International Nurses Day

07 May 2015

My respect for nurses and the nursing profession is very deep and eternal in many ways. I know how difficult the nursing profession is with the practical hands-on activities that have to be undertaken.

Delivered in support of the private member’s motion moved by Ms Digance MP. This motion moved that the South Australian Parliament notes:

(a) recognises International Nurses Day celebrated annually on 12 May 2015;

(b) acknowledges this year's theme, Nurses: A Force for Change: Care Effective, Cost Effective; and

(c) congratulates South Australian nurses for their dedication and professionalism and the pivotal role they play in the advancement of all South Australians' health.

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 11:50:15 ): I hope that I get applause when I finish my speech as well because, as members of this house would know, it is very unusual for that sort of behaviour to occur in the gallery. I will only be making a few brief remarks this morning on this item, which I support very deeply. I am not using notes, so members of the gallery will note that it comes straight from the heart.

My wife is a nurse. She recently graduated in nursing from Flinders University, and she has taken up a graduate year placement at Flinders Private Medical Centre, working in the intensive care unit there, which is a phenomenal opportunity for her to learn the skills of critical care, which is a passion of hers. I am continually exposed to the challenge she faces. We often say in our household that I attend events for a living and she keeps people alive.

It is quite a stark difference; we both have important jobs, of course (all members of parliament have important jobs), but it really comes home to me each night when we sit down for a cup of tea and I ask, within the bounds of patient confidentiality of course, what her day involved. I am continually taken aback and continually amazed, and my respect is continually stretched, at the work she and her colleagues do at the Flinders medical precinct at Bedford Park.

My respect for nurses and the nursing profession is very deep and eternal in many ways. I know how difficult the nursing profession is with the practical hands-on activities that have to be undertaken. As the member for Fisher eloquently put it—regarding bowel movements and things like that, vomit, blood and all manner of substances ending up on nurses' clothes and bodies—it is a job which is at the absolute coalface of public service. I believe it is one of the best forms of public service, and we in this house continually should remember the people we are to serve, the members of the public, and the members of the public who actually serve us in positions like police officers, firefighters, doctors, nurses, teachers—people who are at the front line of public service.

Here we work in public service as well, but we do not often get our hands dirty, for better or worse. I pay tribute to my wife, Hannah, for her involvement in the nursing profession as something she has wanted to do since she was a five or six year old, following in the footsteps of her hero, her Auntie Cheryl, who has now passed away. I respect hugely people involved in the nursing profession. I thank the members for Elder and Fisher for their contributions.

It is very important that, when it comes to professions and people who work in public service, we try to be bipartisan in our approach to maintaining their working conditions and to maintaining the quality of the workplaces. It disappoints me when political jibes and comments drift into debate about front-line public service. We should steer away from that and look to protect and enhance the industry whenever we can. Thank you for your service, and I wish you all the best in your ongoing careers and also in the marking of the 2015 International Nurses Day.

Extracted from Hansard