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Country Nurses and Midwives Shine at State Awards

Courtney Nowak, Excellence in Practice – Aboriginal Nurse/Midwife (Mary Buckskin Award). Photo by Joel Roosa Photography.
Melissa Smith

Nurses Delivering Exceptional Care in Regional South Australia

Nurses and midwives from across South Australia were recognised for their outstanding contributions at the prestigious 2024 Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards. Held at the Adelaide Convention Centre, the gala ceremony celebrated the dedication and expertise of these healthcare heroes.

Thirty exceptional individuals and seven dedicated teams were among the finalists with country South Australians coming out on top in four of the twelve categories.

Courtney Nowak, a dedicated Aboriginal Nurse from the Flinders and Upper North Local Health Network, was recognised for her excellence in practice, winning the Mary Buckskin Award. Her commitment extends beyond patient care. As a McGrath Breast Care nurse, her proactive approach has doubled the number of women in the Flinders and Upper North region receiving vital breast cancer support services.

In other award categories, Ashleigh Mabbott from the Limestone Coast Local Health Network wasn’t just driven by providing excellent care, but by sharing her knowledge and transforming how emergency departments handle mental health. This dedication earned her the top spot for Excellence in Clinical Specialisation.

Theresa Xanthopoulos, described as the driving force behind her team at Eyre and Far North Local Health Network, was recognised for her passion and empathy. She secured the Excellence in Practice award for Enrolled Nurses.

The Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network’s BIRCH Team from Strathalbyn and District Aged Care was also a standout. They were celebrated for their exceptional work in aged care, having built a collaborative model of care for their memory support unit with Dementia Australia.

South Australian Health Minister Chris Picton expressed his admiration for the award recipients. “I was incredibly honoured to be there last night,” he said. “These nurses and midwives go above and beyond every single day to deliver exceptional care throughout our hospitals, communities, and aged care facilities. They are the backbone of our health system, and we are incredibly proud of them.”

Picton highlighted the government’s commitment to strengthening the nursing and midwifery workforce. “We’ve hired an additional 691 nurses in our first two years, and we’re investing in the future with 832 graduate nurses and midwives starting this year, including over 200 in regional areas,” he said.

Department for Health and Wellbeing Chief Executive Dr. Robyn Lawrence praised the award winners and finalists. “These awards celebrate the very best in our healthcare system,” she stated. “All the finalists and winners deserve immense pride for their achievements. They make a real difference in the lives of countless patients and women every single day.”

For more information about finalists and winners visit SA Health’s website.


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