Brett passes the baton
Annual Conference saw the end of an era for the Association, with General Secretary Brett Holmes retiring after 20 years at the helm and Shaye Candish assuming the leadership.
Annual Conference 2022 was an historic moment with the farewell of our leader of the last 20 years, Brett Holmes. The con-ference also reflected on our achievements over the last year and furthered preparations for the year ahead to win ratios in the Public Health System.
Brett spoke to the conference with pride about the current state of the union and his confidence about it, going forward.
“In all my years leading the Association, I’ve never been more confident in our future as a powerful and influential union. We are building a highly successful organising model that develops and supports leaders by encouraging them to use their collective strength,” he said.
“It’s been incredible to see what we can achieve together, with strong numbers turning out for multiple strike actions over the past few months.”
Brett said members’ actions were forcing governments, the media and the community to sit up and listen to what nurses had to say about what was happening in the health system and aged care.
“In a significant time for workers’ rights in Australia as a whole, we are finally being heard. During its first month in power, the new federal Labor government delivered some historic wins for unions. It supported an increased minimum wage in line with inflation and committed to a plan to fix aged care,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that despite several inquiries and a royal commission, it took a change in government to acknowledge the need for a substantial overhaul of our aged care system.
“With a state election in March next year, the result from the recent federal election gives us hope that a change in government may finally deliver nurse-to-patient ratios to our public hospitals in NSW.”
Brett said he was leaving, knowing the union was in safe hands.
“I know that my successors, Shaye Candish and Michael Whaites, will be doing everything they can to lead this Union to that outcome [of nurse-to-patient ratios]. Member support for the campaign will be essential. Nothing ever comes easily to nurses and midwives and we must keep up the pressure on all political parties.
“Frontline workers have been dealt a bad hand over and over by the current NSW government. It’s about time we get the respect we deserve. I’m confident we can finally win ratios next year if we maintain our collective strength and stay the course.”
Another opportunity for change in March
New NSWNMA General Secretary, Shaye Candish, heaped praise on our members in aged care after a brilliantly successful campaign, which culminated in the election of a Labor government committed to introducing ratios into the sector.
“It’s a victory for so many of our determined members that never once gave up on the campaign to win better lives for the elderly residents they care for,” she said.
Shaye said the result in the federal election was determined by issues that had a disproportionate impact on women: rising prices, low wages and expensive childcare.
“Many of these issues will no doubt feature in the upcoming March 2023 state election and as [nursing is] the largest female workforce in NSW, these issues are central to our work, our families and our lives,” she said.
“The federal election demonstrated that women were fed up with being ignored and they used their vote to send a strong message. Current politicians who con-tinue to ignore our call for safer staffing do so at their own disadvantage.”
Shaye said that going forward, they would “focus on improving the lives of all our members in every sector: better work – via ratios, a stronger voice and better living standards”.