Historical information

Sister Pat (Paddy) Rowley is the Principal Nurse Educator at Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) and is standing with a group of
RDNS staff in the Education Department at RDNS Headquarters, 452 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne. Sr. Rowley is wearing the RDNS winter uniform of a blue/grey skivvie under a blue/grey V neck tunic style dress made of herring bone winter material. She, and the lady in the white dress, are displaying the RDNS winter beret made of the same herringbone material as the RDNS winter dress.


From its earliest years when the Trained nurses (Nurses) of Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS began to wear uniforms the chosen colour was grey, though the style changed throughout the years as fashions changed from the late 1800s through to the 1970s. Their Nurses firstly wore long grey frocks, and on their heads, a white cap with a long white tail hanging from the centre back. When bicycles were introduced the headgear changed to a white pith helmet adorned with a red Maltese cross in the centre front. This was held on with a veil going over the hat and tied under the chin. Over the years there were complaints that the veils became wet in the rain and they asked for a change of uniform, but this did not happen until 1921. Later the Trained nurses (Sisters) complained their skirts became wet when riding their bicycles in the rain and asked, when raining, to be able to wear breeches and gaiters. This was granted provided they wore aprons when attending patients. It was not long before the uniform changed to a shorter length grey frock, red cardigan, grey coat and grey brimmed hat; later changed to a peaked grey hat. In 1966 MDNS were granted Royal patronage. Now as Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), the uniform was redesigned and colour changed in 1971. By 1972 the Sisters were wearing the new winter uniform of a blue/grey skivvie under a V neck tunic style frock made of blue/grey herringbone winter material with the RDNS insignia on the upper left, and a beret of the same material. In summer the uniform became a royal blue V neck tunic style frock, with the RDNS insignia on the upper left, worn over a short sleeve white blouse. A royal blue peaked hat with the RDNS insignia in the centre front was worn at first and then only worn on official occasions. This uniform was worn until changed to a corporate style in the mid 1980s,

Physical description

This black and white photograph depicts six Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) staff standing in two rows in front of closed long grey curtains. They are looking at the camera and smiling, some are partly hidden. L- R back row - A lady who has short dark hair and is wearing a grey and black patterned frock. Next is a lady with her black hair drawn back; is wearing black pants and a black sleeveless V neck jacket over a white skivvie. The next lady has wavy short dark hair; is wearing white slacks, a light grey jacket with lapels and the pocket on its upper left has a vertical zip in the centre. She has a black and white striped scarf around her neck. Front row L-R - A lady with shoulder length black curled hair who is wearing a white uniform style dress and is turned toward the right of the photograph. Her right hand is on the top edge of an RDNS beret which is held on its edge with the inner white lining seen, and the upper section showing the deep front of the beret which has a central RDNS logo. To the right of this, is Sister Pat (Paddy) Rowley who has short dark straight hair; is wearing dark rimmed glasses and is wearing a light grey skivvie under a darker V neck tunic style dress. She is turned toward the left of the photograph and her right hand is holding the bottom edge of the RDNS beret and her left hand is on the top edge. The next lady, on the far right, has shoulder length black curly hair and is wearing dark grey slacks, and a black round neck jumper over a white blouse with the peaks and cuff seen.

Inscriptions & markings

Barry Sutton MA 23