HESTA is shining a light on the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives in a new publication that pays tribute to their important contributions to better health outcomes.
Released today, Caring and Community: Stories from Aboriginal nurses and midwives celebrates thousands of years of birthing and healing practice by acknowledging the contributions and journeys of 11 nurses and midwives.
HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said these nurses and midwives show incredible dedication, care and guidance every day and have had a significant impact on their communities.
“These professionals are improving the cultural safety and responsiveness of healthcare, which we know is critical to achieving health equity,” Ms Blakey said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nurses and midwives build trust and confidence in their communities to engage with the health system and access critical services.
“Around the country, our members are working hard to close the gap on health outcomes and, in doing so, are inspiring the next generation of health professionals. We’re so proud to help highlight their important stories and keep advocating on their behalf for the financial future they deserve.”
HESTA was the first industry super fund to implement a Reconciliation Action Plan, which included commitments to raise awareness of the contributions of First Nations nurses and midwives and increase confidence and choice in retirement for all members, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“From engaging with companies on cultural heritage protection to manage financial risk to highlighting the work of our First Nations nurses and midwives, these are some of the ways HESTA is working to advocate for and improve retirement outcomes for our members,” Ms Blakey said.
Lesley Salem, the first Aboriginal person to become a nurse practitioner in Australia and whose story is featured in Caring and Community, is determined to improve the health and welfare of Aboriginal people.
“I’ve experienced a lot of discrimination in my life – as a woman, as an Aboriginal person, and as a nurse – but I’ve never wavered in my determination to make a difference for our community,” Ms Salem said.
Ms Salem said more could be done to encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people into the medical field.
“We need cadetship programs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Support Units at universities to encourage younger Aboriginal people to enter nursing and midwifery.”