FROM THE BEGINNING...

The Sydney office of the Australian College of Nursing is reflective of the origins of one of the two organisations that are the foundations of the Australian College of Nursing.

FROM THE BEGINNING...

The NSW College of Nursing (which became The College of Nursing, Australia)

Many endeavours on the part of nurse leaders in New South Wales to establish a College to provide postgraduate education for nurses.

Mass meetings of nurses originally called to discuss the National Health Services Bill, held on 5 January 1949 at BMA Hall, Macquarie Street, Sydney led to resolutions to establish the NSW College of Nursing with the eventual aim of it becoming the NSW branch of a Federal College.

All major professional nursing organisations in NSW, the New South Wales Nurses Association (NSW Branch), and the institute of Hospitals Matrons of NSW and the ACT, were involved in the eventual establishment of the NSW College of Nursing.

A Provisional Council met on 12 January 1949 and the College was launched.

The Founders of the College were:

  • Muriel Knox Doherty, RRC, FCN (NSW) 1896-1988
  • Agnes Mary Lions, OBE, FCN (NSW), 1908-1992
  • Margaret Frances Guy (nee Looker), FCN (NSW), OBE, 1910-1988
  • Georgina McCready (nee Johnstone) MBE, FCN (NSW), 1888-1980.

The primary objectives of the NSW College of Nursing, as originally formulated, was to:

  • Develop and offer relevant postgraduate courses for nurses.
  • Promote the art and science of nursing and the advancement of nursing as a professional in all or any of its branches.

In 2003 the name of the NSW College of Nursing was changed to The College of Nursing to reflect the wider Australian perspective now being taken.

In Victoria, the Royal College of Nursing, Australia had also been formed in 1949. On 1 July, 2012 the unification of The College of Nursing and the Royal College of Nursing, Australia took place and the Australian College of Nursing was established.

The vision of the founders of both these Colleges was finally a reality and a federal College of Nursing, the Australian College of Nursing was established.

The College of Nursing Australia (which became the Royal College of Nursing, Australia)

The College of Nursing Australia was established in Victoria in 1949 and was a separate origination to the NSW College of Nursing although it had many similar goals and objectives.

The Provisional Council met in 23 March 1949 and the College of Nursing Australia was established.

The Founders of the College were:

  • Annie Moriah Sage CBE RRC FNM
  • Edith Hughes-Jones OBE
  • Vera Margaret Jackson (nee Haughton)
  • Myrtle Ivy Quicke (nee Lindsay)
  • Jean Millist Lamont

The primary objective of The College of Nursing Australia, as originally formulated, was to:

  • cultivate and maintain the highest principles of nursing practice and ethics
  • raise the status and standard of the nursing profession by making provision for trained teachers and administrators in the profession
  • make adequate provision for postgraduate training of nurses
  • bring together members of the nursing profession both in and out of Australia for the purpose of scientific discussion, and practical demonstration of nursing subjects.

Coming together

On 1 July, 2012 the unification of The College of Nursing, Australia and the Royal College of Nursing, Australia took place and the Australian College of Nursing was established.

The vision of the founders of both these Colleges was finally a reality and a federal College of Nursing, The Australian College of Nursing was established.

MANY HOMES...

The NSW College of Nursing (which became The College of Nursing, Australia)

Since the establishment of the NSW College of Nursing, it has had a number of homes, ranging from borrowed space to a humble suburban cottage to a multi-story building.

The earliest office space was at the British Medical Association House in Macquarie Street, Sydney. In 1955, the College purchased its first property at 36 Allen Street, Glebe. In 1961, a second property at 58 Allen Street, Glebe was purchased. It was on these sites that a purpose-built home for the administration and teaching activities of the NSW College of Nursing was built and opened in February 1962.

In 1973, the formal teaching functions and the building at 58 Allen Street, Glebe were handed over to the NSW College of Paramedical Studies as part of the establishment of nursing education in the tertiary sector.

The NSW College of Nursing retained the first cottage it had purchased at 36 Allen Street and this was used as the office from which it supported its professional role and activities. This cottage was sold in 1974 to facilitate the purchase of ‘Kerribree’, the first of two properties in Hereford Street, Glebe. The second house purchased at Hereford Street, Glebe was Hereford House. These two buildings were to become the new home for both the professional, and reintroduced teaching activities of the NSW College of Nursing.

Student numbers grew over this period and other leased properties were also needed, for example, Balmain Hospital School of Nursing and 282 Bridge Road, Glebe.

In 1992 an additional property, 1 Booth Street, Annandale, was purchased to cater for the growing number of students in the variety of postgraduate programs being offered by the College. The continued growth of the teaching programs and the need to have all operations centralised led to the sale of the Glebe and Annandale properties and subsequent purchase and move to 14 Railway Parade, Burwood in 2000.

It is of note that the funds required to purchase the Glebe properties were raised by Members of the College.

When the Glebe and Annandale properties were sold, this allowed for the Burwood property to be purchased outright.

In 2012, the College of Nursing and Royal College of Nursing, Australia unified and became the Australian College of Nursing. From 2012 to 2015, the Australian College of Nursing continued to use the Burwood building as its Sydney office, housing the education, finance and library services.

In July 2015, the Australian College of Nursing moved into leased accommodation at 9 Wentworth Street, Parramatta following the sale of the Burwood premises.

The College of Nursing Australia (which became the Royal College of Nursing, Australia)

The College had been located at various sites across Melbourne since its establishment in 1949.

The earliest space was at the War Nurses’ Memorial Centre, 431 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. A section of this building, called The Mews, was altered to provide suitable accommodation for the new College.

The War Nurse’ Memorial Centre changed its name to the Nurses Memorial Centre in 1951.

Housed within this building was the Victorian Nursing Council, the Royal Victorian College of Nursing and the Royal Australian Nursing Federation. The idea was to locate all principal nursing bodies in one centre to facilitate communications between different organisation.

As the College developed a purpose built multi-storied building was designed and officially opened on 18 April 1970 at 2 Arthur Street Melbourne. The new building also housed the Clive Steele Memorial Library transferred from the Nurses’ Memorial Centre.

The College then moved into office space at Fawkner Towers, leased from the Nurses’ Memorial Centre.

In February 1987, the College returned to the Arthur Street premises, now renamed Slater Street in honour of Patricia Slater, one of the long standing Fellows and Director of the College. This building was sold in July 1997.

In 1994 the College was then relocated, to reflects is increasing national focus, to Deakin West, in the Australian Federal Capital, Canberra. ACT.

‘…the end of an era…and a new beginning’ – the Australian College of Nursing

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) builds on the strong foundations of provided by The College of Nursing and the Royal College of Nursing, Australia. The achievement of the original vision of the Founders of both organisations was finally attained in 2012 and provided a new impetus and focus for the future. A Transitional Board oversaw the initial year of ACN’s operations with the first Board elected in 2013. ACN is located at two sites – Canberra and Sydney.

Education continues to be a key role of the new entity building the national reach and focus to enhance the knowledge and skills of nurses across Australia. Changing modes of delivery are a constant and the Library has grown from its early beginnings in 1949 to an extensive collection that continues to support students, staff and members. Through education, the capabilities of nurses as leaders is enhanced.

Members are a key focus and their engagement in the advocacy and representation work sees ACN involved in key policy areas, not just at the Commonwealth level, but across the nation. The history of admitting Fellows and Members continues and each year an outstanding nurse leader is chosen to deliver the Annual Oration, continuing a long tradition of recognising and honouring members of the profession.

Through advocacy and representation, ACN demonstrates the leadership that nurses can bring to Australian health care. ACN is clearly focused on advancing nurse leadership to improve health care.

ACN continues to the work of the outstanding nurse leaders that saw the establishment of both the NSW College of Nursing and the Royal College of Nursing, Australia, the nurse leaders that followed and those who will lead into the future.

Useful references

Smith R G In Pursuit of Nursing Excellence: A History of the Royal College of Nursing, Australia 1949-99. Oxford South Melbourne 1999.

Pratt R & R L Russell A voice to be heard. The first fifty years of the New South Wales College of Nursing. Allen & Unwin Sydney 2002.

Proudly preserving nursing's heritage – ACN archives

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) Archive is the repository for the historical documents, both organisational records and donated material, of the organisation. The archive networks with other health industry and professional organisations to promote access to the collection, enhance the value of the collection and to ensure best practice.