At the recent Delegates Conference, mental health nurse Eifion Breese from Malvern Private, and Wyndham City Council maternal and child health nurse Amanda Schaap were named as the co-winners of the 2023 Hannah Sellers Job Rep of the year award, while Jennifer-Maree Gamble and Gaye Maree Coles, both from University Hospital Geelong, shared the Health & Safety Rep (HSR) of the year award.
ANMF (Vic Branch) congratulates all four recipients on their well-deserved wins.
Hannah Sellars Job Rep of the year
The Hannah Sellers Job Rep of the Year Award recognises performance by a Job Rep who has shown an outstanding commitment to ANMF and the members in their workplace. This includes recruitment, working with and supporting ANMF staff to resolve workplace disputes, and other exceptional Job Rep initiatives.
Eifion Breese has been an active ANMF member for more than 32 years. He was elected as an ANMF Job Rep at Malvern Private, a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation treatment facility, in 2018.
Accepting this nomination was no mean feat given the notorious reputation of his employer, Independent Private Hospitals of Australia (IPHOA), and their role in one of the most infamous and protracted legal battles in Branch history.
The 2015 High Court decision that refused to hear an appeal from IPHOA, effectively upheld three IPHOA enterprise agreements (for Malvern Private, Melbourne Eastern Private and Essendon Private) as lawful and valid. It was a monumental win for the ANMF Vic Branch, members and the Union movement, but also set the landscape for future industrial disputes with this employer.
To undertake the role of Job Rep at Malvern Private required courage and conviction; strength against adversity; the grace and professionalism of a nurse; and the experience of life. Eifion has continued to demonstrate and balance these attributes. Whether advocating for the workplace rights of individual members or the collective, his ability to mobilise and accurately inform an initially disenfranchised membership group has been inspiring.
In the most recent and long-fought enterprise agreement campaign, Eifion was pivotal in assisting the ANMF to secure a majority support determination from the Fair Work Commission, requiring IPHOA to bargain with the Union, something that has yet to be achieved at the other IPHOA Hospitals.
Eifion’s unwavering commitment to the campaign, which included ensuring maximum attendance at members’ meetings, gathering intelligence for ANMF staff and providing accurate updates and reassurance to members in an often-hostile environment, saw the current EBA balloted and approved in 2023.
This year’s other winner, Amanda Schaap has worked tirelessly for almost a decade as an ANMF Job Rep at her workplace, and has been a voice of influence in four EBA campaigns, helping to achieve better employment conditions for colleagues over many years.
Long known to generously give up time on her days off in order to support, advise or advocate for colleagues, Amanda is always available to attend meetings and participate in industrial matters, and she always promotes the union and recruits new staff to ANMF membership – emphasising that as a collective, positive changes and remedies can be achieved.
Because of this, Amanda is often the first point of call for colleagues in relation to workplace issues and concerns, and during the height of COVID she became a go-to shoulder to cry on, as well as a strong and effective voice for colleagues’ concerns and issues.
In response to the struggles of the immunisation team, for instance, Amanda upskilled in order to personally provide support to her team. Amanda still found time to contribute to Head On: How Victorian nurses and midwives confronted COVID.
Always persistent and effective in the Job Rep role, Amanda is equally at ease advocating locally or at Department of Health level to achieve the best outcomes for her colleagues and also for the families she comes into contact with.
She has been and continues to be a voice, champion and mentor for her colleagues, and for the ANMF.
HSR of the Year Award 2023
The HSR of the Year Award recognises the achievement of an HSR who has demonstrated their commitment to members in their designated work group (DWG). Nurses and midwives have a right to work in a safe and healthy environment and to perform that work without risks to their physical and psychological health and safety. Workplaces with HSRs are safer workplaces; and with union HSRs are even safer.
The joint recipients of this year’s award, Jennifer-Maree Gamble and Gaye Maree Coles, have demonstrated outstanding commitment and advocacy representing a DWG of more than 250 staff.
They are in the process of forming a safety committee for their workplace, and have successfully campaigned for eye-wash stations outside the scope rooms in their main theatre and day procedure sites.
Some of their other notable achievements include:
- Changing workplace procedures to eliminate the risks to staff from being exposed to Chloramine-T, a highly toxic substance, that was being used to clean the heating and cooling units for bypass. The original procedure involved decanting the chemical from a plastic tub, resulting in a risk of spillage. Jennifer-Maree and Gaye conducted a risk assessment, and, after a period of protracted negotiations, their employer was informed that they would issue a provisional improvement notice (PIN) if the situation was not satisfactorily resolved. As a result of their persistence, their employer agreed on an acceptable solution: outsourcing the cleaning to appropriately trained contractors from an expert company.
- Gaining approval from management to install automatic doors for a sterile storeroom. Staff had complained of hazardous manual handling when moving large trolleys of stock to the sterile storeroom as they would have to pull up and open the doors manually, then move the trolley through doors before closing them again. This stop-start task occurred on a frequent basis throughout a shift. Jennifer-Maree and Gaye undertook a risk assessment of the situation, found it to be hazardous, and worked with management to come up with the solution.
- Rounding of marble bench-top edges in the surgery hub. Prior to achieving this, several nurses had complained that they were getting injured walking into the corners of the desk benches in the surgery hub. Jennifer-Maree and Gaye called in the ANMF (Vic Branch) to investigate; we found at least two nurses showing significant bruising of the thighs, with others saying this had happened to them also. Jennifer-Maree and Gaye completed Riskmans and the rounding of the bench-top edges was put in place by management.
Both Jennifer-Maree and Gaye were re-elected to the role in February this year, after already demonstrating their passion and commitment during a previous term.