Historical information

Sister Ellen Anderson is the Supervisor of the Royal District Nursing Service, (RDNS) Footscray Centre. She is wearing her RDNS uniform of a short sleeve white blouse under a royal blue V neck tunic style dress. Sr. Anderson is showing two Student nurses from Western General Hospital the map with the areas covered by Footscray Centre. The map had different colour pins to identify streets where patients lived who were currently receiving nursing care from RDNS Sisters working in these areas (districts).


During their training, Student nurses from several hospitals either attended the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), Education Department, or, a RDNS Nurse Educator travelled to the appropriate hospital’s Education Department to educate the Trainees on District nursing through the RDNS Community Nursing Program. Following the lectures Students went to a RDNS Centre and each Student accompanied a Trained nurse (Sister) for a week observing and gaining knowledge of all facets of nursing care in the home. This gave them an insight into the home conditions and situations patients faced after discharge from hospital. During 1971 there were 584 Student nurses who received field experience with RDNS.
From its inception as Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), in 1885, their Trained nurses (Nurses) worked in specific areas, 'districts'. The first Nurse worked east and west, between Victoria Parade and Flinders Street and, north and south, between Spencer Street and Spring Street. When a second Nurse was employed they divided this area at Elizabeth Street so each Nurse could attend to patients in the same area giving continuity of care. As the Society expanded, becoming Melbourne District Nursing Service, then, with Royal patronage, Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) many Centres were opened throughout the Melbourne Metropolitan area and outer suburbs. The District nurse's areas (districts) grew and were divided within Shire boundaries for e.g. Knox 1, Knox 2, Knox 3, Knox 4, within the area of the Shire of Knox. A map covering the Centre’s Districts was attached to a wall, and its different colour pins identified streets where patients lived who were currently receiving nursing care from the RDNS Trained nurses (Sisters) working in these areas (districts).

Physical description

On the left of this black and white photograph is Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), Sister Ellen Anderson, who has short dark curly hair and is wearing her RDNS uniform of a short sleeve white blouse under a dark V neck tunic style frock. She is standing side-on, towards the right of the photograph, and with her left hand is pointing to an area on a large map attached to the wall in the background. To her right, is a Student nurse who is facing Sr. Anderson, and looking at the area on the map. Under her white nurses cap, she has her long dark hair drawn back, and is wearing her hospital uniform of a short sleeve checked dress with white collar and cuffs; a nursing watch is attached to its upper left; her hands are clasped in front of her. To her right, is a male Student nurse who has collar length straight dark hair, and is wearing white trousers and a short sleeve white top with pens in the left upper pocket. He is looking at the areas on the map..

Inscriptions & markings

Barry Sutton MA 77