International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses Day

Today is International Day of the Midwife, and on May 12 we celebrate International Nurses Day.

Date published:
General public

Professor Alison McMillan shares a message about nurses and midwives to recognise the incredible care they deliver across our communities every day.


Hello and welcome. Before I begin I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands where this video is being viewed. I'm filming it today on the Ngunnawal and Ngambri lands and I pay my respects to elders past and present and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait  Islander people watching and listening to this message

This year across the world we celebrate International Day of the Midwife on the 5th of May and International Nurses Day on the 12th of May. It's a time to set aside for us all to reflect on the work of these important professions. Midwives and the health professionals we turn to for perhaps our most profound moments in our lives - bringing children into the world. Midwives support and care for women during pregnancy, labor, and birth, working to ensure the best possible outcomes for them and their babies. They also advocate and help women achieve the best experience they want. On May 5th I join Australian women and families who know the value of midwives in celebrating their work.

Australia's nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system. They make an enormous contribution to helping people in need their work is nothing short of remarkable. The pandemic has highlighted the dedication of nurses and midwives and we have seen them all rise to many challenges.

The work of Australia's aged care nurses has been particularly challenging during the pandemic and aged care nurses are often the unsung heroes of the nursing workforce. The royal commission into age care quality and safety's final report highlighted the critical role aged care nurses play in keeping our older Australians safe and particularly during the pandemic.

As Australia's population ages they are caring for people with increasingly complex clinical care needs whilst also offering and holding positions of clinical leadership within their roles. This dedication has earned aged care nurses no matter where they are enormous respect in the community.

As the Australian Government's Chief Nursing and Midwifery officer, I acknowledge that nurses and midwives have gone above and beyond what could ever have been expected. They have contributed enormously as highly trained professionals, but also as consumer advocates.

I acknowledge the significant burden COVID continues to have on our healthcare workforce in their professional roles and of course in all of the other important responsibilities they have in their lives as parents, partners, caregivers and members of the community.

We would be wrong to suggest this dedicated and commitment to excellence at the long hours do not come at a price. Nurses confront emotional and professional demands in their daily work, that are almost unknown to the wider community. Nurses tend to put the needs of their patients ahead of their own, but they also need to look after themselves.

I encourage all nurses and midwives to seek support and assistance when they need it for their mental health and well-being. Nurses, midwives, and all health workers can access the Black Dog Institute's essential network called TEN for short. They have services to support mental health and well-being. These services are free or low cost and cover a range of counselling treatment and crisis support services including Lifeline Australia.

There is further information on mental health supports and services for all Australians on the Department of Health website I

It's essential that the workplace is a safe environment for nurses and midwives. Unfortunately, due to their high contact role they are often exposed to unprecedented episodes of occupational violence and this is not acceptable. I encourage everyone employers, community members, and workers to learn more about your rights and responsibilities regarding occupational violence and to locate support services to prevent or report evidence of violence.

Now more than ever it's important that we respect each other. The continued commitment of nurses and midwives and providing care under extremely challenging circumstances is to be commended and it makes me very proud today and every day.

Thank you.

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