Battle: The Road To Ratios Legislation

Australian Workers Film Guide


Consisting primarily of interviews with union leaders, health related professionals and politicians, this polished presentation charts the struggle that led to improved nurse to patient staffing levels in Victorian public hospitals through the establishment of the Safe Patient Care (Nurse to Patient and Midwife to Patient Ratios) Act 2015.

The film underscores the challenges nurses faced with uncapped nurse to patient ratios and how this negatively impacted their workplace and resulted in a lower quality of care for their patients. Enterprise Bargaining Agreements, introduced by the Keating Government in the early 1990s, were seen as problematic for nursing sector unions used to negotiating with government. Funding cuts by the Kennett State Government resulted in poor working conditions that saw many nurses leave the profession.  By 2000, EBA negotiations with the Bracks Labor Government reached a stalemate and the case was referred to the Fair Work Commission, which resulted in better conditions for nurses.

The film explores the commitment and dedication of nurses and the close working relationship the union has with its members. Various speakers praise the union’s leadership and ability to undertake negotiation and effective industrial action to improve the conditions of their members and patients.

The ongoing battle to maintain ratios in Enterprise Bargaining Agreements was threatened by the Baillieu State Government’s plan to water down ratios in 2011 and introduce efficiency measures. The film highlights the union’s ability to effectively communicate to the public and gain widespread community support. According to the speakers, the introduction of the 2015 legislation saw Victoria become the first Australian state to enshrine ratios in law and only the second government in the world to do so.

Special Notes/Achievements

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), Victorian Branch.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 27 mins 29 secs

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