Historical information

This black and white photograph shows a group of RDNS Sisters who are part of the Post Basic Community Nursing Course. They are receiving education from Sr. Pat (Paddy) Rowley, RDNS Principal Nurse Educator. The session is being held in the Education Department at the Royal District Nursing Service Headquarters, 452 St. Kilda Rd, Melbourne.The RDNS winter uniform worn is a blue/grey skivvie under a blue/grey V neck tunic style herringbone winter material frock.


Melbourne District Nursing Service ran its first Post-Basic Course for community nurses in 1962. Sisters attended the course for 12 weeks. The course ran annually until the mid 1990s. Education was an integral part of Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), from its inception in 1885, later, in 1966, called Royal District Nursing Service, (RDNS). From 1885, only Trained nurses (Nurses) through the Hospital training system, were employed by the Society, and on visits to patients they taught the necessity of hygiene and cleanliness, as well as the need for a good diet, to bring about good health. Doctor’s lectures were later given at the MDNS home to instruct patients and their families on prevention of disease. Education to patients continued throughout the years regarding health care and the use of equipment in the home. In 1961, Education programs commenced at MDNS with their Trained nurses (Sisters) receiving In-service education. Sr. Pat (Paddy) Rowley was a leader in In-service Education and established the RDNS Department of Community Nursing Education in 1962. Staff could also apply for scholarships to further their education outside of RDNS. Many of their senior Sisters received Postgraduate diplomas from the College of Nursing in Community Health Nursing, Education, and Administration, and several travelled overseas visiting nursing organizations viewing their public health and District nursing systems. At RDNS many programs were run, including: a Post Basic Course, Cardiac Rehabilitation Nursing, Haematology/Oncology Nursing, Palliative Care program, Diabetic Stabilization Program, Leg Ulcer Management Program, Wound Care Specialist Program, HIV/AIDS Nursing Care, Cystic Fibrosis Home Support, Veterans Home Care Program, Breast Cancer Support Program, Continence Management Program, Stomal Therapy Program, In-Home Lactation Support Program and the Homeless Persons Program. RDNS staff attended several hospitals to observe and learn special care needed to some patients, e.g. to the Austin Hospital to learn the care required for paraplegic and quadriplegic patients at home, and to Mount Royal Hospital to observe the care of patients in the Rehabilitation ward. A Community Nursing Education Program was extended to student nurses from hospitals and to other nursing organizations. These Education programs kept the RDNS Sisters abreast of new techniques, such as changes in technology for e.g. new testing methods in detecting glucose levels in Diabetic patients. Sr. Nan Deakin obtained a Post Basic Certificate in Psychiatric Nursing and included this area in her Education lectures. Sr. Daphne Geldard specialized in the area of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. These Sisters visited patients in District areas with the regular RDNS Sister when required. Every member of staff, both professional and non professional staff, received regular education in the Education Department. In 1980, a Home Health Aide pilot study, funded by the Federal Government, the Brotherhood of St. Laurence and RDNS, with the program written and taught by Sr. Rowley, was evaluated as successful, and Home Health Aides were employed and worked in RDNS Centres under the supervision of RDNS Sisters.

Physical description

This black and white photograph is of a group of seven Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) Sisters sitting in a semi-circle in two rows at single small two shelf tables. There are open white paged books or papers on each table and some of the Sisters have pens in their hands. The Sister sitting in the front far right is Sr. Affleck, who has dark short curly hair. The other Sisters have dark short hair in various styles. Further right in the photograph stands Sr. Rowley, who has dark short hair and is wearing glasses. She has her left hand supporting a torso of an anatomical model which is sitting on a table slightly to her left. She and the Sisters are looking at the vertebrae down the spine of the model. Another empty table is in front of the semi-circle and it sits in the centre foreground of the photograph. In the rear between Sr. Affleck and Sr. Rowley, a piece of equipment stands on a table. To the right of the photograph part of a large blackboard can be seen. The Sisters are wearing light grey skivvies under a darker V neck tunic style frock with the RDNS insignia on its upper left.

Inscriptions & markings

Photographers stamp. Quote No. LD 8