COLUMN: Nurses are the VIPs!

NURSING ROLE MODELS: My great-grandmother Mairi Peden, front row second from the left at Goulburn Hospital in 1900. She came from an old Camden family but her father had moved south to take up a farm near Taralga.
NURSING ROLE MODELS: My great-grandmother Mairi Peden, front row second from the left at Goulburn Hospital in 1900. She came from an old Camden family but her father had moved south to take up a farm near Taralga.

Some family tree buffs take pride in being descended from a strutting politician, a wool king, or even royalty.

Dunno about you, but I admire the battlers who helped people - not the bigwigs who screwed them.

This photo shows my great-grandmother, Mairi Peden, as a young nurse at Goulburn Hospital. A simple bush girl who worked hard to gain qualifications and cared for those in need.

But her job was a lot more than that - she also had to mop the floors, fill kerosene lamps, and clean chimneys. Even her spare time was strictly regulated: "Any nurse who smokes, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty shop or frequents dance halls will give ... good reason to suspect her worth," one set of rules warned.

Nurses today don't have to clean chimneys or worry about getting their hair done. But they do have plenty of other challenges that my great-grandmother didn't face. Such as crackheads.

Or ferals in general.

My old mate Steve Carter was at Campbelltown Hospital emergency for his mother-in-law one night recently, and called it a "horror show" - and said he couldn't speak highly enough of nurses.

"They are amazing," he told me. "They deserve twice the money they get paid. I wouldn't do it. The politicians should have to spend just one shift with our nurses, walk the wards, and see what they have to put up with."

That last comment resounded with me. We have our priorities arse-up.

We have our priorities arse-up.

I mean, remember in 2001 when the planes went into the towers and politicians were rushed into safe bunkers while the firefighters and other brave responders rushed to their deaths. I know which group was of more value to society.

Yet our pollies are always treated as VIPS, not the front line workers, often at risk.

Our caregivers need to be nurtured and protected.

I suspect that's why so many angry readers left comments on our Facebook page in response to the story that it's not just local sick people who are going to be slugged for parking at Campbelltown Hospital - but the nurses and other medical staff doing their caregiving!

A taste of the comments:

"My daughter's a nurse..these people deserve a frickin' medal, not a parking bill."

"School teachers don't pay for parking, police, ambos and firefighters don't pay for parking. So why does the government make hospital employees pay for parking?"

"This is more than a kick in the guts - it's the government putting its hands in the pockets of people for the privilege of coming to work and looking after the community."

And so on.

But here's the thing...

I supported a large protest meeting a few months ago because the local midwifery section was 45 positions short! In a government-created growth centre full of young families! These nurses, caring for local mothers and babies, should be treated like VIPs. Instead, they are exhausted, over-stretched and under-appreciated.

But rather than making a public apology to our nurses, the Premier is now preparing to squeeze extra profits out of them by essentially taxing them to drive to their understaffed jobs. They're the VIPS, Premier. Not you.

I noticed one of our readers commented online: Do politicians or those in authority pay parking fees?

Interesting question.

Do the Premier and her senior ministers pay for their parking at Parliament House in Sydney? Surely not. That would make them hypocrites - and thinking they are more important than our nurses.

So I made some calls.

I won't insult your intelligence by giving you the answer. I think you can guess.

This story COLUMN: Nurses are the VIPs! first appeared on Wollondilly Advertiser.