Book review: ‘Women Will Rise! – Recalling the Working Women’s Charter’, edited by Gay Simpkin & Marie Russell

The Working Women’s Charter was a manifesto which united feminists in Aotearoa to achieve major victories in the 1970s and early 1980s. 

Although it was just 17 sentences long, the campaign to have it adopted as policy in 1980 by the Federation of Labour (predecessor of today’s Council of Trade Unions Te Kauae Kaimahi), and then by the Labour Party, changed the course of our history. 

Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library.
Reference: 1/2-162446-F

In March 2022, after a very long gestation, a book finally appeared which documents this struggle and analyses its impacts today. 

Women Will Rise! – Recalling the Working Women’s Charter doesn’t really need a book review from me. It already contains within its pages an afterword by Grace Millar – activist, feminist, trade unionist and historian – summarising it and reflecting on its significance in a way which is hard to top. 

Grace explains clearly why the Charter still matters. “The work done by Charter proponents within the union movement built structures to support future struggles. Despite the sustained attacks on the union movement in the last thirty years, unions remain the most effective way for working women to organise.”

“The Charter was important not just because it became Federation of Labour policy, but because the fight to get it passed changed the union movement and union members.”

Not only did the Charter campaign change the unions, however. It also changed feminism. “One of the reasons this book is so important”, says Grace, “is that it makes visible the role of trade unions in the women’s liberation movement.”

Yet a theme running through the book, and echoed in the afterword, is the transience of historical memory. As knowledge of past struggles starts to fade, later generations of activists lose vital sources of inspiration. Old mistakes are repeated and painful lessons have to be re-learned. “Knowledge of the women’s liberation movement and the struggle for the vote have become popular understandings of New Zealand’s past”, writes Grace. “But… even such a big piece of feminist history as the Working Women’s Charter is not widely known.”

The stories which do get transmitted about successful working class struggles, like the campaign for the Working Women’s Charter, usually downplay the ferocity of resistance by centrist and mainstream figures. Moderate voices within the struggle are celebrated (and thereby rendered even more innocuous), while radical activists who led the fight are forgotten. In this way, class conflict is sanitised and mystified for future generations, transformed into an unfortunate disagreement among decent folk who reached agreement in the end. The subtext of these accounts for people today is that we should temper our demands and have faith in our rulers. 

Women Will Rise! is not that type of story. It contains strong radical voices alongside the moderates, and it pulls no punches in its descriptions of conflict, written by active participants in the struggle. In the hope that some readers might be encouraged to pick up the book, uncover (or rediscover) this “big piece of feminist history” and carry forward its lessons in the ongoing fight for gender equality, I draw on the insights in the afterword to offer this book review. 

Official histories of successful working class struggles downplay mainstream resistance: Socialists picketed Helen Clark’s electorate office in June 2000, in support of the Alliance Party’s plan to achieve the Charter goal of paid parental leave. Today, parental leave is commonly associated with the Labour Party. Few people remember that the Labour Prime Minister initially said 12 weeks parental leave would happen “over my dead body.”

The core of the book consists of updated contributions from presenters who took part in two seminars on the Working Women’s Charter in 2009 and 2010. With nine chapters, all by different authors, it’s inevitable that there will be some variety in their tone and unevenness in quality. 

The opening chapter, by legal academic and former Labour Party politician Margaret Wilson, is unfortunately marred by a surprising, unsubstantiated attack on her fellow women’s rights campaigners in the Green Party. “The enactment of the Employment Contracts Act 1991 by the National government systematically diminished the ability of unions to negotiate on behalf of workers”, she says – adding that, “Although the Labour-led governments of the 2000s attempted to redress the balance, any progress gained in that period was systematically removed by National, ACT and Māori Party coalition governments of 2008 and 2011, with support on some issues from the Green Party.” 

Speaking as a nurse, I am in no doubt that today it is the Labour government who are diminishing the ability of our union to negotiate for us. The lengths the Health Minister went to, to undermine the union in the eyes of its members, were truly shocking. And it is the Labour government putting up stiff resistance to pay equity for our female dominated profession. Wilson’s sectarianism towards the Greens – who for many years have been stronger advocates for working women than the Labour Party – is especially surprising given the inclusion of a chapter by Sue Kedgley, a life-long supporter of working women and four-term Green MP. 

But the opening chapter is sectarian in more subtle ways, as well. It introduces an idea – repeated elsewhere in the book – that, “The Working Women’s Charter was brought to New Zealand by [Labour Party activist] Sonja Davies, who attended a working women’s conference in Sydney in 1976.” 

Women know what it’s like to be made invisible when history is written. Second wave feminists, like Gerda Lerner, fought to expose the blind spots of patriarchal historiography and to fill in the gaps. So it is disappointing to find new blind spots appearing in this chapter. The socialist feminists who independently introduced the Charter to Aotearoa in 1976, who drew on decades of previous Charter activism by communist women (documented in chapter two) and who co-led the Charter campaign, are simply airbrushed out of history in Wilson’s Labour-centric account. 

But the dry, academic tone of the opening chapter, reflecting the author’s own lack of connection to the grassroots union campaign for the Charter, is blown away in the chapter by Therese O’Connell – the strongest in the book. “This is an activist’s account”, begins chapter three, “not a historian’s or an academic’s”. And for me, this chapter was a revelation. 

Unlike the author of chapter two, Hazel Armstrong, I already knew about the early history of Charter activism in Aotearoa. For Hazel, “It was not until I was researching for this book that I came across details of the activist women in the Communist Party of New Zealand in the 1930s and 1940s.” I count myself incredibly lucky for the education I received as a young, full-time worker for the socialist movement in the late 1990s. Based in the Auckland office set up by the Communist Party in years past, I mingled with older comrades who remembered some of these women. I would browse through the dozens of filing cabinets and thousands of books and periodicals documenting the history of the labour movement. Yet despite this education, I knew nothing about the activism of Wellington-based socialist feminists in the 1970s that Therese documents in chapter three. 

“The Working Women’s Charter”, says Therese, “came originally from socialist feminist women in England and was permeating the airwaves in the mid-1970s. Both Sonja Davies and I separately sourced the Working Women’s Charter from the Australian trade union movement in 1976.” The major players in the campaign to have it adopted here were the Working Women’s Council and the New Zealand Shop Employees Association, led by Sonja Davies, and the Working Women’s Alliance, the clerical workers’ union, and the burgeoning women’s committees of the district trades councils. 

“The Working Women’s Alliance was an organisation created by socialist women”, she says. “The Working Women’s Council was an entirely different model; set up by Sonja Davies with a large amount of money given by the Labour government, modelled on the women’s council of the Israeli workers’ organisation the Histadrut, and largely echoing Labour Party policy.” 

Therese relates an incident at the Working Women’s Convention in 1977 to illustrate “some of the differences between the Working Women’s Alliance and the Working Women’s Council.” The WWA had taken up the issue of working conditions for women at a clothing factory in New Plymouth. A WWA account of their grievances, based on whistle-blower reports, was circulated at the Convention. The man at the head of the female-dominated Wellington and Taranaki Clothing Workers Union (a man who was also a prominent figure in the Labour Party and a strong opponent of the Charter) angrily denied there was any issue. He backed his union rep in the factory, a woman who happened to be married to a company executive, and attacked the WWA for making “unfounded allegations”. There was a walkout from the Convention. The Working Women’s Council stayed on the sidelines and did not back the whistle-blowers at the clothing factory. 

Photo: Alexander Turnbull Library. Reference:

Despite the differences, which meant that the socialist women had to maintain their own independent organisation, Therese stresses that, “The Working Women’s Charter allowed us to develop a broad front, uniting as many people as possible under a campaign enabling a sense of belonging for all.” 

The greatest strength of this chapter is its rich descriptions of exactly how the Working Women’s Alliance went about building support for the Charter inside the unions – the tactics they used, the leaflets and newspapers they produced, the educational seminars they ran, the meetings they attended, the lobbying they did and the motions they put to the vote along the path to eventual success. Today, laptops may have replaced photocopiers as tools of the struggle. But aside from this, chapter three could almost be a textbook for the current generation of radical union activists. 

The chapters which may be of greatest interest to members of my union, however, could be chapter six and chapter eight. These each examine one particular issue addressed by the Charter, and consider to what extent it is still a problem today. 

Martha Coleman – human rights lawyer, public servant, co-founder of the Coalition for Equal Value Equal Pay (CEVEP) and former organiser for the Wellington Clerical Workers Union – takes the hot topic of pay equity. CEVEP’s Linda Hill, meanwhile, tackles the intersection of gender, race and class in the oppression of workers who are wāhine Māori and fafine Pasifika. 

Martha’s chapter on equal pay recounts the battles firstly to win equal pay for men and women who were doing the same job, and then to establish the principle of “equal pay for work of equal value” – the basis of today’s pay equity claims for equality between occupations that might be different, but are equally important. 

Linda’s chapter updates a 2018 paper submitted to the Waitangi Tribunal by lawyers acting for claimants in the WAI 2700 Mana Wāhine Kaupapa Inquiry. “The labour market has a wage hierarchy that is socially structured by race and gender, as well as class,” she writes. “Indeed, in Aotearoa New Zealand class works through race and gender. Colonisation and racism have taken a form that is structural, rather than just personal discrimination in the way an individual boss treats an individual employee.” 

In paragraph after paragraph, page after page, Linda pores over what seems like every labour market statistic published in the last 50 years to illustrate the many, many ways that this structural racism is manifested for women. 

When I picked up this book, I thought I knew how “class works through race and gender.” But after 26 years in something of a bubble in the highly unionised public sector, where the gender pay gap has been narrowing and where we now have the Kia Toipoto Action Plans to end ethnic and gender-based pay disparities, I confess I still had some things to learn. 

Linda shows how the pay gaps across the wider labour market are due to a multitude of factors, including not only the undervaluation of work in “female-dominated occupations” – now recognised in the amended Equal Pay Amendment Act 2020 – but also the extent of occupational segregation, casualisation, precarity and unemployment by gender and ethnicity, the average length of job tenure and more. And these factors are persisting for Māori and Pasifika women, particularly outside the unionised public sector, more stubbornly than I realised. Chapter eight makes a compelling case for renewing the struggle to realise the aims of the Working Women’s Charter. 

But as great as this book is – and its best chapters are very good indeed – Women Will Rise! isn’t going to fix the initial problem from the afterword, above. A book like this won’t make the Working Women’s Charter “widely known” again, like it was in 1980. It can’t make it part of today’s “popular understandings of New Zealand’s past.” This is because a society’s buried historical memories of struggle are brought back into popular consciousness not by a specialist work of non-fiction, but by social movements which echo those of our tūpuna. So, as Grace asks in the afterword, “what are the next steps?” 

Such social movements cannot simply be magicked into existence. They require the convergence of particular conditions – or in Therese’s words, certain things “permeating the airwaves”. One thing that can be done in the meantime, however, is to rebuild an organisation of socialist activists. 

“The historical memory of the bourgeoisie lies in its traditions of rule, in institutions, the law of the land and in accumulated skills of statesmanship”, wrote Leon Trotsky, a hundred years ago. “The memory of the working class is in its [socialist] party.” Even a small socialist cadre can preserve and pass on the memory, inspiration and lessons of past radical struggles – just as the Charter activism of women in the 1930s and 1940s was preserved by a small socialist group, for me. 

As we rebuild these groups, we should learn from the Working Women’s Alliance – remain independent, but seek to work as part of “a broad front, uniting as many people as possible under a campaign enabling a sense of belonging for all.” Or again as Trotsky put it, “No common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together!” 

Seeking to rebuild a socialist organisation is suggested by Women Will Rise! for other reasons, too. “After the Charter was adopted in 1980”, writes Therese at the end of her chapter, “… both the Working Women’s Alliance and Working Women’s Council started to fade as the individuals involved had exhausted themselves and now spent all their time in their union roles.” 

The Working Women’s Charter reminds us that campaigns are inherently time-limited – even the best of them, which serve as springboards for future campaigns, as this one did. Eventually any campaign will come to an end, either in success or failure, and the networks and resources which came together for that issue will disperse once more. A political organisation of socialist activists, on the other hand, can survive over the longer term by pivoting from a campaign which has faded to new ones emerging, keeping issues alive by linking them to common underlying systemic causes. 

There’s one final way that Women Will Rise! supports a rebuilding of socialist organisation. In chapter six, Martha does more than recount the battles to win equal pay for the same job, and then “equal pay for work of equal value”. She also hints at the real root of the problem, the underlying reason for the subordination of women in many areas of life. The hint, oddly enough, comes in an order made by the Arbitration Court in 1922. In those days, this specialist labour court (no longer in existence) had the power to issue a “general wage order”, setting wages for the whole country. In his 1922 order, Justice Frazer ruled that adult males should be paid more than females. An excerpt from his decision, quoted in chapter six, says: 

“Very few would assert that the average man can live a normal and complete life without marriage… Therefore, the material requisites of normal life, for the average male, includes provision for his family… Consequently, he has the right to obtain such livelihood on reasonable terms from the bounty of the earth. In the case of the wage earner, this right can be effectuated only through wages; therefore the adult male labourer has the right to a family living wage.” 

It is worth pausing to unpack and consider what is meant by this statement. It asserts firstly that a man is only “normal and complete” if he is in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship. It assumes the sanctity of “his family” – the patriarchal nuclear family with the father at the head, through which the costs of raising and refreshing tomorrow’s workforce are privatised and hidden as unpaid (mainly female) labour, and through which the inheritance of wealth and privilege (or poverty and deprivation) is ensured from one generation to the next. 

The ruling goes on to express the extractivist mindset which has led our planet to the brink of ecological crisis – the idea that “man” stands above and outside of nature and “has the right” to plunder the earth. And it concludes by justifying, and entrenching, the pay gap between “the adult male” and everyone else. 

There is a footnote in the book to this excerpt from Justice Frazer’s decision. “This pronouncement is also an almost verbatim quotation from John A. Ryan, Distributive Justice: The right and wrong of our present distribution of wealth, MacMillan 1916.” This heavyweight tract of American political philosophy from the middle of World War One is a polemic against socialism, defending private ownership of land and industry, giving moral justification for the profit-making of “the business man” and arguing that industrial unionism goes against “human nature”.

In other words, the judge was not just making a decision about wages. He was defending a whole social system. And that system – the one which locks women into a subordinate position, in every nation – has a name. The struggle to realise the aims of the Working Women’s Charter is ultimately a struggle against capitalism. 

NZNO Mental Health Nurses Section Newsletter – December 2022

So this is Christmas, and what have we done?

What have we done? Let’s try to summarise it.

2022 has been an incredibly demanding year for Mental Health Nurses. Just last month, Newshub told us what we already knew – that despite the ever-increasing demand on services and a $1.9 billion funding injection in Budget 2019, there are no more acute inpatient beds today than there were when Labour leader Jacinda Ardern declared a “mental health crisis” in 2017.

Health Minister Andrew Little assured the public, once again, that new frontline roles in GP surgeries, kaupapa Māori services and specialist youth clinics for those with mild to moderate health needs “meant those getting help would be less likely to need acute services down the track.” Yet the latest figures from the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission tell a different story. The number of people needing specialist mental health and addiction services has increased from 176,310 in 2016/17 to 191,053 last year. And wait times – especially for addiction and youth mental health services – are going up, not down.

And to top it all off, in 2022 Mental Health Nurses also managed the effect of the COVID-19 Omicron wave on already unsafe staffing levels, on infection control requirements and on the health needs of the people we care for. And we managed it well.

We deserve recognition. We deserve to be valued. Achieving this is the mission of the NZNO Mental Health Nurses Section. We aim to bring mental health nurses together in their diversity to positively influence policy and practice for the development of consumer centered care in New Zealand/Aotearoa.

In this final issue of the MHNS Newsletter for 2022, we introduce our newest Committee member, provide an update on the activities of the Committee on your behalf and look forward to a brighter 2023, when we can gather again in person to promote leadership, education and professional development of mental health nursing in New Zealand/Aotearoa.

We also include our regular feature article. For this issue of the MHNS Newsletter, we have chosen a perspective paper from the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. The author, Professor Marie Crowe RN of the Department of Psychological Medicine at University of Otago, Christchurch, acknowledges that it is a personal viewpoint and readers may not agree with every detail. But we feel that it expresses the values and vision of Mental Health Nursing, which are all too rare in the world today.

We hope you find something of value in the following pages. If so, do feel free to forward it on, and maybe add a suggestion that your NZNO Mental Health Nursing colleagues join the Section as well.

Introducing new Committee member Fiona McNair

The MHNS Committee continues to rebuild, strengthened by another new committee member who has joined us this year. Fiona McNair, originally from the South Island, now lives in Palmerston North. She is a mother of three adult sons, a grandmother of five grandchildren and an experienced community nurse with varied mental health work history spanning the past 25 years. Fiona worked at the Manawaroa acute inpatient ward originally developed by Sir Mason Durie, then moved to adult community mental health and crisis mental health service on call. For the past 18 years she has been with Palmerston North’s Older Adult Mental Health Service in the community team.

Fiona has been involved in a range of projects and committees, including the PDRP advisory group, quality groups and related projects, and has been an NZNO delegate for many years supporting others to resolve issues in the workplace in a range of employment and professional issues.

Although her time is limited due to current work commitments, we are very pleased to welcome her as a co-opted Committee Member for the period up until the next MHNS Biennial General Meeting in March 2023 (see below for more info).

The Committee, which comprises in addition Helen Garrick (Chairperson), Jennie Rae (Treasurer), Brent Doncliff (Secretary) and Grant Brookes (newsletter editor), is still looking for new members to cover current and anticipated vacancies next year. We invite any new, emerging leaders to join us, with a promise that we share the load so that no new Committee Member will be overburdened. To express your interest, please click here for a nomination form.

Committee news

The MHNS Committee has met twice since our last newsletter in June. At our July meeting, we held discussions with the newly-appointed NZNO CEO, Paul Goulter. We were particularly interested in Mental Health Nursing representation on national meetings that NZNO attends and processes to ensure that MHNS can provide input or direction to those attending. We were also concerned about NZNO’s internal Addressing Violence Against Nurses (AVAN) project, which MHNS was part of, going into recess and about the direction of the NZNO Constitutional Review, which MHNS had jointly initiated along with the Cancer Nurses College.

These latter concerns were borne out with the release of the Constitutional Review Report in September, which unfortunately did not meet requirements. MHNS will continue to work for reform of the NZNO Constitution, to improve democratic processes for individual members within a bicultural partnership.

In October, a highlight of our second meeting was a joint session with members of the PSA Mental Health and Addictions Committee. This the first time that the two committees had come together. Agreement was reached on areas of closer ongoing cooperation, including workforce, replacement of the Mental Health Act and the review of the MOH guidelines for seclusion and restraint. The MHNS submission on the first round of consultation on a new Mental Health law was shared with MHNS members in the March MHNS Newsletter and is available here. Our submission on the review of seclusion and restraint guidelines will be available online soon.

The October Committee meeting also received updates from MHNS representatives in external working groups. We heard from Jennie Rae that the Mental Health, Addictions and Intellectual Disability Advisory Group to Safe Staffing Healthy Workplaces Unit (with the PSA, Central Technical Advisory Services and Directors of Mental Health Nursing) was exploring the extension of CCDM and Trendcare into Community Mental Health Services, which would further increase staff time spent on data entry and may also cut across NZNO claims in CA bargaining for nursing ratios in areas currently without CCDM.

Helen Garrick reported back on the “Future of Mental Health, Addiction and Disability Nursing” collaborative. This group was formed after Mental Health Nursing leader groups were approached to develop a publication on what was needed to take Mental Health Nursing into the future. The aim was to build on the 2006 Mental Health Nursing Framework Discussion document. The collaborative involves Te Ao Māramatanga NZCMHN, NZNO MHNS and the Directors of Mental Health Nursing.

Papers on recruitment and retention, Māori MH&A nursing, supervision, leadership, research, skills mix, Nurse Practitioners, standards of practice and education have been written. These papers will be out for consultation and feedback soon.

The Mental Health Staffing Retention Working Group (PSA, Te Whatu Ora and TAS) no longer had NZNO representation after a decision earlier in the year to withdraw, without consulting the MHNS committee. We have succeeded in reversing that decision.

Finally in October, we discussed feedback from NZNO Conference/AGM. MHNS was concerned about Constitutional Remit 2 which was passed, which appeared to bar dual union members from holding office. We are seeking from the NZNO Board that the Remit will not affect the operation of our Committee.

Save the date – MHNS Forum 2023

After two attempts to organise an educational Mental Health Nurses Forum in 2021 and 2022 were agonisingly defeated by the COVID-19 pandemic, MHNS is excited to announce our rescheduled event:

Mental Health Nurses Section Forum
Theme: Capacity in the Mental Health Arena 
Friday 24 March 2023 in Wellington

A full line-up of speakers will be announced in the New Year.

IJMHN, Vol. 31 No. 6, December 2022

The MHNS Newsletter showcases the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. Full access to the journal is a benefit of MHNS membership. To obtain an article, please email with the citation of the full text article you would like.

Issue Information

Issue Information
Pages: 1277-1278 First Published: 15 November 2022


Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at risk of declining mental health due to failure to attend for referred follow-up mental health appointments during COVID-19 Kim Usher AM, RN, PhD, FACMHN, Debra Jackson AO, RN, PhD, FACN, Wenbo Peng PhD, Suruchi Amarasena MBBS, Cheryl Porter, Debbie McCowan, Joe Miller, Rachel Peake RN, MPhiL, David Sibbritt PhD
Pages: 1279-1281 First Published: 07 September 2022

Review Articles

Communication pathways from the emergency department to community mental health services: A systematic review
Heather McIntyre BA, BAHons, GradDipAS, PhD candidate, Verity Reeves BPsycSc, BSocSc, BAHons, PhD candidate, Mark Loughhead BSWHons, PhD, Laura Hayes BAHons, BComm, PhD, Nicholas Procter BASoc, PsycNurs, RN, MBA, PhD
Pages: 1282-1299 First Published: 22 May 2022

Facilitators and barriers for implementing the integrated behavioural health care model in the USA: An integrative review
Yifat Peer PhD, RN, Ainat Koren PhD, DNP, PMHNP
Pages: 1300-1314 First Published: 30 May 2022

Community mental health interventions for people with major depressive disorder: A scoping review
Ronel Xian Rong Tan RN, BSN (Hon), Yong Shian Goh RN, RMN, MN, PhD
Pages: 1315-1359 First Published: 13 June 2022

Diagnostic overshadowing: An evolutionary concept analysis on the misattribution of physical symptoms to pre-existing psychological illnesses
Ann Hallyburton MSLS, MPH, AHIP
Pages: 1360-1372 First Published: 19 June 2022

A systematic review of the perceptions and attitudes of mental health nurses towards alcohol and other drug use in mental health clients
Tammy Tran Merrick RN, MPH, Eva Louie PhD, Michelle Cleary RN, PhD, Luke Molloy RN, PhD, Andrew Baillie PhD, Paul Haber MBBS, MD, Kirsten C. Morley PhD
Pages: 1373-1389 First Published: 31 July 2022

Original Articles

Stakeholder views on mindfulness for youth at risk for psychosis
Daniel Reich GDipPsych(Adv), Subhadra Evans PhD, Melissa O’Shea PhD
Pages: 1390-1404 First Published: 02 July 2022

High fidelity dialectical behaviour therapy online: Learning from experienced practitioners Richard Lakeman DipCompNsg, BN, BA Hons, MMH (Psychotherapy), DNSci, FACMHN, John Hurley BCouns, MSc, PhD, FACMHN, Katrina Campbell MMHN, Claudia Hererra MD, MPH, Andrew Leggett MBBS, MPhil, PhD, FRANZCP, Richard Tranter MBChB, FRCPsych, PhD, FRANZCP, Peter King BN, GradDipComPsyNurs, PhD
Pages: 1405-1416 First Published: 04 July 2022

Evaluation of an immersive simulation programme for mental health clinicians to address aggression, violence, and clinical deterioration
Jeanne Young MMSc, BSc (Hons), Diploma Nursing, Kylie Fawcett BSc (Nursing), Lucia Gillman PhD, BSc (Nursing)
Pages: 1417-1426 First Published: 11 July 2022

Preparing children’s nurses for working with children and adolescents who self-harm: Evaluating the ‘our care through our eyes’ e-learning training package
Jasmine Singh-Weldon, Vicki Tsianakas, Trevor Murrells, Annmarie Grealish
Pages: 1427-1437 First Published: 16 July 2022

The effectiveness of ūloa as a model supporting Tongan people experiencing mental distress
Sione Vaka RN, PhD, Helen Paris Hamer RN, PhD, Anau Mesui-Henry M Bus
Pages: 1438-1445 First Published: 24 July 2022

User accounts on received diabetes and mental health care in a Danish setting – An interview study
Vicki Zabell RN MSc, Sidse Marie Arnfred MD, PhD, DMSc, Ditte Høgsgaard RN, MSN, PhD, Peter Haulund Gæde MD, PhD, DMSc, Sabrina Trappaud Rønne MSc, Rikke Jørgensen RN, MSN, PhD
Pages: 1446-1456 First Published: 16 August 2022

The influence of emotional burnout and resilience on the psychological distress of nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic
María Ángeles Merino-Godoy PhD, Carmen Yot-Domínguez PhD, Jesús Conde-Jiménez PhD, Patricia Ramírez Martín RN, Piedad María Lunar-Valle RN
Pages: 1457-1466 First Published: 08 August 2022

Barriers and enablers to implementation of the therapeutic engagement questionnaire in acute mental health inpatient wards in England: A qualitative study
Francesca Taylor BA(Hons), Cert Soc Anth (Cantab), Sarah Galloway DipN, RMN, MSc, MRes(Clin), Kris Irons BA(Hons), MSc, RMN, CPN Cert, Lorna Mess PGDip, RMN, Laura Pemberton BN(Hons), Ad Dip MHN, Karen Worton MSc, RMN, Mary Chambers BEd(Hons), PhD, RGN, RMN, DipN(London), RCNT, RNT Cert Ed
Pages: 1467-1479 First Published: 17 August 2022

Gender differences in the experience of burnout and its correlates among Chinese psychiatric nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic: A large-sample nationwide survey Ling Zhang MD, Mengdie Li MD, Yating Yang MD, Lei Xia MD, Kaiyuan Min MD, Tingfang Liu PhD, Yuanli Liu PhD, Nadine J. Kaslow PhD, ABBP, Daphne Y. Liu MA, Yi-lang Tang MD, PhD, Feng Jiang MD, PhD, Huanzhong Liu MD, PhD
Pages: 1480-1491 First Published: 11 August 2022

Explanatory model of symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression in the general population: Cross-sectional study during the COVID-19 pandemic
Héctor Brito PhD, MSc, Daniela Andrade PhD, MSc, Germán Rojas MSc, Aldo Martinez PhD, MSc, Jose Alfaro MSc
Pages: 1492-1502 First Published: 21 August 2022

High internalized stigma among community-dwelling patients with schizophrenia: Associations with sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, personality traits and health-related quality of life
Chiu-Yueh Hsiao PhD, RN, Huei-Lan Lu MSN, RN
Pages: 1503-1512 First Published: 27 August 2022

News reporting of suicide in nurses: A content analysis study
Samantha Groves MSc, Monica Hawley BA, Karen Moya Lascelles MSc, Keith Hawton FMedSci
Pages: 1513-1522 First Published: 25 August 2022

Defining the influence of external factors on nurse resilience
Alannah L. Cooper BNurs (Hons), PhD, Gavin D. Leslie BAppSc, Post Grad Dip, (Clin Nurs), PhD, Janie A. Brown BN, MEd, PhD
Pages: 1523-1533 First Published: 25 August 2022


Effecting change and improving practice in a regional Emergency Department: A Mental Health Nurse Practitioner’s perspective
Margaret O’Sullivan RN (NP), MN (APMH), Grad Dip MHS (C & A)
Pages: 1534-1541 First Published: 20 August 2022

Psychiatry and/or recovery: a critical analysis
Marie Crowe PhD, RN
Pages: 1542-1551 First Published: 20 September 2022

Understanding Mental Distress: Knowledge, Practice and Neoliberal Reform in Community Mental Health Services. Moth, Rich. Bristol: Policy Press; 2022. pp. 263 ISBN 978-1-4473-4987-7
Mick McKeown PhD, BA(Hons), RGN, RMN
Pages: 1552-1553 First Published: 27 August 2022

Feature article

Crowe, M. (2022), Psychiatry and/or recovery: a critical analysis. Int J Mental Health Nurs, 31: 1542-1551.

Academia, activism and nursing – the key drivers for Grant Brookes

December 8, 2022

An unexpected period of living rough while on his OE, gave Grant Brookes a taste of “how the other half lives” and deepened his drive to advocate for human rights. As part of a series on the NZNO board directors, Brookes spoke to Kaitiaki about his story.

Caring for his Scottish grandmother in her final months was a turning point for Grant Brookes and opened his mind to a nursing career.

“My grandmother, who I was very close to, became very sick and over the course of six to 12 months it became clear she wasn’t going to survive and the family cared for her, and I was part of that roster,” he said. 

During this period, Brookes, now 54, decided to volunteer at a local hospice to get a closer look at nursing, before deciding the profession was his calling.

Grant Brookes received a scholarship to private boys school

In 1992, and in his mid-20s, Brookes began a bachelor of nursing at Otago Polytechnic – one of the first degree programmes to be offered in New Zealand.

He had spent six years as a university student, completing an honors degree in physics, before turning to the arts, studying comparative literature, philosophy and religion.

Scottish reformer heritage shows through

Brookes says his passion for education and activism connects him with his ancestors, who, as part of a breakaway protestant movement, left Scotland for the colonies, to establish new communities founded on democracy, education and egalitarianism.

The Brookes clan arrived in Dunedin on the Cornwall in 1849.

“I can see how these historical forces have shaped who I am.”

Fast forward to the late 1960s, and 1970s, Brookes describes a happy, middle-class upbringing in which academic achievement was highly valued – and quite a bit of tennis.

Grant Brookes got involved in the student protest movement in the late 1980s.

His mother pursued tertiary education in adulthood, eventually completing a doctorate in philosophy and becoming an academic.

Brookes’ father spent summers working full-time as a professional tennis coach. “His claim to fame was being the tennis coach for the New Zealand Davis Cup team,” Brookes said. 

But in 1980, things changed dramatically when his father died suddenly. Brookes was just 12-years-old.

A teenaged Brookes gained a scholarship to attend John McGlashan College, a private boys high school where he thrived on academic success, debate and public speaking.

At university, Brookes got involved with the student protest movement, which ramped up in the late 1980s, in opposition to the introduction of student fees.

Academic to nurse

As a student nurse at Otago Polytechnic, Brookes admits his academic experience and love of debate didn’t go down very well.

“I was debating all sorts of moot points and they were saying: just get on and bloody well do it. In the end we met somewhere in the middle.”

During his nursing degree, Brookes came into contact with, and embraced, the Treaty of Waitangi “in a serious way” for the first time, he says.

“Growing up in Dunedin, going to a private school, I think I can only remember one Māori student in my school in the time I was there – it wasn’t in my world until I went nursing.” 

Grant Brookes at a protest in support of returning land to Māori ownership.

Grant Brookes said he became aware of te Tiriti “in a serious way” during his nursing studies.

A gap year in London which didn’t go as planned resulted in him living rough for several months, Brookes says.

After being robbed, he was declined a social welfare grant as he didn’t have British citizenship. Unable to pay rent, he lived on the streets.

“I experienced what life is like for migrants who don’t have the right residency or citizenship.”

Eventually he “clawed his way back” and got a job in a cafe, where accommodation was provided. 

In New Zealand, Brookes faced a barren employment landscape after graduating in 1996.

“This was a time of dramatic health spending cuts, privatisation of health services, staff retrenchments, de-unionisation.”

From textbooks to nursing life

Brookes had decided to specialise in mental health nursing as there were “mental health issues in my family background”, but with no jobs available in Dunedin, he moved to Auckland. 

During a new graduate programme, he gained experience in the different areas of mental health and came to terms with a system he felt was overly controlling of patients’ behaviour.

Despite his misgivings, Brookes said he was inspired to stay in the sector and work for improvements and “make it more respectful of human rights”. 

For the past 20 years, Brookes has worked at Te Whare O Matairangi, an adult acute inpatient unit in Wellington as an employee of the former Capital and Coast DHB – now Te Whatu Ora.

NZNO board member Grant Brookes became a delegate while working as a mental health nurse in Wellington in the early 2000s.

While in this role, Brookes joined Tōpūtanga Tapuhi Kaitiaki o Aotearoa, New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO), and became a delegate.

During his first year on the ward, there were three serious adverse events, which sparked numerous investigations and, eventually improvements, he said.

“There used to be three acute adult inpatient wards for the greater Wellington region and the powers-that-be decided to shut one of them, and we went down to two. The pressure on our ward went through the roof and we were not able to cope.” 

He said the ward is safer than when he started, but the issue of violence – against patients and staff – had not been “solved”.

Brookes said he was fortunate to have avoided serious injuries from assaults. In his early days on the ward, a patient knocked him out with a punch.

NZNO board member Grant Brookes with his wife Linda and children Tama and Rosa-Marama in 2012.

“I found myself flat on my back on the concrete and I came to and I thought that wasn’t supposed to happen.”

But he says this was the only serious assault he has suffered in the role, ” . . . that’s pretty good going as far as the averages go”.

Over the past two years staffing levels had decreased and the ward was often short-staffed, he said.

“Things got really bad after I started [working on the ward], because many people left, and then we built that back up – but things have deteriorated. We’re not back where we started, but it’s the worst it’s been in quite a few years.”

Time for activism

Having a stable job had allowed Brookes to focus on activism for various causes, including worker rights, the landbank movement for Māori, justice for migrants and refugees, climate justice, and peace, he says. 

Grant Brookes was elected on to the NZNO board this year.

This year Brookes has taken on a role as national coordinator for a group of health professionals advocating for climate change action, Ora Taiao – the NZ climate and health council, and is motivated to see the NZNO board achieve more in this area. 

His recent election to the board as a director will be Brookes’ second experience in NZNO governance, following a period as president from 2018-2020.

He believes NZNO was in a “painful transition” period during that time ” . . . from being a fairly conservative professional association which did collective bargaining, into a progressive, member-driven, industrial union for professional nurses.”

The experience on the current board, which met for the first time since the elections in October, was very different to his previous experience, Brookes said.

He was certain NZNO leadership and governance would work together to achieve the aims of Maranga Mai!

* First published by Re-posted with permission.

The NZNO election result

Statement from NursesUnited Te Kāhui Tāwharau

The results of the NZNO election have been released by the Returning Officer. Lizzy, Grant and Saju would like to thank everyone who participated. We have appreciated all the kōrero people have shared with us during the election campaign, which enabled us to gain greater insights into the issues we all face. We are especially grateful for the amazing support we received from our fellow NZNO members, which meant that Grant and Saju emerge as the two top-polling candidates.

Although we are very disappointed that Lizzy missed out on being elected by just 17 votes, Grant and Saju will now work collaboratively with others to implement the policies all three of us campaigned on:

• Our member-driven union achieving safe staffing & fair pay for ALL members in ALL sectors
• Our union governed with genuine bicultural partnerships
• Our union being for everyone, including greater support for IQNs with a Migrant Nurses Section

At 6.31%, the voter turnout was almost exactly the same as the 2020 Board by-election (6.32%) and down slightly from the triennial Board elections in 2019 (8.11%) and 2016 (8.17%). Clearly the pattern of very low voter participation continues, which suggests to us that the visibility of the Board and understanding of its role are also very low among the NZNO membership.

Lizzy, Grant and Saju will continue to work together as and look forward to further strengthening our connections with union members. People are welcome to contact us at any time through this, our shared Facebook page.


Message to NZNO members from the Mental Health Nurses Section – Constitution Remit 2

Kia ora NZNO members

The Mental Health Nurse Section Committee would like to draw your attention to Constitution Remit 2 and the potential implications for our section.

The Remit Committee has provided more information for members to consider when voting on this remit.

Our Section is particularly affected by the MoU signed between NZNO and PSA which requires that mental health nurses in Waitematā, Auckland, Counties Manukau, Marlborough/Nelson and West Coast DHB areas join the PSA for industrial coverage. Those members have no choice of their primary bargaining authority. We are concerned that our members who have no choice in their selection of the PSA may be precluded from engaging in committee membership.  This would reduce the pool of members who might wish to be involved in section participation such as holding office.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Helen Garrick

Chair, MHNS Committee

• Re-posted with permission. A personal message from the MHNS Secretary is also available here. Text of the Remit is below.