Tammy Copley from Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia (NAMABA). Picture: Contributed
Tammy Copley from Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia (NAMABA). Picture: Contributed

‘Disgusted’ midwife pushes for workplace bullying to stop

A Gympie-born midwife has had enough of the relentless bullying that goes on between nurses and midwives and has decided to take the issue into her own hands.

From working in the industry for over 40 years, Tammy Copley said she has experienced bullying herself and has spoken to an "enormous" number of nurses and midwives who are victims of bullying.

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"The more I heard, the more I disgusted I became," Ms Copley said.

"I felt ashamed to be a nurse and midwife."

Ms Copley has seen first hand how bullying affects these men and women long-term by destroying their mental health and future job prospects.

"Research has shown that nurses and midwives are four times more likely to die by suicide than the general population," she said.

"Those who do not die by suicide suffer terrible consequences such as loss of their job, qualifications, family, friends, finances, mental health, physical health and more."

Tammy Copley is running for Vice President and Councillor in the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union, with the election closing at 10am on April 30.
Tammy Copley is running for Vice President and Councillor in the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union, with the election closing at 10am on April 30.

Disgusted with how widespread the problem had become, Ms Copley started the Nurses and Midwives Against Bullying Australia Facebook group in June 2020.

The group now has almost 1000 members and has become a supportive space for important conversations to be had and somewhere nurses and midwives can share their own experiences.

"In 2021 we are claiming May 19 as International Day of Action Against Bullying in Nursing and Midwifery," Ms Copley said.

While Ms Copley describes the issue as a "rampant virus that has no vaccine, no one can build immunity and it either maims or kills", she does believe there are ways to address the issue.

Along with May 19 being International Day of Action Against Bullying in Nursing and Midwifery, Ms Copley also wants to claim May 26 as International Day Opposing Violence Against Nurses and Midwives.
Along with May 19 being International Day of Action Against Bullying in Nursing and Midwifery, Ms Copley also wants to claim May 26 as International Day Opposing Violence Against Nurses and Midwives.

"Nurse to patient ratios are urgently needed as research has clearly proven that every one patient extra added to a nurse's workload increased the likelihood of a person dying within 30 days by seven per cent," she said.

"Separate to but closely intertwined with the issue of ratios are workloads and patient acuity.

"When nurses and midwives are overwhelmed, overworked and too much is expected of them, bullying increases and patients suffer more."

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Ms Copley also highlighted the fact that nurses and midwives are often too scared to speak up.

"I am always expecting backlash myself for speaking out for what is right," she said.

"I have been bullied for speaking out and also for being a union representative and activist."

Launching an urgent investigation into current legislation, policies, procedures and reporting is a place to start according to Ms Copley and she believes bullying should be made a criminal offence.

While there is a long way to go, people like Ms Copley are leading the way in education and providing support to workers.

LINK TO BULLYING FACEBOOK GROUP

Gympie Times


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