Sunday, September 14, 2008


Nursing union fund largesse grows by $100,000

Eamonn Duff, SMH

September 14, 2008

LAST month nurses were outraged to discover that their union boss had signed away $5000 of their membership contributions to sponsor his daughter's football team.

They have since discovered that a further $100,000 will be donated, over two years, to other sporting clubs and community groups.

The six-figure sum was approved by delegates at the NSW Nurses' Association conference this month. As news of the arrangement circulated among 51,000 nurses statewide, the association's general secretary Brett Holmes was again forced to defend the union's use of Nurse Power Fund money, a resource established to "improve the working lives of our members".

"What we have to do is make sure there is a future for the profession," Mr Holmes said. "The council of the association takes these responsibilities very seriously and will not be spending members' money willy-nilly. It's very early days in terms of how that money will be spent.

There will be a very considered approach to any expenditure.

"There are certainly many members who are naturally focused on … particular issues, and we haven't forgotten those issues."

A city nurse, who asked not to be named, accused Mr Holmes of a gross misuse of memberships funds.

"It is important that nurses of this state realise that NSW Nurses' Association funds are being squandered on community service activities, rather than being redirected into scholarships or assistance packages for nurses willing to undertake further education and training," she said.

"Another salient point is [that] with the last pay increase, which in reality was less than the current rate of inflation, the NSW Nurses' Association made a considerable increase to the annual cost of members' subscription, a paradox when clearly there are additional funds that can be given away to community groups and not-for-profit organisations."

Nursing staff at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital demanded Mr Holmes's resignation after the union donated $5000 to the Hills District Women's Football Club. Mr Holmes's daughter Corinne, 15, is one of its star strikers.