It was the day of days: celebrating the nurses and midwives of western Sydney

After an exciting week celebrating the midwives and nurses of the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD), nursing and midwifery staff and leaders from across the district gathered on 12 May at Rydges Parramatta for a morning of accolades at the 2023 WSLHD Nursing and Midwifery Awards.

WSLHD director nursing and midwifery Maria Lingam opened the inaugural event, thanking everyone for being present to celebrate the hard work and dedication of WSLHD’s nursing and midwifery colleagues.

“The theme for International Nurses Day this year is ‘Our Nurses. Our Future’, which highlights learning from lessons and establishing actions for the future that ensure nurses are respected and valued,” Maria said.

For western Sydney this also reflects our strong commitment to our emerging clinicians and future leaders and how we nurture them to drive excellence in clinical practice and patient centred care that produces the best experience for our patients.

“We also had the opportunity to celebrate our midwives on 5 May for International Day of the Midwife, with the theme of ‘Together again: from evidence to reality’ that honours the efforts of midwives and their associations to action critical evidence towards meaningful change for not only the profession but also the women and families which are cared for.”

Another theme present at the event was Star Wars, with each presenter and award winner being given a different Star Wars soundtrack song with each ascension to the stage.

Following a Welcome to Country by local Aboriginal woman Nicole Winters and housekeeping by WSLHD acting associate director, Clinical Practice and Performance Kylee Macaulay, fingers and toes were crossed as finalists waited to see if they were leaving the celebration with an award.

The awards, finalists and winners are:

New to Practice Nurse/Midwife of the Year Award
The New to Practice Nurse/Midwife Award recognises nursing/midwifery graduates who have shown exceptional potential during their first year of practice. This registered nurse/registered midwife demonstrates passion and commitment to the delivery of quality, safe and compassionate care to patients and to their own learning opportunities.

  • Winner: Srijan Gurung, Registered Nurse, Surgical, Auburn Hospital
    Srijan commenced at Auburn Hospital as an assistant in nursing where he quickly became a committed and invaluable team member. Srijan is an inspiration to all new nurses especially the new graduates who go to him often for support and peer advice. Srijan’s mantra is care for patients as you would care for your loved ones, which is demonstrated though the comments and compliments he has received from patients and families.
Left to right: Prof Brendan McCormack (Dean Faculty of Medicine and Health University of Sydney), award winner Srijan Gurung (Registered Nurse, Surgical, Auburn Hospital) and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Eloise Gagan, Registered Nurse, Palliative Care, Mount Druitt Hospital
    Eloise has been nominated as she is respectful, polite, gentle in her approach towards her patients and colleagues and is adaptive to new changes into clinical practice. Within the first three weeks of her first rotation in the Intensive Care Unit, she received an appreciation card from a patient’s family, with her approachable and caring behaviour described as touching and meaningful for the patient and their family. Eloise was highly recommended to return to the ICU after her new graduate program, but her passion now lies in Palliative Care.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Nurse/Midwife of the Year Award
This award recognises an outstanding Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander nurse or midwife who demonstrates exceptional commitment to the provision of quality, safe, compassionate and culturally appropriate health care of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and/or communities. This nurse/midwife is committed to improving care and advocating for better delivery of healthcare services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and/or communities.

  • Winner: Jasmine Wannell, Registered Midwife, Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Service, Integrated and Community Health
    Jasmine has worked in several locations throughout the district and has been described as an absolute trooper who always goes above and beyond within her scope of work to provide the best and culturally appropriate clinical care for both mother and baby. Her peers have shared that it has been an absolute privilege to work beside a resilient and strong Aboriginal woman who is paving the way for future nursing and midwifery to come through our system.
Left to right: Belinda Cashman (WSLHD Director Aboriginal Health Strategy), award winner Jasmine Wannell (Aboriginal Health Midwife, Aboriginal Health, Integrated and Community Health) and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Sophy Waters-Tattersall, Assistant in Midwifery, Aboriginal Cadet Midwife
    Sophy is keen and committed to providing excellent care for women and their families. She is keen to learn and has a thirst for knowledge evidenced by her interactions with the staff members she works. She puts herself forward to undertake new experiences and is unafraid of ‘having a go’, with her positive energy and enthusiasm described as infectious.

Team of the Year Award
This award recognises a team who has excelled in the delivery of safe care and demonstrates effective collaboration both with each other and with others outside of their team.

  • Winner: inTouch Nursing Team, Integrated and Community Health
    The inTouch Nursing team has been nominated for being a being a high performing team who demonstrates innovation, dedication to ongoing quality improvement, and are patient-centric and compassionate. The team displays exceptional teamwork, leadership and the CORE values in their interactions with patients, families, carers and other care providers. The team is diverse and embodies a culture that cares for each other and the community, with a strong focus on not only on a patient’s medical concern but all the psycho social factors that impacts on the patient’s ability to manage their condition.
Left to right: Alison Derrett (WSLHD Executive Director Operations) award winners InTouch Nursing Team, Integrated and Community Health and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Fleet Street OUT Team, Drug Health Services
    The Fleet Street OUT Team has been nominated for their dedication in providing pharmacotherapy for patients in western Sydney, with many of the long-term patients requiring assistance due to their socially disadvantaged situation. The staff in this team continuously work hard to provide ongoing safe patient care, demonstrating respect towards their patients, and for accommodating cultural diversity and needs of both the patients and staff on a daily basis.

Excellence in Leadership
This award recognises a nurse or midwife who demonstrates outstanding leadership in the areas of clinical care, management, education or research.

  • Winner: Mary Roberts, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Respiratory Ambulatory Care, Westmead Hospital
    Mary openly values the nursing team and works diligently to promote team spirit, shared decision making, collaborative working and a strong bond within and between teams. Mary seeks opportunity to connect with people clinically and via her research and has strong interpersonal skills which are deeply people and relationship centred rather than just people-­oriented.
Left to right: Dr Karin Lines (WSLHD Board Member), Carmen Morgan, Director of Nursing and Midwifery Westmead, who accepted the award on Mary’s behalf and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Sudakshina Raychaudhuri, Nurse Unit Manager, Drug Health Eastern Cluster, Drug Health Services  
    Su is nominated in recognition of the leadership she has provided to Drug Health Services. She demonstrates excellence in leadership qualities and most recently this was seen in the enormous contributions she made during this year’s service accreditation. Su’s guidance, creative problem-solving, recommendations and professionalism has assisted in producing positive outcomes for teams and staff, and has supported strengthened collaborations between nursing and other multidisciplinary teams.

Healing Hearts Award – colleague nominated
This is a colleague-nominated award that acknowledges an outstanding nurse or midwife that is an inspiration and role model to others for their compassion, commitment to workplace culture, improving the patient/woman’s experience and providing safe, quality care.

  • Winner: Kristina Roberts, After hours Nurse Manager, Auburn Hospital
    Kristina is known by her peers across all hospital disciplines for her leadership, support and mentorship. In Kristina’s role as After Hours Manager at Auburn Hospital, her positivity has inspired and encouraged colleagues to mirror this attitude in their treatment of each other and patients.
Left to right: Melissa Monteiro (WSLHD Board Member), award winner Kristina Roberts, After hours Nurse Manager, Auburn Hospital, Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Svetlana Ilich and Theresa Leathers, Bereavement and Perinatal Support Services, Women’s Health Clinics, Blacktown Hospital 
    Svetlana and Theresa share this nomination with each other in honor of the midwifery Bereavement service at Blacktown Hospital that they lead together as dynamic duo. As a pair, they are highly skilled in being able to offer compassion and sensitivity to the difficult situations their patients are experiencing.

Healing Hearts Award – consumer nominated
This award recognises a nurse or midwife who consistently provides extraordinary, safe, quality and compassionate care, and demonstrates an uncompromising commitment to elevating the patient experience by building connection with patients/women and their families through trust, kindness and empowerment.

  • Winner: Janet Annor, Wellbeing and Health In Reach Nurse, Integrated and Community Health
    A patient has shared that she is alive today due to Janet’s quick thinking and that she received exceptional care after she delivered both her babies. Janet has been commended on her ability to swiftly identify that the patient needed lifesaving and attention, with the patient stating: “We need more people like Janet in healthcare; she’s like that warm blanket in winter. My family is indebted to her and that if it was not for Janet, I wouldn’t be here today”.
Left to right: Alicia Wood (WSLHD Manager Community and Consumer Partnerships), award winner Janet Annor, (Wellbeing and Health In Reach Nurse, Facility High Street Youth Health Service, Integrated and Community Health) and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Monika Singh, Endorsed Enrolled Nurse , Respiratory Ambulatory Care, The Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, Westmead Hospital
    Monika is a polite and respectful nurse who loves her work. Her manager describes Monika as friendly and helpful towards her patients and always does the “little extras” that both patients and staff really appreciate. A grateful patient’s family has personally thanked her for her kind attentiveness toward their loved one who was a patient of the Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre, with Monika kindly receiving special mention in the patient’s obituary that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.

Midwife of the Year
The Midwife of the Year Award recognises a midwife who has made an outstanding contribution to the midwifery profession, going the “extra mile” and demonstrating a “can do” positive attitude to care for women and their families.

  • Winner: Ngaire Denton, Registered Midwife, Dragonfly Midwifery, Westmead Hospital
    Ngaire is recognised for her work in the Dragonfly Midwifery team and stands out for her personability with patients and commitment to tailoring care based on patient needs. This was exemplified when she escorted a patient from Westmead train station that was in labour and almost delivered at the station. She has done antenatal visits while sitting on a street kerb, takes phone calls in the middle of the night to discuss women’s concerns and allay their anxiety.
Left to right: Chandrika Subramaniyan (WSLHD Board Member), award winner Ngaire Denton, (Registered Midwife, Dragonfly Midwifery, Westmead Hospital) and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Wenbo Li, Registered Midwife, Women’s Health Clinic, Blacktown Hospital
    Wenbo Li has been nominated for her focus on providing the highest quality of care to patients in the Women’s Health Clinic at Blacktown Hospital. Wenbo’s commitment to care has been observed through her dedication to professional development and as a Nurse Immuniser and a Lamaze childbirth education facilitator, she is also currently in the first year of her Master of Midwifery Studies.

Nurse of the Year
This award recognises a nurse who has made an outstanding contribution in providing and coordinating safe, quality and compassionate patient care and consistently displaying the values of commitment, compassion, resilience, professionalism and collaboration.

  • Winner: Sunita Maharjan, Registered Nurse, Surgical Ward, Auburn Hospital
    Sunita has been recognised in this category for the empathy and kindness she shows to patients and their families. Sunita goes above and beyond to spend time with her patients and their families to compassionately address their needs and questions. Feedback provided from patients has demonstrated the positive impact of Sunita’s compassion and highlighting her positive and attention to personal care.
Left to right: Loretta Di Mento ((WSLHD Deputy Board Chair), award winner Sunita Maharjan, (Registered Nurse, Surgical Ward, Auburn Hospital) and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Litsa Kouzoumis, Registered Nurse, Hospital in The Home, Integrated and Community Health
    Litsa has been nominated for her outstanding work ethic and commitment to providing person-centred care. In her role, Litsa goes above and beyond for her patients and clients often staying back to ensure that her patients are assessed and prepared for home to ensure a smooth transition for discharge. She has demonstrated exemplary leadership and her colleagues know her for her critical thinking skills that have developed through years of nursing experience.

Lifetime Achievement Award
This award recognises the contribution of an outstanding nurse or midwife who, throughout their career, has had a positive and sustained influence on patients, the health system, and their profession.

  • Winner: Julie Norcott, Nurse Unit Manager, Mental Health Acute Adolescent Unit, Mental Health Services
    Julie is nominated for her outstanding contributions to the mental health nursing profession through her 43 years of service in the mental health nursing specialty. Julie has dedicated her entire nursing career to providing exceptional care to patients and their families by demonstrating compassion and expertise in her work. Julie is committed to improving the patient experience by understanding that a recovery and trauma informed approach to treating young people experiencing mental health issues is essential for good health outcomes.
Left to right: Adj Prof Mick Reid, AM, (WSLHD Board Member), award winner Julie Norcott, (Nurse Unit Manager, Mental Health Acute Adolescent, Mental Health Service) and Maria Lingam (WSLHD Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery)
  • Finalist: Shirley Brown, Aboriginal Chronic Care Nurse,  Mount Druitt Group Home, Integrated and Community Health
    Shirley has been a part of Western Sydney Local Health District since 1978 and has dedicated over 50 years of nursing service. Since beginning her first role in 1960 as and assistant in nursing at Narromine Hospital, Shirley has demonstrated her longstanding focus on providing high quality care to patients. Shirley is a self-confessed workaholic and currently has no plans for retirement due to her love and passion for being a nurse. Instead, she wants to continue sharing her wealth of knowledge with the next generation of nurses and would like to continue in supporting the Aboriginal community.

Inaugural WSLHD Unity Award
This award has been introduced this year to emphasise our commitment in fostering teamwork and positive staff culture across our nurses and midwives. For the inaugural award, the nursing and midwifery staff were invited work as a team to create a two minute dance video. The winning team was selected for their creativity and demonstrated teamwork in the creation of their submission.

  • Winner: Clinical Practice Unit
    Winning video submission:
Award winners Clinical Practice Unit

Following the end of the award proceedings, the Nupur Dance Group wowed the crowd with their Bollywood moves, to represent, a “colourful community”, said Maria. Event attendees were then divided into groups and joined in some friendly dance competition.

Maria Lingam paid homage to Blacktown Mount Druitt Hospital director of nursing and midwifery, Marie Baxter, who is retiring today following “a life of dedication to patient care in every role she has held”.

Maria closed the event with a final congratulations to finalists and winners.

“Celebrating the commitment to care, dedication and hard work that our nurses and midwives display each and every day is extremely important to me and it is truly wonderful to have everyone be part of this event to recognise excellence in nursing and midwifery at our district,” expressed Maria.