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CDU recognises the long history of nursing in the Northern Territory

Janie Mason
Janie Mason’s new book ‘Pride and Revelation – Stories from Charles Darwin University (CDU) Nursing Museum’ provides a look into the history of nursing.

A new book written by Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Nursing Museum Honorary Curator offers a valuable and unique insight into the rich history of nursing in the Northern Territory.  

Janie Mason’s new book ‘Pride and Revelation - Stories from Charles Darwin University’s Nursing museum’ looks back on the history of nursing and details the personal stories of various nursing identities. 

The Northern Territory has a long history of training its own nurses with general nursing training commencing at Darwin’s first hospital in 1928 and continuing at Darwin’s second hospital at Myilly Point.

In 1987 Darwin Community College began a new nursing program for Division 1 Registered Nurses with training then ceasing at Royal Darwin Hospital in 1988.      

In Alice Springs, the training of division two registered nurses (Enrolled Nurses) began at the hospital in the mid-1970s before ceasing in the late 1980s.   

From 1996 nursing students had access to Vocational Education and Training (VET) nursing courses for care attendants and Division 2 registration [Enrolled Nurses] at Northern Territory University.

Today, CDU offers a range of higher education and VET courses in nursing and midwifery to train Territory nurses and continue the Territory’s long nursing history.  

Ms Mason’s book, released in line with International Nurses’ Day on May 12, also looks at the history of CDU’s Nursing Museum, which was opened in 1987, with the book including photos to capture the various artifacts the museum holds.

“The book was a labour of love for me and the many volunteers who have helped with it. It took many years to put together all the stories and the various artefacts such as nurses’ badges from the nursing museum,” Ms Mason said.

“I hope the book provides the reader with a sense of pride in our local nursing stories and a sense of wonder at the past.” 

CDU’s Nursing Museum, which Ms Mason has been the Honorary Curator of since 2014, has displays across several buildings at CDU’s Casuarina campus. it holds historic nursing memorabilia and artefacts to help tell the nursing story of northern and central Australia.

“To showcase the museum’s many artefacts, we try and change the displays regularly. Some of the instruments that are on display in the museum you just wouldn’t see today,” she said.

Ms Mason has a nursing background having previously worked as a registered general, midwifery and infant health nurse. She has practiced in acute care settings as well as in urban and remote communities.

Janie Mason’s book will be launched on May 12, at the International Nurses’ Day celebration at the Library and Archives NT, Parliament House.

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