media release


09 May 2019


Winners announced in HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards


Winners from NSW, VIC, and ACT were recognised at the 2019 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards dinner held in Melbourne last night for their outstanding performance and commitment to patient care and clinical improvement in nursing and midwifery.  

NSW emergency, trauma nurse and clinical researcher, Professor Kate Curtis, was awarded Nurse of the Year for her work advocating to improve emergency hospital care across Australia and internationally, particularly for children.

Tracey Stephens a midwife from Monash Health in Clayton, VIC won Midwife of the Year for improving maternity and health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and babies.

ACT’s Calvary Public Hospital’s INSPIRED team from its palliative care service Clare Holland House took out the Team Excellence award for developing a new model of palliative care delivery for aged care residents requiring end-of-life care.

The national awards are profession’s most prestigious, recognising nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers who excel in their area of expertise or service provision across the three Award categories — Nurse of the Year, Midwife of the Year and Team Excellence.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the work undertaken by this year’s winners was outstanding and demonstrated the very best of the nursing and midwifery professions.

“We’re very proud to recognise the winners of this year’s awards. They have developed and implemented systems and models of care that overcome health care challenges, leading to improved clinical standards of practice and optimised patient care,” Ms Blakey said.

“These winners stood out from an exceptional group of finalists for their commitment to improving patient health care outcomes, and their work has had a profound impact on the lives of Australians.”

Proud Awards sponsor ME – the bank for you, generously provided the $30,000 prize pool, divided among the winners in the three award categories. Winners will receive $10,000 to use for further education or team development.

ME CEO Jamie McPhee said the bank was very proud to support the awards and help shine a light on the outstanding work of the winners.

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards, who continue to strongly advocate for vulnerable Australians who are most in need of care and support,” Mr McPhee said.

The 2019 Award winners are:

Nurse of the Year

Professor Kate Curtis
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District & Professor of Trauma and Emergency, University of Sydney
Wollongong, NSW

Recognised for her work advocating to improve emergency hospital care across Australia and internationally, particularly for injured children.

Kate was instrumental in obtaining federal funding to develop a National Injury Prevention Strategy and is an internationally renowned emergency and trauma nurse clinical researcher, whose studies into injury prevention and treatment has improved clinical practice both in Australia and around the world.

“The most rewarding thing about this work is knowing that we’re making a difference through research and advocacy for this pandemic that is childhood injury. Injury is the leading cause of death and disability in Australian kids,” said Kate.

One of the most published emergency and trauma nurses in the world, her evidence-based models of trauma care has improved equitable access to quality emergency treatment.

“Part of what I do is to ensure that everyone gets equitable access to emergency and trauma care so that no matter where you get injured in Australia you have the same opportunity for survival,” said Kate.

“Emergency and trauma care is an opportunity to help people at the worst time of their lives. It’s also an opportunity to apply science and clinical skills to save lives.”

Kate combines her clinical work with academic roles to produce ground-breaking studies on paediatric and emergency trauma care. Kate also founded the Childhood Injury Prevention Alliance (CHIPA) to improve injury treatment and prevention and tirelessly advocated for a national injury prevention strategy.

Kate said she will use the prize money to share her research with other clinicians.

“I plan to use the prize money to continue to develop emergency nursing education nights, which presents the latest evidence to clinicians so they can use that in their own clinical practice. This means our patients will then get the best possible care,” Kate said. 

Midwife of the Year

Tracey Stephens
Monash Health
Clayton, VIC

Recognised for her work in improving maternity and health care outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and babies by implementing culturally appropriate and safe maternity health care services.

Tracey said she is proud Kurnai woman from Gippsland and is passionate about Aboriginal health and became a midwife to give back and contribute to the Aboriginal community.  

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in my community are often vulnerable and experience many barriers when trying to access health care. This is why it’s really, really important for Aboriginal women like myself to be in roles like this, Aboriginal-led care is crucial to promoting the best possible health outcomes for these women and their babies,” said Tracey.

In her role as the Aboriginal health midwife at Monash Health, Tracey liaises with the community and acute hospital services to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies have access to appointments and adequate health care.

“This is my dream role. Every day, I get the opportunity to work with women to achieve the best outcomes in their birthing journey. After birth, I am able to follow these women into the community and watch healthy babies and competent mothers thrive,” said Tracey.

Tracey’s work has contributed to the number of Aboriginal babies born at Monash Health doubling, in addition to the hospital seeing a decrease in no shows for prenatal appointments.  

“Having Aboriginal midwives working with Aboriginal women, babies, and families is vital, and it’s my passion. I am proud that the number of Aboriginal women accessing the service has increased and through this, we have implemented so many great improvements across our healthcare system,” said Tracey.  

Tracey said she plans to use the prize money to further her professional development and training in the areas of Aboriginal health, cultural safety and intergenerational trauma.   

Team Excellence

Calvary Public Hospital Bruce – Clare Holland House
Barton, ACT

The INSPIRED Team is recognised for developing, trialling and testing a new integrated model of palliative care delivery for aged care residents with life limiting illnesses.

A first of its type in Australia and internationally, the ‘Needs Rounds’ model has three components which provides a proactive approach to caring for residents that have specialist palliative care needs.

INSPIRED team member and Calvary Nurse Practitioner, Juliane Samara said the model was developed after the team recognised that more needed to be done to ensure residents die with dignity.

 “Our team identified that people were dying badly in residential aged care without a plan in place, and that they were being transferred to hospital and often not dying in their preferred place of death,” said Juliane.

“We decided to implement a proactive approach to palliative care to reduce emergency referrals and hospital transfers, and to improve knowledge and skills for staff in residential aged care so that they could recognise and plan for dying”.

“Often people don’t talk about or plan for death and dying. If we recognise deterioration and dying, normalise and plan for end of life, then people will have better deaths.”

Following the success of the team’s initial pilot study, the model was implemented and evaluated in 12 residential facilities across the ACT and the results showed that Palliative Care Needs Rounds improved knowledge and skills for staff, and helped people to die well in their preferred place of death.

“It’s wonderful for the INSPIRED team to be recognised for the work we’ve done. It’s not easy to combine clinical work with research. It’s nice to have a level of work that’s raising the profile of the nursing profession and improving outcomes for residents in aged care,” said Juliane.

Juliane said the INSPIRED team hopes to implement the model of care across aged care facilities in the ACT and to develop tools so that the model can be used by others more broadly across Australia.

For further information and photos from the event please visit:



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