Illawarra Greens. Social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and non-violence and grassroots democracy.

Greens announce paid placements for health workers in training

15 March 2023

Cath Blakey, Greens Councillor and state candidate for Wollongong joined the Mothers and Midwives of the Illawarra community picnic to launch the Greens commitment to announce paid placements for nurses, midwives and paramedics in training.

Councillor Blakey outdoors

“I’m joining the Mothers and Midwives community picnic because safe, women centred maternity care is so important. In 2018 I was fortunate to have a baby through the Midwife Group Practice program, an opportunity for continuity of care only offered to about 8% of public birthing patients at Wollongong Hospital,” Cath Blakey, Greens Councillor and Greens candidate for Wollongong said.

“At Wollongong hospital there are currently 30 vacant midwife positions, and reports of 15 patients for every midwife. And this number doesn’t even include the babies! 

“With those staffing levels nurses and midwives can not provide sufficient or safe care in the maternity unit. Paid placements for nursing staff is part of our Greens plan to attract, train and retain public health workers.

At the recent NSW state election candidates forum hosted by the Nurses and Midwives Association candidates were called upon to address the cost-of-living barrier to nurses in training - including that they are required to undertake placements with no pay.

Quotes attributable to Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP and health spokesperson:

“Our healthcare workers have suffered for more than a decade under this Liberal National Government. The Greens plan will show our nurses and midwives the respect and working conditions they deserve,” said Cate Faehrmann. 

“Our frontline healthcare workers are leaving the public health system in droves. Our plan will make it easier to retain experienced nurses and midwives, and train new ones, in our public hospitals. 

“Unpaid placements were already a massive barrier to becoming a registered nurse, but the cost of living has now made it near insurmountable. The Greens will make sure all nurses and midwives are paid and can afford to get by while they do their placement. 

Quotes attributable to Dr Amanda Cohn, Albury-based GP and Greens candidate for the NSW Upper House:

“The pressures faced by junior doctors are enormous, with rampant unrostered, unsafe and unpaid overtime and bullying and harassment putting doctors and patients at risk. One in four junior doctors in Australia have thought about suicide. Hospital management must be held to account by an independent regulatory body to ensure safe working conditions,” said Dr Cohn.

“Not only have NSW health employees faced effective pay cuts under this Government, but they’ve even been forced to give 50% of their fringe benefits back to NSW Health. This is not only miserly, but yet another disincentive for nurses and midwives to stay in the system,” said Dr Cohn.

Quotes attributable to Cath Blakey, Greens Councillor and state candidate for Wollongong

“This understaffing means that Mums and new parents can’t get the care they need in the maternity unit to make the best start with their babies. 

“Our healthcare staff look after us when we most need it – it’s time we look after them.

“This starts with paying healthcare workers fairly for the time, skills, and enormous effort they put into their work. The Greens will increase the pay of nurses, paramedics and midwives by 15 percent and guarantee an annual wage increase of two percent above inflation.

“Nursing and midwifery students currently do unpaid work placements as part of their training. Not only is this a huge stress on those students, it also provides a completely unnecessary barrier to new graduates entering the workforce.

“The Greens want to make sure that students on these placements are paid the same wage as a junior Assistant in Nursing. With the heightened cost of living, it’s crazy to expect people to fund their own placement.

The Greens plan will:

  • Mandate Nurse to Patient Ratios across the public healthcare sector.
  • Remove the wage cap and give a 15% pay rise for nurses, midwives and paramedics and then increasing wages annually by 2% above inflation at a minimum thereafter.
  • Create a senior nursing pay scale to incentivise experienced nurses to stay in the system.
  • Pay nursing, midwifery and paramedicine students for their time on placement at the rate of a junior Assistant in Nursing.
  • Establish a regulatory body to address working conditions in health services including but not limited to reducing occupational violence, retention of experienced staff and eliminating excessive and unsafe work hours.
  • Give NSW Health Employees 100% of their fringe benefits. 
  • Create structured pathways for new enrolled nurses to gain experience in a variety of clinical environments. 
  • Hire at least 1500 more paramedics for regional NSW and introduce fit for purpose deployment modelling to adapt to the changing needs of our communities.
  • Introduce a 24/7 patient transport service which would decrease delays to patient care and free up ambulances for emergencies.
  • Support and expand the Intensive Care and Extended Care Paramedics programs.
  • Ensure hospitals have facilities for paramedics to rest when experiencing bed block.
  • Underwrite the pay and conditions gap for GP registrars and employ GPs as staff specialists in public primary care services.