongside. This recognition highlights the critical roles that nurses and midwives play in society, especially in our rural and remote communities.”

“What I find most rewarding about our Foundation and team’s work is our positive impact on people’s lives in some of the most disadvantaged communities.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the prestigious awards continue to celebrate the outstanding contribution of nurses and midwives in Australia and provide an important reminder of their critical work and impact on communities.

“We had hundreds of outstanding nominations for the Nursing & Midwifery Awards this year. It’s fantastic to highlight the sheer dedication and high calibre of work taken on by nursing and midwifery professionals around Australia.”

Winners will equally share a prize pool of $30,000 to be used for professional development or to improve services or processes. 

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