Promoting the voice of members inside NZNO

A recent survey has shown that members have little awareness of the work being done by NZNO’s membership committee, despite the fact it has been around for five years. By NZNO president Grant Brookes

Membership Committee
L-R:  Committee vice-chair Joan knight, Victoria Santos represents colleges and sections, Former NSU representative Phoebe Webster.

NZNO’s membership committee was established in 2012 to provide the board of directors with further insight into the views and needs of NZNO’s diverse members. Five years later, the committee’s role is still not well understood by those it seeks to represent.

That’s according to a survey conducted at the NZNO annual general meeting (AGM) in September. Over 86 per cent of respondents – who included college and section, regional council, Te Rūnanga and National Student Unit (NSU) representatives – did not think other members knew anything about the committee.

Committee vice-chair Joan Knight believes this is symptomatic of a wider problem – one the membership committee is determined to address.

Many members are unaware of the structures through which members govern NZNO, and how the different parts of the organisation work together to achieve our common aims.

“When I first became a workplace delegate, my rationale was ‘paying back’,” Knight said. “I was grateful for the assistance of our previous delegate and the organiser during workplace change.

“But involvement in the workplace, our local regional council, and subsequently on the board opened my eyes to the depth and breadth of the organisation and introduced me to governance.”

Knight is now serving her second term on the committee, representing the Top of the South Regional Council.

The committee comprises representatives from all regional councils, plus two representatives elected by the NSU and two elected by colleges and sections.

The current chair is Sandra Corbett from Hawkes Bay/Te Matau a Māui Regional Council.

The president and vice-president also sit on the committee, but to help ensure the views and needs of members flow upwards to the board (rather than vice-versa), we are not entitled to vote.

Newly graduated nurse Phoebe Webster has recently stepped down as one of the NSU reps. “In my first year of studying, I decided to become involved with NZNO so I could help represent the students within my school,” she said. “This evolved into a wish to help represent and contribute to the views and concerns of student nurses nationwide within NZNO on a national level. For me, this was part of a larger objective to pay ‘forwards’, giving back to a wonderfully rich, diverse profession which I am excited to soon become part of.”

Victoria Santos is an internationally qualified nurse (IQN) from the Philippines. She works as a prison nurse and belongs to the New Zealand College of Primary Health Care Nurses NZNO.

“I am a voice for colleges and sections – a voice of advocacy,” said Santos. “Being an IQN on the committee means I can discuss issues about migrant nurses and their concerns. And since Department of Corrections nurses feel so isolated, I am their voice on the committee too.”

The membership committee has been working in partnership with Te Poari on a new system of direct democracy within NZNO. This would allow “one member, one vote” on matters relating to NZNO policy and rules. These decisions have, up until now, been made by various delegate groupings at our AGM. Knight and kaiwhakahaere Kerri Nuku co-lead the voting strength working group.

The committee and Te Poari have also jointly produced a new structure diagram, showing how the various parts of NZNO fit together and how members can get involved.

The committee will be seeking member feedback on both these projects next year, including at the 2018 regional conventions.

Once these two projects are completed, the committee hopes members will be more aware of how they can all participate in NZNO structures (including through the committee itself), and how we can achieve our goals together. •

First published in Kai Tiaki Nursing New Zealand, December 2017. Reposted with permission. 

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