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Battle – the road to ratios

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Branch (Vic Branch) members across Victoria fought hard to campaign to achieve ratios in 2000.

They fought even harder to keep ratios in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2011-12. In isolation they were tough campaigns – all those closed beds, elective surgery cancellations, hospital walkouts, community rallies, protests, doorknocking and pay docking. Looking back it is more apt to describe these events as a ‘battle’.

The passing of the Andrews Government’s historic Victorian Safe Patient Care Act gave the ANMF an opportunity to review what it took to become the second place in the world to have mandated ratios enshrined in law.

The story of a nurse shortage crisis in 2000 to ratio laws in 2015 is a short documentary ‘Battle: The Road to Ratios Legislation’, produced by Blacksheep Films.

The documentary was first shown at the 2016 Annual Delegates Conference and was well received by more than 700 ANMF Job Reps and Health and Safety Reps. Many in the audience had actively participated in the campaigns that led to the Safe Patient Care Act. Many knew what nursing and midwifery was like without ratios. Thankfully many in the room did not.

The Road to Ratios’ is told through interviews with current and former ANMF leadership and Job Reps, but also through the experts who have worked with us over the last 15 years and the independent journalists who have covered our story.

ANMF thanks the following people who participated:

  • Belinda Morieson, ANMF Secretary (1989-2001)
  • Sharan Burrow, ACTU President (2000-2010), currently General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation
  • Ged Kearney, ANMF (Vic Branch) President (1997-2003), currently Federal MP for Cooper
  • Professor John Buchanan, University of Sydney Business School
  • Wayne Blair, Fair Work Commissioner (1993-2015)
  • Luke Hilakari, Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council
  • Professor Christine Duffield, University of Technology Sydney Faculty of Health
  • Philip Gardner, previously Partner, Ryan Carlisle Thomas; currently Special Counsel, Gordon Legal
  • Daniel Andrews, Premier of Victoria
  • Bill Kelty, ACTU Secretary (1983-2000)
  • Madeleine Harradence, ANMF Job Rep
  • Terry Swanson, ANMF Job Rep and former ANMF (Vic Branch) vice president
  • Anita Stirling, ANMF Job Rep
  • Michael Bachelard, investigations editor, The Age
  • Brendan Donohoe, Victorian state political reporter, Seven News Melbourne.

This documentary provides an insight into the passion ANMF members have for their patients. It will enable ANMF members to tell the world about ratios and what nurses and midwives can achieve for themselves and their patients. It offers a blueprint for nurses and midwives in other sectors to show that strong union membership and taking industrial action in large numbers together can achieve enormous change.

Battle: The Road to Ratios Legislation’ is a significant record of a period of time in ANMF history for those members involved. It will ensure those who come after us, and who only know nursing and midwifery with ratios, never forget.