Historical information

Miss Evans, Director of Nursing of Royal District Nursing Service, (RDNS), is holding an Education session with RDNS staff. Her uniform is a grey skirt and jacket with the RDNS badge emblazoned on her right shoulder. The badge has a white background and black writing. The RDNS Sisters are wearing their grey uniform frocks and red cardigans.


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, 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 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 trained nurses 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 clients, e.g. to the Austin Hospital to learn the care required for paraplegic and quadriplegic clients at home, and to Mount Royal Hospital to observe the care of clients 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 the RDNS Registered Nurses.

Physical description

Black and white photograph showing Miss Mary Evan standing in the centre rear of the photograph. She is with five RDNS Sisters who have short hair, three with curly hair and two with straight hair, who are sitting on chairs with white paged books resting on 'over the lap' tables. Three Sisters are seated in front of Miss Evans, and another two Sisters are sitting in the foreground. Miss Evans, who has short dark curled hair, is wearing her grey uniform jacket which can be seen with the RDNS cloth badge visible at the top of her right sleeve. She is bending over one of the Sisters and has her right hand pointing to something on the Sister's book. Closed light curtains are seen in the rear of the photograph and a dark desk to the right. On the wall above this, part of a blackboard can be seen.

Inscriptions & markings

Photographers stamp. Quote No. GF 28