2024 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards — winners announced

Friday, 17 May, 2024

2024 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards — winners announced

A nurse and midwife from Victoria and a New South Wales-based organisation have been recognised at the 2024 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the awards celebrated the outstanding contribution of nurses and midwives in Australia and were an important reminder of their critical work and impact on communities.

The winners will equally share a prize pool of $30,000, courtesy of longstanding awards supporter ME, to be used for professional development or to improve services or processes. BOQ Group Executive of Retail Banking Greg Boyle congratulated the winners and finalists on behalf of ME Bank.

Now in their 18th year, the awards acknowledge the outstanding contribution and dedication of Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers to improving health outcomes.

Below are the winners:

Nurse of the Year:

Cathy Halmarick, Peninsula Health, Frankston, Vic

Cathy helped establish the Sexual and Reproductive Health Hub in Southeastern Victoria, which ensured access to sexual health services for the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She is recognised for her work over 25 years as a nurse and midwife.

When Cathy identified that many women were finding the intra-uterine device (IUD) process painful, she initiated the use of a ‘green whistle’ (methoxyflurane inhaler) to reduce women’s pain experience with excellent results.

“Sexual and reproductive health is an area of an individual’s health that is often overlooked for various reasons, including time and financial constraints, lack of knowledge and clinic availability,” she said.

“Our service aims to guarantee that women from diverse backgrounds and age groups have choices regarding their sexual health. The service provides adequate time for consultations and after-hours clinics to help mitigate barriers.”

Cathy plans to use the prize money for further study, focusing on pain management for people undergoing gynaecological procedures in the outpatient setting. The team will also use the money to purchase an ultrasound machine.

Midwife of the Year:

Skye Stewart, Red Nose Australia, Woomelang, Vic

Skye is recognised for creating the nation’s first stillbirth support guide (Jiba Pepeny: Star Baby) for Aboriginal families, having seen the unacceptable gap in stillbirth rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and the impact it left on communities.

She travelled more than 32,000 kilometres over 20 months to communities across the country to ensure the stillbirth guide was as relevant as possible to the lived experience of Aboriginal families.

“My cultural role and responsibility as an Aboriginal midwife is to do what I can to ensure that Aboriginal mothers and their babies stay safe, alive, well and together,” Skye said.

“To be recognised with this award means I’ve paid attention to where it matters, and I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. The award is a privilege, and I feel incredibly honoured and humbled.

“My work is rewarding because it supports families experiencing vulnerability at an acutely distressing time. One of the most rewarding things ever said to me was during the making of Jiba Pepeny: Star Baby.

Skye plans to use the prize money to print a children’s book and a suite of resources for families, siblings and children affected by stillbirth, another first of its kind, supporting Aboriginal children at this difficult time.

Outstanding Organisation:

The Healthy Communities Foundation Australia, Collarenebri, NSW

The Healthy Communities Foundation Australia has been recognised for improving access to primary healthcare services in remote and Aboriginal communities.

In addition to providing local access to health care, it has established the Dhirri-li Education for Work Centre. The centre trains Aboriginal people for entry-level roles in the health and social care system, addressing a lack of employment opportunities and social determinants of health.

Cassie Talbot, Registered Nurse and Manager of Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities, and The National Rural & Remote Suicide Prevention Program, said, “What I find most rewarding about our foundation and team’s work is our positive impact on people’s lives in some of the most disadvantaged communities.

“Whether providing essential healthcare services, supporting communities in need or advancing medical research and innovation, knowing that we’re making a difference brings immense satisfaction. Seeing patients recover, families supported and communities thrive is truly fulfilling and motivates me to continue our mission.”

The team plans to use the prize money to support their nursing team, ensuring staff are well trained and well resourced to increase their ability to support rural and remote communities in NSW.

Image caption: Cassie Talbot, Registered Nurse and Manager of Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities, and The National Rural & Remote Suicide Prevention Program from The Healthy Communities Foundation Australia. Image: Supplied

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