‘Knowledge is power’ says 2019’s Hannah Sellers Job Rep of the Year Anna Kenny.
While Anna was working as an after-hours coordinator and in oncology at Gippsland Southern Health Service, her efforts as a Job Rep to share her knowledge and encourage her colleagues to speak up about their concerns earned her the Job Rep of the Year award.
As an ANMF Job Rep, Anna encouraged her colleagues to collect data about their workloads, nurse: patient ratios and other issues so that their concerns could be reported to the union and other members. Importantly, she liaised with management and advocated effectively on behalf of colleagues for improvements.
‘You obviously want staff to be happy and you want them to be aware of their entitlements and what they’re able to do safely,’ Anna said of her Job Rep role.
‘Nursing staff are always run off their feet and want to provide best practice and have a safe workplace.
‘You’re bringing to light for a lot of staff that they should know what they’re entitled to and that they’re able to work in a safe and positive environment.’
Anna now works in oncology at Bass Coast Health but is gratified to know that nurses at Gippsland Southern Health now have a greater knowledge of the conditions that should apply at their workplace.
‘A lot of them weren’t aware that there were specific ratios set out in the Safe Patient Care Act until it was brought to their attention,’ she said.
Anna also raised her colleagues’ awareness of their entitlements relating to on-call, re-call and travel allowance. Anna has been a nurse for 16 years, starting in the emergency department of Monash Hospital in Clayton.
Anna has taken the advocacy skills she has honed as a Job Rep to her new job in a chemotherapy day unit at Wonthaggi Hospital. It’s not a new field for her, as Anna was also working as an oncology nurse at Gippsland Southern Health Service. She undertook postgraduate study in oncology after being treated for cancer 15 years ago.
Her personal experience has helped in building relationships and rapport with her oncology patients.
‘When you hear you’ve got cancer, everything seems to go out the window. As a nurse, you’re treating these people every day and you go home at the end of the day but they don’t get to go home and turn off.
‘As a patient being on the other side of that, I understand what it’s like; even being told the information – half of it goes in one ear and out the other.
‘It’s intimidating, it’s scary, it’s something you can’t stop thinking about.’
While Anna doesn’t volunteer information about her personal experience of cancer unless it arises in conversation, her understanding informs her advocacy and care for patients.