If nurse and independent candidate for the Victorian federal seat of Indi, Helen Haines, makes it to Canberra this year, we can be sure she won’t fall foul of last year’s most popular piece of the constitution: section 44.
As we talk today she is reeling from handing in her resignation to the University of Melbourne, to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
This ends a 34 year career in health, starting out as a nurse and midwife on the wards of rural Victoria followed by a PhD in Sweden, and culminating in a tilt at the Canberra emergency department that is the Australian parliament.
“Yesterday, I tendered my resignation with the uni, a very difficult decision and a painful one because I love my work,” she told me. “But if I can get elected to sit in parliament I will have many, many opportunities to influence, at a policy level, rural health and public health."
The second child of two dairy farmers in rural Victoria, Haines got to where she is today the hard way. Co-dux of her high school, the cost of living away meant going straight to uni wasn’t an option.
“The costs were so prohibitive for a kid from a dairy farm that I went with nursing because we got paid to be nurses and accommodation was cheap. And I have never regretted that for a second. Nursing was the greatest education a person could have,” she beamed.
That tough rural start and years on the wards set her up for life.
“It’s good training for life I tell you. People ask me ‘why would you go into politics? It’s a dirty business’. But I haven’t had a Rolls Royce ride through life… when you live in a rural environment you have to do a lot of difficult things,” she said.
Nursing Review had the chance to talk to Haines about nursing, midwifery and her political ambitions.Do you have an idea for a story?
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