Historical information

Sister Beryl Hawker is a District Nurse working for the Melbourne District Nursing Service (MDNS) and is leaving their Headquarters at 452 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne to give nursing care to a patient in their home situated in a Melbourne suburb. She is wearing the MDNS winter uniform grey wool coat over her grey cotton dress with white collar. A red Maltese cross is attached to the centre of her grey wool beret. Her nursing case contains an apron, hand towel, thermometer, instruments, dressings and lotions.


The Trained nurses of the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), later known as Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), visited patients in their home and gave best practice care in many fields of nursing and to people of many cultures throughout its 130 years of expansion. Initial visits not only assessed the specific nursing situation but the situation as a whole. Their patients ranged in age from babes, children, adults to the elderly and referrals were taken from Hospitals, General Practitioners and allied Health facilities. Some of the care provided was: – Post-Natal care given to mother and babe, Wound Care following various types of surgery, accidents, burns, cancer, leg ulcers etc. Supervising and teaching Diabetic Care, including teaching and supervising people with Diabetes to administer their own Insulin, and administering Insulin to those unable to give their own injections. Administering other injections and setting up weekly medication boxes. The Sisters performed Catheterizations on adults suffering from conditions such as Quadriplegia, Paraplegia, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Motor Neurone Disease (MND) and Guillan-Barre Syndrome, and when required at school on children for e.g. those with Spina Bifida. The Sisters visited those requiring Cystic Fibrosis support and care; those requiring Haemo-Oncology care, including visiting children at school; those requiring Home Enteral Feeding care, and those requiring IV therapy at home and home Dialysis. Palliative Care was given including pain relief with the use of syringe drivers, personal care as needed, and advice and support to both patient and family. RDNS provided Stoma management to those needing Urostomy, Ileostomy and Colostomy care and those requiring Continence care. HIV/AIDS nursing care was provided; visits to Homeless Persons were made. Personal care was given to patients ranging in age and with varying mobility problems, such as those with MS, MND, Guillan-Barre Syndrome, Quadriplegia, Paraplegia, Acquired Brain Injury, following a Cerebrovascular Accident (Stroke), those with severe Arthritis and those with a form of Dementia. When necessary the elderly were assisted with personal care and advice given on safety factors with the use of hand rails, bath or shower seats, and hand showers. Rehabilitation with an aim towards independence remained at the forefront of the Sister’s minds and when possible using aids and instruction on safe techniques enabled the person to become fully independent. All care included giving advice and support to the patient and their Carers. The Sisters liaised with the persons Doctor, Hospital and allied Health personal when necessary.

Physical description

Sister Beryl Hawker, who has short dark hair, is smiling as she is leaving Melbourne District Nursing Service (MDNS) Headquarters. She is wearing the MDNS uniform of an ankle length double breasted grey wool coat and wool beret with a central Maltese cross. Part of the MDNS insignia is seen at the top of her left sleeve. In her right hand she is carrying a rectangular nursing case and a light colour soft material bag. She is standing in front of the open metal spike gate between the two square grey concrete pillars of the gateway; the black numbers '452' are written on a white background on the top section of each pillar. A spiked metal fence is attached and running to the right of the right pillar; attached to this and close to the pillar, is a white plaque with black capital letters reading: 'Melbourne District Nursing Service Headquarters'. In the background is a paved path leading to part of a building with part of three arches seen and above this some concrete balustrade. A large pedestal concrete flower urn sits next to the partially seen steps leading up to the building. Some low bushes are seen behind the fence and in front of the building.

Inscriptions & markings