Monday, December 20, 2010

A farewell tribute to Barb Vernon

Midwife means ‘with woman’. This meaning shapes midwifery’s philosophy, work and relationships........recognises every woman’s right to self-determination in attaining choice, control and continuity of care from one or more known caregivers...

The Australian College of Midwives (ACM) is the peak professional body for Australian midwives, which strives to maximize the quality of midwifery and maternity care for Australian women and their families through:
• Providing a unified voice for the midwifery profession.
• Supporting midwives to reach their full potential.
• Ensuring all childbearing women have access to continuity of care by a known midwife.
• Setting professional practice and education standards

I remember meeting Barb Vernon at the WA conference in 2003; this was around the time that Barb started off as the Executive Office for the College. I have always found Barb to be engaging, passionate and her focus was always to take the College to great heights; She has taught me the benefits of being politically savvy and most importantly being a quiet but forceful lobbyer; I regret having less than 10 months as a Board Director to learn from this phenomenal woman. I will not spend my time saying how amazing I thought Barb was, we all know that, and yes we all have our short comings, none of us are perfect, least of all me, however Barbs achievements speaks volumes.....and here creditability is without question.

It is remarkable what Barb has done for women, midwives and midwifery of Australia and where she has taken the College too in the last 7.5 years.... if you mention her name it is synonymous with the ACM: I can’t count the number of times I have heard people say “Barb Vernon, yes a very articulate and intelligent woman” “you’re lucky to have her” and they are correct.

Barb has always put her heart and soul into everything she has done for the College... her major achievements is as follows: (and I have not listed them all).
Medicare funding, provision of PBS and prescribing rights for midwives, national standards for entry to midwifery, establishment of separate, national professional standards for midwifery, separate register for midwives in the new national registration recognising midwifery in its own right, the development of the Midwifery Practice Review, MidPLUS, online CPD and portfolios, the development of an internationally recognised peer review journal for midwives, the list is endless;

For me what Barb has done most is establish mutually respectful and collaborative relationships with key national health organisations, such as, Australian Nursing Federation, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia, the National Rural Health Alliance and many others...... She has forged a way forward politically, established good working relationships..... with Health Ministers etc. The college has had phenomenal growth to date; excellent collegial relationships with major stake holders expanded the College activities and services to members for the future and good political ties, the College is at the table for discussions and this is due to Barbs excellent political and lobbying skills.

There does come a time to say goodbye, when you have done all you can and for someone else to come along and take the college the next step, sadly that time has come for us. I bid Barb Vernon a fond good bye and wish her every success in life; and say the ACM & women owe her a multitude of thanks – we went part of the way in thanking her when we celebrated Barb’s achievements at a farewell in Canberra last week.

I am going to leave you with one of my favourite sayings Barb; an Irish Blessing (A Blessing from St. Patrick)
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

(Traditional Irish Blessing; origin unknown,
although some attribute it to St. Patrick.)


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