media release


7 May 2020


Nursing and midwifery winners announced for national HESTA Awards


Winners of the 2020 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards were last night announced as part of the highly anticipated annual celebration of leadership and professional excellence to improve patient outcomes.


Monash Health nurse Tania Green has been crowned 2020 Nurse of the Year for her championing of patients with cleft and craniofacial conditions. Queenslander and Griffith University alumna Cassandra Nest received the prestigious Midwife of the Year award for her work to improve culturally safe maternity care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Gold Coast.


Ovarian Cancer Australia was awarded Outstanding Organisation for its support for women affected by cancer.


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said this year’s winners, who were announced via video broadcast due to COVID-19 restrictions, all exemplified the reasons why 2020 was named International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.


“Our 2020 winners have demonstrated extraordinary leadership in their respective fields, and I am humbled by their hard work and dedication to delivering quality healthcare,” Ms Blakey said.


“The sector has faced unprecedented challenges this year – first with devastating bushfires and storms, and now with the coronavirus outbreak – and never has the critical role health workers play in caring for Australians been more apparent.


“HESTA is proud of our longstanding, trusted partnership with the health services sector and we are privileged to play a part in recognising the incredible contribution nurses and midwives make across Australia.”


The three winners will each receive $10,000 to be put towards further education or professional development.


For further information, or to watch a recording of the 2020 awards ceremony, please visit


The 2020 Award winners are:


Nurse of the Year


Tania Green
Plastic Surgery Unit, Monash Health
Clayton VIC


Tania Green is recognised for her work to improve care for patients with cleft and craniofacial conditions and their families, supporting more than 500 patients as the clinical nurse coordinator for Monash Health’s Cleft and Craniofacial Unit.


Ms Green said she was surprised and delighted to have been announced as the 2020 Nurse of the Year, which she said would help put a spotlight on the Monash Children’s Hospital cleft team, and their patients and families.


“Nursing is more than just a job for me, it is a part of who I am,” she said.


“Cleft lip and palate is the most common congenital deformity and we support over 500 patients in our service.”


Ms Green has been instrumental in improving awareness of the treatment and care required for cleft-affected babies, including developing protocols that have increased the education and confidence of staff involved in their care, and working with the special care nursery and neonatal staff.


“The Monash Health values are truly represented in the cleft team, who provide integrity, compassion, accountability, respect and excellence to patients and colleagues alike.”


Ms Green’s efforts have seen her set up antenatal consultations for parents expecting a baby with a cleft lip and/or palate, reducing the number of hospital visits families need. This saves families time and eases financial pressures for those needing to travel from regional or remote areas.


She also volunteers with CleftPALS, a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for cleft-affected people and their families.


“I have the best job in Monash Health and the opportunity to work with the expert health professionals that make up the multidisciplinary team is exciting, but it’s our cleft patients and families that make my work so rewarding, and I look forward to continually striving to develop the best cleft service,” she said.


Ms Green said she will use the prize money to explore other national and international cleft services to establish networking, create educational opportunities and benchmark Monash Health’s cleft care to further improve service delivery for families.


Midwife of the Year


Cassandra Nest
Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service & Griffith University 
Southport QLD


Cassandra Nest is recognised for her dedication to improving the delivery of culturally safe, quality maternity care to more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the Gold Coast, particularly through the implementation of the Waijungbah Jarjums Service.


Ms Nest, who is a proud Ngunnawal woman and the first Aboriginal woman to join the midwifery group practice at Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH), said she was grateful and honoured to be named as the 2020 Midwife of the Year.


“Midwifery is my calling, it is what I was meant to be doing. This is more than just a job to me, this is my life, and the lives of my community,” she said.


“I am these women, the women are my family, my culture, their babies are our future ancestors and I am a part of the community whose experiences I am dedicated to improving.”


Ms Nest was instrumental in setting up GCUH’s Waijungbah Jarjums Service, an innovative maternity health service that provides care and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, with care delivered by First Peoples midwives and nurses. She was also the first Aboriginal woman to complete the Bachelor of Midwifery at Griffith University, where she now mentors and supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander midwifery students.


Since Cassandra joined GCUH in 2017, the number of First Peoples’ women and babies accessing GCUH maternity services has increased from three to 57, with the number of First Peoples’ midwives at GCUH increasing from one to five.


“Gold Coast University Hospital Women’s, Newborns and Children’s Unit, Griffith University First Peoples Health Unit and the Midwifery@Griffith team are truly dedicated to improving the experiences of our First Peoples community,” Ms Nest said.


“The most rewarding part of my work is being honoured with the role of walking beside women and their families as their midwife whilst they bring our future ancestors into the world.”


Ms Nest said she wants to help increase the number of First Peoples midwives, with the prize money to go towards a scholarship that includes mentorship for a Griffith University midwifery student.


“In order to improve the experiences of First Peoples women and families they need to be provided with culturally safe care,” she said.


“Increasing the amount of First Peoples midwives not only provides the women and families they care for with access to innate cultural knowledges, it contributes to the cultural safety of the whole workforce as First Peoples midwives advocate for culturally safe care and can encourage others to do the same.


“As a recipient of scholarships whilst studying at Griffith University, I understand the immense impact that a scholarship can have on the completion of the midwifery degree by taking away some of the financial stress that comes with being a University student and not being able to work whilst studying.”


Outstanding Organisation


Ovarian Cancer Australia
Melbourne VIC


Ovarian Cancer Australia is recognised for its research, advocacy and support for women affected by ovarian cancer, especially its work to reduce the prevalence of ovarian cancer and improve early detection and survival rates.


Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Jane Hill said the organisation has helped more than 10,000 Australian families with their ovarian cancer experiences, with a key focus on providing tailored support to ensure no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.


“Many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer often say how isolating it is living with the disease,” Ms Hill said.


“I am proud that our team can be here for women during these times to ensure they are fully supported and empowered with knowledge and information to help them through all stages of their journey.”


Six specialist cancer nurses form part of the team supporting women through their cancer experience.


An Ovarian Cancer Support Nurse has overseen the development of ‘the resilience kit’, which gives women access to much-needed, reliable information, and the organisation’s network for younger women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is led by an Ovarian Cancer Support Nurse, who connects younger women with experts on a wide range of topics.


“Every day our team strives towards our vision to save lives and that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone,” Ms Hill said.


“Our highly qualified ovarian cancer oncology nurses do an outstanding job providing support information and referral for the 5000 Australian women living with ovarian cancer.”


Ovarian Cancer Australia’s advocacy efforts have resulted in a $20 million boost for ovarian cancer research, as well as the development of a national case management program that aims to improve the wellbeing and treatment for women with ovarian cancer.


Ovarian Cancer Australia has developed prevention and early detection programs for women at high risk of developing ovarian cancer and has developed a National Action Plan to coordinate research efforts to improve survival rates. The organisation is also supporting Australia’s first research project on how an ovarian cancer diagnosis impacts a woman’s male partner.


Ms Hill said Ovarian Cancer Australia will use the prize money to fund the Staff Wellness Program to provide staff with debriefings, presentations by clinical psychologists and wellness activities.


“By supporting the OCA team, we can ensure they are fully equipped to continue our vital work supporting women impacted by ovarian cancer, particularly during this difficult time as we support staff wellbeing and prevent burnout,” Ms Hill said.




Media contact:

Sam Riley

Media Relations Manager

(03) 8660 1684


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