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BSB 704-191

From the boardroom ... Stephen Cornelissen AM

International Nurses Day 2024

May is always an important month of the year for the healthcare sector as it’s when midwives and nurses are recognised internationally for the all-encompassing and critical contribution they make to the healthcare system, and to society in general. 

International Nurses Day is celebrated on the 12th of May each year which is the birth date of Florence Nightingale, often referred to as the founder of modern nursing. Nightingale reformed the way hospitals cared for patients, putting patients at the centre of care, insisting on practices that saw hospitals become cleaner and safer, and starting the professionalisation of nursing practice.  While nursing practice has continued to advance and arguably become the backbone of healthcare, according to Dr Pamela Cipriano, President of the International Council of Nursing (ICN), it continues to face financial constraints and social undervaluation.

That is why this year’s theme for International Nurses’ Day is Our Nurses. Our Future.  The economic power of care.

The COVID pandemic showed everyone first-hand what good investment in healthcare can lead to and more so the critical value of nurses. Stephen Cornelissen AM, Director

As a member-owned bank which exists to serve its members and with a commitment to education and care workforces, BankFirst is deeply committed to improving the financial and economic outcomes of nurses, midwives, carers (and of course other equally impacted critical professionals being teachers and educators). Stephen Cornelissen AM, Director

This has also been recognised in some ways by governments in Australia with new investments into career pathways and scholarships being announced in recent years as well as other more local initiatives such as offering free study for nursing and midwifery. All these initiatives are steps in the right direction and should be applauded, however we also need to remember that nurses and midwives are by comparison underpaid compared to many other professional groups.

Internationally, the healthcare workforce constitutes 10% of all employment in high income countries like Australia, with just over 75% of the workforce being female. It is relatively well accepted that across the globe women are paid on average about 20% less per hour than men. For nursing, the International Council of Nurses puts their pay at 24% less than men! Sadly, the situation is not improving; in fact, earlier this year a Royal College of Nursing (UK) survey found that six out of 10 nurses were using credit or savings to cope with increased cost pressures. The report also noted a 25% fall in their income since 2010 when compared against real costs. This same survey found high percentages of nurses stating that money struggles had damaged their mental and physical health.

We’re proud of how we recognise the social and economic importance of nurses and midwives, be that helping individuals with their financial security through to granting scholarships to support career and care advancement.

This May we extend our deepest gratitude to all nurses and midwives for all they do in creating a better world.