Tammy - Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia (NAMABA)

Tammy - Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia (NAMABA)

Tammy is a Child Health Nurse with a background across many specialties and who now runs the group Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia (NAMABA) who fight for the rights of those affected by bullying and harassment in the nursing profession.

Hi Tammy! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog! Can I start with asking how you got into nursing?

LOL! You might not want to know that. I didn’t want to be a Nurse. I had a friend in year 5 who had a dream that three of us would study German in high school, all become Nurses and all travel to Germany together. My mother kept it in her head that I wanted to be a Nurse. I was shy and not assertive but despite saying no that is where I was pushed. It was confusing. I was being pushed in that direction but also being told I was good for nothing and would never be any good as a Nurse. 40 years later…

Wow crazy! So did you learn to love it?

It took 6 years but I’ve loved it ever since.

And are your friends still nursing?

LOL! The one that had the idea failed her RNs and became an EN. I believe she didn’t Nurse for long. The other one was never a Nurse.

Isn't it funny how things turn out! So what areas have you worked in? And what have you loved the most?

Yes. Funny alright. I went to a new high school that only taught French. 😂🤣. I’ve done so many things in Nursing it is crazy. I started as an EN. Then RN, RM, CHN. Three degrees. Hospital trained. Favourite areas Oncology, Midwifery, Child Health, Child Protection, DV. Strong interests in Mental Health and Perinatal Mental Health. Best places I ever worked were Indigenous Community Controlled, Oncology, Maternity.

I think that is the part of nursing I love the best. You can have a whole career in one profession but work in so many diverse areas and there is always more to learn! What is your current role?

I love learning. That is the beauty of it. You never stop learning. It is so dynamic. I’m currently working as a Child Health Nurse.

Amazing! Can you tell me what an average day looks like in your role?

It’s so different. Depends what I’m doing. We have so many different roles.
1. Home visiting. That’s for high risk: baby was in special care or intensive care or special care.
2. Parent has a physical or mental health issue.
3. DFV (Domestic Family Violence)
4. Drug and alcohol
5. Child protection
6. Social or geographical isolation
7. Previous neonatal death etc.
1. Drop in- like a GP appt but we check growth, development, feeding concerns, answer qs etc
2. Feeding Clinic. Assist with Lactation concerns mostly but also general feeding issues
3. Sleep Talk when babies aren’t sleeping or settling well
4. Triple P-Positive Parenting Program. Teach parents about parenting strategies over a four week program
5. 4th Trimester - a parent group over 5 weeks to teach parents all kinds of things about their baby, infant massage, parent and family wellbeing.
6. Rural Clinics
7. Prison Clinics And more.

That sounds so wonderfully varied! And so you get to work in all of these areas regularly? Do you have a favourite?

We all work in these areas. My favourite is home visiting the high risk families. I love drop in clinic too.

What would you say are the comments, questions and issues that families present with?

Sleep and settling, breastfeeding assistance, fussy eating, behaviour or developmental concerns. Increases in domestic violence and mental health.

Any tips for new mums?

Oh gosh! Heaps.
1. Everyone has either had their chance at parenting or their chance is coming. This is your chance. Listen to everyone. Family, friends, books, health professionals etc. Make up your own mind what you do. So long as it is safe and you are prepared to accept any consequences either way. If someone is offended you don’t take their suggestion, that is their problem not yours. Your Child Health Nurses should always be up to date.
2. Always but always attend developmental assessments to age 5. Doctors do NOT do developmental assessments. Only Child Health Nurses do them. They are due when each immunisation is due. They are free.

3. Self care and self compassion are essential. If you don’t look after yourself properly you can’t look after your children and yourself properly.
4. Have a strong support network around you. Family, friends and your Child Health Nurses.
5. Mental Health is so important. Please seek help early. Child Health Nurses and GPs can help.

Amazing advice. Now I'd also love to talk about the other work that you do with your Facebook group. For our readers who haven't heard of the Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia could you tell us more about it?

Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia (NAMABA) started due to the increasing number of us affected by bullying. We called it a pandemic long before Covid hit. Bullying is destroying lives and negatively affecting patient care. Research has shown that Nurses and Midwives are likely to experience depression at a rate of 30% compared to 4% in the general population, anxiety at at over 40% while 14% of the general population. We also know that rates of PTSD are huge also. Suicide rates are 4 times greater than the general population. We want to provide support and education for Nurses and Midwives experiencing bullying and the severe effects of bullying. We want to lobby and make changes to the health system.

What kind of activities does NAMABA get involved in?

We initiated the International Day of Action of Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying in 2021 and teamed with international groups to launch our campaign. We are lobbying unions, associations, professional bodies and the NMBA to take a serious stance against bullying. We also have other plans in the pipeline which I can’t mention at this point in time.

Sounds like a fulltime job in and of itself! If our readers are interested in getting involved how can they do so?

It certainly feels like a full time job. It keeps me very busy but it’s worth it for my colleagues. I’m very passionate about supporting Nurses and Midwives and our patients. People can join the page. There are qs they have to ask to join. One qs people get worried about is providing their AHPRA no. It is so we only admit Australian Nurses and Midwives to the page. Everyone’s AHPRA no is freely available on the public register on the internet and we must produce it if asked by a member of the public. We do not store anyone’s information. 

That's great! I do love the group, they are always supportive and have some great discussions. Is there anything we can do in our day to day to help change the culture do you think?

Oh there is lots. Unfortunately those on the floor are tasked with culture change. I believe we are all responsible for culture change. I believe even more that culture has to change from the top down. Bullying is out of hand. The majority of bullying we here about comes from the top down. I believe bullying is so entrenched that we are sadly now at the point that very serious consequences need to be instituted to stop the carnage. Nurses and Midwives are suffering very severe mental illness such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. Worse is that many die. Bullying affects patient care and affects our families. It is time….more than time for unions to step up and stop ignoring our lobbying. It’s time for AHPRA to stiffen penalties. It’s time for us all to stop the fear and stand up strong and speak out. Anyone who victimises us as a result should face harsh penalties. I don’t believe culture change will happen without a clean out.

It seems like there is a long road ahead. Are you hopeful that we will see some kind of change in our lifetime?

It seems like it will never happen. I hope we can make big enough waves to at least see this taken seriously. It is interesting that unions, organisations and professional bodies don’t want bullying discussed or exposed. It’s bigger than Ben Hur. I’ve faced a HUGE amount of opposition from those entities. That makes them complicit. I keep saying that policies and procedures are nothing as long as they are printed on paper and spoken about. They need to be acted on.

It seems crazy. You are really doing an amazing thing and I hope that your work will have big impacts for generations to come. Is there anything else you would like to share?

I hope so too. We are killing not only our professionals but our professions too. I am just so sad for my colleagues around Australia. I’m so sorry this is happening. That the carers aren’t being cared for. That they are being taken for granted. I want every single one who is being or has been bullied that it isn’t their fault. This shows the heart of the bully. They dehumanise their victims and do not relate to them as equals. Bullies have serious problems that they project on to their targets. Their targets are always people they feel threatened by. Usually because they are good at their job or stand up for what it right. They have one or more positive things that drives the bully crazy. Hang in there. It isn’t you. It’s the bully.

Thank you so much for sharing Tammy and I'd like to encourage anyone who is being bullied to reach out and find support whether that is through a counsellor or through the group or a trusted friend!

The Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia Facebook Group can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2527227290869235/?ref=share

If you would like to be interviewed or write a guest post for the Nurse Life blog please get in contact at nurselifeaus@gmail.com

Stay safe brothers and sisters!

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1 comment

Thank you Tammy for giving us voices as it is a fact that bullying is very prevalent in our profession. Education is the key and empowering one another and not belittling each other. It’s not a competition whose the best but our dedication in this caring profession.

Lee Lutgarda Pendleton

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