media release 


20 May 2022   


Winners crowned in a celebration of Australia’s nurses and midwives for 2022 HESTA Awards 


Winners of the 2022 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards were announced last night in a national celebration of the critical contributions of Australia’s nurses and midwives.


Nurse practitioner Sue Hegarty was revealed as the 2022 Nurse of the Year for her exceptional advocacy and support for women with ovarian cancer, including her leadership in developing Australia’s first ovarian cancer telehealth program.


Melanie Briggs, a descendant of Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr peoples, was awarded Midwife of the Year for her work to improve First Nations’ maternal and infant health. Ms Briggs is the director and founder of Binjilaanii, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia.


Outstanding Organisation winner Beaudesert Hospital Maternity was recognised for its high-quality maternity services, demonstrating incredible commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of women and babies in rural Queensland.


HESTA CEO Debby Blakey congratulated this year’s winners and finalists, acknowledging the extraordinary impact they have had in delivering improved health outcomes and care for Australians.


“This year’s winners and finalists have demonstrated the very best of their profession: compassion, empathy and dedication to helping improve the lives of others,” Ms Blakey said.


“No matter the hour, no matter the situation, our nurses and midwives are there to answer the call. They have made an immeasurable difference to the health and wellbeing of so many people and it’s so clear why they are the backbone of our healthcare system.

“I want to thank each and every winner and finalist for their amazing work and contributions. HESTA is so proud we can help share these important stories.”


Now in their sixteenth year, the national Awards recognise Australia’s nurses, midwives, nurse educators, researchers and personal care workers for their contributions to improving health outcomes.


The three winners each received $10,000, courtesy of ME – the bank for you, for professional development or to improve services or processes in the workplace.


ME CEO Martine Jager said the bank was proud to be a long-time supporter of the HESTA Awards program.


“Congratulations to these outstanding nurses, midwives and personal care workers. The team and I at ME Bank are so proud to be recognising and celebrating their achievements, which are life changing.”


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The 2022 winners are:




Sue Hegarty
Ovarian Cancer Australia (OCA)
Melbourne VIC


Sue Hegarty is recognised for her exceptional advocacy and support for women with ovarian cancer.


Ms Hegarty said she was delighted to be named 2022 Nurse of the Year, calling it a ‘great honour’ to represent her colleagues.


“I work with a team of devoted ovarian cancer nurses, counsellors, psychologists and allied health professionals who have helped women and their families through the toughest times of their lives,” she said.  


“I accept this award for all the nurses and team I work with at OCA. To be a winner is recognition of the essential work we have done and will continue to do to ensure no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.”


With a 26-year career dedicated to cancer nursing, Ms Hegarty has worked tirelessly to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. She has been instrumental in the development of programs offered through OCA, attracting millions of dollars in funding. This includes spearheading the development of Australia’s first ovarian cancer telehealth program, which provides women with access to dedicated ovarian cancer nurses.


“A low incidence cancer like ovarian cancer can be difficult to get the funding it needs. Having a platform like the HESTA Awards where we can raise awareness and advocate for women impacted by this rare but deadly disease is so incredibly valuable,” she said.


Ms Hegarty said she would use the prize money to enhance the OCA team’s communication skills.


“Effective communication is an essential skill for the team delivering OCA’s support programs as our nurses are having to have incredibly difficult conversations. It is well documented that the more confident health professionals feel in their communication skills, the less at risk they are of burnout,” Ms Hegarty said.




Melanie Briggs
Waminda South Coast Women's Health & Welfare Aboriginal Corporation
Binjilaanii Maternity Services Pty Ltd.
Nowra NSW


Melanie Briggs is recognised for her tireless work to improve First Nations’ maternal and infant health.

A descendant of the Dharawal and Gumbaynggirr peoples, Melanie is the Director and Founder of Binjilaanii, the first Aboriginal-led maternity model of care in Australia. She is also a Senior Midwife at Waminda South Coast Women’s Health and Welfare Aboriginal Corporation.


Ms Briggs said she was honoured to hear she had been named Midwife of the Year.


“Being recognised and being an Aboriginal midwife and caring for women on country is a privilege and I feel incredibly proud,” she said.


“My team should be here standing here with me. This award is in recognition of the amazing work our team and organisation do in community to ensure that our First Nations mums and bubs receive the best start to life.”


Ms Briggs is renowned for her strong advocacy, implementing the Waminda Birthing on Country Model.

The model incorporates culture into maternity care to improve outcomes for First Nations women and babies. Her vision is to see Aboriginal women birthing on their homelands, practising traditional lore and continuing cultural connections to country for their baby and their families.


“Practicing culture and working with First Nations mothers and supporting women on that journey during pregnancy is so important for us; it is empowering for our women as it brings incredible outcomes – seeing that is the most rewarding part of my job”, she said.


Ms Briggs plans to use the prize money to conduct further research and embed cultural practices into the Birthing on Country model of care.




Beaudesert Hospital Maternity
Beaudesert QLD


Beaudesert Hospital Maternity is recognised for its commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of women and babies in rural Queensland by providing high-quality maternity services to the local community.


Jacquie Smith, Beaudesert Hospital’s Nursing & Midwifery Director and Facility Manager, said the win was exciting for the maternity unit and a welcome opportunity for the team to celebrate their hard work and commitment to providing maternity care to the community.


“To be a winner is so exciting and provides positive recognition of the value and importance of local midwifery care for rural women and families,” Ms Smith said.


"I’m privileged to lead my team and it’s also fitting to acknowledge and appreciate the contributions of the wider hospital team who support our maternity service and without whom we would not be able to provide our service.”


The organisation has enhanced healthcare for local women and babies, including expanding its Midwifery Group Practice, which provides individualised continuity of care during pregnancy, labour and birth, and in the provision of postnatal care.


Ms Smith said it was rewarding to realise how much the community values the local maternity services.


“It’s not like a hospital, it’s like a second home. A true testament of this is when we had three generations of families members born at Beaudesert Hospital, with the last two generations being cared for by the same midwife,” she said.


Beaudesert Hospital Maternity has also increased access to culturally appropriate midwifery and healthcare to First Nations mothers. The service has engaged extensively with community members to ensure safe, sustainable, and integrated care. Beaudesert Hospital Maternity is working to further enhance cultural appropriate care in the future through a Birthing in Our Community (BiOC) model of care. 


Beaudesert Maternity hopes to use the prize money to introduce a waterbirth option and developing an onsite lactation clinic for the maternity ward.





Media contact:

Sam Riley

General Manager Media Relations

(03) 8660 1684


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