RNA held its 2nd National Forum at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane on Tuesday 27th March. Joining over 45 colleagues from across Australia, the Forum allowed refugee health nurses the opportunity to explore issues around LGBTIQ+, advanced practice and competency. States and territories gave the Forum feedback about local conditions and the challenges and opportunities ahead. Best of all was the sense of collegiality among the group.
The day began with most states and territories providing an overview on working with the Humanitarian Settlement Program and showcased the interesting and innovative work that Refugee Health Nurses are doing in this space. However, the message came through from all areas that the lack of focus placed on health in the new HSP means a decreased level of settlement support for clients to access health care which may impact on service delivery and also potentially on client health outcomes.
The afternoon presentation on advanced nursing practice and the workshops on developing a skills framework for refugee health nurses were a great opportunity to reflect on the knowledge and skills we use every day. It also gave RNA members the chance to get to know members from other regions and services. RNA was established to provide a forum and develop professional practice in refugee health nursing and the information from the workshops will be used to develop a refugee health nursing competency framework. Equally important is the opportunity that RNA provides for refugee health nurses to network and build a community of practice to support each other in the work that we do. As Metro South Refugee Health Service CNC Leeanne Schmidt said, “You’re part of my (support) network”. This was also echoed by RNA Chairperson Sandy Eagar in her closing comments as she reflected on how the often hostile political landscape in which our work takes place can impact us as nurses and that our professional connections can help to build capacity and resilience in both our services and ourselves.
These are exciting times for refugee health nursing and RNA looks forward to continuing this journey with you.