NZNO's Blog

Feeling the fear and doing it anyway

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Anne Daniels, President
NZNO, Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa

“Nothing is too difficult to achieve. Only (fear) and apathy can defeat us.” – Sonja Davies.

Fear and apathy are the biggest threats to the health of our nation and our (regulated and unregulated) nurses’ ability to provide safe care through eliminating nursing shortages.

History shows we cannot rely on a government of employers to do right by us. Accountability to the public and professional health and safety through nurse/patient ratio regulation is a no brainer. We are the UNION. It is up to us, every NZNO member, to make this happen.

Fear is holding us back. Gender norms have contributed to a culture of deference to authority, self-depreciation, and overt oppression – strategies that devalue us, erode our self-esteem and belief in ourselves. Many of our members are afraid of losing their jobs if they get involved in political action or speak out. However, if you saw something happening that was causing your patient to be harmed, would you stand by and let it happen? I don’t think so. But when it comes to us, and the health and wellbeing of our nation, most of us are silent and inactive.

Very recently it was noted that some Te Whatu Ora nurse job descriptions had a new addition. And I quote: “Resilience/Flexibility”.

“This articulates differing perspectives on a problem and will see the merit of alternative points of view. It will change or modify own opinions and will utilise alternative strategies when necessary. This adjusts behaviour to the demands of the work environment to remain productive through periods of transition, ambiguity, uncertainty and stress.”

This requirement for new employees risks being in conflict with our human rights, the Health Practitioners Assurance Act, the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Nursing Council competency standards of practice. We are required to speak out and act when unsafe practice environments put our patients and ourselves at risk. Every one of us must get involved in our strategic Maranga Mai! campaign to eliminate this kind of overt oppression.

What must WE do about it.

  1. Turn our fears into value-based opportunities. What do you care about enough to stand up and act?
  2. Problem solve – we do that all day long at work. Name and reframe the problem. Work with your colleagues to find and implement a solution. Evaluate and engage in a continuous cycle of improvement to increase effectiveness. Be open to change. Think MARANGA MAI! strategy. Act collectively/inclusively, in different ways, starting with te Tiriti o Waitangi.
  3. How? Empowerment through education to prepare ourselves, and our future nurses, with the skills they need to make change happen: leadership, political, advocacy, activism. NZNO staff can and will support our members to become activists through our delegate, regional council, health and safety, college and section infrastructure, etc.

Get involved. Be part of the solution not the problem. The time is NOW!

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