Historical information

This photograph depicts Post-Natal care being given by a Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), Sister who is working in the RDNS Domiciliary Infant and Maternal Care (DIMC) section of the Service. The photograph is taken in the home of the mother and baby and the Sister is in the process of putting the baby onto the Baby scales to ascertain the babe's weight. Sisters employed in the DIMC section of RDNS gave Post-natal care to both the mother and her newly born babe when they were discharged early from hospital. This photograph was taken in the year following Melbourne District Nursing Service (MDNS) being granted Royal patronage in 1966 and becoming Royal District Nursing Service. The Sister is wearing the the same grey uniform frock used by MDNS but the badge on her peaked cap has changed from a red Maltese cross to a metal round silver badge with a royal blue circle around the edge with the words 'Royal District Nursing Service' in white capital letters running inside the blue circle.The centre of the badge is divided into three sections; a silver rising sun top and bottom, and a thick royal blue horizontal central strip with 'RDNS' written in large white capital letters. This uniform continued to be worn until 1971 when it changed colour and style.


In August 1893 Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), commenced a Midwifery Service with Nurse Fowler, who trained in a Hospital and was qualified in General nursing and Midwifery nursing, being the first Midwife employed. Mothers were assessed for suitability of a home birth, or if they required delivery at the Women’s Hospital. The Midwife worked in conjunction with the Doctors at the Women’s Hospital and if a complication arose the patient was transferred to their care. Following birth they gave Post-Natal care to both the mother and babe. In 1898 the service ceased due to lack of funds but recommenced in 1906, and in the August 1925 Annual Report the number of MDNS home births was recorded at 478. MDNS built the After-Care Home and an Anti-Natal Clinic was opened in 1930. The last Ante-Natal clinic was held there in December 1951 and the MDNS Midwifery service ceased in February 1952. In 1964 MDNS commenced a Post-Natal service with General and Midwifery trained MDNS Sisters working from a room at Footscray Hospital, and visiting early discharged Footscray Hospital maternity cases at home. Now as Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), this service was extended to a Domiciliary Infant and Maternal Care, (DIMC) service operating from most Centres and visiting early discharged, often 24 hours after birth, maternity cases from hospitals to give post-natal care to the mother and babe. Many Sisters working in this area had a Certificate in Infant Welfare as well as their General and Midwifery Certificates.

Physical description

In the right rear of this black and white photograph is a Royal District Nursing Service, (RDNS), Sister who is wearing a white gown over her uniform, and wearing her grey peaked hat with the RDNS badge visible, looking down at a baby she is about to weigh. The baby has sparse dark hair, is wearing a white singlet and is crying. The Baby scales, which are sitting on a table in front of the Sister, are white with a rectangular base and curved sided tray on the top. The Sister is standing behind the scales, and is supporting the babe's body with her right hand and holding baby's legs with her left hand as she lowers babe fully onto the scales. On the left of the photograph, the mother, who has long dark hair with a hair scarf holding it back, and is wearing a striped frock, is siting on a chair with her arms crossed at her waist, and is smiling at her babe as she observes proceedings..

Inscriptions & markings

Photographers Stamp