Heated discussions and debate ensued when the Notices of Motion session began with a motion to change the name of the NSW Nurses’ Association to include midwives.
Brett Holmes, General Secretary of the NSWNA, put forward the argument that the name change is necessary in the current political climate and the NSWNA, like other states nationally, should “embrace our midwifery colleagues who work under the title of nursing”.
Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda articulated the need for the name change by speaking of inclusiveness and needing to adapt to a quickly changing environment. She said, “The intent behind the law of competitive unionism is to have unions fighting each other.”
Competitive unionism would allow for sub-groups within a union to leave and form their own union. This law was part of larger NSW industrial relations amendments earlier this year and could weaken the power and strength of unions.
Nurses against the motion argued that the “brand” name of the Association has been established for 67 years and to change names now would be damaging to the strength of the union.
Midwives and nurses who argued for the motion spoke convincingly about how the separation of national registration for nurses and midwives has already seen the effect in some branches of midwives wanting a separate identity and union.
Jan Dilworth, midwife from RPA, spoke passionately for the motion and encouraged delegates to vote for the name change. She said, “Make midwives part of the Association so that they are protected and supported.”
The motion was carried overwhelmingly. History has been made.