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A NSW nurse practitioner who has dedicated her career to improving care for women with gynaecological cancers and a midwife who has worked tirelessly to create a safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strat Islander women receiving pregnancy care in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, took out the top awards at last night’s 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards.

NP Shannon Philp, who has over 20 years’ experience in cancer nursing and works clinically at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in gynaecological oncology, was crowned Nurse of the Year for her contribution to nursing education and patient-centred care for women with gynaecological cancers.

An academic at the University of Sydney’s Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, Ms Philp described the award as humbling.

“These awards highlight the complexity of nursing, the professionalism and specialised care that nurses provide and also the highly educated nursing workforce we have in our country,” she said.

The country’s first NP in gynaecological oncology, Ms Philp has developed new and innovative models of patient-centred care that have improved care and increased access to support for women with gynaecological cancers. One of her nurse-led programs provides comprehensive post-surgical and ongoing follow up care.

Shannon Philp, HESTA Nurse of the Year winner

“I hope to see many more cancer nurses follow in my footsteps because we can make a difference to patient outcomes and that’s why we love our jobs.”

Ms Philp plans to use the $10,000 prizemoney to support research to help improve women’s experience of colposcopy, after 2017 changes to cervical screening guidelines saw a dramatic increase in the number of women referred for the procedure.

In the Midwife of the Year category, Bega Garnbirringu Health Service midwife Janelle Dillon took out the honours for her work to create a safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to receive pregnancy care in the Kalgoorlie region in WA.

“I really feel for the wonderful women of Kalgoorlie. This is for them. This is me helping them,” she said after receiving the honour.

Ms Dillon, who has more than 60 women in her care, said working as a midwife, diabetes educator and nurse immuniser throughout her career had provided her with many rewarding moments.

“I am so blessed that the Wongatha women of Kalgoorlie have allowed me into their lives. On a day-to-day basis they accept me into their community, and they let me walk side-by-side with them.”

Midwife of the Year winner, Janelle Dillon

Ms Dillon’s work has helped reduce pregnancy risk in the region and potentially saved lives. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Kalgoorlie are now receiving high-quality antenatal care and experiencing lower-risk pregnancies and births.

She plans to use the prizemoney to develop her skills and knowledge, particularly around managing family violence issues, in order to provide a holistic experience for women who visit the service.

Meanwhile, Ramsay Health Care Australia took out the Outstanding Organisation award for their work to improve environmental sustainability across its private hospitals, including through cutting down greenhouse gas emissions and single-use plastics.

In response to strong feedback from nurse practitioners and other employees with an interest in sustainability, they established an Environmental Sustainability Fund to help their facilities take steps to address climate change. Funded projects have included installing energy-efficient lighting and reducing reliance on single-use plastics.

“The staff are so engaged in sustainability, Ramsay’s Chief Risk Officer and Legal Services Director, Chanelle McEnallay said.

“Everyone’s keen on what we’re doing in this space because hospitals are so plastic-intensive.”

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said all three winners had made an incredible impact in delivering improved health outcomes and care for Australians.

“This year’s winners prove our nurses and midwives are the backbone of our healthcare system,” she said.

“Their dedication, leadership and commitment to care is so inspiring to us all and has made an incredible difference to the health and wellbeing of so many people.”