Celebrating the NT’s ‘bush nurses’

11-May-2017

CDU Nursing Museum curator Janie Mason says it is important to recognise the stories of NT nurses

CDU Nursing Museum curator Janie Mason says it is important to recognise the stories of NT nurses


Being bogged in the outback and having to throw a radio antenna over the branches of a tall eucalypt to get reception are just some of the challenges bush nurses have faced over the decades and will form part of a display in Darwin this week.

The event showcasing “bush nursing” in the Northern Territory will be held on Friday 12 May to celebrate International Nurses Day and mark the 30th anniversary of the Nursing Museum at Charles Darwin University.

CDU Nursing Museum curator Janie Mason said the museum was founded in 1987 when pre-service nursing education was transferred from the Royal Darwin Hospital to the tertiary education sector in the NT.

“The Museum’s focus is nurses and nursing practice in Australia’s remote tropical north and arid centre, and tells the unique stories of living and working in the NT, of times of catastrophe and when Australia’s north was Australia’s frontline in war,” Ms Mason said.

She said it was important to recognise the stories of NT nurses on a day that celebrates the contributions nurses make to society.

“The (Museum) collections hold national significance in Australia’s cultural heritage and are vital in continuing to tell the local story of nursing and nurses,” she said.

Ms Mason said the event would include a slide show of photographs taken from 1920s to the late 1980s showcasing some of the adventures and challenges faced by NT nurses.

“The nurses that were ‘on the mobile’ would often spend up to a week travelling to stations and communities throughout the Territory to hold clinics,” she said. “Often they would need to camp along the way, and some clinics were even set up on the side of the road.”

She said that some of the travel accounts documented in the slide show included one of Lesley Scott, who was bogged at Legume Station in 1985 and had to walk back to the station when her radio failed.

At the event CDU’s Provost Professor Sue Carthew will launch the book entitled “To mend my situation: The journey of James Stokes Millner 1830-1875” by Brian Reid. The Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Top End Health, Associate Professor Robyn Aitken, will launch another book entitled "Beginning Experiences – bush nurse and wife at Batchelor, living area for Rum Jungle mine" by Janie Mason.

The event will run from 3pm to 5pm in building Blue 2A, Casuarina campus. To RSVP contact Janie Mason on T: 08 8946 6385 or at E: janie.mason@cdu.edu.au.

International Nurse’s Day has been celebrated since 1965 by the International Council of Nurses on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, 12 May.