‘If we could change things overnight for our nurses and midwives, we would,’ says Jac Mathieson, Victoria’s new Acting Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer. ‘We are listening; your voices are not lost. And we understand how hard it is, today and every day for so many of our nurses and midwives.’
An oncology nurse with a masters in advanced nursing practice, Jac has been the Chief Nursing Officer at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre for five years. In September 2021, she started 12 months of parental leave but when offered the chance to return to work early into the role of Acting Victorian Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, she jumped at the chance.
‘It’s been a huge learning curve,’ she says. ‘But it’s a huge privilege. It’s not every day you get to be the Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer for your state, and it’s not a position I take lightly. It’s one that I am very proud to hold but I also realise the weight that comes with it.’
Jac views this an ‘awesome’ opportunity to work closely with nursing and midwifery leaders across the state, bringing them together to foster an environment in which to share learnings and create change. She is using this six-month secondment as an opportunity to really focus on some of the key challenges for our nursing and midwifery professions – especially our most prominent issue: retention.
What can we learn?
In collaboration with the AMNF (Vic Branch) and a representative group of health services, Jac has been working up a proposal to develop a suite of rostering principles specific to the needs of nurses and midwives. The project will involve significant consultation, as well as consulting with other 24/7 industries that rely heavily on complex rostering.
‘We’re working with a few healthcare organisations with multiple units to really understand what is it that the nurses and midwives want,’ Jac says. ‘And we’re very keen to learn from other sectors, such as rail, aviation and transport. They all have rotating rosters with a varying skill mix in each area, with very strict guidelines around safety, wellbeing and fatigue management. So, what can we learn?’
The team is hoping to confirm funding for this work in the coming weeks. And over the coming months, Jac wants to hear from you. ‘I’m really keen to get out and about to meet nurses and midwives during the remainder of my secondment,’ she says. ‘This role is not about having all the answers or making all the decisions; it’s about bringing everyone together and listening and trying to find the best solutions to this complex challenge.’