INTERNATIONAL Nurses Day represents an opportunity to reflect upon the significant contribution nurses make in all health care settings, but particularly this year with nurses leading both the continued fight against COVID-19 and the recovery from the pandemic, according to the Australian College of Nursing (ACN).

Celebrating the day, Australian College of Nursing chief executive officer, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN said nurses should continue to take the opportunity to advocate for value-based health care and a refocus of resources into primary health care to better position the health system to meet future population needs.

This year’s theme is ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead – A vision for future health care’.

“Nurses represent more than half of our health care workforce and are leading Australia and the world through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.

“ACN’s priorities in 2021 include vaccination rollout, a major overhaul of the aged care system with a return to appropriate nurse staffing levels and a regulated third tier workforce as well as emissions reduction through nursing leadership, chronic disease management and the establishment of a Nurses and Violence Taskforce.

“Women’s health and men’s health are also high on our agenda as we work to improve the wellbeing of all Australians.

“Without nurses, our health care system would collapse.

“Whether it is in aged care, supporting hotel quarantine, community care or even supporting decisions at the highest levels of government, the nursing voice has been crucial to Australia’s health and wellbeing through this pandemic and without nurses, there is no health care system in Australia. It’s time all governments and decision-makers give the nursing profession the respect it deserves and not make a decision without us, or consumers, at the table,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.

ACN said: “The time is now to make sure every health care discussion and decision includes the nursing voice. This is the only way all Australians will get fair access to the care they need.

“On this auspicious day it is an opportunity for all nurses to be reminded of why we chose this noble, ethical and respected profession.”