Page turner: Nurses in training working on their bed making skills at the Ballarat Base Hospital in 1954. Photo: BALLARAT BASE HOSPITAL TRAINED NURSES LEAGUE, VICTORIAN COLLECTIONS

Stories of Ballarat’s original nurses

November 27, 2020 BY

IN remembering one hundred years of in-house training, the Ballarat Base Hospital Trained Nurses League is releasing a book to publicise some of the facilities archival stories and learnings.

Titled Who Taught the Nurses?, the publication hopes to provide some insight into the experience of training nurses between the years of 1888 and 1988 and, for others, an opportunity to reminisce on the past.

The Ballarat Base Hospital Trained Nurses League treasurer and projects officer Trina Jones said due to COVID-19 restrictions, the group were disappointed that they were unable to launch the book at their yearly gathering.

“Since 1929, the league has been having annual reunions since that date, except for this year which would have been a couple of weeks ago,” she said.

“It’s a way of keeping the nurses in contact and building some comradery.

“The motivator behind the book is to continue these connections and put more of a focus on these nurses and the others that actually educated the nurses.”

Including never-before-seen photos of classes, events and faces, the book tells the story of how nurses were trained internally at the Base Hospital before it became a university course in 1988.

Having coordinated the production of the book, Ms Jones said she was grateful for not only this publication, but the existence of the league itself.

“I’ve been in this role for the last 12 years and have had a bit of fun doing it,” she said.

“We do get some funding from the Victorian Government, particularly in the public record office, they have various grants each year that has helped in the production.

“The league actually also donates money to the hospital annually, when we have the reunion, we give out a scholarship for nurses who want to pursue extra curriculum courses and things like that.”

At the start of the project, the league sent a call out for past trainees to submit stories and memories of their training, which many responded to and were eventually included in the final print.

In addition to these personal stories, Ms Jones said publication was made possible through the vision of one particularly passionate nurse trainer.

“The principal nurse educator at the hospital was Margaret Stevens and she set up the curriculum out at the university when the education moved out there,” she said.

“She was the one that instigated this book to be produced and unfortunately, not too long after we started getting the book under way, she died tragically.

“We wanted to finish it then for her because she was so passionate about education and the nurses.”

Email [email protected] for details about purchasing a copy of Who Taught the Nurses?.