Despite being mocked as a child for voicing her desire to go into nursing, Gail Yarran persevered and her career, dedicated to improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, has been recognised with HESTA’s Nurse of the Year award.
“I’ve been very passionate about nursing from a young age, I remember when I was in school the teacher asked the class ‘what would you like to be when you leave school?”, I said I’d like to be a nurse and the whole class laughed and made fun of me. This stuck in my heart and made me more determined, this gave me the passion,” she said.
Although she has been a nurse for more than 50 years, she said there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“I’ve been a nurse for 50 years and I know I can’t close the gap, but I can do my little part to make a difference.
“Currently I work in maternal child health doing screening, child health checks and immunisations, by doing this I would like to see better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their babies.”
Ms Yarran is a prominent Aboriginal health care leader and nurse ambassador, having held multiple advisory roles, and has developed a number of clinical research projects and pilot programs designed to meet the specific needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. She works for the Derbari Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation in Perth.
Ms Yarran will receive $10,000 in prize money, which will go towards researching improving access to antenatal health services and research on heart disease in Aboriginal women.
Nursing’s night of nights also recognised nurses in other categories - The Kombi Clinic from Queensland won the Team Excellence award and Veronique Murphy was named Outstanding Graduate.
HESTA CEO, Debby Blakey said this year’s winners demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the nursing profession, continually striving to advance patient health outcomes, whilst also implementing innovative solutions to improve standards of care.
“We are proud to recognise the winners of this year’s Awards, they have shown leadership in advocating on behalf of their patients for improved access to health care, whilst also providing meaningful solutions to overcome these challenges,” Ms Blakey said.
A number of private hospital nurses were recognised as finalists for the Nurse or Midwife of the Year and Graduate categories – including: Deanna Ward from Cairns Private Hospital, for her work on the national Know Your Midwife program; Glynnis Carvalho, from John Flynn Private, Rachelle Chikan from Peninsula Private and Samantha Johnson from Hollywood Private Hospital.