Social Work and Nurse Navigator program: next steps

Posted on July 23, 2015

On Friday last week we invited members to participate in a state wide teleconference for Social Workers to discuss the announcement of the creation and central funding of the 400 "Nurse Navigator" positions under the new Nurse Navigator Program.

This teleconference was held Tuesday lunchtime where we had nearly 50 members from across the state dial in which was great!

There was a lot of discussion around what the issue is, what outcome members want and where to next.

In particular members talked about the lack of consultation with social work staff around the impacts this new program will have on the service you currently provide, and the fact that the role descriptions in the document provided by management are very similar to the role descriptions within social work currently.

It was agreed on the teleconference that social workers need to do something and not just sit back and let this change occur without consideration to the role your profession currently plays in our health system. Members feel Social Work needs to be properly consulted around these changes and included in the future planning for any navigator role that directly relates to work they do. Members are very concerned about the impacts on patient care if this program is introduced without consultation to the service Social Work currently provides.

It was identified that the next four steps outlined below were crucial to getting Social Work involved in this process. Members agreed that we should:

  1. Nominate at least one contact per site to be a part of a steering committee group that will manage raising the issues for social workers and coordinating union activity about these navigator roles, and also assist in getting communications out to members/ liaise with the union office.
  2. Organise a meeting in their local Social Work department to talk about this issue, invite a union organiser or delegate to attend.
  3. Seek further information from each HHS and the Department of Health around the "Nurse Navigator" Program (In particular: seeking further detail from each HHS around their plan to introduce this new program and how it will fit in with the work currently done by social work; asking the department why these roles have been determined as nursing roles only; and seeking a written commitment that the creation of this program will not result in a reduction of social work staffing resources including by natural attrition).
  4. Talk with social work colleagues about getting involved in this activity and joining Together if they are not already members. It is critical social work has a strong union that can demonstrate to the department the importance of including social work in these changes and respecting your profession.

We know that when members stand together and are strong, you win. We know this is what we need to do to be successful in getting our concerns heard and taken seriously. We know that if Social Work is not involved in the development of a Navigator Program that patient care will be impacted.

We have a tight time frame to influence this decision with the department wanting to distribute the initial funding in September, this is why members need to act now. We also acknowledge that these actions are not to reduce the election commitment about nurse numbers, and in fact supports many of our nursing colleagues who are talking about ratios in their clinical specialties and not the new navigator roles. We want to make sure that the social work expertise and voice is not lost here however.

If you are interested in being a contact for your area and being apart of the steering committee for this issue please email your details to by lunchtime tomorrow.

If you can organise a meeting for your area please contact me on and we discuss the details.

1800 177 244