Daniel Andrews’ resignation at the end of September came as a shock. Personally, I was saddened by his announcement but extremely grateful for his time and dedication to the state’s nurses, midwives and carers, first as Health Minister in the Brumby Government, then as Opposition leader and especially during the last nine years as Premier.
In my time as Branch Secretary, I have worked with five Victorian premiers, both Labor and Liberal. Mr Andrews was the only party leader, and then premier, to reach out to nurses and midwives and to listen, learn and act – listen to our concerns, learn from our experience, and to act on our asks, not just during election campaigns but before, after and between elections.
He has left big shoes to step into. Shoes I am optimistic that new Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan will wear well.
I congratulate Ms Allan and Deputy Premier Ben Caroll on their new positions, and look forward to continuing with them the productive working relationship that the Branch has had with the state government over the past decade.
The ANMF has every confidence the Allan Government will continue implementing the 2022 nursing and midwifery election commitments and the bold reforms and work underway in our public health, mental health, aged care, and maternal and child health services designed to retain and recruit experienced and new and early career nurses and midwives.
We have reason to be hopeful: although she comes into the position without the background of the health portfolio, as Mr Andrews had, Ms Allan has previously shown her support for members, standing up for and speaking out on behalf of Bendigo’s maternal and child health nurses, who were taking industrial action for fair pay and improved working conditions as well as public sector nurses and midwives during our 2011 and 2012 EBA campaign.
On Monday 2 October, Ms Allan revealed her new cabinet. Among the key changes, or otherwise, are:
- Mary-Anne Thomas, continuing as Minister for Health and Minister for Health Infrastructure; she is now also the Minister for Ambulance Services.
- Ingrid Stitt, stepping into the Mental Health portfolio, as well as the public aged care portfolio. She will also be the Minister for Multicultural Affairs. Ms Stitt was previously the Minister for Workplace Safety and the Minsiter for Early Childhood.
- Reflecting a major new policy priority, Lizzie Blandthorn will become Minister for Children, with a focus on child development and wellbeing. She will also become Minister for Disability, with the former Disability and Ageing portfolio now split between her and Ms Stitt.
- Ben Carroll will be the Deputy Premier and the Minister for Medical Research. He will also be Minister for Education.
- Jaclyn Symes, continuing as Minister for Emergency Services.
- Lily D’Ambrosio remains the Minister for Climate Action, Energy and Resources and the State Electricty Comission.
- As Minister for Treaty and First Peoples, Natalie Hutchins will also take the lead as we work towards Treaty negotiations with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and the Government’s continuing engagement with the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Ms Hutchins also remains Minister for Women, and takes on the Jobs and Industry Ministry.
- Former Minister for Mental Health Gabrielle Williams is now the Minister for Government Services, Minister for Consumer Affairs, and Minister for Public and Active Transport. On behalf of the Branch, I thank Minister Williams for all her work with as us the Minister for Mental Health over the past eleven months
Again, I acknowledge and thank former premier Daniel Andrews for his ability to engage with ANMF and our members so productively for the benefit of Victoria’s healthcare system, and I congratulate Jacinta Allan on her new position – and look forward to working with her and her government to implement the 2022 election commitments and for the benefit of all Victorian nurses, midwives and carers.