2019 was a year of many major initiatives – one of which was the Health Minister’s Award for Nursing Trailblazers. The first of its kind in Australia, it acknowledged the vital role nurses play in transforming our country’s health and aged care system. As we approach the second year of this prestigious award, the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) looks back at last year’s winners and finalists to find how the Trailblazer Award has helped them continue their journey as an extraordinary nurse leader.
We recently spoke to 2019 Finalist Professor Jeanine Young FACN about the opportunities that have arisen since the awards and the importance of nurses receiving broader public recognition. Jeanine was recognised as a Trailblazer Finalist for her work on uniting cultural practices and safe sleep environments for Indigenous Australian infants.
- Could you provide a brief overview of the project that you were nominated as a Trailblazer Finalist for?
The Pēpi-Pod Program is an innovative and culturally acceptable strategy to reduce risk of shared sleep environments for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families with identified risks for sudden and unexpected infant death. The Pēpi-Pod Program comprises three essential elements: a portable infant sleep space that provides a zone of physical protection for baby’s airway, safe sleeping parent education and safety briefing, and a family commitment to use the sleep space as intended and to share safe sleeping messages within the family’s social networks. The program specifically reduces the interaction between shared sleeping environments and maternal and household member smoking, which is reported to increase SUDI risk ten-fold.
- What opportunities have opened-up since you were nominated as a Trailblazer Finalist?
I was Asked by Red Nose to lead the next revision of the National Safe Sleep Public Health Campaign which we will aim to launch in March 2021 as part of Safe Sleep Week in Australia.
The Pepi-Pod Program has continued to be taken up in new communities and services around Australia
I have also become a member of Consumer Product Injury Research Advisory Group and their Safe Sleep Working Party which is an inter-sectoral working group of people from organisations with expertise in safety of infants and safe sleeping who are working on guidelines to assist in ensuring that only ‘safe’ products used for infant swaddling and as infant sleep surfaces are supplied and are used safely.
- Why is it important for the achievements of nurses to receive broader public recognition and acknowledgment?
Nurses are the largest group of health care providers in the health workforce. They are the backbone and glue that keep the health system running and it is only through our tenacity and innovation that real improvements in quality health care can be realised. Highlighting the achievements of nurses sends a message to the public that nurses are to be valued, and that the important roles that they hold in healthcare, across practice, education, research and policy development is rich and varied.
- How did you become nominated for the Trailblazer Awards?
One of my PhD students submitted an application on my behalf after a discussion with members of Red Nose. I sit on the Red Nose Scientific Advisory Group.
- What would you say to a nurse who is reluctant to apply for the 2020 Trailblazer Awards to convince them to do so?
If you value your role as a nurse, own it, be proud and share it with your colleagues and the nation.