Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards

About the awards

The Northern Territory Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding efforts of nurses and midwives who are exemplars in their profession, and who make a difference to the health and wellbeing of Territorians on a daily basis.

There are nine award categories which are open to Enrolled Nurses, Registered Nurses and Midwives working in any healthcare setting. These awards recognise excellence in client care, education, research, professional leadership and commitment to the nursing and midwifery profession in the Territory.

Congratulations to the recipients!

2021 recipients

Position titles reflect positions held at the time of nomination.


Samantha Symons, Graduate Registered Nurse – ICU, Alice Springs Hospital

Samantha has been recognised for the passion and dedication she has shown since commencing her nursing career.  She has worked hard to attain new knowledge and skills that are above what is expected as a new graduate. Samantha goes the extra mile to ensure her patients and co-workers are supported. She has shown dedication to her team and patients by contributing to her professional development and proactively meeting all essential training and maintaining capability for practice. Samantha is honest, committed and always puts her patients at the centre of her approach to care.

Anija Mathew, Acting Clinical Nurse Educator, Rehabilitation Ward, Palmerston Regional Hospital

Anija has created an atmosphere of continual learning in the Palmerston Rehabilitation Ward.  She adopts a multidisciplinary approach which has increased the engagement and participation across disciplines.  She has designed and delivered numerous multiple programs which has improved the clinical competence of the rehabilitation team. Her style supports nurses across the professional development spectrum from bedside and ward based teaching, she is affectionately known as “Anija Everywhere” as a reflection of significant and positive impact to interdisciplinary learning across the team.

Peter Nihill, Clinical Improvement Analyst, Primary and Population Health Care, Top End Health Service

Peter has been leading quality improvement for Top End Health Service Primary Health Care for more than a decade. He has a rare combination of clinical excellence and a mind for data. He understands what clinicians need to know to lift their performance in some of the toughest of healthcare settings. His work has had a direct impact on improving patient care across a wide range of clinical areas. He has contributed positively to patient care, team development, workplace performance and to the profession at a high level. Peter has been a leader in the nursing profession - through his dedication to providing the best possible performance information to his colleagues. He is a quiet achiever who has worked at scale to improve patient care and health outcomes across the NT.

Emma Childs, Nurse Management Consultant - Public Health, Top End Health Service

Emma received 16 nominations from colleagues across multiple areas recognising her pivotal role in the Territory’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From establishing the workforce for the Covid-19 hotline, pandemic clinical and contact tracing through to being a senior member of the Rapid Response Team committee, outbreak planning team and urban response teams,  Emma has been central in providing subject matter expertise and public health advice.  In the midst of this she has not lost sight of her role as a leader. She makes time to mentor her team, leads by example and clearly takes great pleasure in seeing her staff grow and develop. She is a tireless, committed and dedicated leader, to whom many aspire.

Christine Becker, Nurse Clinical Coordinator - Remote Child & Family Health, Public and Primary Health Care, Central Australia Health Service

Christine has worked in Central Australia in the Remote Outreach Child Health team for the past 8 years. In that time she has made a significant and lasting impact on the child health outcomes in Central Australia. She translates her passion and belief in quality child health service delivery for remote Central Australian Indigenous children and their families through a guiding vision and goal for Central Australia as a  the 'Centre of Excellence' in remote child health. Her work has raised the profile of remote child health within the broader Public and Primary Health framework and service; she has recruited and trained child health nursing staff delivering a cohesive nursing team to ensure constant service delivery and maintenance of a quality service that places remote children and their families at the core of any activity. Christine is an expert practitioner in remote Central Australian Child Health who is highly regarded by her professional colleagues at all levels.

Rehabilitation Ward, Palmerston Regional Hospital, Top End Health Service

Through establishing a collaborative multi-disciplinary team with mutual respect at its core the Rehabilitation Ward team at Palmerston Regional Hospital Rehabilitation Ward team are delivering positive and meaningful improvements to patient outcomes who have undergone significant life changes. The team works to improve the quality of life of patients with the aim of allowing them to safely return to their homes and community and to function as safely and independently as possible.  This is clearly demonstrated through initiatives such as the implementation of the ‘stroke squad’, a checklist dedicated to providing quality care from the stroke guidelines and providing ongoing education regarding stroke management and the ‘traffic light system’ as the tool of choice for preventing falls and harm from falls.

Lynne Hurley, Mental Health Nurse, Top End Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Service

Lynne was nominated by a patient’s family who recognised her professionalism and compassion in ensuring the best possible outcome for their daughter and the family. At a time of crisis, Lynne provided reassurance, emotional support and compassion that gave the family faith and confidence in their daughter’s recovery. At a very frightening and stressful time for the family, Lynne was able to build trust and a rapport and this was recognised as being instrumental to her recovery. Lynne displayed the values and conduct that align with the professional nursing standards and demonstrated commitment to working in partnership with the patient and family.

Rosemary Gaston, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Perioperative, Royal Darwin Hospital

Rose Gaston has over fifty years’ experience as a nurse working across multiple specialities including psychiatric, general and perioperative nursing. She is a well-known figure throughout the Northern Territory, who has held positions in Darwin, Katherine and Gove as a Perioperative Nurse, Theatre Manager, General Manager, Director of Nursing, mentor, colleague and friend to so many staff across all disciplines.

Over her career Ms Gaston has witnessed significant changes to the way healthcare is delivered, particularly in the perioperative space. In this time she has always ensured her nursing practice remained current, attending study days, national and international conferences and post graduate study. The nursing profession in the NT has benefited from her commitment to sharing her wealth of knowledge, experience and nursing survival skills. She has a strong understanding of the local culture, and insight into the many challenges associated with the provision of health care over such a sparse area.

The impact that Rose has had on so many people quickly becomes evident when she walks the corridors of Royal Darwin Hospital, frequently stopping for a chat, or a word of wisdom. She understands the true requirements of a nurse. She shows a true concern for her patients and other staff. She is keen to share her generational knowledge, promoting high values and adherence to appropriate workplace behaviour to ensure her talents are replicated amongst others. Rose has an exceptional rapport with her colleagues at all levels of the organisation. Everyone values her presence within the hospital as well as her wicked sense of humour, care and compassion.

Lisa Vermeulen, Director Howard Springs Quarantine Facility, Population and Primary Health Care, Top End Health Service

Lisa has been recognised for her outstanding leadership and steadfast commitment shown in the past year as she established and operationalised the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility. In a short period of time, after being seconded into the role of Director she stood up drive through testing facilities which quickly evolved to building a team, planning services, procuring the equipment and successfully opening of the Howards Springs Quarantine Facility on March 23 2020. There was significant pressure and no road map available to Lisa as she successfully navigated this period.

Most of the past 12 months has seen Lisa working in Personal Protective Equipment, alongside her team for long periods in the heat and humidity dealing with people who are challenged by finding themselves in quarantine and working to ensure they all have a positive experience. Whilst this workload would have been enough for many, Lisa successfully completed a Grad Cert in Infection Control to formalise her knowledge and expertise whilst working in the Howard Springs Facility.

Lisa demonstrates strong leadership and has authentic concern for her team. Lisa is a leader committed to ensuring her own and her staff's continual professional education and is a positive role model for other nurses.

2020 recipients

Position titles reflect positions held at the time of nomination.


Matilda Starbuck, Yuendumu Health Clinic, Central Australia Health Service

During her graduate year based at Yuendumu, Tilly showed complete commitment to improving the health of the people in the community through unwavering dedication and care.

Tilly acted as a role-model for the whole nursing and midwifery profession, showed professional standards and supported her team far beyond what is expected of a new graduate.  She went to great lengths to provide optimum health care to all clients and quickly built rapport with whoever she came into contact with.  Her professionalism and kind personality made her a favourite with the community which directly contributed to improved health outcomes.

Naomi Morick, Clinical Nurse Educator, Intensive Care Unit, Alice Springs Hospital

Under Naomi’s guidance, the education program in the ICU unit grew considerably.  She delivered a streamlined and succinct post grad program to upskill and educate staff which has delivered an extremely high standard of nursing within the unit. Staff are able to transition easily, comfortably and well into the critical care environment.

Whilst her role was in the Intensive Care Unit, this didn’t stop Naomi from sharing, exploring and investing time to other areas. She approaches education holistically and helped develop small education sessions through to large courses and programs across multiple disciplines. She has a passion for education which was clearly evident in her work. Naomi is approachable and has dedicated herself to developing staff skills and patient safety within best practice guidelines. Her conduct as an Educator are unsurpassed within Alice Springs Hospital.

Renae Daniel, Director of Nursing, Katherine Hospital

Since Renae commenced in the role of Director of Nursing at Katherine Hospital, she has actively led a positive change in work culture through her engaging manner and style through which she rapidly gained the trust and respect of all employees. Renae is a very strong advocate for patients and families, with her as a manager, the best outcome for the patients is the main priority. She leads by example and allows her staff to work independently, never interfering but intervening if appropriate, or providing advice if requested

Renae has established herself as a leader under which people seek to work, she role models leadership behaviours naturally and set a natural standard for aspiring leaders to work towards.

Eva Williams, CQI Facilitator, Population and Primary Health Care, Top End Health Service

Eva was recognised for her work on the Tiwi Manual and Business Rules, which in conjunction with TEHS quality improvement guidelines, support staff to review quality activities and fully appreciate gains that can be achieved through effective monitoring of Key Performance Indicators. The manuals specifically support Primary Health Care Delivery and Operational Plans and were developed in a collaborative environment with key stakeholders. These manuals provide a sound base for consistent and quality primary health care that is responsive to community needs.

Eva has been integral in 6 Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) accreditations that has ensured that all of the health care clinics are providing service delivery that is approved and supported by national standards ensuring that primary health care is provided under best practice. Her primary focus is always on ensuring effective and functional systems of care are delivered to the local community.

Heather Andrews, Chronic Disease Co-Ordinator, Julanimwu Health Centre

Heather was recognised for the holistic client centred care she provides to Chronic Conditions clients of Julanimwu. She has been a Remote Area Nurse, committed to the community for the long term. Her work has had tangible results with 95-99% of the clinic clients on a management care plan.

She has directly contributed to a significant reduction in both renal disease and cardiovascular disease in clients through improved diabetes control all the while, maintaining the respect of both the community and her peers through her committed, respectful approach.

Oncology Unit, Alice Spring Hospital

The Alice Springs Oncology Unit was nominated in this category by a patient who had been receiving treatment for over a year.  They were commended for consistently displaying the values of NT Health throughout the patient’s treatment journey, with the right balance of kindness and care coupled with humour and wit. The team would go the extra mile and work back to ensure that the patient did not have to make multiple 500km trips for treatment. The patient commended the team for the exceptional level of care provided, particularly in a remote environment.

Tarrant Tolotta, Registered Nurse, Emergency Department Katherine District Hospital

Tarrant was recognised by a client who became unwell and presented to the ED with acute chest pain and other cardiac symptoms. The individual was understandably extremely frightened. Tarrant provided initial care with complete confidence and calmly talked them through everything that was happening, this instilled the highest level of trust from the patient. The patient wanted Tarrant recognised for his efforts to maintaining dignity and respect throughout the short time under his care.

Tarrant is a role model for the nursing profession and in this interaction displayed the attributes of an outstanding nurse.

Margaret Brennan, Clinical Nurse Manager Ward 2A Royal Darwin Palmerston Hospital

Margaret Brennan commenced as a Graduate Registered Nurse at Royal Darwin Hospital in February 1996. On completion of her graduate year she took on Team Lead responsibilities in the General and Isolation Paediatric wards. She became a Clinical Nurse Educator, Paediatrics in March 2007. She then moved in the role of Clinical Nurse Consultant in the area of Burns where it is fair to say she found her niche. Margaret has worked tirelessly in this area ever since. She is now the Clinical Nurse Manager for the Surgical Trauma and Burns Unit and has had a direct impact on improving the number of burns competent staff by over 50%. She makes such an impact on her patients that they often come and visit her well after their case had ceased.

Margaret has presented at a national and international level on burns as well as having partnered with Police, Fire and Emergency services locally to disseminate relevant burns information and worked closely with the peak National body to promote community awareness campaigns. Additionally she provided coordination of a nationally accredited Emergency Management Severe Burns course to be delivered biannually in Darwin to the benefit of both staff and patients in the Top End, directly improving patient outcomes as a result.

Margaret has been a professional member of the World Health Organisation EMT Burns working group since 2017 and is a Board Member for the Australian and New Zealand Burns Association (ANZBA), as well as the ANZBA Prevention Sub –Committee, ANZBA Education committee member, ANZBA steering committee for data collection and ANZBA Burns Quality Improvement Program.  
Marg approaches her work with absolutely professionalism and role models exemplary leadership behaviours, all the while maintaining her sense of humour. She is a quiet achiever who is being recognised for the extensive work and her contribution to improving burns care within the NT.

Jane Napier, A/Midwife Education Coordinator, Alice Springs Hospital

Jane is a long time Alice Springs resident who commenced her career as a Registered Nurse working on the medical wards prior to completing her midwifery training at Alice Springs Hospital in 1995.

Since then she has gained a wealth of experience as a midwife and is now working as the Clinical Midwifery Educator.

Jane has been recognised as the 2020 Midwife of the Year due to her complete dedication to her role as educator, midwife and the midwifery profession generally. She is hard working, enthusiastic and is known for her supportive, approachable nature. She shows complete commitment to education and works to ensure that all students fulfil the requirements of their placements whilst being supported to improve their knowledge and feel confident in their skills.

She is respectful and compassionate to the women she cares for and as a maternity ward leader who creates a positive work environment everyday by leading by example with compassion and enthusiasm to make her patients feel at ease.

*Position titles reflect the finalists role at the time of nomination

For more information contact:

Office of the Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer
Phone: 1800 000 648

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Last updated: 15 May 2021

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