On 27th October 2017, Refugee Health Nurses from across Australia met in Sydney for the inaugural RNA forum. This exciting event was our first opportunity to meet each other, learn about each others’ work and declare our professional identity as refugee health nurses.
We learnt more about the similarities and differences of the work our RNA colleagues do across the country as representatives from each state and territory presented on their model of care.
Eman Safa from DSS presented to members on the new Australian Government Humanitarian Settlement Program (HSP). The new HSP will impact all of us who work with newly arrived refugees so this session was very timely and judging by the level of audience engagement, members found it very valuable opportunity to ask questions about the program directly to those working at DSS. The presentation has since been circulated to the membership to ensure that this information can be further disseminated through our networks.
Samantha Furneaux from the Victorian Refugee Health Network showcased the new Australian Refugee Health Practice Guide. When published, the updated guide will be available online and in hard copy. Following the presentation, RNA members have been given the opportunity to review the online version and provide feedback.
Following a delicious lunch, the afternoon sessions began. Professor Liz Halcomb from the School of nursing at the University of Wollongong presented on her work in developing practice standards in primary care nursing and offered invaluable advice and guidance for our organisation as we begin the development of a competency framework for refugee health nurses. The aim of this framework is to communicate our scope of practice, establish a framework for curricular development and to assess individual competence. Members split into small groups for facilitated workshops on four key topics: environment, nursing care, professional practice and collaboration. Nurses from different states and territories came together in the groups to discuss the topics and explore the similarities and differences in our work. The discussions were lively (noisy!) and generated many ideas. The content from these workshops is now being collated for further development – watch this space.
Throughout the day, so many delegates remarked how exciting it was to have a voice as refugee health nurses, and to meet others who share that voice. The forum is just the beginning of our journey.
The event was also covered by the Liverpool Champion – read their story about the forum here.