Historical information

Sister Gawith is a Nurse Educator with Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) and she is instructing a group of RDNS Sisters during an Advanced Post Basic Course being held in a room in the Education Department at RDNS. Most of the Sisters are wearing the RDNS winter uniform, which at that time was a V neck tunic style dress made of blue/grey herringbone winter material, over a blue/grey skivvie. Sr. Moore is wearing the summer uniform of a royal blue V neck tunic style dress worn over a short sleeve white blouse and a dark blue cardigan.


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 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 graduated from the College of Nursing in Community Health, 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 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 did a Post Basic Course 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 Sisters.

Physical description

The black and white photograph depicts a group of eight Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) Sisters (Sr) seated and looking at, and some writing in, white paged books on tables in front of them. Seated in a semi-circle are. L - R: a Sister who is wearing glasses and has her dark shoulder length hair drawn back, then Sisters: Yvonne Laird, who has collar length dark hair, Anne Greenwood, who wears glasses and has short dark curled hair, a Sr with her long hair drawn back, then Sue Moore with shoulder length dark hair and wearing a dark V neck tunic style frock over a white blouse, and a dark cardigan. The next Sister, with dark hair, is partly hidden and next to her is Ethel Fullerton. who wears glasses and has curly hair. She is sitting with a pen in her right hand poised over white book. Sr. Mary Gawith, who has short dark curled hair, is standing in front of and slightly to the right of her. She is looking down at Sr. Fullerton and is holding an open book with the end of the spine resting on her table and showing the open pages to Sr. Fullerton. Sr. Judy Peter, who has her blonde hair drawn back, is sitting side-on in the centre foreground of the photograph with her arms resting on the other side of Sr. Fullerton's table. Most Sisters are wearing the RDNS winter uniform, of a V neck grey tunic style dress over a light grey skivvie.

Inscriptions & markings

Photographer Stamp. Quote No. MA 22