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Green Buddies, the new program empowering Canberra’s nurses and midwives

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A new program, Green Buddies, is creating new connections between midwives and nurses working in Canberra’s Health Services.

Green Buddies is a new program to support the wellbeing of nursing and midwifery staff working in Canberra Health Services’ (CHS) Women, Youth and Children Division, including at the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

The profession-based initiative has been developed by clinical staff, for clinical staff working across CHS’s maternity, maternal and child health, community health, paediatric, neonatal and women’s health services.

Based on an existing program called Blue Buddies that provides peer support for Junior Medical Officers in the ACT, the name Green Buddies symbolises growth, renewal, harmony, reliability and nurturing, and the 12 Green Buddies will wear a special green badge so that their colleagues know they are available to provide advice and guidance.

CHS’s 12 inaugural Buddies have completed their initial training and are now ready to help colleagues with emotional and professional concerns, from how to fill out a timesheet correctly to managing issues in their personal life that may be impacting their work.

The Buddies’ training has provided them with the tools to be able to guide staff with concerns to the relevant information or appropriate support mechanism.

CHS’s Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Women, Youth and Children, Cathy O’Neill, says the Green Buddies program provides an alternative path for staff with concerns when a manager may not be available or the most suitable person.

‘The Green Buddies initiative will also complement existing CHS staff support services, as staff will be supported by a colleague who knows them and understands their work and its challenges given the Buddies are working side by side with the nurses and midwives they will help,” she says.

Green Buddy Bev Kimmorley, a Maternal and Child Health nurse, says she’s excited to be “at the coalface” of this new initiative.

“There are lots of opportunities that come up for different roles, and there are always expressions of interest sought, and till now, I’ve said no,” says Bev.

“I’m not particularly wanting to be in management…But this is something I thought I could do. I just thought, you’ve been around for a while, you do know who does what and how to access this…It’s about providing help, information and resources, so I thought, yeah, I could do that.”

Meanwhile, new Green Buddy Belinda Fry, a Professional Development Nurse in the Women Youth and Children Community Health Programs says that “If you approach a Green Buddy, there’s not going to be any judgement, there’s not going to be any criticism”.

“In my role as a Professional Development Nurse in Community Health Programs, I’m coming into contact out in the community with people all the time, and I just see that I’m that handy person sometimes that people can go, oh, she’s got a green badge, I know what that means,” says Belinda. “It’s a safe person.”

For Registered Nurse/Midwife, Maternity Alexandra Thomson, it’s about simply supporting staff to be their best.

“I’m really excited about Green Buddies,” she says. “Our ability to be able to link staff into processes and things that are already in the hospital is going to be amazing.”

“For our junior staff, in maternity, we rotate, so we’re not just on one unit all the time, so it’s going to be easy for them to identify who we are, and it means that we’re going to be more accessible to them, and hopefully that gives them a better experience being in the workplace.”

Feature image: Alex Thomson, Registered Nurse/Midwife, Maternity, Tita Widya, Registered Nurse, Paediatric High Care, Belinda Fry, Professional Development Nurse, Women Youth and Children Community Health Programs, Sophia de Berardis, Registered Nurse, Paediatrics – Adolescent Ward, Bev Kimmorley, Maternal and Child Health Nurse.

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