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Sheryl Nielsen shares her passion for Mater's Speaking with Good Judgement Program


Empowerment is important to Mater Education’s Sheryl Nielsen, and helping others feel empowered in the workplace is the main reason she stepped out of her role as a nurse, to work in the Corporate Learning and Organisational Development team, Mater Education.

Sheryl now coordinates Mater’s Speaking with Good Judgement Program Queensland, to enable staff to have the confidence when having open conversations with colleagues to ensure patient and staff safety is prioritised. We asked Sheryl about her Mater journey and why she is so passionate about Mater’s Speaking with Good Judgement Program. 

What attracted you to work at Mater?

The Mater Values. I first worked at Mater Mothers 25 years ago as an agency nurse. I then came back to Brisbane after travelling for many years and worked at Mater Private Hospital Redlands. What I noticed was the high level of empathy, that all the staff showed toward our patients. The simple but meaningful acts like asking our patients, ‘are you warm enough’, or ‘do you need another blanket’, and seeing fellow colleagues, both nurses and doctors, hold the hands of anxious patients as they drift off to sleep for their procedure. 

How did you get involved in the Speaking with Good Judgment Program (SWGJ)?

I first started as a participant and then I quickly realised how important it is and became a SWGJ Coach. It was a positive personal experience, using the SWGJ methodology, that led me to email my Mater colleagues, Steph Barwick (Director Program and Partnerships) and Jo Griffin (Corporate Learning and Organisational Development Manager), expressing how important I thought this program is to our organisation and improving our culture through conversation.  Towards the end of 2018 I applied for the role SWGJ Program Lead for Mater Queensland, and the rest is history. 

Why are you passionate about the program?

I am genuinely passionate about supporting my fellow Mater colleagues. We spend a lot of time at work away from our own family and friends, and we are all just trying to do our best in this life. I feel very fortunate to be part of program that supports the Mater workforce to deliver world-class care to patients, clients, family members and visitors.

What do you like about being involved in the program?

The amazing people that I meet working at Mater. 

What do you like about being a Mater Person?

I am proud to work for Mater and the level of care that is delivered by our dedicated workforce. 

Have you ever had to use what you teach in the program and how successful was it?

I honestly use the SWGJ methodology every day, even at home, though my youngest daughter does role her eyes at me sometimes, saying ‘Mum, you are doing the program again’, and she now uses it herself on me! But seriously the SWGJ methodology has helped me to stop and think about what I want to say and to be transparent and respectful, especially during those difficult conversations which we have in the workplace (and at home). They are a normal part of life!