Historical information

This photograph shows an RDNS Sister doing Liaison work at a Hospital. She will pass the information given about the babe to the RDNS Domiciliary Infant and Maternal Care (DIMC) Sister who will be visiting the baby and her family in their home. Sr. Schofield is wearing the RDNS winter uniform of a blue/grey skivvie under a V neck tunic style frock made of herringbone winter material.


Liaison had occurred between Doctors and the Trained nurses (Nurses) of the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), from its inception in 1885. This increased when Midwifery was introduced in August 1893 with close liaising with the Women’s Hospital. As District nursing grew it was recognized that closer liaising between many Public Hospitals would be beneficial, for not only the MDNS, later called Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) Trained nurses (Sisters), but also for the patients and the hospitals. In August 1964 a Liaison Officer commenced at the Alfred Hospital. This soon increased to Liaison Officers working full time at several Public Hospitals. They facilitated the smooth transition from hospital to home for many patients who required ongoing nursing care. Liaison Sisters regularly attended discharge planning meetings, interviewed prospective patients, co-ordinated discharge, and booked the first visit by the visiting RDNS Sister. At the time of a patient’s discharge, the Liaison Sister forwarded information on their diagnosis and instructions regarding the care required at home to the appropriate RDNS Centre, and in turn the attending District Sister wrote a report of progress and any queries to the Hospital Doctor, via the Liaison Sister, at the time the patient was attending outpatients. Any new instructions were then sent back to the District Sister. Liaising also occurred between District Sisters and Doctors when patients were referred by General Practitioners and did not attend a hospital.
In August 1893 Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), commenced a Midwifery Service with Nurse Fowler, who was trained 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 before or after birth the patient was transferred to their care. Following birth, the Midwife gave Post-Natal care to both the mother and babe commencing with visits twice a day. 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 a pioneering 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 on the ground floor in the Footscray Hospital Nurses quarters, and visiting early discharged Footscray Hospital maternity cases at home. Later, as Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), this service was extended and renamed as 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 of the RDNS Sisters who worked in DIMC also had their triple Infant Welfare Certificate, though double certificate Midwifery trained Sisters also visited.

Physical description

On the left of this black and white photograph is Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) Sister Margaret Schofield, who has her long dark hair drawn back, and is smiling as she looks down at a baby being held in the arms of a Hospital Sister. Sr. Schofield is wearing a light grey skivvie under a V neck dark tunic style frock. She has a pen in the V of her tunic, and has a watch hanging under the RDNS logo on its left hand side. Her left hand is resting on a white table which has baby scales with a wicker basket on it. To the right, is the Hospital Sister, who is side-on and facing Sr. Schofield. She is wearing dark rimmed glasses; has her long dark hair drawn back and is wearing a dark cardigan over her white uniform. She has her right arm under the baby with her hand on babe's right leg; her left hand is holding the baby's feet. The baby has sparse dark hair and is wearing a white patterned jacket. Part of a dark filing cabinet is on the right of the photograph and behind the Sisters is a large window, then grass, small shrubs and part of a corrugated clad building can be seen beyond.

Inscriptions & markings

Barry Sutton LP 43