Conference 2012: nurses and midwives working together
Published: 28 August 2012
BY SALLY-ANNE JONES, QNU PRESIDENT
It really hits home to me just how quickly this year is speeding by when I think that the QNU’s Annual Conference for 2012 has already come and gone.
For the first time ever, this year’s Annual Conference was opened and closed under the auspice of both the Queensland Nurses Union and the Australian Nurses Federation Queensland Branch.
This was done in recognition of our recent rule changes that were accepted by Fair Work Australia only a week before Conference began. The changes will occur in stages to modernise the content and purpose of the rules.
The most significant change currently is the ability to hold one election of Council rather than having two separate elections for ANF and QNU Councillors, as we had done previously.
This year’s Annual Conference had a range of new features, including a new venue and a new online portal for lodging Branch Motions.
In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to find a venue to fit our steadily growing number of elected delegates, and our first time in the Brisbane Exhibition and Conference Centre presented us with some benefits but also some challenges.
Future conferences are likely to be held at the same venue, but in a more spacious auditorium with more facilities for attendees.
The online lodgement of Branch motions was one of the real success stories of this year’s conference. In past years, it has been a difficult and time-consuming process to sort through the multitude of motions, many of which are so similar as to be practically identical.
The ability for Branches to lodge motions before Conference and to view other Branch’s motions eliminated duplication and permitted us to discuss and deal with all motions in a timely fashion.
The QNU has had an extremely busy year, and this was strongly reflected in Beth’s presentation to Conference on the first day, with more detail in the written Secretary’s Report. This report covers the progress of decisions made by Council on your behalf, and is available on the QNU website.
We were also joined by Lee Thomas, the ANF Federal Secretary, who shared the vision for the Positive Nursing campaign that Beth describes in her column. This is a very exciting initiative for all of us.
One of the real joys (and challenges!) of Conference is dealing with the unexpected—and this year was no exception.
While we were in the midst of our scheduled business, a Bill was introduced in parliament enabling the Queensland Government to automatically recover future overpayments from staff pay.
Upon hearing of this, QNU delegates immediately brought an urgency motion to the floor of Conference to protest the measure, and extended an invitation to the Health Minister to attend the meeting to address delegates on the matter.
The minister agreed and spoke to delegates on the Friday morning—the last morning of Conference. Some of the exchange was captured and reported through the media.
Following the address, delegates passed another urgency motion condemning the Bill for attacking health workers’ rights, as well as the manner in which it was introduced.
And so our aim for a payroll—and politician-free Conference was unmet—but it was timely that events unfolded as they did, and we were fortunate to have a large gathering of delegates to develop and carry the resolution inviting the minister to officially address the floor.
We should feel proud that our union was able to secure such an immediate and affirmative response in such a short time.
For me, this episode really encapsulated what Annual Conference—and belonging to the QNU—is all about: nurses and midwives working and standing together.
I hope to see you there next year.
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