When experienced nurse Glacy Onga visited Myrtleford from the Philippines in 2019 with a view to being registered and working as a nurse in Australia, she could not imagine that within four years she would be living and working 30 minutes away.
In January this year, Glacy and her family migrated to Australia in a place she describes as ”like no other”.
Glacy is part of a national push to bring more international healthcare workers to Australia, with 120,000 positions needing to be filled across the country by 2030.
The process to convert registration for nursing is known to be a challenge, which Glacy said was worth the effort to realise her dream to live and work in Australia.
“I attained my Bachelor of Nursing in the Philippines and my expertise is in ICU, but of course healthcare is different from country to country and so I understood and appreciated the need for accreditation.”
“Once I achieved my conversion to be a registered nurse in Australia, COVID hit and that put our plans on hold,” Glacy said.
“By 2022 we started to gather all of the things to make an application and I talked with Northeast Health a few times about the opportunities here.”
Glacy and her family are sponsored by Northeast Health for a four-year visa as part of her employment to NHW’s general nursing pool.
“There is a need for more nurses in the pool for medical and surgical wards, so I am very pleased to help make a difference for those teams.”
Glacy’s husband is also a nurse and is planning to pursue Australian nursing accreditation while taking a casual role at a local hotel.
“I feel enormously grateful that our family could stay together. We have two children, the eldest is five and the youngest has just turned two, so it would have been very painful to be separated from them.”
When asked what it was about Wangaratta that felt like home so quickly, Glacy said she found it hard to find the right words.
“I love it here. I love the hospital, the people. I don’t know why, but I fell in love with this place.”
“This is my dream to come to Australia, even before I was a nurse. I felt that Australia was like my own values, and I knew that it was where I wanted to be.”
“The experience of settling in here and becoming part of this community has been nothing short of incredible.”
NHW chief executive officer, Libby Fifis, who is a nurse herself, said that NHW felt very fortunate to have secured new nursing staff such as Glacy.
“Our nursing workforce is incredibly committed, to the care of our patients and aged care residents, but also to supporting each other,” Libby said.
“International Nurses Day gives us a great opportunity to celebrate that care and dedication, to promote nursing for the skilled and rewarding career that it is, and to thank our workforce for their enormous efforts.”
Libby said securing nurses to work and live in Wangaratta was a win-win for the health service and the community.
“We can see from stories like Glacy how much the North East has to offer healthcare workers and their families in terms of career and lifestyle opportunities in this region.”
Glacy said she was looking forward to the next four years and that Wangaratta was certainly part of the long-term plan for her family.
International Nurses Day is Friday 12 May and NHW is commemorating the day with decorations, staff celebrations at the hospital and Illoura, and giveaways for staff including a NHW calico bag, scrubs, fob watches, coffee, perfumes and candles from local and specialist producers.