A statement from ANMF (Vic Branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick
Earlier today, Daniel Andrews announced his resignation as premier of Victoria.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Victorian Branch) sincerely thanks Premier Andrews for his 16 years of service to, and support for, Victoria’s nurses, midwives and carers.
Personally, I’m saddened by this announcement but extremely grateful for Mr Andrews’ time, first as Health Minister, Opposition Leader and his last nine years as Premier.
In my time as Branch Secretary, I have worked with five Victorian premiers, both Labor and Liberal. None have been as willing to meet, listen, and to act on, the concerns and wishes of Victoria’s nurses and midwives.
Mr Andrews was the first 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.
Since his first day in office, Mr Andrews has always delivered on what he has promised to Victoria’s nurses and midwives. He has not been afraid to make the tough decisions when necessary, and our workforce is better off for that boldness and determination.
His extraordinary work ethic, his values, and his visionary leadership will be greatly missed. We will miss the respect shown over many years and indeed decades for Victoria’s nurses and midwives, the work that they do and for the union that represents them.
Mr Andrews extensive legacy will remain for many years to come, and the state’s nurses, midwives and carers will continue to benefit.
It was as Health Minister in the Brumby Government that Mr Andrews first showed his willingness to work with ANMF, when he introduced a pilot student nurse employment program – the beginnings of the Registered Undergraduate Student of Nursing / Midwifery (RUSON/M) program – following lobbying by the ANMF. This successful program now sees thousands of student nurses and midwives gainfully employed in their future careers
But it was his 2014 election commitment to and subsequent enshrining of nurse-to-patient and midwife-to-patient ratios in law – as well as improving them and introducing them into new areas – that set the agenda for his time in office, and which spoke most clearly to his willingness to work with the state’s nurses, midwives and carers.
On 23 December 2015, the Safe Patient Care Act was proclaimed law, making Victoria the first state in Australia to legislate ratios, taking them off the table, never again to be subject to negotiation and industrial disputes. In the years since, Mr Andrews has committed, funded and implemented new and improved ratios, based on claims from our members.
The nation-leading introduction in 2017 of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act is another highlight of the Andrews Government’s nine years. The ANMF (Vic Branch) and the majority of its members supported the Bill being passed through parliament, after many years and decades of working for change.
Mr Andrews and his government also committed to not only holding the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, but to implementing every one of its recommendations. The recent Mental Health and Wellbeing Act 2022 is the culmination of that commitment.
He also committed to, and delivered on, a trial of the medically supervised drug injecting room in North Richmond, which has saved lives and helped families by providing rehabilitation opportunities and housing, health and family violence interventions for people with substance abuse issues. It has also reduced ambulance and police call-outs.
Other significant milestones under the Andrews Government was the introduction of 150m ‘safe zones’ around women’s health and family planning clinics, for the physical and mental safety of women and health workers.
Under Premier Andrews’ leadership, Victoria also became the first state in Australia to legalise access to medicinal cannabis.
The Andrews Government’s support has also seen the award-winning Nursing and Midwifery Health Program Victoria (NMHPV) expand and thrive in the support it offers to our nurses and midwives, and student nurses and midwives, and become the model for the new national Nursing and Midwifery Health Program, implemented this year by the Albanese Federal Government.
Superannuation payments on the paid and unpaid components of parental leave in the 2016 and 2020-24 enterprise agreements was a major win for the next generation of public sector nurses and midwives, along with record wage increases in 2019.
And of course, Mr Andrews was tireless in his support of the workforces during the height of the bushfires, and COVID-19 pandemic, swift to introduce lockdowns and the Code Brown to protect our hospitals and their precious staff, and to implement public sector surge payments – only experience in Victoria – and bonuses to help support our nurses and midwives during this once-in-a-lifetime health disaster.
The introduction of Safer Care Victoria as a result of recommendations made in the Targeting Zero report has ensured that Victorians receive care in the public health system backed by robust clinical governance.
The ANMF thanks Premier Andrews for all of his service and wishes him, Catherine and his children all the very best. We look forward to continuing the union’s productive relationship with the Labor Government under his successor.